About the Guest Speaker Background:
CEO, Great Plains Regeneration
Currently hailing from Manhattan, Kansas, Jessica Gnad is a strategic content developer working in Regenerative Agriculture within the Great Plains. She is a dedicated soil health advocate with more than a decade of experience in the food, finance, and farming industries. Combining in-depth industry knowledge with experience to help guide campaign development, product launches, and content strategy for news media publications and event planning. Jessica’s path in soil health started with a curiosity about healthy food options in rural communities. While living in a small south-central Kansas town, Jessica worked to form a farmer’s market, a local food co-op, and a Regenerative Ag School Garden with support from Annie’s Homegrown Grants for Gardens.
She served as an executive board member for Kansas State University Research and Extension and as a healthy food/farm consultant with Pratt Regional Medical Center’s Health Coalition. She counts her background as a row crop farmer and an avid gardener growing fruits and vegetables as her foundation for her passion for regenerative agriculture. Jess is a “Jess of all trades” and directs high-impact events like Soil Health U and advises Soil Regen.
Currently, Jessica is the executive director of Great Plains Regeneration- a new non-profit seeking to regenerate the vast Great Plains via collaboration with farmers, ranchers, and stakeholders to mimic nature by using regenerative agriculture principles. Jessica is a leader in her community with a Bachelor of Science – BS focused on Social Sciences of Diversity from Kansas State University.
Great Things for the Industry Update
- Ross Sloan– shared some of his big wins and said: We continue to add hemp related businesses to our customer base. And we’re thankful that we’re getting customers all over the country. So glad to have a group of customers representing most of the 50 states and adding to that every week and would welcome conversations with any of you that need banking services. As you said, I don’t want to turn this into a sales moment. But welcome those conversations if anybody needs. We love the industry and going to conferences and expos will be up in Michigan and a couple of weeks and a few more throughout the year.
Hemp’s Role in the Regenerative Agriculture
Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question from Jessica Gnad and she said: Educate about where hemp really plays a role in the regenerative agriculture space and where we need to do to bridge that gap, especially around the conversations of climate smart commodities. And so just kind of love to turn it over to you if you want to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’ve done.
Jessica Gnad said: You have been such a bright light communicator, not only in the hemp industry, but for agriculture. And I just appreciate the work that you do. It’s vibrant, it’s fun, and I’m very honored to be able to be a guest here. I’m also the co-founder of a nonprofit organization called Great Plains regeneration. I’m housed in the middle of Kansas. And so I’ve had agriculture around me my whole life. I don’t come from a farming family per se. But I was very fortunate to marry an agronomist early on. So I got my feet very well immersed into food and farming. I’m a mother, I’m a consumer. I’m a farmer myself, we have small acres, about 147 acres and Pratt County, Kansas. So that south central part of the state of Kansas, and I’ve, I think what, I don’t know exactly where we want to go. But when I first started learning about agriculture, I had a lot of questions, so I’m naturally curious. And I think that that’s coming from outside of agriculture and being able to maybe ask more obvious questions about agriculture is what led me down this path? Because once I started asking questions, I was very, very fortunate to meet a network of farmers and ranchers who 10 years ago, this wasn’t really being called regenerative agriculture, it was more soil health, it kind of, from my perspective in Kansas bloomed out of the no till movement. And so these farmers and ranchers took the time to explain it to me, and said, Okay, we understand your question. I mean, they could have blown me off, who are you to ask this question? only one time did somebody say you’re not a real farmer? And it was like, Well, what does that mean? I’m not a real farmer, I guess not all the time. And, and I had to, I had to stop and think but ultimately, what I’m saying is that I met a group of renegade farmers who were doing things differently. And I became incredibly interested in how I can use the skills that I have through communication through marketing through giving light to others, how can I help advance what I now know is regenerative agriculture. So that’s kind of how I got here. And I’ve been very fortunate to be trusted to continue asking questions and working on a much broader scale.
Bridge the Gap and Help Move Forward as a Community
Mandi Lynn Kerr opened up the discussion on how they can bridge the gap and help move this forward as a community and as a group.
Question/Answer and Comments
Mandi Lynn Kerr was curious and asked a question.
- What are some of the challenges in converting from traditional, or mono cropping to a regenerative? Practice? And what are some of the real benefits that we’re starting to see support that is coming in for?
Jessica Gnad replied and said: I think some of the barriers, there’s a lot of obvious barriers. When I first started learning about soil health, I actually thought that the answer was organic. And I thought, okay, great. Here’s the answer. It’s organic farming, boom, case closed, let’s do organic. And it took my agronomist husband to sit me down and be like, Yeah, we all think that that’s a good system. Here’s the reasons why it’s not going to work.
And so as these barriers started to kind of stack on top of each other, that’s when I learned about the soil health movement. And these farmers and ranchers that were doing something different. So the biggest barrier that I think has been trailed, this whole movement is the lack of trusted advice. We have, whether it’s certified crop advisors, whether it’s people that sell products that are agribusiness professionals, there’s not been a lot of organized educational material to be able to help people either unlearn the chemistry model for farming, and to better understand biology. And so that’s, I think that’s been prevalent throughout the whole time. Now, as far as changes, I see that rapidly advancing right now. And I could list a couple of different ways that that’s happening. Great Plains regeneration is wanting to be that liaison for people that have the information to be able to get it to the ground level, to be able to help farmers and ranchers and so I do see that rapidly advancing, but being able to communicate, being able to, it’s a mindset, and I always have at the ready a quote from from one of my mentors, Ray Archuleta about regenerative farming, and I always read it because I never, I don’t want to get it wrong. So when Ray, and our group started talking about regenerative agriculture, this is what he said. And I said, I’m going to capture that, and I’m going to quote you. So he talks about regenerative agriculture as a renewal of heart and mind that transforms farming, farming and ranching.
It’s a conscientious agriculture that prioritizes the health of soil, and mimics nature’s patterns and ARCHITECT. And it’s a collaborative relationship between nature and humans, which results in carbon drawdown and improved water recycling. And so I think that’s a beautiful way to put it. The barriers are that each one of us as individuals need to be able to step inside of something that’s unknown, we have to step inside to something that, even years ago, was considered incredibly controversial. I think, to me, I don’t feel like these topics are nearly as controversial. As I feel like COVID has changed a lot of the way that a lot of us are thinking about things not in a good way. But just being able to get in there and understand that it’s not just practices, it’s not just principles, we’re trying to actually change people, the health of people and the health of our communities.
- So you said something interesting when we’re transferring or transitioning from this chemical way of farming, right? What are some of the big transitions that you have seen? And what are some that are really stuck on in this transition?
Jessica Gnad replied and said: I think it depends on the source of information, so hear me out. First of all, my position and the position of the Great Plains generation, we don’t tell farmers how to farm point blank, we’re not we don’t we’re not here to beat anybody over the head for practice. It’s all about your context. It’s all about being able to understand your system, baseline your system and work on making changes from within, right. And so a couple really, really impressive examples of transition is, just being in an area of Kansas, where it’s heavily irrigated center pivot row crops, primarily corn and soy rotation, very high intensive inputs, high intensive water inputs and high high yields. Getting some of those producers that are in that system to change is fairly difficult. And so I would just say over the course of 10 years on a personal level I’ve watched, we do a lot of we have a lot of our acres custom firmed. And so our tenant’s custom farms are 147 acres. It’s kind of a long story. But over the course of watching the transition that my husband and I’ve gone through professionally, he started changing his operation. And as of last year, he was able to in those systems that I just described, have cover crops on 7000 acres, he was able to be 100% on cover crop seed seeding last fall on seven 1000 acres. And so that doesn’t happen over time. And it doesn’t happen by beating a message on somebody it happens on, being there and being ready for the agronomic advice when it’s appropriate for that person to utilize it, not going too deep on it. I mean, he didn’t start with 7000 acres, he started with a field here, and he gained confidence in his decision making. So that’s an example of something that kind of happened in our own backyard. But I also think that farmers and ranchers are very relationship based. And so you have to, you have to understand that sometimes having an outside perspective on somebody that’s not in your own backyard is also very, very beneficial, as long as they feel comfortable with the integrity of either the person or the advice. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you don’t want to beat somebody over the head to try to affect change. And so there are times when change can happen very rapidly in the soil. And there are times it takes time. I remember one producer that we worked with in Northwest Kansas, and he was one that if you’ve ever hung out at coffee shops in a rural community, there’s some topics that you can sit, you can sit out in the open, and you can chit chat about them. And then there’s some topics where you’re kind of looking over your shoulder like, Hey, did you hear about the guy that’s growing his own fertilizer? You kind of say it loud, because you don’t really know who’s listening. So that’s how I found out about this one individual. And I found out he was doing the Johnson Sue bio reactors, right. And it took him a number of years to feel confident about it.
Meanwhile, just kind of like a rumor, Phil, what’s this crazy guy doing? What are all of these things about his operation? Well, now he’s to the point where he’s using the Johnson Zoo, and he’s cut back his nitrogen fertilizer. I couldn’t tell you the percentages, but it’s impressive. And so a year ago, I had a conversation with him about, well, what does that really mean? Because you can’t take your soul to the bank. And he goes, Oh, but I can. And he was telling me a story about honestly taking Haney soil tests to the bank, and showing that progression showing those data points of what has been able to do with the health of his soil plus his profitability per acre. And so that part has literally paid off for him. So I don’t know, I think that’s a really good question about examples of change. I also think that it comes in surprising places. And so we have to do our part and the soil health community and the regenerative ag community, we have to have high integrity, we have to make sure that we’re not also only highlighting Disneyland farms. I had a person tell me from another nonprofit a long time ago. Yeah, but that person, that person’s on a Disneyland farm they’re 20 years into it.
Well, don’t discredit somebody that’s put 20 years into the soil health movement, just because you want to see a silver bullet, or you want to see an immediate response. So they didn’t become Disneyland farmers. overnight. It took them 20 years. So don’t start at that level, work on it. But what I will tell you is that those early adopters of the Regenerative Ag movement are going to make it easier on the rest of us, we’re going to be able to learn from the pathways or the failures or things that didn’t work out.
- What is that baseline? And how do we appropriately reward those that have been practicing good agricultural practices or regenerative practices?
Christy Apple said: I think there’s a lot of value to be extracted. And I hate to even like to use that word, because it almost sounds capitalistic in the way that we’re approaching this, but there has to be some type of reward. So aside from like, your traditional programs, like your NRCS programs, equip and RCEP and things like that. There’s grants out there to help offset some of the cost and also the delay in as you go through that transition process from a regenerative perspective, there’s going to be in the way that you monetize that. So one thing that I’m really excited to see is the climate smart movement. All politics aside, I think that it’s it’s meant to structure or incentivize in some way shape or form, at least having these conversations, I think a huge hurdle in in that shift from the the chemical perspective of crop management to the biological perspective, which Jessica Gnad beautifully outlined, has to do with the fact that the chemical agricultural practices are so ingrained. If you have ever thought of fighting the system, this is it.
And this is why we talk about holistic, holistic nutrient management strategies, our holistic, pest management strategies, we’re literally saying, this is stuff that nature’s already doing, that nature is capable of doing, if we will get out of the way in some regards. And then also support, or maybe change our equipment. So there’s some capital costs that are associated with shifting your equipment or changing your seed purchases from seed treatments, eliminating some of your pest products that you’re usually applying, and actually shifting over to maybe a cover crop lens. So it’s not that you’re spending less, you may, in fact, be spending more in the first couple of years until you figure out what the right fit is. So there’s a lot of different ways that that just is, has got to be accounted for. We’re trying. And as a craft advisor, myself, I know Jessica Gnad runs into this a lot. And in the group of people that we hold ourselves accountable to, we’re all committed to opening new doors and new strategies for conversations and learning opportunities for farmers. That’s the only way to really make it happen, in my opinion. I want that.
Jessica Gnad commented and said: I think that’s really key. And that goes back to the show. I think that producers also want to be shown, whether it’s looking at different plots, or field studies that we can do, but also show me on the economic side of things. And I think, Mandi Lynn Kerr you’re also talking about, how do you begin that process? Christy Apple has this beautiful like Soul health pyramid that she talks about on how she begins the transition conversation with producers. The key thing to recognize here is that if you don’t have that mindset, to be entering into something new, it’s really not the best conversation to enter into. And you need to be able to identify individuals that want to seek a transition, or seek the change, and then go from there. So that’s how you begin the process. That’s how you begin the baseline if you have to baseline your mind first.
I’m the eternal optimist on a lot of things and or maybe naive, but there are way more people talking about soil than ever before. I feel like I was that chatterbox on social media 10 years ago talking about it and like showing pictures of my backyard, hobby farm, which was a funny farm and our chickens and our goats and donkeys and my kiddos. And people are like, yeah, yeah, whatever. But now some of the most unlikely people in my life, family members and colleagues are like, wow, this is its soil. And I’m like, yeah, as it turns out, I did know about the slide, but I don’t care how they got to the topic. If consumers and our neighbors, our friends or colleagues outside of agriculture, if they are jazzed up about soil, let’s do this.
Mandi Lynn Kerr asked a question from Christy Apple
- As you’ve worked with hemp, how does hemp play a role in converting or transitioning to a regenerative practice? Right now, there are a lot of climate smart commodity applications that I’ve seen go out on behalf of the Association members or the hemp industry because of its carbon, its ability to produce biomass, but I’m really curious about the regenerative practices.
Christy Apple replied and said: There’s some really interesting things about industrial hemp plants in and of itself if we just look at plant architecture, root signaling systems, and root signal signatures. So this also has to be looked at through the lens of the biological impact, right? So anytime we touch our fields, every pass we make on the field, we’re either harming or helping the biological potential sitting there in that space. And when we touch, it’s like a pyramid. My friend, Jeremiah Durbin calls it the three legged stool, right? So what are the chemical processes in the soil, once the biological processes in the soil and once the physical properties of the soil, and so when you touch one of those legs, it’s naturally going to affect the balance of the entire system, right? So what we have to kind of keep our eye on here is, there are specific plants that create specific effects on the biological, chemical and physical properties of the soil. And so as you start diving down rabbit holes, if you’re a farmer, or if you’re an industry professional, looking to educate yourself, what you’re going to hear is this kind of vernacular, right? You’re going to hear these terms and phrases.
And you’re going to start, seeing how these things thread together. Let me say this, there’s a couple of serious caveats that need to be applied to all of this, not only do you need to look at this from the with the biological lens kind of first, but you also have to recognize the regional specificity of the soil structures of your weather patterns and environmental patterns, what works in just because neighborhood is not necessarily the right recipe for what works here in Central Michigan, where we’re predominantly Glacial Till, and we have, six inches of topsoil, and we’ve never been prairie, where she in her farming region was, once upon a time, all prairie are all just those things can affect those choices you make and the outcomes that you’ll have. So that’s part of the learning process. And that’s part of the transitioning process. Right? So those are important caveats that I always want to make sure we’re talking about. And so as it relates to the industrial hemp plant, I saw a question pop up in the chat. Yes, absolutely. John Kemp is very involved. In fact, he’s engaged with a good friend of ours who will be speaking tonight on his podcast, Rick Clerk, that’s those relationships. When you when you find other people that speak the same language, there is an attraction that takes place in an energy to attraction that takes place which is what has brought like Jessica and myself together along with people like Rick Clark and Lauren Stein laggy and the Jimmy Evans of the world and the RE Archer letters right like it’s a it’s a group of people that have very similar mindset and very similar value systems and passions for moving farmers into long term productivity and success and and resiliency not just checking boxes of sustainability for a program to participate. So hemp when we look at plant architecture, for any cover cropping system or any multi cropping system, we always want to look at what the roots can handle, what does the root system look like? What is this? all in all, how does this impact this plant going to impact the processes in the soil everything from water infiltration to nutrient cycling, to eventually carbon sequestration, but maybe even water, extractable nutrient availability, which is all information we can we can garner from the the Haney soil testing series. So there’s a whole series of tests within that working with a good friend Lance Gunderson.
So region labs to understand what this looks like on paper mathematically, but when we actually plant hemp out into the field, because it has a very unique group architecture, that is,it runs a very, very narrow classification of plants. It carries both fibrous roots, as well as a tap root, as well as tertiary roots or incendiary roots which will help to stabilize because it has these the potential for multiple root structures, what happens also there is there’s different signatures of root exudates that are kicked out through those different roof styles. And so similarly, there’s water and nutrients accessed through these different routing systems back into the plant at different depths, which are getting different signatures of nutritional value back up to the plant. So we have to recognize that these plants exist in a symbiotic relationship with the soil microorganisms, and that affects how the plant can access nutrients when we’re applying fertility to a field, whether that be in the form of compost, mulching, commercial, chemical, fertilizer, whatever it is, what you’re doing is providing a food source for certain specific microbial properties or population gins as it relates to what the plant needs, they’ll do something with what you’ve put out there create new compounds that the plant can uptake the plant convert sunlight into sugars and kicks those back out through the root system. So this relationship is very intermingled. If I’m planning my entire field to say soybeans this year in corn the following year and wheat the next year, that’s what we would consider a three year rotation or a three crop rotation, where I see hemp being a tremendous value is fitting into a commercial cropping system rotation for farmers that are looking to regenerate soil.
And so as our supply chain and and the entire market industry infrastructure continues to develop for industrial hemp, we’re opening pathways and doorways, at for that crop to be utilized as a cash crop, whether it be for the grain or for the actual biomass being converted into bioplastics or textiles, whatever that may be. And as that supply chain develops, the farmer will be able to use that as the primary but until those supply chains develop, have matured more, what we can do is actually utilize him along with these other cropping systems, because it’s very, very tall. It’s not ideal for intercropping because it grows so vastly tall, it just isn’t ideal for intercropping. It competes too much for sunlight to be companion crops with corn, say for example, the planting the planting window for it, and its diversity, which our friends at South Bend, hemp and a couple of other project partners that are doing some research on actual seed performance are looking at things like can we plan it along with as a companion to another crop simultaneously, which would be more of a traditional intercropping relationship or scenario.
But I see this also planting it after a wheat crop in the way that we would maybe plant it along with a blend of other seeds and other plant types like potentially if we’re trying to eliminate compaction or if we’re trying to improve soil quality or soil tilth, it might be a really neat tool to plant after wheat crop or small grain crop, allow it to it’s not going to reach maturity before frost necessarily because of the amount of time that it takes to do that.
But potentially, depending on where you’re located and growing, you could utilize that in combination with so instead of planting it as a primary crop,, 60 pounds of seed per acre, maybe you’re planting 20 pounds of hemp per acre along with five pounds, or six pounds of radishes and a few pounds of rice or something else to to help impact the soil. All of these different plants have a different impact on soil quality. So depending on what our needs are for that farm, hemp could easily fit into that as a tool to help recover soil, improve water infiltration or nutrient cycling on the rotational basis where it’s a primary crop. I feel like we need more supply chain and market development for us to be able to justify that to get mainstream farmers to jump in and plant 100 plus acres or 1000 acres into their rotation. But I see us getting there. And because of the implications of the soil quality component here, and the ability to access nutrients that are completely tied up in the soil. without applying additional fertilizer, the hemp can largely supply a lot of the nutrients it needs on its own. It may only need a little bit of support from a nitrogen source of some kind which can be accessed through lots of different manures and composts and alternatives. So there’s some really neat things to look at there from an agronomic standpoint. And, and part of the smart climate impact that’s taking place right now and these grants that are coming through, that’s why we’re seeing a large portion of those, in my opinion, disproportionately large amounts of hemp.
People have made it through the first pass because there are some really neat environmental implications here, which really gets me excited about,, getting this message out on a mainstream basis with legitimate researchers and with universities that can get behind that to really put the teeth into that research. And to prove out exactly what I’ve been preaching for since minute one.
Jessica Gnad elaborated and stated: Christie Apple also mentioned self-improvement. In the grand scheme of things, our friend Melissa Baldwin was my neighbor to the north. I’m really looking forward to finally meeting her in person.
This is what I love about this community and I’m just gonna say it this community of women we all are out there getting it done and Um, we don’t wait around for somebody to figure it out,it’s just, when I met Melissa, she was home doing everything she was doing. I was like, this is fantastic. So, I think in Kansas, there’s some ridiculous barriers that the hemp market faces and a lot of different states. And so I wouldn’t say that I know a lot of that I know John would have, he’s kind of been the person that helped get the hemp industry going here in the United States, so we should ping him or even I saw Nicole Ragland was on the call. I don’t know if she has any. I know Oklahoma probably has better things. Oh, my friend, Jennifer Holmes is on this call. And she’s doing more hemp discovery in Kansas. And so honestly, all these people would probably have a better insight into that. I mean, what I do know is that diversity is key, crop diversity is key, and as many different revenue streams that we can produce for farmers is absolutely what we need to be.
That’s what we need to be doing. There should be zero barriers to allowing producers the ability to stack operations and make more money per acre intercropping, multi-cropping multicast crops on the same field. I mean, we shouldn’t be figuring out how to do all that. It’s honestly ridiculous that we’ve had various in the past.
Mandi Lynn Kerr said.
- We talked about where hemp plays a big role in this climate. Smart commodity opportunity is just what you said being another crop that’s added to rotation, let alone the biomass that it produces for carbon sequestration. And then it’s my understanding, and I just have a question, I guess, is it true that 40% of the carbon is sequestered above ground and 60% below ground?
Good point. There’s three domains, right roots, shoots and fruit, right. So grain, then the shoot, this is all the materials that the aftermath, and then roots, right, we’re talking about roots. I have a curiosity for a fourth piece that I think is coming up and Christie Apple has alerted us to assist the form of exude exudate, which is the, you’re feeding essentially the soil structures of life right through these exudates. But I’ve asked a number of times, I said, in a corn crop of, 200 bushels an acre, what sort of production of exudate? Does the corn crop make in terms of the materials that it’s using to fund and feed and then promote this soil life stuff. So that’s a feature I don’t quite fully understand. The ratios of root chute and fruit are, you know, there’s some fine finesse between different types, you know, soybeans are not the same as tall sorghum and, you know, corn and hemp and whatnot. So, but the Yeah, the idea of, you know, the above ground mass versus the root mass, I think, is 6040. That’s, I’ve also heard like 50 or 45 55, sort of thing. So that’s what I know about it. I’ve always been curious about those three ratios, but as well as this exudate stuff, I think there’s something really deep merit in that in how you promote the crop also to produce exudate. Because that’s the shock, the feedstock for the soil health and of this stuff.
Jessica Gnad asked everyone a question:
If we’re growing that mono crop, and we’re constantly pulling that crop off 100% of the Reds residue coming back in with tillage, we don’t have that exit date working, right. Isn’t that what we’re talking about with regenerative agriculture? So, Neil, you’re talking about this potential of having more carbon, putting that carbon down, pumping it down into the soil, which is our goal. But if we’re constantly pumping that back out, then just it doesn’t see.
Neil replied and said: And that’s, that’s one of the issues with the hemp business, right? Because you essentially remove 100% of the biomass. From all you leave are stumps and roots, right. And so that’s all it that’s kind of, that’s a tough one for the crop rotation sciences, right to say, well, how does this work? In these sessions, I don’t know, maybe four or five months ago, there was one fellow who might have been out of Michigan, who mentioned that they had seen a corn bump after hump after hemp, meaning that there was some sort of a yield effect in the corn crop following hemp. But it was more of an observational thing rather than a, you know, a measured result.
Christie Apple added and said: I think there’s something there’s something to the plant architecture, the plant root architecture, for the industrial hemp that I’ll just I’ll just say this, that is being looked at heavily with some of these grant funded research projects. Because in order to measure those things, it requires a degree of ridiculous amount of instrumentation and documentation over time, right. So a single year of anecdotal evidence is wonderful and encouraging. But it is just that and so what is happening behind the scenes, in several circles now is, is not just specifically in industrial hemp, but also for research in, you know, these five way 10 Way 30 Whey seed mixes and what is the effect on from the root exudates perspective? You know, so what is it doing to the soil biological populations, there is a pest management implications there when we’re when we have this great diversity. There’s lots of predatorial microbes that restrict and limit the flow of pathogenic problems that we otherwise would have to treat with fungicides. So like there is, there are implications far beyond just a number value to what that root exudates diversity looks like. And those root exudates signatures look like.
There’s more, you know, micro biology in a packet of sugar, right like that much soil, if you took a packet of sugar and made that soil there’d be something in the neighborhood of 4 billion microbes that exist in just a gram of soil. So if you wrap your head around that on a macro scale, there’s any number of things that could happen when we introduce these different cropping systems. And although yes, when we’re harvesting for fiber, you know, we’re leaving the stover and the root last, but even whatever we’re leaving behind there in the soil, whether it does involve some tillage or or not in a naturally degrades over time, it does have an impact on microbe on nutrient cycling, on water infiltration and all of these other measures, which is why farmers have been, it has been suggesting that they’re receiving some type of yield impact in the following crop.
And so whether or not we can put our finger specifically on, is it more carbon? Is it more diverse carbon, right, I think we get, we get kind of in the layman terms we think carbon is carbon see is its elemental symbol, and it’s a little blob that looks like this. And actually, that’s not what’s happening. It’s actually tied up in all these different chains and forms of different lengths with different signatures, having different functionality within the soil context. Jessica mentioned it when she started talking about how important context is. And so originality context can impact how much clay you naturally have, how much sand percent you naturally have, can impact how much carbon is even capable of being stored there in the first place. So I think that it’s really important, we’re at work, you know, we’re, we’ve talked about this so many times, I’ve been a part of this organization for a long time now. And it always comes up, right, we’re still in the labor and delivery room of, of an industry. And the impacts of the invention of an industry or the reinvention of an industry, I guess you could say, has all these, you know, look like these, like the side arms. And the soil health impact of industrial hemp, I think is going to become very, very powerful in a very, very Pandora’s box type of, you know, tools. And the more research we can put behind that and the more energy that we can put into those conversations and getting actionable results from that, the better decisions we can help farmers make so that we can prosper the farmer while we’re recovering our soil. Right. And so, you know, as far as the percentage of acres that are in organic production is super tiny, the percentage of acres in regenerative production are super, super tiny. And I’ve even heard people say, even the percentage of hemp is just a fraction of a fraction of a fraction. And all I have to say to all of that is, what if we’re not looking at different ways to improve our processes, eventually, the farmer is going to fail. And so if we as industry partners can help to prosper the farmer while we’re also prospering our soil, you know, long lived the soil as our soil goes, so will we go.
So this is important work and exciting work. And I think that that fourth element of the root exudates is what makes industrial hemp so beautiful, unique and what gets me energized about you know, about the implications there.
Scott Gellispie said: I want to talk about that, like with, sequestering or with how that all works. So when a plant initially gets its first growing, it’s growing its roots, and then it grows at chute. And so as Neil said, like, once we, if we can stop the growth of it, just before it goes into vegetative, it’s probably going to sequester the most amount of carbon in the soil because got most of his resources in the roots are, it’s it’s built up its roots ready to reproduce, but as soon as it starts making a seed, then it’s putting its energy into that. And then the other side of that, too, is that what we grow agriculturally, has been bred to put most of its resources into the seed oriented export. So as an example, there’s Kernza, which is the perennial perennial wheat or perennial lized wheat that they’re trying to develop, and it has very low yields, but it has a very big root system. And so but the more they try to get the, the more you try to get yield out of it, then the less roots you’re going to have. Because it’s, you know, there’s only so much energy in the system. So if something builds up a lot of roots, it can stay a long time, and it can build the soil and it can do more exudates but then it’s not going to make as much above ground but like a prairie grass that has 10 foot roots. It doesn’t care what it makes above ground every year as long as it survives so whereas when we’re growing any type of crop we want, we’ve bred them to make more, more above ground, and then we export more. So it’s a challenge because it’s hard to take if you want to sequester then you can’t take as much away.
John Roulac commented and said: A bit familiar with the hemp plant wrote a book called industrial hemp back in 1995. And then hemp horizons in 1997 and helped pioneer hemp foods that we imported from Canada. I’ll just share that, hemp is a hemp that can do a lot of things. It also receives a lot of attention and claims from people that it doesn’t always do. A lot of farmers have lost a lot of money over the last 30 years based on people saying hemp was going to do something and it ended up not doing it. So I encourage farmers to be very cautious before you grow hemp unless you have a contract. The CBD was a classic example. Turns out you only need six 7000 acres for everybody to be doing plenty of CBD. And yet 50,000 People lost their farms. It was a horror story. The CBD Now it didn’t hurt, it didn’t help with the FDA attacking the industry etc. But one thing hemp is good for is in England, they noticed when they grew they folded hemp with winter wheat, that there was a 20% increase yield and winter wheat. And I believe it’s because of the reduction in weed pressure. Though there needs to be more research on that. The challenge with hemp is it’s a heavy nitrogen feeder, it likes as much nitrous and corn. And you just can’t make the economics work so easily. If you’re gonna have to, you know whether whether you’re gonna grow alfalfa, you know, in a regenerative system, or you’re going to plot apply synthetic fertilizer which the majority of farmers in the US and Canada Do you know it fertile you know, nitrogen fertilizer is very expensive unless you’re doing it you know, with alfalfa, that means you have to let the field fallow, you know and grow, grow your fertilizer crop. So, the yield on hemp is very low from a seed crop perspective. Hemp foods are just not taken off, I mean, I pioneered selling hemp foods and Canada does very well when the hemp market but it’s probably I don’t know, Andy, what the acres are now and that has been involved in the last few years. But it’s probably like under 80,000 acres. So it has potential with fiber. But again, the dominant players of fiber have been China for textiles. and in Europe. Most of the fiber companies have gone bankrupt at least two times, except for maybe hint flex because they have a wealthy benefactor. So it makes great insulation. You know, there’s potential there. Plastics are overrated, in my view. You know, building materials if fiber becomes more expensive and shipping things longer distances, that’s where hemp has been gaining momentum the last year or two because of the cost of transportation. But it’s overhyped, in a lot of ways. It’s got great potential. I’m a big fan of it and spent a lot of my years researching.
Mandi Lynn Kerr said: We’re starting to see more public private partnerships and government support for infrastructure that will help support the scale of it. Church to focus less on the cannabinoid markets and more on the fiber and green mark.
John Roulac commented and said: There is a company that’s working to increase the yield. I think if you could wave, if you could get money to increase the if you can increase the yield by hemp, and basically there’s been very little I mean, what is what is corn increase has been in the last 40 years, its massive uptake in terms of the yield and hemp hasn’t had hardly any increase in yield some but not that much. But if we can increase the yield that would really help the seed market. And there’s a company, I think it’s called Revolution hemp out of Kentucky, and they’re working on the protein they develop that tastes better than any protein on the market. It’s just very expensive. So if, if, if you can, if you can increase the yield that make a big difference, but I’ll leave it at that, but a lot of potential. And it has its has its challenges, like any up and coming crop
Mandi Lynn Kerr added and said: Yes, we’re definitely at the forefront of this industry. And I kind of I mean, I actually really appreciate the reality of the conversation and that no, all of us on this call, have seen it mis-sold or oversold, and so many farmers hurt. And so I think that is a real discussion. And this is really my goal in bridging this gap when we talk about where hemp plays a role in regenerative agriculture? What is the reality of that? And, and as these conversations come up, and because hemp is entering those conversations over and over again, and yeah, I want to be realistic about bridging those gaps and making sure that the education is getting to the farmers who are addressing this issue.
Jessica Gnad added and commented and said: That’s what’s happened in the last two years, and the way we’ve accelerated our communication methods, whether it’s with soil health, regenerative agriculture, specialty crops, or hemp production, we’re seeing people hungry for ideas and change. So we need to stay the course, we need to keep, we need to keep, as Christy and I discussed, building integrity in the industry and being there for when big sweeping change is about to happen. And we talk a lot about these, you know, you were talking about private partnerships coming in. And being able to advance this and scale this. And I don’t know, I mean, we’ve got to keep our options open, we gotta keep pushing forward. So for all of you, especially a lot of you that are on this call, because we are, I always joke I had a good friend on that call who said you’re in a fishbowl, Jessica, you’re like you’re only talking to the people that already know about what you’re talking about. So we have to expand our horizon, we have to be talking to our consumers and talking to our neighbors about what we can do. Because here’s the thing, this is dire. You know, like I said, I like to keep things on the up and up and positive.
But, at the same time, it appears that we must make changes to all aspects of agriculture. Okay. And that’s why I see so many people stepping in; I see companies that have approached Great Plains degeneration in ways that would blow your mind, that are uncomfortable, that are global leaders, and they’re like, oh, man, we don’t know what we’re doing. Right. And once you start peeling back that onion, you realize that our communication is more than just selling a product; we’ve all been sold a product; it’s time to sell it; we don’t need to sell it to the kitchen; let’s provide education.Let’s get everyone on the right track. Let us assist farmers in making excellent decisions about what they want to do. I mean, I don’t know a single producer who doesn’t want to make the best decisions possible. Let us assist them in accomplishing this.
Christie Apple added and said: If we could just remember a couple of key points from this conversation, I think we’d be fine. Obviously, educational integrity is critical, but so are contextual factors, right? It’s so easy to look at our neighbor’s yard or, you know, follow a YouTuber who’s doing some region stuff and say, “Well, I can’t do that here,” or, you know, the Disneyland farm. Consider those early pioneers. They all answer their phones, and they always return phone calls from people who have been doing this for a long time and doing it well. If you don’t know where to begin, the national Noto network has a fantastic resource bank. They do, in fact, have no till plus or region filters on their networks. Having people, there are excellent ways for you to begin educating yourself about not only the principles of regenerative agriculture, but also farm applications and the Shomi approach. So context, education, and then networking, right like that is those are the three things that will help move your you forward, maybe we’ll help you to develop what your goals are for your particular farm, or for a farm that you’re involved in, or that you maybe represent or your segment of the industry that you can actually give, you know, educate yourself, and then bring that back to your circle of influence with some good, you know, some good input. So I would keep those three things kind of at the forefront of this conversation. So context, education, and networking are the three things that will help you move forward. Maybe we’ll help you develop what your goals are for your specific farm, or for a farm that you’re involved in, or that you may represent, or for your segment of the industry that you can actually give, you know, educate yourself, and then bring that back to your circle of influence with some good, you know, some good input. So I’d keep those three points at the forefront of this discussion.