In harnessing land, Iowa farmer preserves it

  • Article by: JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 29, 2012 - 7:33 AM

Low-chemical approach models sustainable, profitable farming.

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martiankingDec. 28, 1210:18 PM

I wish more farmers would follow Mr. Thompson's lead. But like the article states, this would take some time for the average farmer nowadays to figure out how to do it. I hear that most want to plant one crop and maximize the yield as much as possible, regardless of the consequences to the soil. There is a false sense of not having to worry about what to plant, as long as they drop enough fertilizer, it will grow. Of course, many farms are now huge corporate operations, or tied into co-ops that will only plant one crop, year after year, on the same soil, draining it of all nutrients. It really is a shame that the old time farmers that have a sense of obligation to the country in providing for the food us all, are dying off and leaving us with those that are just whatever they can grow for the greatest profit over all.

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cassell40Dec. 28, 1210:41 PM

May god and mother nature bless this man for being a great steward of the earth. There should be more like this dear sweet man.

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earneditDec. 29, 12 7:46 AM

I hope he lives and farms for another 81 years...

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LicoriceDec. 29, 12 8:21 AM

Applause for this farmer! Governments have contributed to the practice of mono-cropping by subsidizing such. Another incentive for non-sustainable farming has been local taxing policy, I'm told: if you don't plant and harvest something on your farm property, it will be taxed higher as "recreational land." Such backward thinking.

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badgerfan2Dec. 29, 12 8:22 AM

This is more or less how we used to do it as well, up until the 1980s, albeit smaller and with antiquated equipment. Corporate farming took over and we were among the working poor, I was child labor. Dairy farming at that level just was not profitable enough to make a living though a lot of what we ate, we grew ourselves. It's hard for me to believe this is a real model because the amount of work that goes into it would be too much of a deterrent for todays generation. There are some sustainable farming practices just outside of Madison where farmers are using manure to generate electricity, which seems much more promising. What this guy has done is great, but it seems like it has little chance of being the way forward.

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fonzi3Dec. 29, 12 8:23 AM

The giant agribusinesses, some of which are based in the Twin Cities, are all about profits before people. This farmer could teach a lot of CEO's of major corporations a thing or two. Break up the power and influence of Big Business (especially in D.C. and NY), and restore prosperity to the U.S.

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fishheadDec. 29, 12 8:40 AM

It's been shown that cutting down the rainforest breaks the rain cycle and the rains stop. I wonder what plowing another 37,000 square miles of wetland and grassland since 2008 has done to our rain cycle? Native vegetation puts water into the air from spring until fall but row crops don't.

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BroonieDec. 29, 12 9:05 AM

Monsanto does not like this guy! Almost no herbicides and insecticides??? I suspect that any health food chain would be interested in buying the oats... It's doable, but difficult for people to do as a start-up.

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wordmixDec. 29, 12 9:07 AM

One of the problems is that harm to the environment, such as nitrates in the water, is borne by the public and not farm practices. Farmers in my area in northern Minnesota had farmed for at least 50 years in the manner of Mr. Thompson's practices with no nitrate problems. But when corporate farms came in and filled in wetlands, cut down woodlots and treated the soil as a plant stand instead of a substance with an abundance of living organisms the protect plants, we have had increasing nitrate problems in our water. It's the public that has to pay for clean water that's safe to drink.

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fairtax007Dec. 29, 12 9:35 AM

If farmers could not use herbicidies or insecticides our food supply would probably cut in half and food would cost a great deal more. There are still many family farmers that have owned and operate their farms for generations and they try to do the best way they know to protect the environment. Now that property taxes are $45 to $50 per acre and estate taxes are going up makes it very difficult to continue. Farmers that want to continue to farm do not care for high valued farmland because it makes it very hard for the next generation to take over

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