Lee and I just returned from the 2018 Grassfed Exchange conference which was hosted in Rapid City, SD this year. WOW! What an amazing, energizing experience! So many new relationships formed and such powerful information shared. Much of the information shared would leave most people feeling hopeless, however, we are encouraged because all the science shared this past Thursday & Friday points to the fact that we are an active part of the critical solution which is invigorating and makes us want to get back home and keep grinding!
This year’s Exchange drew a crowd of about 650 attendees from all over the world. The demographic consisted mostly of farmers, ranchers, scientists, biologists and concerned consumers. Lee was asked to speak on a 3 person panel on Friday representing bison marketing, processing and distribution from which he had a great response.
To keep this short, I’ll hammer home some facts that help tell the story of the weekend…
One gentleman said, “We’re standing on the rooftop of another world.”
And another, “We are not a farm, we are an ecosystem. And we aren’t in control, the bugs are.”
***Biodiversity is critical to creating and sustaining healthy soils. A study was done to count every living organism in one cubic foot of soil to try to index it’s health and resilience…
Corn Field = 482 species
Soybean Field = 172 species
Cattle Dung = 127 species
Prairie = 2771 species
***South Dakota has only 1% true native prairie remaining.
***Pollinators are vital to the natural world’s ability to reproduce.
***70% of South Dakota’s insects have disappeared.
***There are 30,000 insects in the world. Only 1-1.5% of them are pests… and we’ve developed insecticides to effectively kill them all in an effort to control the 1.5%.
***Our current pollinator crisis is directly correlated to the use of insecticides.
***A 1% increase in soil carbon increases the soil’s water holding capacity by 27,000 gallons per acre.
***Native prairies sequester 5x more carbon than monoculture fields.
All life depends on the soil.
This is kind of a big deal.
Since we began back in 1994, we’ve been reverting crop land here in the midwest back into native prairie because it was the only way we could get land to graze. We began using regenerative management practices before it was called regenerative because we learned by experience that it was most healthy for the land, the animals, and ultimately, us. Now it’s becoming part of a much larger mission than just a healthier way to raise livestock. In addition, Lee and I attending this conference came on the heels of us, just 2 weeks ago, releasing about 1000 bison onto over 1500 brand new acres of past monoculture cropland that our team has been working to restore and prepare for grazing over the course of more than 2 years. Words cannot describe the feeling.