Brandon Family Photo

‘God, I could really use a little help here.’

For Brandon Bock, it was a crisis of conscience. “I saw all of those grasshoppers at the edge of my spring wheat field. I knew I shouldn’t apply an insecticide, but it ran counter to everything I had done before,” the 37-year-old farmer from Foxholm, North Dakota, says.  “The spring wheat was starting to flower and normally would get sprayed with a fungicide and insecticide in one pass around this stage."
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Confounding Economics: The Farm Income Mirage and How to Prepare for the Future

Confounding Economics: The Farm Income Mirage and How to Prepare for the Future Allen Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag, LLC Recent articles have left me scratching my head about the state of U.S. farm economics, especially looking at conflicting titles like, “Farm Income to Hit 7-Year High, Thanks to Record-Setting Aid” and “Farm Cash Receipts Forecasted …

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Kiss the Ground

“Kiss the Ground.” Understanding Ag’s Ray Archuleta, Gabe Brown and Kris Nichols, Ph.D. Upcoming ‘Kiss the Ground’ Movie Features Three Understanding Ag Experts Questions and Answers with Our ‘In-House’ Stars By Ron Nichols, Understanding Ag Kiss the Ground is a new, feature-length movie that explores key soil health and regenerative agricultural principles, and features interviews …

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Unintended Consequences of Crop Insurance

The ‘Unintended’ Consequences of Taxpayer-Subsidized Crop Insurance

By Doug Peterson There are many things that influence what a person does and how well they take care of the land they own or operate. Several studies show that any kind of absentee or non-operating landowner (investors, heirs, retirees) generally do not invest in conservation on the land as much as owner-operators. There are …

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Where Human Health Begins: One Farmer’s Story of Regeneration

By Ron Nichols Sometimes, adversity is a blessing, though rarely does it seem so in the moment. Just ask Roy Thompson, a 33-year-old farmer from Akaska, South Dakota. At age 20, Roy was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that the Mayo Clinic’s website describes as “both painful and debilitating, and sometimes may …

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Farmer Macauley Kincaid

‘Dad, I think you’re the greatest farmer in the world’ Checking in on the regenerative journey of Macauley Kincaid

By Ron Nichols I first spoke with the then 25-year-old Macauley Kincaid a little over a year ago, shortly after he attended a Soil Health Academy school. After that experience, Macauley went back to his Southwest Missouri farm and began applying the insights and recommendations from SHA’s experts with what can only be described as …

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Six Steps to Control Internal External Parasites

Don’t Let it Bug You Six Steps to Control Internal & External Parasites

Allen R Williams, Ph.D. Parasite control in livestock is a major issue and has been heavily focused on for several decades now.  There are numerous anthelmintics (chemical dewormers) available for internal parasite control and a host of pyrethroid and organophosphate products available for fly control.  The issue with any of these products is that they …

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A tale of two industries

A Tale of Two Industries

Allen R Williams, Ph.D. The 1859 novel written by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities, was required reading for millions of school kids in English Literature classes and is one of the best-selling novels of all time. The story is set in the late 18th century against the background of the French Revolution. Just …

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Can food be our medicine?

Can Food Be Our Medicine

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag, LLC Did you know that the health of plants, animals, ecosystems and humans is inextricably tied to plant phytochemical diversity? So, what are phytochemicals? In short, they are compounds naturally produced by plants that help the plants thrive in challenging conditions, fight off competitors, pest insects and disease. When …

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Most Radical Act you can do - Grow Your Own Food

The Most Radical Act You Can Do: Grow Your Own Food!

Ray Archuleta, Understanding Ag, LLC Concerns about the US food chain supply made their way into the mainstream this week, as more meat processing and packaging plants suspend operations temporarily due to coronavirus outbreaks in the workforce. When Smithfield Foods announced it was shutting its Sioux Falls plant indefinitely, CEO Ken Sullivan warned that doing …

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Summer Grazing Success

Dr. Allen’s 10 Tips for Summer Grazing Success

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag LLC By the time you read this we will be fully into summer 2020.  In many parts of the country it has been much cooler than normal well into the month of May.  Even here in Mississippi we have had a very pleasant spring.  Nighttime temperatures in the 40s …

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It's time for change

It’s Time for a Change

by Shane New and Gabe Brown Empty shelves and meat cases in grocery stores, oil at negative prices, record unemployment, skyrocketing national debt, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many aspects of our lives. This crisis has exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of our current system, prompting the need and opportunity for a change. Change has …

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Nurturing a Healthy Relationship with Our Food

Nurturing a Healthy Relationship with Our Food

By Ray Archuleta, Understanding Ag, LLC Food is relationship In my previous blog, I examined several institutional, philosophical and educational issues that have created unintended social distancing in agriculture. In this article, I want to shift the focus to examine another type of “social distancing.” This one involves the “relationship” we have with our food.  …

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Building a More Resilient Food System

Regenerating Human Health & Building a More Resilient Food System: Calls to Action Among Farmers, Consumers, and Healthcare Practitioners

By Sara Keough MS, CNS, LDN – Eco-Nutritionist “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry which pays no attention to food.”-Wendell Berry It may have been this quote from one of my heroes, farmer and activist Wendell Berry, that inspired me years ago …

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Education and the “Social Distancing” of Agriculture

Education and the “Social Distancing” of Agriculture

Ray Archuleta, Understanding Ag, LLC Recently, I went to a local sandwich shop, hoping for a sit-down lunch. But instead I walked into a nearly empty restaurant. This empty area made me feel uneasy, like I had walked into a futuristic sci-fi movie displaying the de-population of humans by some strange pestilence.  A sense of …

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Time for a Garden

Time for a Garden

By Gabe Brown, Understanding Ag, LLC It’s the time of the year when many of us are thinking about growing a garden.  With the ongoing pandemic highlighting the importance of having a healthy immune system, it is more important than ever that we do what we can to ensure that we are growing and consuming …

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Let’s be Responsible

Let’s be Responsible

By Shane New  Understanding Ag, LLC I want to preface this blog by stating up front that some may find the contents controversial.  My intentions are not to belittle the current situation, anyone or anything an individual does. My intention is to promote thought and conversation as to how our country can move forward so we, …

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Invest in Yourself

Invest in Yourself

By Gabe Brown and Shane New, Understanding Ag, LLC The continuing COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on economies all over the world.  Businesses are being closed, work hours reduced and many people have been laid off. The stock market has lost a full one-third of its value in a very short time.  This …

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So, do you really want to plant corn

So, do you really want to plant corn?

With corn planting underway in many parts of the country, I couldn’t help but think just how risky that decision is.  I am not talking about risk from the standpoint of weather and concerns regarding growing conditions—I am talking specifically about the decision to plant corn, period. Look at the data from the latest farming …

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Gather ‘Round - Turkey Dinner

“Gather ‘Round”

by Gabe Brown, Understanding Ag, LLC Partner So here we are, in a situation that most of us have never been in: spending the majority of our time “in lockdown.”  We are used to the frantic pace that is life. While the kids eat a quick breakfast of processed cereal, we make sure they have …

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Healthy Gut, Healthy Body

Healthy Gut, Healthy Body

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag, LLC Partner We often think of ourselves as a single organism called a person.  However, we are actually made up of a dazzling array of parts (arms, legs, ears, nose, eyes, etc.) and pieces (heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, stomach, intestines, etc.).  Somehow all these parts and pieces function as …

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Wake Up, America!

Wake Up, America!

By Gabe Brown and Shane New, Understanding Ag LLC With the chaos occurring in our country at present, we need to slow down, gather our thoughts and “touch bottom.”  This story, shared with me by a former Navy SEAL, illustrates this point.   In one training exercise, the SEAL candidates’ hands are tied together, as well as …

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Why Regenerative Agriculture?

Why Regenerative Agriculture?

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag, LLC As I described in my preceding blog, it is getting crazy out there and the panic buying is not subsiding.  What is occurring in our nation, and around the world, only serves to substantiate why we need regenerative agriculture now more than ever.  It is no longer just about …

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Salvaging a Profit in the Current Cattle Market

Salvaging a Profit in the Current Cattle Market

By Gabe Brown and Shane New, Understanding Ag, LLC The continuing downward slide in the cattle market has left many with knots in their stomachs.  Should one “jump ship” and sell at what is most likely a loss, or does one hang on for a while longer?  Instead of making a quick decision based on …

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Common Sense During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Common Sense During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., Understanding Ag  We are now experiencing times that many alive today have never been exposed to. We are witnessing our own human condition and our response to something that seems overwhelming and possibly insurmountable. The tangible result is being manifested in widespread panic and fear. Fear that we will run out of …

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“Time to Rethink Our Food System”

Gabe Brown and Shane New A trip to the local grocery store today turns up many empty shelves—a sight that most Americans have not seen before.  This is just one of a myriad of ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak. Without a doubt, this will affect us for months to come.   But we feel this puts …

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The Unintended Consequences of Pesticides

Allen R Williams, Ph.D.Understanding Ag, LLC Continuing the discussion around unintended consequences, all we have to do is look around us and the evidence is staring us in the face. We simply have to recognize and acknowledge the facts before us.  In the process of doing that though, we also have to admit that we …

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New Poll - Regenerative Ag Benefits Include Peace of Mind

New Poll: Regenerative Ag Benefits Include ‘Peace of Mind’

By Ron Nichols, SHA/UA Communications Consultant Under the heading of “In case you needed even more reasons to switch to regenerative farming,” a recent poll conducted by South Dakota State University indicates that a significantly higher percentage of farmers who are using soil health-improving practices in their operations experience less stress, are more satisfied with farming and …

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The Unintended Consequences of Fake Meat

The Unintended Consequences of Fake Meat

Allen R Williams, Ph.D., SHA Instructor & Co-Founder Consumers are currently being bombarded with commercials and ads for various forms of what I term “fake meat.” Curiously, many who are manufacturing and selling these products, as well as their supporters, prefer to call them “clean proteins.” The ads appear to be almost everywhere—on the TV, …

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The Unintended Consequences of Poor Soil Health

The Unintended Consequences of Poor Soil Health

By Allen R Williams, Ph.D.Understanding Ag, Partner & Consultant The Year 2019 presented numerous challenges to farmers and grazers, and consumers.  Among them were significant flooding, dust storms, cyanobacteria (algal) blooms, prevent planting, glyphosate residue issues, and fake meats.  Any one of these challenges is a serious enough issue to deal with, but all of …

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The Unintended Consequences of Conventional Ag

By Allen R Williams, Ph.D.Understanding Ag, Partner & Consultant Farming and food production have become hot-button issues today and can be a very confusing subject for consumers to sort out.  Farming practices and food production have been linked to a number of things that consumers are concerned about including climate change, harmful runoff, animal welfare, …

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‘It Can’t Be Done Here’ and Other Regenerative Lessons from the Heart of the Dust Bowl

Michael “Storm” Casper, Understanding Ag, LLC. We farm in southeast Colorado, in the state’s semi-arid, 15-inch rainfall area.  The elevation is around 4,500 feet and our relative humidity is dry most of the time.  Typical dryland crop rotations include wheat, grain sorghum, summer fallow.  Corn is also grown on dryland along with various other crops …

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value of your farms carbon

What’s the real value of your farm’s carbon? Let’s do the math.

By Shane New and Gabe BrownUnderstanding Ag, LLC There is a lot of talk going around rural America about paying farmers and ranchers to sequester carbon. Given the current low commodity prices, more money flowing to rural America would be welcome. But, what is that carbon really worth? We decided to do the math. Oil …

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Time for change: The compelling case for regenerative agriculture

Gabe Brown, Understanding Ag, LLC You cannot pick up a farm magazine, listen to a farm radio program, or talk to an agri-business spokesperson without hearing the words “regenerative agriculture.” But what is regenerative agriculture and why is it creating such interest?Merriam-Webster dictionary defines regeneration as, “a renewal or restoration of a biological system after …

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Do Cover Crops Pay

Do Cover Crops Pay?

By Kent Solberg, Understanding Ag, LLCWe have all seen the articles and heard the claims: Cover crops have many great benefits. However, from land grant universities to rural cafes people are asking “Yeah, but do cover crops pay?” In other words, is there an immediate return on investment? You should know that what you are …

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The story of Oktibbeha County, Mississippi A Microcosm of Our Dying Farms and Rural Communities

Author: Allen Williams PhD In the first half of the 1900’s Oktibbeha County, Mississippi had more than 800 small dairy farms. The large number of dairy farms earned the county the nickname of “Little Wisconsin.” These farms were using smaller breeds, like the Jersey and Guernsey, and the herds were primarily grazing. The climate at …

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Tribute to a Grazing Hero

Allen R Williams, Ph.D. Once in every few generations someone comes along who defies all conventions and turns things on their ear. To do this, it takes a truly unique person who does not care what their neighbors think or what the world thinks. Instead, they doggedly pursue what they believe to be right. Such …

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Nature: Friend or Foe?

By: Allen R Williams, Ph.D. Without even realizing it, for well over than a century, American farmers have had the idea that nature is a beast to be tamed and contained. If we want to be good farmers and ranchers we must conquer nature and overcome her. We have invented many mechanical and chemical tools …

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Three Principles to Graze By

Three Principles to Graze By

My consulting partners and I teach a form of grazing that we call Adaptive Grazing. Adaptive grazing, also called Flex Grazing, is first and foremost not a rigid system or even a routine. It allows the practitioner to address multiple goals and objectives, and to adjust to changing conditions. The benefits derived from adaptive grazing …

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Calving in Sync with Nature

By Paul Brown It wasn’t too long ago that February and March were our busiest and most stressful months on the ranch. Like most other ranchers in the area, it was calving season for us. For years we calved during this time of year because it was “normal.” The argument is that the calves would …

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The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

By Allen R. Williams and Russ Conser Lion King, as with all Disney movies, has a great plot and some catchy tunes, but also a deeper moral to the story. In this case – it is about the “circle of life.” Circles have no beginning or end. If we start anywhere on a circle, and …

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Epigenetics: Blessing or Curse

By Allen R Williams, Ph.D. Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. Genes occur in pairs and code for specific traits or combinations of traits in the body. Most genes can have significant variation in the degree to which they …

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Supersize Me

Supersize Me

By Allen R. Williams, Ph.D. Since the 1970’s there has been a trend in the beef cattle industry to select for larger cattle. This has been the result of a dogged pursuit for heavier weaning weights, higher yearling weights, desiring to bein the top 10% of breed EPDs in growth traits, and “producing what the …

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Grass Genetics Selection 101

By Allen R Williams, Ph.D. To most people genetic selection can be a complicated task. There is so much data out there that many folks get lost in the translation. What to use and how much emphasis to put on each trait becomes an overwhelming issue. EPD’s, actual trait measurements, phenotype, pedigrees, ultrasound data, linear …

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Let’s Be Disruptive

By Allen R. Williams Ph.D. The final principle in our series is the Principle of Disruption. We may have a negative connotation of the word “disruptive” because we have heard that “nobody wants a disruptive kid” or we “have to be nice and not disrupt the meeting”. However, sometimes it pays to be disruptive, to …

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The Principle of Diversity

By Allen R Williams, Ph.D What is the Principle of Diversity? It is quite simple. In my experience in working with several thousand farmers and ranchers across a wide variety of environments and landscapes, I have found that plant species complexity and diversity are critical to building positive compounding and cascading benefits. In that regard, …

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Water Follows Carbon

Water Follows Carbon

By Allen Williams & Russ Conser Last month we talked about your role in managing grazing to keep the carbon-centric circle of life cycling. This month, we’ll dig deeper into how the cycling of carbon in this circle leads the cycling of water. The fact that water is really important for growing plants is not …

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