Thanks to the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition and University of Nebraska Extension, Gabe Brown, Bismarck, N.D. producer, brought his philosophy and wit to Nebraska farmers and ranchers during an eight-stop, four-day tour of the state recently. Brown, who has been farming for two decades without using any tillage, has developed a system of cover crops, managed grazing, diverse crop rotations and low inputs on his 2,000 acres of cropland and 3,000 acres of native rangeland. Brown runs between 450 and 500 cow/calf pairs, grazes yearlings and markets grass finished beef. Here are a few of Brown's best quotes from his presentation in Norfolk.
- "On our farm, we try to fail at something every year. How can we learn anything unless we fail?"
- "I like signing the back of checks a lot more than I do signing the front of them."
- "Diversity drives soil health."
- "I need to have options. I don't want to be stuck in a scenario with only one crop or two crops to market."
- "Feed the life in the soil. You have to feed the soil a decent diet if you want it to perform."
- "I don't have to have a perfectly clean field. I put up with more weeds than most people because they are filling a need in nature that I can't fill."
- "If you really want to jumpstart your soil, get manure on it. What better way to do that than to graze?"
- "We lost our crops four consecutive years to drought or hail. Losing four crops in a row was the best thing to happen to me because it made me try different things."
- "For good soil health, you want the least amount of disturbance that is possible. You want armor on your soil surface. You want plant diversity and a living root in the ground as long as possible. And you want to integrate livestock on your cropland."
- "It is up to each and every one of you to try things in your own operations."
You can learn more about Brown's presentation and his unique operation by watching for an upcoming print article in Nebraska Farmer.