Renewable Farming

Consultant Bob Streit: New forces are driving the market for what you grow

 Its only mid-March and already almost all the snowbanks are melted down even in way NW Iowa. The frost is also coming in in most places, and in many cases we are wondering if there ever was much deep frost, being it stayed warm so late last fall. The blackbirds have been singing like they believe spring is here as do the skunks as our dog can attest to, as we can tell when we open the doors in the morning.

While 60 or 65 F temps are great in March, is it a sign on things to come later in the season? Might we expect more snow? We might but likely not the 12” as fell in central Iowa back in 2010. Either way only having to push snow two or three times qualifies the winter of 2015/2016 as one of the milder ones we have seen. A few established climatologists are already saying the next few could be much colder.

Here the rhubarb has emerged and the first fresh gopher mounds can be seen. A portion of the oats was going to be seeded last week to take advantage of the expected rain and any delays that rain could cause. About ten to twelve years ago the first corn was being planted in late March. It ended up emerging quickly, but showed no real yield advantage in the fall. So we appear to have to bide our time until the insurance date arrives and then be prepared to plant as the soils dictate.


Comments from Growers

I see from the March 11 Farm News that the Sage from Webb, Iowa is awake. While Jerry Crew does have his opinion, he never sends an anonymous letter. They are always to the point, stating his thoughts, and relates what his thoughts are. Too bad not all the politicians in the campaign this season cannot be as courteous. Mr. Crew is a very alert citizen and reader. Kudos.

What Jerry commented on was the part in my column of the week before where I mentioned the front cover story in the latest issue of the Successful Farming magazine from Meridith Publishing. The gist of the story was that the range, tastes and desires of the consumers are changing as they enter the age where they are doing the grocery shopping, food preparation, and beginning to raise their families. The population in the U.S. and around the world is also changing as are their needs.

Like Jerry, I don’t remember a single kid in my home area that was autistic when I was growing up. Except for not liking tongue or head cheese we could eat almost any food and not suffer from it. And at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, which I grew up about 50 miles south of and many cousins worked there, they employed two GI tract doctors. Now they have almost eighty on staff. Something must have changed. (Oh by the way, the Meridith publishing company distributes in the U.S. plus overseas and 100 million women read their magazines each month.)

So with social media, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else, when a well research study from an established group is published the findings enter the public domain and information seeking parent will read it with their kid’s health in mind. Both parents are involved in trying to keep their kids as healthy as possible. That is the case in all the countries I have traveled in and gotten to know people. The common thread in all of those countries is to try to make things better for the next generation.

So I agree with Jerry in that the issue should be what the nutrient content of the food is versus what it should be, what sort of taste and flavors does it have ( which is related to the secondary metabolites and isoflavinoids), and are there any compounds or minerals in the food that should not be there? How it was or is raised should not be the focus. My wife gives me grief because a good meal has to have meat and potatoes in it, and in summertime occasionally rhubarb pie. People need to consume meat containing the B vitamins to obtain the cobalt needed to convert chemical bond energy into action energy and to maintain the myelin sheath on their nerve fibers, plus the iron to make the hemoglobin so they can transport oxygen. There are other sources, but none that are as dense for those factors.

In the past few years I have been blessed to have been in China, Finland, Russia, The Ukraine, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and the good old US of A. We are not the only population having a discussion about food, food quality or food security. If we expect them to import our grain we need to be asking them what they want.


Kershner’s Article

Larry Kerschner attended the John Kempf Feb 24th meeting held in Nevada and wrote a good article about the topics that John Kempf discussed. The common comment that attendees made when I asked then what they learned from the presentation, they mostly said their heads and their hands hurt from having to think so much and having taken so many notes. I had warned them they may have their thought pattern changed in that John teaches preventative plant nutrition rather than rescue chemistry. Usually if a person takes home one to two good thoughts from each of the meetings they attend, they will consider the event worth going to.

The question is will they implement some of the thoughts they picked up as they make their plans for the upcoming season. In this case they will often be asking more introspective questions about how they are managing the crops and wondering if plant health and productivity being maximized by what they are doing.


A Medical Lesson, Anyone

After serendipitously attending a medical conference out in Boulder a few years ago because our #2 daughter happened to be graduating from Denver U the same weekend, and getting to know the medical people that organized it, I was invited to attend and present at the Environmental Health Symposium held out in San Diego last week.

At the conference were about three hundred MDs, DOs and NDs that often work with people that have health problems that baffle the best of the medical profession. They specialize in recognizing the threats, suspecting the symptoms of, testing for, verifying the presence of, and then fixing the problems of, and helping the patients to avoid the reoccurrence of same problem if they are being bombarded with or have been around: heavy metals; industrial or common household chemicals; molds, bacteria or fungi that produce mycotoxins; foods that they react to allergically; or pesticides by occupation, as a bystander or as a consumer. There are tons of harmful chemical that can be produced in factories and used all around us, but even more that good old Mother Nature can throw at people.

What I knew before and learned in working with pesticides was that plants and humans both rely on the same biochemical pathways to detoxify the many products we are exposed to. In with both humans and plants all of these products act cumulatively. If our diets are deficient in minerals or our immune system response is lowered, that is when the cup can tippet over and we can get sick.

The conference was dynamite and in about a month or two the organizers will sit down and begin planning the one to be held in 2017. They will be adding a few new specialists who will have their own story and knowledge, which may provide the insight that ends up helping someone within your family or in your neighborhood. When you see your MD mention the EHS to them and tell them they have to attend. Our goal is to have a minimum of 100 Drs. from Iowa attending next year. That would be 100+ more MDs or DOs who could then correctly diagnose and help all the suffering patients that walk into their offices. And if we recognize the tie-in with John Kempf and Socrates whose take home message is to “Let your Food be your Medicine”.  

Published March 15, 2016 by Bob Streit, Crop Consultant       515-709-0143