LUBBOCK, Texas — This week, West Texas organic farmer Jeremy Brown will plant cover crops to bring life to his cotton farm, even in the colder months. This is just one of the regenerative farming techniques that Brown has been doing for his land since 2013.
He practices these techniques because he believes it is what will help his farm last for generations to come.
Brown delved into regenerative farming after having an “aha moment” while reading his bible. A parable mentioned planting seeds in good soil and from that moment on, he sought out to do just that. He wanted to maintain healthy soil and think about farming from more of a long-term point of view.
“I see it as God has entrusted this to me for this season of life that I have. What am I going to do with it? Is it gonna be better than I found it? Or is it gonna be worse?” Brown said.
To keep his soil healthy, Brown follows six soil health principles. Some of these guiding principles include covering the soil to keep moisture in, minimizing soil disturbance and bringing a diversity of plants into it.
To signify the potential of liveliness for soil, Brown refrains from calling it “dirt.” He always wants to look at his soil and see signs of life.
“I just love seeing life return to the land,” Brown said. “When you go out there and you take a spade, a shovel, and you dig down you find earthworms – that’s exciting to me.”
When Brown began practicing regenerative farming, he was the only farmer he knew of that was doing it in his area. It requires a shift in mindset from traditional farming, according to Brown.
Now, he is seeing a growth in regenerative farming worldwide and has a network of people to connect to and bounce ideas off of.
However, when it comes to his farms lasting for the long-haul, Brown is considering more than soil. The Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies water for Texas farms is getting drier by the day and Brown has taken steps to conserve it.
“I’m afraid my generation is gonna be the one that’s gonna run out of irrigation water. I’ve seen it deplete so fast and we’ve got to change,” Brown said. “We can’t just keep pumping it, we can’t be growing crops that are high water demand crops.”
To conserve water, Brown’s irrigation system sprays water directly onto his plants so that water isn’t wasted on areas where plants aren’t.
West Texas weather puts farmers in a difficult decision with its droughts and absence of rain. Brown said he knows that regenerative farming will not solve or withstand these droughts, but he believes it could be what prolongs his farm and helps him get through to the next rainfall.
He said while he believes in regenerative farming, he knows every farmer has their own way of growing crops.
“I don’t believe that there’s one way that does it better than others, but that’s the way that I’ve chosen to farm and I love it,” Brown said.