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Saving the soil: regenerative farming

Winchester--After more than a hundred years of farming on the Palouse, soil scientists say the dirt is tired and worn out. At current rates of soil destruction, decarbonization, erosion, chemical pollution within 50 years we will diminish nutrition and loss of important trace minerals, and no longer have enough useable topsoil to feed ourselves.

"As a farmer, you're always looking," said farmer Eric Hasselstrom. "You only have so many years in life to grow crops. You're always wanting to do better and better things for the soil. I went to a lot of meetings back east to talk to high-yield winners. They were using molasses, emoluments, fertilizers. So I started playing with different sugars, putting them in a row, and then I started looking into prebiotics and stimulants and even looked into compost teas which are living organisms and hard to do. It came down to a company that was 40 years in the business. They worked really well in the biostimulants and I started looking into the bioactives seeking carbon," said Hasselstrom.

Seeking carbon in all forms to build soil. That led Hasselstrom to Gary Lewis and a company called NC Quest out of Canada, He's researching the carbon compounds in tractor exhaust and a thing called carbon dots:

"There's a lot of scientific papers just published in the past few years about carbon dots. Carbon dots are produced with the piston fires, it's a nano-carbon, atom-sized carbon that does many things controls diseases in plants. Speeding up enzymes in plants, the. the newest discovery is that it helps plants photosynthesize more using a broader light spectrum, ultraviolet light. So if we can cause plants to use more light, they'll make more sugar, use more CO2 from the atmosphere, and putting more sugar exprodates into the soil to sequester carbon and feed the world without using fossil fuel energy," said Lewis.

"I've been cutting my fertilizer rates, my synthetic fertilizer rates," said Hasselstrom. "I'm using less for the past three or four years. I'm getting as good as yield or better during stressful times. It's because I have less salty fertilizer in the ground. All this salty fertilizer is doing is pushing back biology It's keeping it all suppressed, that's what it's doing. I thought this is the next step to use the emissions of biology, sink it in the ground with bio-stimulants, and have a complete system."

That complete system is rebuilding the soils on Hasselstrom's farm That complete system is rebuilding the soils on Hasselstrom’s farm in just 4 years. Cutting input costs and building soil, Regenerative farming in 2021