CALDWELL, Idaho — McIntyre Family Farms is a Treasure Valley gem—an example of how soil health-focused, regenerative agricultural practices can lead to greater profits for producers and produce healthier, nutrient-dense foods for consumers.
Because of its success, the Caldwell, Idaho farm has been chosen to host a three-day Soil Health Academy school Sept. 22-24, which is designed to help other farmers successfully transition from chemically dependent conventional agricultural practices to more profitable, nature-centric regenerative methods.
Soil Health Academy schools feature instruction by Ray Archuleta, Gabe Brown, Shane New, Allen Williams, Ph.D., and other technical consultants, all of whom are widely considered to be among the most preeminent pioneers, innovators and advocates in today’s soil health and regenerative agricultural movement.
“By hosting the SHA school, we can demonstrate to our fellow farmers how to implement and sell diverse animal products from their own farms through direct marketing and how they can successfully raise and graze cover crops,” Brad McIntyre said. “The key to regenerative success and increased farm profitability is to increase soil health through diversity above and below ground.”
The 1,000-acre operation consists of diverse forage, oil and seed crops with pasture-raised cattle, pigs, turkeys, chickens for meat and eggs, and utilizes no-till planting, diverse cropping rotations, cover crops and managed grazing systems. The farm markets its nutrient-dense, McIntyre Pastures-branded products directly to consumers and sells cover crop seeds to farming operations throughout North America.
The McIntyre family began farming their land in 1909, but it was 100 years later, in 2009, when McIntyre brothers Ben and Brad had an epiphany that changed their outlook and their family’s farm forever.
“We began to realize that life below ground was just as essential as life above,” McIntyre said. “So, we started bringing more cows back on the land to help build soil and to utilize the plant residue left through our no-till system. We wanted to build the land the way nature has done it instead of with artificial fertilizers and pesticides.”
The farm’s current system features more cows, as well as pastured hogs and pastured chickens and turkeys, which follow in rotation behind the cattle. “Pastured laying hens are the perfect ‘sanitizer’ to clean up flies and live the way nature intended, free to graze on lush pasture and build our soil’s health,” McIntyre said. “We graze and grow cover crops, and never let our soil go ‘naked,’ without some kind of vegetation.”
Brad and Ben, both of whom have degrees from BYU-ID, represent the fourth generation on the farm. The two sons and their father, Loren, are responsible for the day-to-day operations, while Ben’s wife,
Maria, manages the office and serves as the marketing director. Brad’s wife, Jill, helps with egg cleaning, packaging and order fulfillment, while matriarch Kathy serves as “cheerleader and fills in when she can.” Kathy is the mother of nine children and is also involved in the family’s farm market store.
“I believe attendees will be inspired by what they see, learn and hear,” McIntyre said. “For farmers looking for a more fulfilling and profitable farming experience, it’s a chance to learn from some of the most successful regenerative instructor-farmers in the world and to see how we implement the soil health practices that are the foundation of our operation.”
To learn more about the Soil Health Academy School at McIntyre Family Farms, visit www.soilhealthacademy.org or call 256/996-3142.
–Soil Health Academy