WEST UNION, Iowa — “Necessity” is said to be the “mother of invention.” For West Union, Iowa farmer Loran Steinlage, it was the necessity of finding a way to survive economically that led him down the path of regenerative agriculture—and to develop unconventional cropping methods that “push the envelope” with equipment adaptations, the inter-seeding of cover crops and the use of diverse crop rotations.
His out-of-the-box thinking, including the adaptation of cropping methods and his modifications of existing farm equipment to fit the needs of his unique operation, landed Steinlage the 2020 “No-Till Innovator” award.
Today, the non-profit Soil Health Academy (SHA) announced that Steinlage’s 750-acre farm will be the site of its world-renowned, three-day regenerative agriculture school, June 22-24. SHA schools offer instruction by Ray Archuleta, Gabe Brown, David Kleinschmidt, Shane New 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.
Describing his operation as “an unconventional, ‘conventional farm’ in the heart of the Corn Belt,” Steinlage credits his regenerative agriculture transition to “hereditary evolution.”
“My Dad was an early adopter and set me up to learn and adapt rapidly,” he said. “A series of events led us to push the boundaries of survival mode because we just can’t survive with the status quo. Consequently, we have evolved our cropping systems to maximize the moisture we are blessed to receive. To accomplish that we’ve had to modify our equipment to specifically accommodate our evolution.”
SHA’s Gabe Brown said the West Union SHA school will offer a mix of demonstrations, expert presentations and hands-on experience—all of which are geared to help producers quickly and practically improve soil function and increase net per-acre profits.
“Students will learn how to increase farm profitability by improving nutrient cycling, inter-seeding cover crops and designing cover crop mixes to address resource concerns, Brown said. “From small-scale to large-scale producers, everyone who attends this school will see how to put regenerative agriculture principles to work for healthier soil, food and profits.”
Steinlage said he and his family enjoy sharing and educating others on the practices they’ve learned through their regenerative journey, especially teaching other farmers how to adapt their farming operations to better suit their respective environments.
“This year, I figured it was the perfect timing to host an SHA school and share what we’ve learned as part of the acknowledgment of receiving the ‘NoTill Innovator award,’” he said.’
To learn more about the upcoming school, or to apply for a scholarship to attend, visit www.soilhealthacademy.org.
–Soil Health Academy