ROCKYMOUNT, N.C. — Russell Hedrick no longer wakes up every morning wondering if he needs to kill weeds, insects or fungi to have a successful crop.
Instead, the 34-year-old regenerative agriculture farmer spends his time looking for ways to breathe new life into his farm and into the soil upon which his success depends. And, because he’s no longer as dependent on costly and time-consuming chemical applications, he has more money in his pocket and more time to spend with his family.
“The other major benefit is that I haven’t had to buy and maintain as much farming equipment. That has helped us maintain a healthy balance sheet,” he said.
According to Hedrick, the key to his success has been understanding the role healthy soil plays in his operation—and learning to farm in ways that enable soil microbes to flourish and provide his crops with essential nutrients, protection and resilience. Now he wants to help his farming colleagues unlock the secrets in the soil by hosting a three-day, Soil Health Academy school at his regenerative farming operation in Rockymount, North Carolina farm Nov. 12-14.
“I’m hosting the school so farmers in my area of the country have a chance to learn about regenerative agriculture and how to farm with soil health practices—to not only benefit the local environment but also help them become profitable again,” he said.
Hedrick, along with Allen Williams, Ph.D., Ray Archuleta and Gabe Brown, are among the cadre of instructors slated for the three-day school. These Soil Health Academy instructors are widely considered to be among the most preeminent pioneers, innovators and advocates in today’s soil health and regenerative agricultural movement. Brown is also the author of Dirt to Soil, One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Agriculture.
Hedrick said, he wants attendees to leave the school with the knowledge needed to change the way they manage their farming operations. “I want them to become better stewards of the land and animals they manage and increase their profitability with soil health practices,” Hedrick said.
The first-generation farmer, who grows and directly markets open pollinated corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, oats, triticale and forage crops, attributes his success, in large part, to having previously attended a Soil Health Academy himself.
“The reduction of input costs through the regenerative farming practices I learned is far greater than the small amount it cost me to attend that Soil Health Academy school,” he said. “Nothing else has had a larger return on investment than learning how to use these techniques in my operation, as well as what I learned about implementing direct marketing and enterprise stacking strategies. I’m confident farmers who attend this school will come to the same conclusion.”
To learn more about this Soil Health Academy School, as well as available scholarships, visit www.soilhealthacademy.org or call 256/996-3142.
–Soil Health Academy