The TopSoil® Summit was a huge hit and brought a lot of value to all of those who were able to attend. Those attendees converged in Riverside, Iowa on June 5th from all over the world. While people came from many diverse backgrounds and places, they all came to learn more about the latest developments in regenerative agriculture and were seeking things they could take home to their own lives and implement. Here’s a few things that those folks may have identified as takeaways from the 2023 TopSoil® Summit.
Farmer’s are going to be rewarded for being innovative: Farmer’s have always been some of the most innovative people in any industry, but there has always been a disconnect between the incentives provided by programs trying to encourage climate friendly farming, and farmers who are trying to run the most efficient farm within those programs. Enter Carbon Intensity and the business model created around it. Now farmers are encouraged to adopt climate friendly farming practices, but are still encouraged to choose what combination of those climate friendly farming practices are right for them. And more importantly, are still rewarded for maintaining or increasing their production. All while tracing that Carbon Intensity number to the crop produced as a property of that crop, rather than an entirely separate product (like a carbon offset) like what we’ve grown accustomed to in the past.
Carbon Intensity is here to stay: The world is a very large place, but it is still somehow very small and connected. Sam Taylor of Rabobank spoke about the role of large corporations in the world of agriculture. He shared how Rabobank, as an example, is intertwined with a very large number of companies involved in the agriculture space as recognizable names. And he then shared how Rabobank has climate commitments they intend to reach, and they will need the cooperation of these recognizable agriculture companies they are intertwined with in order to reach those goals. Sam then shared his enthusiasm for a method that will unlock the capability to identify the carbon footprint of an entire industry, such as carbon intensity.
The road to capitalizing on Carbon Intensity doesn’t have to be a rocky one: Mitchell Hora talked everyone through this opportunity that is Carbon Intensity, and what it specifically means to farmers. He shared that there are still things that need to be ironed out by those making the decisions at a high level. But farmers don’t have time to wait on that, because they are going to be making decisions as soon as this coming fall that they will need to account for Carbon Intensity in that decision making process. The good news is that Continuum Ag is here to help that farmer to make that decision now. And Continuum Ag is going to continue to work with those decision makers at a high level to iron out the details. But as for the farmers, they are in good hands.
Farmers communicating with farmers is still the most important piece of the puzzle: Everyone wants to do things better. Farmers want to do what they can to have better bottom line profits. Farmers want to take the actions necessary to better increase the likelihood of their future generations having the opportunity to continue to make a living off of the land. Farmers want to take the actions that they can afford to, in order to help their communities and neighbors. And some of the best people available to help those farmers accomplish those things are other farmers. Whether it was Jimmy Emmons talking about the long term benefits of healthier soil and the long term steps it takes to get there. Mitchell Hora or Levi Lyle discussing specifics on how to conduct the practices to obtain those healthier soils. Or Knute Severson and Johnny Hunter offering advice on adapting an operation to the context of the situation in which it exists. Some of the best and most memorable conversations happened while farmers were talking to farmers.
Big soil pit holes, burgers, beers, live music, and farmers mix well: To end the day, a transition out to the Hora farm was made where everyone took full advantage of burgers from Grandview beef and washed them down with some beers while taking in some live music. All while also wandering over to the soil pit that had been dug in the Hora’s corn field with the help of Hilary Olson and Jason Steele of the NRCS. This all culminated in enjoyable chats, good times, and maybe even some new information and ideas for everyone who made the trip.
All in all, the 2023 TopSoil® Summit was a huge success and it’s almost a guarantee that everyone that attended the event had their own set of takeaways that resonated with them. But it’s hard to argue with these 5 being amongst some of the most common. And it’s safe to say that everyone felt a special appreciation for the opportunity to converse with one another and congregate around the world of regenerative agriculture.