Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Saturday, January 15, 2005
ISSUE #351
Farmers gather at historic Netherland Hotel

# 351, January 15, 2005

CINCINNATI: Martin Luther King Day is Monday, and Ohio, like the rest of the country, is ready to honor his memory. He preached peace and understanding, and if we could have it for even one day a year it would be a miracle.

The Ohio River here is high, but there’s other towns and rivers where the flooding is a whole lot worse. California is ready for sunshine for a change. Our western mountains need all the snow they can get but folks would appreciate a few days break in the weather for skiing.

We sure haven’t forgotten the tsunami victims. That disaster kinda puts in perspective a mudslide or avalanche or rising water.

I’m in Cincinnati with about 700 progressive farmers who are learning all they can about raising crops without plowing the land. These no-till farmers are reducing erosion of our topsoil, and at the same time taking carbon out of the air and storing it in the ground. That’s supposed to help reduce global warming. But really, it don’t matter to these farmers whether you think the Earth is getting warmer or colder, they know that banking carbon in their soil as organic matter is good for the land and good for growing better crops.

One of the best farmers in Chile, Carlos Crovetto, left in the middle of wheat harvest to speak to this group about how he turned poor ground into an excellent farm when he quit plowing. Jim Kinsella, from Illinois, hasn’t plowed in over twenty years and don’t see any reason to start now. Barry Fisher and Dan DeSutter of Indiana showed how ryegrass as a winter cover crop can add extra benefits to the soil. Steve Powles flew halfway around the world, from Perth, Australia, to show how rotating herbicides is important for farmers.

We’re meeting at the historic Netherland hotel. It was taken over by Hilton, and I figure old Conrad Hilton himself would be proud of this edifice. It has had some notable visitors. Winston Churchill stayed here, so did Eleanor Roosevelt, Bing Crosby, even Elvis.

Historic quote from Will Rogers: (on plowing)

“You know, we’re always talking about pioneers and what great folks the old pioneers were. Well, I think if we just stopped and looked at history in the face, the pioneer wasn’t a thing in the world but a guy that wanted something for nothing.
He was a guy that wanted to live off of everything that nature had done.
He wanted to cut a tree down that didn’t cost him anything, but he never did plant one.
He wanted to plow up the land that should have been left to grass. We’re just now learning that we can rob from nature the same way as we can rob from an individual.
All he had was an ax, and a plow, and a gun, and he just went out and lived off nature. But really, he thought it was nature he was living off of, but it was really future generations that he was living off of.” 
Radio broadcast, April 14, 1935

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