The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Dreaming of a Vetter World

Dreaming of a Vetter World

Mark and I recently attended a showing of Dreaming of a Vetter World, with a Q&A by Donald Vetter afterwards. If you've never heard of him, Vetter is a farmer right up Joel Salatin's alley who uses long crop rotations combined with rotational grazing to improve his soil. After decades of this treatment, Vetter's soil can soak in up to eight inches of rain per hour while his neighbors' conventional fields start ponding and eroding after half an inch in a similar time period.

So what does Vetter do to get such great results? He uses a nine-year rotation, a third of which involves cows and pigs on pasture. We'll start with that part --- the soil-building end of the spectrum. After planting a grass/legume/forb mixture, he utilizes rotational grazing for three years, then he tills the rich greenery in.

Next comes the cash crops --- soybeans in year one, corn in year two, then an Ethiopian land race of barley that his sister company (a small-scale, organic grain-processing operation) bags up to sell as bird seed. After a winter of cover cropping combined with fall and winter grazing, it's back to soybeans for a year followed by a final season of popcorn.

Using this rotation, Vetter has added no off-farm inputs for twenty years and sees annual improvement of his soil. He doesn't even buy animal feed --- the waste seeds from his grainary supplement his livestock's dependency on grass. The result is a beautiful permaculture system that runs smoothly...when combined with a lot of hard work.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna,

Nice to see some real content on your website again :).

Have you discovered Roland Bunch - Restoration of the soil book -- Free pdf?

Same sort of thing but much simpler. Soil gets better and better for at least 40 years.

I will be trying his method this year.


Comment by john Sun May 19 08:19:18 2019

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