Sallie Calhoun, do and don’ts from the most experienced regen ag investor


Lessons from 15 years of impact investing in food and agriculture with Sallie Calhoun.


Sallie and her team are working on a platform #NoRegrets Initiative to educate investors and funders about the latest science on Soil Health and consider Soil Health with every investment and grant they make. Which is especially important for people who are already making investments and issuing grants in sustainable agriculture, but they might be counter productive and not build soil health.

We discuss the following topics:

– Even if you think you’re doing something good by making investments in ‘sustainable agriculture’, you usually have a negative impact unless you consider soil health.

– What are the first steps to become active as an investor in this sector? Really learn your local food movement, take a deep dive and learn everything there is to know about your local farmers, ranchers, producers, processors etc. and see where you can add value.

– Sallie is designing one of the first vineyards managed by sheep from the ground up (the sheep do everything except harvesting)

– Current investment model (7/10 years, 3x return etc.) doesn’t work for the real economy and long term. Which results in a lot of challenges when this investing model is applied to the regenerative agriculture space. 

– We got market rate returns from an extractive agriculture system. How can we expect market rate returns when we are regenerating the depleted agriculture systems (soils etc.)? (at least at the beginning of the regeneration there is a lag)

– How aggregation can play a key role to scale to regenerative agriculture movement and be interesting to impact investors.

– How big is that lag? (or the low point in the hockey stick curve)

– What happens to soil when you suddenly move from irrigated, organic but ’tilled to death’ row crop to a regenerative system with livestock, constant cover crop, no tillage and perennials? How does the soil respond to such a ‘shock therapy’? Sallie is finding out now but finds it challenging to find academics to monitor and publish on this ‘shock therapy’, even if she provides the funding.

More information on Paicines Ranch, the farm of Sallie.

Sallie came back on the podcast during the Transition Finance for farmers with Benedikt.

Picture credit, taking by Elaine Patarini, Paicines Ranch: Sallie Calhoun on an evening walk in one of her favourite places on her ranch, a diverse perennial meadow.

For feedback, ideas, suggestions please contact us through Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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