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A conversation with Mellany Klompe, co-founder of Soil Heroes and director of the Soil Heroes Foundation about how measuring nutrient density is key towards having farmers as well as consumers on board with regenerative transition. 

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How do we equip our farmers with negotiation powers? Why should consumers and farmers start focusing on the quality of crops over quantity? What are the principles we can learn from Soil Heroes? What do we get from measuring nutrient density? 

Quality Over Quantity

One of the visions of the Soil Heroes Foundation is for the farmers to have the power to negotiate on the quality of their produce, rather than the quantity. To make this happen the Foundation provides a space for farmers where they can research and see the results of their research. The research is practical, not costly, and doable for the  farmers themselves. Most importantly, the research must be understandable for the farmers so as not to defeat its purpose and also for the sake of continuity and improvement. 

“I would like to change from the quantity focus within industrial farming towards the quality of the products in industrial farming.” – Mellany Klompe

Supporting Our Farmers

What agronomists sell, according to Mellany, are fear and risk. This springs from the fact that agronomists, most often than not, feed farmers with risk management procedures that are heavily based on chemicals. Hence, there’s quite a need for farmers to have an independent place where they can freely learn about regenerative practices that will help them keep their crops equally safe from plagues and diseases. This is also one of the reasons why the Soil Heroes Foundation was established. 

“We need an independent place where people can come for knowledge about regen ag.” – Mellany Klompe

Nutrient Density Matters

Healthier products begin with a healthier soil, aided by regenerative practices, rather than  the traditional farming. In order to make sure that farmers and consumers see the difference on the “nutrient density” of the two products (e.g. soybeans fields that have access to natural pollination versus those that do not), we should develop reliable measuring tools that can be used by everyone. This way, farmers could see what they’re gaining by changing their practices, the same way the consumers could see why they should opt for organic products despite their price.

“We want to show that the density of those nutrients and the difference between the nutrients, and more nutrients in the product is achieved. If we can do that, I think we have very powerful research for farmers to have communication with retail.” – Mellany Klompe

The “Experience Farm”

The Soil Heroes has also started an initiative they call the “Experience Farm” where they share best practices and encourage other farmers to transition to regen ag. They have been doing many projects to show to the people in the industry, most especially the farmers, that regenerative agriculture practices are actually feasible and with great returns. On their website they published 20 great principles they use in farming, and they’re open for farmers and organizations who want to get started and learn from them. 

“The more you can show them, and the more it’s measurable, the higher reliability that it’s working.” – Mellany Klompe

Other Points Discussed:

Koen and Mellany also talked about:

  • how it is now time to focus on nutrient density, hence quality of produce;
  • how diversification of nutrient feasible and measurable helps improving the soil;
  • how it is worth investing in communication, marketing, and research; and 
  • how we should empower farmers to have negotiation power over retailers and the government. 

To know more about Mellany Klompe, Soil Heroes, and the Soil Heroes Foundation, download and listen to this episode. 

Links:

Interviews:

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Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via 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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