Farm for Profit aims to create healthier soils, nutritious and non-GMO foods
In recent years, “sustainability” has become a buzzword, particularly in agriculture with even biotechnology companies claiming their genetically modified crops to be “sustainable.”
Bill Lashmett, founder of Minnesota-based Farm for Profit, emphasized the importance of sustainable farming long before it became popular. He will gladly talk at length about sustainable agriculture, which he defines this way: “The farmer must be sustained, water, soil, and air must be sustained, and the consuming public must be sustained.”
At age 82 when most people are well into retirement, Lashmett remains committed to helping farmers create healthy soils that produce healthy, nutritious food for people.
“Quality of production hasn’t increased”
Lashmett has witnessed the evolution of industrial agriculture from its start in the late 1940s with chemicals pesticides and fertilizers to the present with its genetically engineered crops, and he sees problems. “The more fertilizers and chemicals farmers have used, the harder the ground has become, the less water has penetrated the soil, resulting in more runoff and erosion, and farmers are making less money,” he says.
In 1980, Lashmett founded Farm for Profit, aiming, as he says, “to get the soil back to the way it was before the 1940s, before farmers started using chemicals and fertilizers.”
Farm for Profit steps
Farm for Profit encompasses soil management, plant nutrition, well-managed chemical rates, and education and training.
Soil management is the first and perhaps most important step. “All life and nutrition starts in the soil. If you have balanced soil, you will get a balanced product out of that,” says Lashmett.
Farm for Profit aims to help farmers improve soil tilth, activate natural microbial activity, clean up toxicity, and improve soil structure.
Lashmett emphasizes the need to have life in the soil. “You have to have organisms in the soil: bacteria, mites, fungus, and every type of little bug you can imagine. They are very beneficial to the health of the soil.”
Healthy soil will be comprised of 25% water, 25% air, and 40% to 49% minerals, and 1% to 7% organic matter, according to Lashmett.
Farm for Profit developed a product, Agri-Remedy, which removes toxicity from the soil and aids in sustaining soil microorganisms.
Lashmett says the product has also been used to remedy chemical and oil spills and to treat manure lagoons at factory farms. “We have the best liquid manure liquefier in the world,” he claims.
Farm for Profit’s second step involves proper plant nutrition using a starter fertilizer that contains a proper balance of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. This helps create a quicker, deeper root system, and makes seeds sprout and shoot up through the ground faster.
Lashmett puts fertilizer in perspective. “Sunlight is the most important nutrient, water is second, and the nutrient is third,” he says.
The third step aims to reduce chemical use. The aim is to use the smallest amount of pesticide as possible to control pests and weeds. A specially blended non-GMO soybean oil is used to encapsulate the chemical. This provides better control of chemical, reduces pesticide drift, and prevents chemicals from seeping into the ground and water. Lashmett says farmers can reduce pesticide use by 25% to 80%.
“Let’s create good soils around the world”
Farm for Profit’s final step involves farmer training and education, which are provided free of charge. “We will train farmers and want them to train other farmers,” says Lashmett. “Let’s create good soils all around the world.” There is no fee to join the Farm for Profit program. The company earns money on sales of fertilizers and a small amount on vegetable oil. Testing, including GMO testing, is an important part of Farm for Profit. “You need to test for toxicity in the soil and the fruit of the plant and for GMOs,” says Lashmett.
Testing provides greater assurance. “We are the only group of farmers that will certify you as chemical-free and GMO-free at zero tolerance,” says Lashmett.
One tests aims to detect 300 agricultural chemicals. “These should not be in the food,” says Lashmett. Unfortunately, there are sometimes positive tests for chemicals that have been banned for more than 20 years. “Why are we still finding them in the soil?” he asks.
For GMO testing, Farm for Profit recommends DNA-based PCR over protein-based “strip” tests.
Farm for Profit farmers must also keep lot numbers to ensure traceability back to the field.
Lashmett opposes genetically modified crops. “I can’t understand why some group that has a lot of money doesn’t sponsor a lawsuit against Monsanto,” he says.
He is also skeptical about organic crops because organic standards don’t require testing for toxicity, GMOs, or nutritional value. “Organic needs to prove it is healthier. Most organic crops don’t meet tests for nutritional value,” he says.
Bill Lashmett believes sustainable agriculture is needed more than ever to protect the health of children. “We have to think of the health of our young people. It makes me sick to see the number of children born with cancer or who develop cancer or diabetes. Let’s stop killing people,” he says.
© Copyright The Organic & Non-GMO Report June 2007.