Ray Archuleta Follows Nature to Deliver Farm/Ranch Profit

Podcast Notes

It is a rare pleasure to speak with a person of consequence and have their undivided attention for an hour.  Ray Archuleta, who needs little introduction, has been a person of consequence in the lives of Buz Kloot (Soil Health Labs at the University of South Carolina) and Tanse Herrmann, NRCS Grazing Lands Soil Health Specialist working out of Rapid City, South Dakota.  

In this podcast, Buz and Tanse host Ray Archuleta and catch up with him, but before that, both Buz and Tanse tell their stories of how they first met Ray and how he has impacted their lives.  

A theme that runs through the podcast is The Goal of farming/ranching – making money is an outcome, but The Goal is to Follow the Pattern that Mother Nature has provided.  

We talk to Ray about his journey since he left the USDA-NRCS (where he served for 3 decades) and what he’s been up to since then.  Ray now has land near Seymour, Missouri and talks about having “Skin in the Game” now that he has his own land payment and his own livestock to manage!  Ray talks about having skin in the game as being a great tool to make him more empathetic to the ranchers and farmers he speaks to, and he still does a lot of that.  Ray also speaks from his own experience of farming with sheep, the mistakes he has made and what he’s learned in the process – infrastructure, animal safety and health, epigenetics and simplicity of design are discussed.  

The conversation turns to the work that Alejandro Carrillo has done on the Las Damas Ranch in the Chihuahua desert and how transformational this has been to the landscape (see the Las Damas Case Study at the end of these show notes).  Ray uses the discussion about Alejandro’s land as an opportunity to educate us on the principle of ecological context (often considered the 6th principle of soil health), in this case, he discusses ecological context in terms of the difference between rainfall on his land (~45” a year) versus Alejandro’s (8” - 10” a year).  

Note that the first five principles of soil health are:  
1. Minimum disturbance;
2. Cover the soil;
3. Keep a live root in the soil as many days as possible;
4. Add diversity of plants (e.g., grasses and broadleaves, warm and cool season, annuals, and perennials);
5. Incorporate livestock back to the land.

The discussion of ecological context also led us to spend some time discussing the very important human dimension of rangeland and farmland management, and how people make decisions.  We make a few references to Dr. Ellen Davis’s Book “Scripture, Culture and Agriculture” and the work by Hannah Gosnell and others in a paper called “Transformational adaptation on the farm: Processes of change and persistence in transitions to ‘climate-smart’ regenerative agriculture” where “dimensions of transformation [are] associated with beliefs, values, emotions, worldviews, structures of meaning-making, and consciousness” are discussed.  See below for the links to these two references.

References from the Podcast:
Alejandro Carrillo: Las Damas Ranch Case Study, Las Damas Ranch, Aldama County, Chihuahua, Mexico

Ray discusses infrastructure, and there is no better network on rangeland and farmland advice than the SD Grasslands
Coalition Mentoring Network
where mentors on fencing and water  placement, among other things, are provided.

SoilHealthLab’s podcast with Shannon Kulseth-Iverson: 39 How Rangeland Health and Livestock Work to Solve
Environmental Issues

Books Discussed in Podcast:  Note we have links for convenience- there are other outlets that carry these books as well.

André Lund.  The Wonder of UHDSG (Ultra High Density Strip Grazing): Elandsfontein Beaufort West - Central Karoo South

Ellen Davis.  Scripture, Culture and Agriculture.  

“Kiss the Ground.” Understanding Ag’s Ray Archuleta, Gabe Brown and Kris Nichols, Ph.D.

Recommended Podcast:
The Regenerative Agriculture Podcast – hosted by John Kempf.  

Books Recommended by Ray Archuleta (these are all searchable, some of them available in pdf format)

1) Allan Savory - Holistic Management
2) Eugene P. Odum - Fundamentals of Ecology (3rd or 4th edition)
3) David Gleissman -Agroecology by
4) Weil and Brady - Nature and Properties of Soils (15th edition I available)
5) Martin Alexander - Introduction to Soil Microbiology
6) Patrick Lavelle and Alister V. Spain - Soil Ecology
7) David Coleman, mac Callaham and D.A. Crossley, Jr. Fundamental of Soil Ecology
8) Sir Albert Howard – An Agricultural Testament
9) N.A. Krasil‘nikov -Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants: The Classic Text on Living Soils
10) Michael John Swift and others:  Decomposition in Terrestrial Ecosystems
11) Donald Q. Innis- Intercropping and the Scientific basis for traditional agriculture
12) David Pimentel - Handbook of Energy Utilization in Agriculture (ISBN 9781315893419)
13) Ken Killham - Soil Ecology
14) David Pimentel - Food, Energy and Society
15)   Richard Bardgett, Usher and Hopkins - Biological Diversity and Function in Soils
16) Bill Mollison - Permaculture: A designers Manual
17) Fred Magdoff and Harold Van Es - Building Better Soils for Better Crops
18) Richard Bardgett and others - Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Services
19) Brian walker and David Salt - Resilience Thinking: sustaining ecosystems and people in a changing world
20) F. Stuart Chapin and others - Principles of Terrestrial ecosystem ecology
21) Masanobu Fukuoka – One Straw Revolution

October 27, 2022

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