Episode #142: The Black Soldier Fly Concluded

Frank concludes his interview with Jerry of blacksoldierflyblog.com.  Topics of discussion include commercial applications for BSF, the global coverage of BSF, the potential for BSF to serve as a source of protein for humans, and how people living in places besides North America can acquire the black soldier fly larvae.  The episode concludes with a discussion and response to a recent article on cnbc.com.

Frankenstates: Winning the Agriculture Tech War (The title here is curious.  Why is it a war?)

Trends in Ag: Consolidated Capital vs. Open Source Innovations (via Agroinnovations)

OSH Group #44: Open Source Hardware in Resource Management and Agriculture


Episode #140: Farm Hack

Frank interviews New Hampshire farmer and Farm Hack cofounder Dorn Cox. Topics of discussion include the importance of the open source ethos, the use of CNC machines to reduce the marginal cost of open source farm implements, the Farm Hack website platform, and the relationship between open source farm tools and good soil carbon management. Part 2 of 2.

Visit farmhack.net
Join the conversation on twitter at #farmhack
Also see the New Young Farmer’s Coalition


Episode #139: On-Farm Biodiesel

Frank interviews New Hampshire farmer Dorn Cox about his efforts to promote open source agricultural technology. Topics of discussion include his efforts to improve soil health, the open source Rodale crimper-roller, Dorn’s on-farm biodiesel processor, open source as a sociocultural shift for rural America, and how the market-demand for local food is driving change in our agricultural systems.

Visit the Farm Hack website to learn more about Dorn’s work.


Episode #138: How Not to Go Broke Ranching

In this episode Frank welcomes back Walt Davis to continue the discussion of his book How Not to Go Broke Ranching. Topics of discussion include the need to understand range ecology to achieve cost-savings, the importance of animal husbandry, how to plan for mixed-species grazing of cattle, sheep, and goats, our over-reliance on technology, and how to substitute management for inputs. This interview is full of great quotes and insights, like “Life’s too short to calve in January in a barn.” Enjoy.

Useful Links below:

Walt Davis: How Not to Go Broke Ranching
Farm Hack: Fixed-Wing Drones for Farm Monitoring


Episode #137: Not Pollyanna

This interview is with Holistic Management practitioner and Oklahoma farmer and rancher Walt Davis. Walt joins Frank to discuss his book “How Not to Go Broke Ranching”. Walt starts with a brief history of ranching in the United States, moving on to how agriculture functions in today’s industrial economy, and then outlines why an industrial view of ranching is both damaging to the environment and not-profitable for the rancher. Recorded in 2011, part one of two.

Useful links below:

Walt Davis: How Not to Go Broke Ranching
C-Realm Podcast #406: Suspect Models and the Photosynthetic Ceiling

And I asked myself, who was Pollyanna? Actually, quite an inspiring story, and seems like she was a grizzled cowboy herself after it was all said and done.


Episode #136: Robot Gardener

Recorded from the floor of the 2014 South by Southwest conference, Frank welcomes three innovators in the arduino for agriculture space: Will Bratton, Luke Iseman, and Sam Bagot to discuss the nature and challenges of the Internet of Things as it applies to agriculture. Topics of discussion include what is arduino, why and how it is useful for sustainable agriculture, the failures of the open source community, competition from megacorporations like Verizon, fragmentation in the agduino space, and how to jump start a movement towards a standard, open platform for managing agricultural microcontrollers.

Relevant links:

Robot Gardener
Horto Domi on Kickstarter


Episode #135: Farm to Cafeteria

Frank is joined by Mary Stein, co-organizer of the biannual Farm to Cafeteria Conference, which will take place on April 15-18 in Austin, Texas. Topics of conversation include the shift from industrial to local food in the cafeteria, health and educational benefits for school children, obstacles to adoption, case studies, impacts on local economies, and some conference highlights.



Episode #134: Brown Tech, the Global Land Grab, Peak Food, and the Agrocollapse

This episode begins with a brief discussion of the status of this podcast and its host.  Frank then launches into a discussion of the global land grab taking place in Africa and elsewhere as Holmgren’s brown tech scenario comes to fruition in the form of industrial, commodity-export agriculture expanding its reach into technologically underdeveloped nations.  This reality is framed in the context of recent research showing that food yield increases have plateaued, which may indicate peak food has arrived.  The discussion concludes with a brief foray into the concept of agrocollapse and its implications for the sustainable food movement.

Links below:
Food, Fuel, and the Global Land Grab
Dramatic decline in industrial agriculture could herald ‘peak food’
What is the Agrocollapse? (via Agroinnovations Blog)
Dimishing Returns (via Wikipedia)


Episode #133: Compost Microbiology

Part II of the Agroinnovations interview with soil microbiologist Dr. Elaine Ingham. Dr. Ingham discusses the impact of natural disasters on soil microbiology, testing laboratories for soil microbes, aerobic composting techniques, and methods for managing soil microbiology using compost tea. Visit Dr. Ingham’s Soil Food Web Inc. website.