Veganic Farming in Practice: Bob Balfour

Veganic farmers prove every day that there is a practical alternative to farming with chemicals, compounds and animal by-products: Working with nature, and learning its lessons.

Here’s how One Degree lentil farmer Bob Balfour cultivates the veganic ideal on his fields in Saskatchewan:

Bob uses smart farming techniques that include complex crop rotations to build richness in the soil. His proven approach to crop rotation begins with planting a heavy cereal, then a wheat or durham, followed up by lentil, then followed up by a pea that is either plowed down or harvested, followed by oat or barley, then a green manure plow-down. The natural growth processes of legumes transfer carbon from air to soil.

The result is soil that is rich enough to provide all the nutrients a plant needs to fight off weeds and insects, and thrive. “If you’ve got a good healthy crop, the insects aren’t going to hurt you too much,” he explains. “And when you have a good strong fast emerging crop the weeds won’t hurt you as much either.”

Healthy veganic plants need just about a four or five day head start on weeds, he says. After that, “the crop will be far enough ahead of the weeds to be competitive.”

Monday’s farmer: Arnold Schmidt