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Stark County Farmers Say Regenerative Practices Are the Future of Farming
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/28/2024

Joe and Jen Lautzenheiser said their Glenview Acres farm is an example of how regenerative agricultural practices — focusing on conservation and rehabilitation of soil — lead to numerous benefits for the land, environment, consumers and the farmers themselves.

Joe said that regenerative farming is, "really concerned about how do we really improve the soil health? How do we farm without toxins, for people and the environment, and so forth.”

The Lautzenheisers have been farming more than 100 acres in Stark County since 2018, soon after the young couple got married. Their North Lawrence farm produces beef, chicken, lamb, pork and eggs using methods meant to reduce use of synthetic fertilizer. Such products have been shown to release nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas that plays a significant role in climate change.

Jen said they employ rotational grazing management, where livestock periodically move and never graze in one spot for too long. This allows each parcel of land to have 30 to 40 days between grazing, giving time for their cows’ manure to enrich the soil.

Building such organic matter not only leads to richer, more fertile soil, but hardier farmland, Joe said.

“We've definitely seen more resilience in our pastures during dry spells, and that's because we have that organic matter in the soil. There's an armor on the soil that's helping it retain moisture," he said.

Humane treatment for healthier livestock

The Lautzenheisers said regenerative approaches are also more humane and lead to safer foods. For instance, Joe said their cows are 100% grass fed opposed to some other farms where cows are also fed grains. He said avoiding grains reduces the chances of disease.

“What happens when you feed them grain is it turns the pH in (their stomach) more acidic," Joe said. "And that is the reason that you have issues like E coli."

E coli, a bacteria that can be found in beef, has been shown to make people ill.

Jen said they also keep their animals in better conditions than some other farms by providing them with more room, sunlight and drier, cleaner surroundings. This is not only more humane, but reduces stress on the livestock, making them healthier, she said.

“Stress is where you start having things like disease pop up in animals," Jen said. "It definitely affects their immune systems.”

Improved conditions also make farming more attractive to new generations, Joe said.

“Most young people are leaving family farms because who wants to live, work in these conditions?" he said. “You put yourself in a very unwelcoming atmosphere and environment. I mean, if you take one walk and do a conventional hog barn or chicken barn, it lays you flat on your back.”

Jen added regenerative farming is a more fulfilling approach than larger, more industrial farming. She said this is first due to producing higher quality foods.

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