In 2010, a young man on a quest for enlightenment walked into the office of Jerry Hatfield, director of the USDA’s National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, Iowa.
His name was John Kempf, and he was eager to learn more about Hatfield’s plant physiology work, which deals with the complicated interactions of plants, soils and the atmosphere. Desperate to rescue his family farm from worsening disease and pest problems, Kempf dove into deep-end science, looking for solutions he couldn’t find in the conventional farming playbook.
In the process, Kempf became a staple on the alternative-ag lecture circuit and the CEO of a rapidly growing consulting firm that his followers hail as the next best thing in sustainable, profitable agriculture. The most hopeful even say that he and his company offer a glimpse of a better farming future, uniting the best that our various schools of agricultural thought have to offer.
Kempf eschews the phrase “sustainable” because that would imply there’s much worth sustaining about the current state of farming. Instead, he calls his approach “regenerative agriculture.” He occupies a curious niche, advocating that farmers ditch pesticides while simultaneously critiquing organic farming.
Mainstream organic agriculture, says Kempf, is all about “negative certification” and is preoccupied with what farmers aren’t allowed to do – no GMOs, no chemical pesticides, no this, no that, etc. While that ensures that organic products are largely free of pesticides, it provides no assurance that crops in an organic farmer’s field are thriving, or that organic produce is healthier than its conventional counterparts, according to Kempf.
Kempf is just 26 years old. He is also Amish, and has only an eighth grade education.
Read the full, original article: This twenty-something hopes to unleash the next green revolution