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Calves on Hidden View Farm, an organic, 100% grass fed 50 head cow dairy in southern OH that has used the full AEA program to turn around a failing dairy into a successful operation. (http://bit.ly/hidden-view-farm for more information on this farm)

The 15th Annual NODPA Field Days Keynote Speaker
John Kempf: Taking a New Look at Regenerative Agriculture

By Anna Kempf, Marketing, Advancing Eco Agriculture

John Kempf, a young man from Northeast Ohio with an unlikely story, is driven by a mission to globally impact the food supply by providing farmers with a way to grow disease and insect resistant crops with complete plant nutrition.

John’s story begins when he was a 14 year old boy growing up on a family farm, where his father gave him the responsibility of overseeing all the drip irrigation and foliar applications on the farm. John really enjoyed this work, and because he felt a strong connection to the plants, he could quickly feel the results that were being seen in the crops, and how plants were responding to the materials he was applying.

Besides being a successful crop farmer, John’s father was also the local produce supplier who carried all the irrigation equipment, plastics, seeds, and fertilizers and chemicals for the local community of farmers. As the chemical supplier, John’s father was the first one to try the newest and latest chemical inputs, and report to his customers how they worked. The chemical salesmen would be in the driveway every couple of weeks, and John soaked up all the information he could get from them. As a result, John became very well acquainted with a lot of the new chemistries that were coming on the marketplace, learning how they functioned, and he also had first-hand experience using them.

The result of all of this is that in the years of 2002-2004, the family farm suffered severe crop losses to disease and insect pests, and all of the chemical inputs that John applied to stem the spread did not stop or slow them down. The farm kept losing 50-60% of the crops, even after applying every available pesticide and fungicide.

John can still remember the cantaloupe crop that changed his life.

Looking to expand, his father began renting land from a neighboring farm in 2004. Crops were planted that traversed the former border between the two farms, an invisible line in the soil which would soon manifest itself in one particular cantaloupe crop.

The rented farmland had previously been treated with chemicals, but not at the rate John had applied them on his own farm next door. It didn’t take long to notice something striking in the recently-planted cantaloupe crop. The cantaloupe planted in the old, pesticide-filled soil suffered from severe downy and powdery mildew. But the crop growing over the border in the new soil showed no signs of mildew at all. Cantaloupe plants growing two feet away, with vines that were interspersed with unhealthy diseased vines, were completely healthy. There was a clear line among the plants that mirrored the previous border between the two fields.

Trial results of a forage crop grown by Reuben Peachey in PA, control,
one AEA foliar and full AEA program.

It was at this point that John decided he needed to understand the physiological and nutritional differences between healthy and unhealthy plants. He wanted to know why these cantaloupe plants, planted at the same time and subject to the same foliar applications and environmental conditions, exhibited two radically different immune systems to disease. John became passionate about educating himself, and spoke with many leading agronomists to discover information about plant physiology. He ordered and studied many books on agronomy and plant systems, and in 2006 he applied for a scholarship sponsored by Dr. Arden Anderson for a class given at the Acres Conference. Dr. Andersen became a mentor to John, helping him understand the hard science behind plant nutrition and better biological farming practices. John came home from the 4 day class, enthused with the information that he felt could change his family’s farm, and with a thirst for even more knowledge.

By 2008, John had turned around his family’s farm through regenerative farming practices, growing healthier crops while avoiding chemical treatments. He decided to take a bold step and put his hard-earned knowledge to further use by founding Advancing Eco Agriculture (AEA). Over the past 8 years, AEA has consulted with thousands of farmers across North America and abroad. Their complete soil and plant nutrition programs have enabled farmers to grow high-yield, high-quality crops that are naturally resistant to disease and insect pests. AEA’s goal remains educational: helping as many farmers as possible see with their own eyes, and on their own farms, how viable regenerative agriculture can be.

John founded AEA because he believes traditional agriculture is stuck in a never ending war with nature, where farmers are consistently treating the symptoms to deeper, systemic crop issues that recur annually. John’s vision for farmers is to see agriculture as an interdependent system between a plant and the soil. To that end, AEA provides quality, natural nutrient-rich products that grow high-quality fruits, vegetables, and forage crops for dairy cows. This systems approach focuses on the causes of plant deficiencies and providing mineral nutrition which rapidly builds healthy soils.

John consulting with a crop farmer in Pennsylvania.

At this time, John is an internationally recognized lecturer on the topic of biological agriculture and plant immunity. He is still a part of the Amish community in Northeast Ohio in which he was raised. He was 14 years old when he graduated from grade school and his father entrusted him with irrigation and foliar applications on the family vegetable farm. What he has achieved in the fields of regenerative agriculture since that time can literally be judged by its fruits. John has spoken at many national and regional conferences and seminars, including at the United Nations, where he skillfully discusses the larger social and environmental impacts of food, agriculture, and ecology. His vision for AEA is both innovative and traditional, a company that strives to make an impact, blending the values of commerce and community while changing agricultural practices in ways that benefit farmers and the planet as a whole.

For more information on how John and Advancing Eco Agriculture are changing the way farming is done, visit his website at www.advancingecoag.com.