Regen Ray: Hello, soil, lovers, and welcome to another episode of Secrets of the Soil. I’m your host regen ray And I am so excited because today we’re not just digging deep into soil, but we’re going to dig deep into some data. Will Elrick, welcome to the Secrets of the Soil podcast.
Will: Thank you for having me. Thank you for having me, Ray Really, I’m really excited and I’m happy to be here.
Regen Ray: Me too. I’m really excited because I know that you have been crunching some numbers and working on a thesis, and it’s all about certification and verification in this wonderful world of regen AG. And I know that this is a bit of a heated topic and discussion. So before we dig deep into that topic, maybe share with the soil lovers who are listening a little bit about you and your background.
Will: Well, I I did agroecology and that a while back and I was working in on a farm court BrainGate farm and did a lot of my training and one of my lessons were done. Then I actually learned so much at that farm. Basically, you have an agroecosystems can really succeed and how a functioning farm can really support biodiversity and threatened species as well. So I’m really, really passionate about agroecology, and again, that I’m sort of raising out into regen and regen ag to be really important for the future of agriculture, not only in Australia but around the world. And it’s a really and it’s it’s basically expanding like it in Europe, that smoking region in the US, Canada, they’re talking regen ag. It’s really starting to take over in the world, as organic did in the 80s, especially. And so this conversation around certification has been so bad. It was it’s great Haitians and quite passionate responses in my research. It was, it was. It’s been an interesting journey for me. But then I I did my agroecology and then I wanted to expand further and I really wanted to study soil and soil biology. That was something I wanted to get into the farm and get into the paddocks to shovel, feel that soil smell, and understand the biology and what would be fun. I had some plans to do my weapon study mycorrhizal fungi. And however, kind of hit and I started doing a science with honours in some across uni and Typekit here and the website is down. All the uncertainty around COVID at that time happened. I wasn’t allowed to go and speak to farmers selling property with farmers, dig holes and so and I had a timeline. I had to have an idea to do research. So I had to sort of make a decision. And I’ve been working with a couple of farmers in western New South Wales about certification and how you know what we could do with our system of working. You know, just looking at. Things could happen in that in that in that world. And so I spoke to my biases that cannot do research on signification, whether it’s a good thing or whether it’s a bad thing. And I said, Yeah, you can. And so I said, Right, well, I’ll do that. So I did research on certification and whether it’s going to be a good thing for regen ag, regenerative agriculture or not. And. It was certainly. And a results passionate and response from both sides. And I have to say, I will say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It took Simon Ellis and writing it up and doing the research. And, you know, even if it was totally pushed me to the levels, I think it’s all about the honesty now. So that’s interesting. Wow.
Regen Ray: And is that just because of the amount of moving parts that were involved or like just the hours it took to kind of crunch the numbers and make the meaningfulness out of it all?
Will: Absolutely. So the hours it’s took, you know, like I was just constantly in front of that computer the whole time doing the numbers and checking that they’re making sure I’d like to see what I had to do was have a balanced balanced. Balanced research. So I had to get, you know, both sides voices, I wanted to get the voices of everyone, but I wanted to start it. I agree with this. That doesn’t matter matter. But you’ve got to get that balance and say, Well, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to get the voices. I’m going to be the narrator of what everybody is trying to say in this research. So to get that balance and to just do the transcribing and then going through age, transcription and each line and age thing and putting that into tables and stuff and trying to get everything down and then put the writing up was the hardest because you had to. And again, trying to get that balance of everybody’s voice. And that was the most difficult thing. And so, yeah, and kudos to you. Thank you. It was definitely don’t. I was. It was time out with some really interesting things.
Regen Ray: Excellent. And well, we’re going to dig into that a little bit more soon, but I just want to. So where did this passion for the soil and agroecology come from? Did you grow up on the land or connected to the land or you just got curious like I did?
Will: That’s a really good question. I’ve always loved nature and not always, you know, when it was my escape, when I was a kid, I go out to the bush. It was, you know, I was I was raised in the city. I wasn’t raised in the bush, but my escape was to go into the bush, you know, outside of Sydney or whatever, and just escape. And I’ve always had this affiliation. I travelled and did all sorts of things and and just I. It came a time where somebody I want to I want to immerse myself in this and and that’s why I moved to Auberry and started doing my own training there. And it was life-changing for me, and now I can’t go back. So it’s. And then I started seeing things. We start looking at the soil. When you start looking at the biodiversity and you’re looking at how things function and you start looking at water and how waterworks within the soil and within the landscape and just experience this whole world up to you. And you know, I just love it now. Yeah, I just want to work more and more and more to really not push, but, you know, allow communities to understand their impacts. You know, you know, if you’re in the city, you can still be part of a regen. We can do regen in the city, you know, through tons of methodologies. You know, you’ve got all these different. But permaculture and biodynamics and all of these different words, it doesn’t really matter. It’s all the same. If we can bring it back to the soil, bring it back to water, bring it back to food, bring it back to our interaction with nature, then we’ll be getting somewhere. Absolutely. I always absolutely.
Regen Ray: It’s totally. I always said to me, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing above the soil. If you stop nurturing below the soil, that’s where it all makes sense. Whether it be in tropical biodynamic or all the other labels you want to put on what you do on the top. That’s just for us to label ourselves and maybe a little bit of ego. But the soul doesn’t
Will: mean the
Regen Ray: nurturing or you’re degrading, you know? Yes, you know, being part of the problem. And so I think that the soil is really the true tell tale sign because you could be doing biodynamics. But maybe there’s one element that you are doing that is actually not really nurturing the soil, and that could be like a bit of a backward step. And so when we start looking at the soil and treating the soil as the foundation, which is the reason why we started this podcast and the reason why we, you know, changed our avatar from our business point of view of saying we wake up every day to serve the soil is a soul today better than what it is yesterday? And are we planning for a better tomorrow than we are today? And then that’s all good signals. Anything above the ground, that’s just what we think, you know, gives us meaning and vision and purpose. But yeah, so I totally get what you’re saying there. And consumers in, you know, have the choice to buy products to vote with their wallets, to understand what it is to be regenerative, be a regenerative human, you know, practice, regenerative spirit and soul. And even if it is on your balcony in an apartment because it’s a mindset, you know, it’s a paradigm shift.
Will: Yeah. And it’s just interact. It’s being and it’s working with and interacting with it and not saying I’m on separate from, you know, from nature or from the soil or from anything it’s touched. You know, you are part of that, you know, and we can embrace that. And that, to me, is really, really important because I think I feel as as a as a community, as a society, whether you be any part of the society nowadays, it’s a separate yeah. And you know, until we can just really embrace that, we’re part of nature. We we’re not we’re not special. You know, we would we are part of we’re part of the system. You know, the. And the more we can interact with that, the better oneness.
Regen Ray: Absolutely. I agree. We’ve been trying to word or genitive around a lot, and I really like to ask this with all the guests is what is the word regenerative mean to you personally?
Will: Aha. That’s a really good question. I know. Well, originally rigidity means to me, it’s it’s working its succession and working that there is an improvement and it’s getting better. So like with plant succession, you know, you start off with a primary species and slowly it succeeds to a climax plant climax forest, you know, regenerate regenerative means to me, becoming better that so the soil is degraded, we regenerate the soil and soil becomes chocolate sweet and smelling and lots of worms, you know, you know, you say, Yeah, you know, you’re saying, no, no, no diversity within the forest, in the farm. Suddenly, this diversity, these birds, this is probably this. This is animals interacting within that, that landscape. To me, that’s regenerative.
Regen Ray: It sounds magical. I love it. And I agree. I you’re probably one of the first people to bring some shed some light on the whole succession side of things. Can you go a little bit deeper in that for our soil lovers who may not really understand what the word succession means from a plant and diversity point of view? I think a lot of people think of it as like passing your farm on to your kids and a succession like that,
Will: a succession plan. Well, that’s that’s actually for me. It’s really, really an important step and an important thing to understand because you can look at women and you can look into a landscape and whether that be anywhere in the world. We you can actually interpret this story in that landscape. But that land is telling you when you and this is one of the key points of looking at a plant succession, especially because like you have, you have plants that will grow and that will tell you the actual how bad a soil is or how bad the soil is , how degraded the soil is, or how healthy that soil is. You know, whether it’s compacted, whether it’s it’s it’s got it’s depleted of any of its nutrients. If it’s got too many nutrients, it’s it’s got these different aspects of where that soil sitting at and that plant will tell you a certain thing. And so if you’ve got a heavy amounts of what of weeds of plants we’ve got for the plants, you
Regen Ray: call them plants or signal?
Will: Yeah. Then they telling me story. They’re telling me something, you know, and. And and so with succession, what that plan is doing is it’s actually creating an environment below that soil. It’s creating an environment so your biology can actually start working within that soil, and then that plant will Action what I love about my job, and it allows for another plant to come through. And when that and then that, I think that that starts increasing or it actually breaks compaction. It actually allows water infiltration. So it doesn’t have that concrete seal at the top of the soil or whatever the problem is, you know, and then then that that plant will do its job and then that will go and then another plant will come in and start. Sorry, I talk with my hands a lot. Hopefully, it’s starts soon. So it’s like this podcast sounds like I’m not doing too much and stuff. I keep my head down, but the plant will grow. And so we come to a climax or two when the soil is really, really empty. And I think that and it’s important to say that because I can see a plant in the back of that plant is bad because it’s growing. So what really, the plants top eight plants that the plants grow in there because it isn’t reasonable, it’s growing and we can understand that and not attack you and make war on a plant because it’s a certain and especially like in certain parts. There is a lot such as, for example, blackberries, where they’ll infiltrate a whole area, but you’ll see where you think about where are they growing? Why are they growing so much? How do we went with that, obviously, but it’s right at gully or in a rugged hillside that we need to actually start regenerating or start serving and stewing and look after that. And then hopefully those blackberries will change going by the laws of nature. What’s a plant? Because it’s the law of nature, it’s law of ecology and succession. You know, we can look it up in any kind of textbook, and that’s what will happen. Eventually, come to a climax and that’s where you got your rainforest. And yet in a yellow box, forests and all your forests, which is what your formal climate. So that’s where the forest is trying to get to. And yeah, I’m actually quite passionate about it because when? And the thing is, I remember I had no idea about this and I was in a class and someone was telling it it was. It was just what he was talking about. It’s not like, Wow, you know, it’s not really taken back because you were saying, you know, these trees are a guy and this, you know? And and actually, it’s like, how? And then I started learning more and then then speaking to having my mentors, which guided me to understand. And then and then you start reading this story of what the landscape is saying to me in the cycle. Mm hmm. Oh, what is get when you start seeing those things? And yeah, and the more we sit back and just. Understand that. Well, I know probably repeating myself, I understand the story of the land and what the story of the land is telling us, then that gives us a better capacity to. To work with the landscape, what is going to be what is the what is going to be the what is going to improve and what is going to help the landscape rather than saying, Well, I want to, I want to do this, this next. Well, that might not be the best thing. I agree. Yup. Does that make sense? Totally.
Regen Ray: You’ve just you’ve really like painted that picture. I did a farm tour once and they were talking about the literacy of the land, and I just thought that was a great way of articulating it in a way of like the same way as we learn how to read a book and we learn how to do math. We need to learn the art of the, you know, literacy of the land, knowing what that one hundred year old trees telling us, knowing what that you know, noise. And I think our First Nation got this and I know that intuitive into their spirit. We’ve just done a bad job in translating that over. Well, maybe because we created a divide, but anyway. Yeah. You know, and so that’s the kind of that’s the message you want. You know, and what you did really well is that you say that what we do is a thistle pops up and we go, we’d kill it and then it pops up again. We’d go, we’d kill it, and then it pops up again. And it’s like, Hang on.
Will: This is what’s coming up.
Regen Ray: And no one stop it. That’s like, you know, what’s the definition of sanity doing the same thing and expecting a different result? Hello. Like, let that thistle will do its job. And what you said is once it’s done its function, it will die and the next succession plan will present. And once that kind of gets to that area goes through those cycles, then there is a nice symbiosis to all the different ecosystems and the water hydration. And oh, it’s just it is a magical place to get to, but it’s getting in. It’s a challenge for a lot of people.
Will: Yeah, it’s interesting because I and I saw it with my own eyes like that. You know, I was working with a farmer in southern New South Wales, absolute gentleman of a man. And he he was had a set farming system, and he wanted to change to a typing system. And so we were working on that and I was this is still a student, so we’re still learning on this and his paddock is full of thistles full of this crazy distance, right? And we we did a system and we’re trying to manage that. You know, just to bring the cattle down over long. This is. full of thistles . And then another is just such a wonderful learning to me and actually seeing it with your own nuances. This one is when you actually experience it, when you hold it, when you experience that thing, it’s completely different. Just do it again and go to such and such as this. And yeah, until you experience that, then you really see it. And anyway, was this panic was full of this or trudged dam or the cattle? I wouldn’t. And then before, you know, it is wild oats were grown and you could actually see this wild oats and then come down and you could actually see the difference. And it wasn’t over months or years ago, it was started by chance, just by changing the management. It was just about changing events. You know, it was. It’s crazy. And seeing that change of succession. And yeah, it was. It was really, really it was wonderful because you learn about these things. And then seeing as I said, wow
Regen Ray: and seeing is believing, it’s always the tell sign and know. And that’s one of the hardest thing. Being in the education space is you can put all the information in front of someone and I just don’t get it and they go on a farm, too. And that’s why, you know, in this whole learning center, we have a lot of virtual farm tours. He’s because maybe someone just watching that farm to virtually the penny drops. There’s that aha. Oh, that makes so much sense now, you know, and I remember going on these farm tours as well where we were in the bus and we’re talking and you know, the the lead would say, look at this, this paddock, look at all the the trees and was like, Yeah, amazing. He’s like, No, it’s not. They’re all 100 plus year old trees. Where’s the young trees? They’re not going to be around in 50 more years. They’re probably going to fall and die of old age. And then there’s nothing, you know, it’s not just about seeing what’s there today. It’s having the creativity to go, Where’s the younger plants? Where’s the younger trees? Where’s the trees? It’s the whole family line that needs to exist, you know, and it’s those aha moments that I got by being on a bus tour, you know?
Will: Yes. Yeah, 100 percent. Wow. And to get some really, really important points that actually do it like another one of my mentors is just wonderful, man. Like you, you’re talk about trees die from a broken heart. Wow. And you’ll see a tree in a paddock alone and you’ll see it dying or dead. And it’s dying from broken heart because it may. It needs on the trees. It needs to be. This is going to be a relationship if it’s not a relationship, all parasites will come and then die will die from what a myriad of reasons, but basically because it’s on its own. Mm-Hmm. And if we can allow that relationship on the trees or you can have a sterile, as you say, you’ve got all these 50 year old 100 year old trees, but they’re all white with nothing going on below. And there’s no there’s no succession. It’s just a sterile environment. So there will be only in an ecosystem perspective. There’ll be only one or two niches, so there’ll be one or two birds. Yup. And it’ll be on an edge. So that even cuts in even more. So, you know, it’s really, really important to understand that relationship because plants have to have a relationship. It’s going to be relationship interaction. It otherwise becomes sterile. And it was funny. Like, you see the really, really important point because I remember doing some studies and we did a sort profile. We saw this massive presence and there was this succession of trees growing, and I will remember the names of what traits I wear but . What was important was is that I was stunned to think that there started startling growth. But down in the soil, profile all the trees with the same. The brutal come down and it stop because there this massive compacted layer and the roots couldn’t actually penetrate down, so they couldn’t go any further. Well, now this used to be a sheep station and the sheep station. There’s nothing wrong the sheep of good , but it’s the management, right? But it was a sheep station that was like. So just to be clear on that is reject like, yeah,
Regen Ray: holistic, not pointing fingers. That’s yeah. Yeah, that’s right.
Will: It was an all degraded sheep station that’s just a degraded sheep station where this plant with these trees were growing. But because of the compaction that happens with the constant people come and no rest looks recovery for that land. It created this massive impact. And so you have these trees and actually functioning both because I couldn’t penetrate through that compaction, you know, and that just sort of goes to show, you know, like nature will tell you a story and they’re telling you, Well, we’ve got to somehow get plants that will succeed here and let it rest. And then it grows, but manage it properly, like at First Nations, manage the landscape so well. We sort of like that. And like, I did some training with with the fire sticks and I did this, and that was just what I seeing. There’d be no way I want to do a cool burn. It takes years to learn, to do the equipment and to be able to understand it’s the story of your land. But it just showed me this interaction and this oneness of this relationship with the landscape and how you know their role or out what our role is to work within that system and understand. And if we step up, we step out and, you know, I know that’s when you can learn from it. No, and not. Yeah, yeah, I think I think that’s really, really, really important. And that was that was again, another lightbulb moment. And as you said to me, it’s like, Wow, I just really learnt so much.
Regen Ray: Absolutely. Well, soil lovers, I really want you to sit there and think about that. We’ve been talking a lot about, you know, how we’re all connected and that the way that you look at the landscape is telling you a million stories if you just learn to read the literacy of the land. On that note, we’re going to take a quick break. And when we get back, we’re going to talk about all the data it’s to verify or to certify the big questions. Stick with us. Welcome back, soil lovers. We’re hanging out with will and regen ray . We’re going to get our heads into the data. Will you’ve put together a lot of data and maybe answered or made it a little bit clearer for us to answer this question, whether it’s verification or certification? And do we follow what the organics models did and put stickers and labels on everything? Or do we take a different approach? So to share with this, all lovers and even with myself a little bit of your findings without this research that you you undertook during COVID times?
Will: Yeah, I can. I can actually give you some really clear answers actually out of it, which is great. And the research, basically, I interviewed a plethora of different people and people that were involved in the industry, whether it be regional organics. And I had to get the balance of organic and region and people that know what they would that have been involved in the industry for a number of years. People that had a lot of experience that actually were experts in their field, whether they be a CEO of that company, whether they had to get a whole database of people that can that would be able to give a good articulate answer to the questions was does that make sense?
Regen Ray: It’s one of the values, I guess, of regen is biodiversity. So, you know, having the biodiversity group of people. So it’s not just by, you know, one time this
Will: happens, it’s
Regen Ray: data collection. Yes.
Will: Yeah, I didn’t want to be this. You would have to be balanced and I originally wanted to interview companies as well. And I actually had also another thing I was going to do within the data and its customers, but basically because of the covid just changed the rules. And I just kept it to the experts. And okay, what do you know? You know, what do you feel and what do you feel is the best way forward for regenerative agriculture? And what can you say? What what can we learn from the organic industry during its beginning, which especially certification . To it’s where it is now. So it was quite simple, we had some quite colorful interviews, like you said the least, not to me, like not colorful things in the way I like. It was aggressive. It was like, really, they really, really wanted to push their thought process or whatever they were feeling. They wanted me to not thought they knew I had to know this because otherwise, you know, and if you don’t, you know, I want my voice to be heard. And so that was really important to actually put that in data as well, because some people had some really important points, passionate and and very passionate. And so that had to be articulated into the thesis as well into the data as well. You know, like someone saying, you know, organics, is this this, this region cannot do this. This is, you know, and you’ve got this polar opposite of, you know, people saying it, we need to have certification and people saying, we do not we can not test certification because we have certification. It’s going to ruin the industry. So you’ve got to have this data and, you know, to try and put it all together, you know, it’s quite intriguing. And but I really, really appreciate, you know, having interviewed these people, I’ve got to also see so many different views and different views and different different stories and people from all kinds of environments doing and involved with whether it be organic agriculture will reach for regenerative agriculture. It’s me saying this, you know, it was amazing. And yeah, that was that was amazing in itself. So yeah, so what? What came out? Well, what came out, which I didn’t expect was the journey certification took place in Australia. So we saw from the beginnings when it came and it was articulated what happened and not by one or two people, by a lot of people. They would articulate the journey that organics has been on in Australia from its inception to where it is now. One common thing. One good thing was, is that everybody, while most people talk about the majority, I should say I shouldn’t say because a lot of people said organics was a good thing. It started off with good intentions and it started, you know, it started to create an a conversation, and it started people asking questions about where this is coming from and it started farmers going down a path. You know, it started off with the it as a good thing. It started off as a good thing, you know, and and actually, when it came into Australia, the organic movement exploded and it was and going by the research, it was certification that allowed the growth of organic agriculture. But then. What happened was there was lots of agendas and a lot of organic matter, so won’t mention any names, but organic models and certifications that came out that had their agenda and then started this infighting. Well, and and they started going and and also farmers weren’t allowed because farmers used to do the audits and make sure that they were growing appropriately. And that was stopped by the USDA because of exports. So then there was this conversation about organics becoming a model of farming that was monoculture anyway. It was industrial anyway, you know, but it was just Harrison actually like a woman. And so it all became about a label, you know, and and so then because there was a lot of things that actually came out and then there was a where because government regulation couldn’t, didn’t regulate organic or organics, farmers allowed the price if with our industrial organic, whatever to use the term organic and get people to buy. And so there was no regulation and it was all. And basically, organics is a voluntary standard, is voluntary. So organic is not regulation by and which is a asset which became a scary thing because you had farmers who were paying all this amount of money to get certified and you get your block and the person that wrote farming, whatever, and they had been selling a cheaper product. But they’re saying it’s I have an organic, not organic certified. Organic certified is regulated, but organic peanuts. But the customer down their own organic peanuts, eight bucks to get six bucks and I’ll get the one. It’s still organic. Wow. But there was so you had this constant blurring of lines and not no regulation of this happening. And everybody was. It became and it just became a problem. Read to lack of a better complicated.
Regen Ray: Yeah.
Will: Yeah, yeah. And and then farmers were paying a lot of money to be certified. And so there was this disillusionment. And it’s it’s kind of sad because it really, really started off with good intentions and it was a good thing when it began. Yeah. You know, and maybe and maybe
Regen Ray: even in my journey, I’ve kind of dismissed the importance of that. Like, maybe consumers wouldn’t be questioning where their foods are coming from if that program never started. And I know that, like what you’re saying is it started off well and it ended may be a bit messy, but without that starting, maybe we wouldn’t have people even aware of organics or the fact the food could be grown differently and more natural. And so if that’s the outcome of that certification, then maybe that is it working because maybe I’ve dismissed that sometimes in my v of my thoughts on it all. And I, you know, I don’t absolutely pay to play. But in hindsight, you know, maybe this did create the right curiosity in the aisles for people to ask better questions.
Will: Absolutely. And that’s again, why the evidence in the literature review we gained through the research literature, the research gets so much work that the research so much. Now it’s very different. But regardless of that, the and the research suggests that, you know, organics just exploded, not not exploded. That’s the wrong, but just really expanded due to the certification coming into the state. So it was it started off with a good thing. And if you look at the numbers, the numbers are quite profound and how the organic farmers grew due to the same natural processes. But then you had all this tricky stuff happening, and there was two major things that came out. And it probably is if someone’s involved with organic certification and listening to this podcast, they’re probably going, Oh, really nice. But at least we actually had to go ahead was the expense of organics, and the focus of organics has been the inputs. Typekit Sorry, this is on the inputs of what goes into the farm. So the chemicals and stuff, and so you can, you know, we can’t have chemicals, but we can use this and you can use that, but you can’t use these. Farmers can use that when you’ve got this three year transition in this business and you’ve got all these rules and regulations just in case nothing can go on, that’s chemical. And then there’s all these supplemental things that you could use, and it’s a lot of. Culture, anyway, so it’s so you got all these things, how you got the costs. But people are paying all this amount of money to be certified. And it’s focusing on the input, the input. And what came out of it, it needs to be a focus on the output. Hallelujah. Yeah. And then I used to be a focus on the output of so what comes out? You know, what so is, is this grain that you’ve growing? Is this real good ride quality? Is it quality great or is it just fitting the fitting, the bill that that the industrial systems use, just checking the nitrogen protein? What is it, quality grain? Is this is this mango, but the quality of mango that you want full of nutrients to be in all those sorts of things so that that’s what they focus beside? So let’s talk about the output of what’s coming out and looking at how, you know, looking at how the the the farm is running. You know, there was this focus on inputs costs that it cost to the farmer rather than focusing on what’s coming out the other side. And if we can focus what’s happening on the other side and then, you know, by default, that farmer should be doing the right thing on that landscape if we’re focusing on that so we can focus on price and look at it. And another thing was farmer support and support and collaboration. You know that that was a big thing as well and making sure that farmers communities are looked after and helped with their transition forward. Not. You know, not penalize, you’re not penalizing the farmer, okay? You know, you’ve had a bad season, but you still using this. This chemical or baby, these products, if farmers were constantly felts, well, the farmers that I interviewed and the experts that I interviewed, they were talking about that, how they felt analyzed. And yeah, and then like slap
Regen Ray: on the wrist if you did something bad. But all you’re trying to do in life, yeah.
Will: And you could be decertified because of whatever reason by them and supporting this animal. How can we move through this? You know, you’re going to be decertified and you got these certifications and so you’re not going to get your premium costs for that.
Regen Ray: And that just makes people sweep stuff under the rugs and hide it. You know, there’s no transparency of it. Like to say, Hey. And that’s what I think I like with the word verification and some of the models I’ve seen around that is, are we moving in the right direction? And if not, like you said, what’s that transition roadmap? Are we on track to get you more verified or more ticking? I don’t want to use the word ticking the boxes. I think that’s bad, but it’s like, are your intentions to move this farm, this land, this ecological footprint into the right direction? Yeah. You know, maybe this season you need to tell. Maybe next season you need to do something. It might not be region, but it’s for the greater good of this parcel of land. And it’s good stewardship.
Will: Absolutely. And it’s moving. You’re on that journey and you’re moving forward. And this is where you, your goals are. Yeah, but thing, you know? Yeah, it’s a long term thinking and holding that farmer’s hand. But you know, innovation like you get out in the end and just saying, right, how do we how do we manage this landscape? Was this your land? Your next-door neighbor is going to have completely different landscapes in what you do? So how are you going to manage that? And and moving that forward so. So that was basically one of the key points. The key point was that if regen decided to have a certification model, they can not follow the organic law. And that’s where it cannot and basically, what is it? But there was a lot of people saying that we need to have this have a certification platform or some type of platform where people understand what customers understand that this farmer is on the journey to do the right thing as opposed to just doing a certain thing. And so that’s when the verification and accreditation came up. And so they’re the alternatives. So there are a number of people looking at doing it verification and accreditation model to help farmers go that way. But one thing that came out of this research is that. If regen decides to go down a certification model, which I think it will just due to the complexity of how the the industry the agricultural industry is, if people want to know what this person is doing the right thing. So I want to support them. So they’re going to be a little label saying, yes, this person is right, this is doing the right thing, but it cannot follow the organic model. It can’t follow the same focus on inputs it cannot follow. OK, you’re doing the wrong you. You’re not, you’re using the wrong chemicals or you’re not using the right seed or this is what you’re going to be punished for that. Yeah. We cannot follow that model because it’s just it’s just going to wait. It’s just going to it’s going to create that separation, which is already happening, you know, and we’re going to be working this together. And that’s by forward, especially the regen. It’s really important. It’s a really, really, really important industry and it can be a game changer. So for the way the weather patterns are happening at the moment around the world and it’s a tangible, real way in which we can mitigate and navigate through these times.
Regen Ray: While that is just really refreshing to hear and you know, I guess like even now hearing you explain that, I’ll be honest, I don’t like the idea of certification, but it gives me a lot more hope that if we do go down this model, we have some information with us now to say, let’s not copy what we have done. You know, let’s not copy what organic did, and let’s not focus on import and what isn’t and what is out. Let’s focus on output quality, you know, and I think even more importantly, like mental health needs to be factored into these are people. Yes, farming departments with a good mindset, with a healthy soul and healthy spirit. And I know these are very hard to measure, but we really need to bring it back to more of that spiritual way of farming where we just go, Oh, this feels right. You know, it doesn’t take the tick box. That’s why I retracted what I said before, because coming from the tech startup world, it’s all the seven steps to magic morning routines and you tick a box and you know, it’s all these checklists to make sure people are doing their job properly. But it all gets to shortcuts and people start lying about what they’re doing. It’s like, Yeah, we checked all these and then you go and go, Oh, you didn’t. So, you know, it’s like I come from the franchise model where there’s a billing checklist for everything, and humans are always going to innovate and create smart cuts. You know, it’s like, you know, we need to just focus on the output. You can’t change that. And I can’t wait for the day where, you know, maybe instead of having a star system, it’s people’s, you know, soul organic matter writing that’s on the labels of the packaging, you know, and that’s the badge of honor to say I’ve gone from one percent to six percent organic matter. And you know, we know that that’s a positive sign to the organic and ocean,
Will: and that’s in the measurements that I hope will be implemented. It’s looking at those things in a nice, tangible things. It’s not and you can’t you can’t fake it. Yeah, that’s
Regen Ray: right. That’s right. And anyone can walk on there and verify, Yes, you know, we’ll say, I want an independent soul test here. Hang on. Yeah, it’s coming in at three percent and you’re saying that six percent.
Will: Six percent. Where exactly all the important
Regen Ray: stuff, you can’t really track that sometimes after the fact, you know?
Will: Yeah, exactly. Like, it’s hard. It’s hard to measure that, you know, because carbon is funny and it’s fluctuations within the soils. But if you can look at landscape and how much to my time,
Regen Ray: yes, I have an open door policy.
Will: Yeah, I’ve been following, you know, and they’re not mean, not every job like, yeah, obviously, but when people can come in and look and and not come in with a judgment of, you know, assessing and you know what? What are you using and how how are you transitioning? How you and another big thing to do that came out with the was the outputs, the collaboration where it needs for support, like you say, farmer mental health and suicide rates that are going on in Australia. So they want to drive there. But it to be shocking to see and the support we need to work together where we’re human community, we’re not, you know, we’re not on our, you know, we need to support each other through this and we need to support each other through the transition. You know, you have a business that rules the roost at the moment, and we need to create a way in which people can income streams for more regen ag specific rotations and all those sorts of things that people are doing it that way, by the way, and there’s there’s a lot of movement coming in this way just. But not becoming elitists. I’m getting so I’m better than, you know, or this is this elitist model. That was another thing that came about being elitist, and a lot of people felt that organics became elitist.
Regen Ray: There’s any doubt again
Will: that the ego ends. And that was that’s become a big problem. And if we could just work together and not be elitist and but you say that in all sorts of things, you know, like
Regen Ray: started guess
Will: I do this because I do this or I do it this way, I’m better than you because you’re doing it that way or I have the system, but whatever, it doesn’t matter. So it was your intentions of that and you’re were there to heal and you’re going to make mistakes like people make mistakes. We all make mistakes. It’s like, Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Maybe I should do this. Or maybe I should’ve listened in the first place or whatever. You know, it doesn’t matter somebody else’s thing. It’s like, Okay, well, let’s. Although I had and heard a story from a First Nations elder saying, You know, this is thing we’re allowed to make mistakes. When we did our training, we weren’t allowed to make mistakes. We had to go camping the first time and they were trained in a certain way that was already so deep and by. And I completely understand that mentality. And hopefully we can get this one eventually where we can say, no, we we actually know we shouldn’t be doing it this way. But at the moment, especially whitefella, we we better maybe to be humble and listen and just stop, stop and listen. Great. It was. Yeah, yeah.
Regen Ray: You know, and it’s very hard to put the ego aside and feel like the net worth is actually now in being still and listening rather than being on a tractor and tilling and doing stuff and ripping things apart. And you know that the whole and you know, I do feel that a lot of this stuff comes from an education system where we’re graded, you’re an A-plus, you’re a C student, there’s a ranking, you know, who’s the top of the class, who’s 95 per cent who got the docs like it all comes from an education system that we have to beat and win. You know, even the fact that we do exams in silence and there’s no collaboration, like where in the world does that get simulated apart from an exam environment? You know, in every workplace you can turn around, say, Hi, I don’t know how to do this formula and excel, you know, I don’t know how to bookmark something in this, these browser, you know, you can always ask for help come to an exam, your cheetah, if you help each other, you know, and that gets ingrained to us twelve years ago. Yeah. So no wonder why there is no collaboration. Well, that’s why we don’t know how to help each other, you know? So we can’t see the bird helping the ecosystem. We can’t see the worm adding value, you know, because it’s a competition of who’s who’s, you know, the elite.
Will: And so what about it? Is any drops for everyone?
Regen Ray: Yeah, I’ve got a very I feel like the education system really messed me over and maybe I was just at a different wavelength that I would be an A-plus student through all my coursework come exam, I’d be a C, and so I would always drop my averages and I’d look like a bad student on paper. But it’s just because I don’t do. I don’t do exam. I just don’t get it, you know, and being an early adopter to the internet and just knowing that there’s this world that’s all connected together and collaborating and and it just never really gelled with me, and I really struggled with that. And that’s why it’s so that’s why I made it, you know, part of my life work to educate, you know, whenever I can learn out loud and create content that helps people be a better version of themselves. I’m going to be there and do that because I know that a lot of the other systems don’t give us that empowerment to be better every day, you know, and self-awareness and self-education. And you can use YouTube to educate where you can use YouTube to waste time, you know, and maybe sometimes you do a bit of both, you know, learning and leisure. So, yeah, I guess on that note, I want to ask you our signature question. I really want to thank you for sharing your key findings, and I know that your research is going to get released soon and will help share that around when it gets released. Do you have any time frames of when it will be public domain or journal?
Will: I’m not sure yet. I’ve actually submitted it, so I’m just waiting to see if it gets accepted. OK? So it’s almost in the planning going,
Regen Ray: and if not, we will still share a lot of the data. And I think this is just really important work. And I was so excited when I discovered that you were working on this and being in this space for many years. I always see it as a as a talking point and a sticking point and a way where people just, you know, like you said, don’t let’s not make the same mistakes we’ve made. But, you know, penny moment for me during this conversation was maybe we wouldn’t be asking these questions about where our food came from if we never introduced organic of. And so, you know, if that’s the one thing that it did, then I think it’s move the industry forward in leaps and bounds and totally worth the pain that people may have gone through. So, you know, maybe soul listeners are getting that aha moment as well. So are you ready to become the voice of our soil and answer our signature question?
Will: What’s your signature signature question?
Regen Ray: Oh yes, excellent. Well, so if you could embody the soil and become its voice, what would you tell us on Earth? So you are now the voice of the soil?
Will: Speak. I’m leaving. I’m leaving it to two, just just as much as a human living entity. So if you interact with me with respect, I’ll be able to get back to you. Respect beautiful.
Regen Ray: Love it living being. Respect me and all respect you. Give and take. It’s a Two-Way street. I love that.
Regen Ray: Well, so love us. There you go. Another great episode and this one. You know, getting our hands dirty, but also getting into some facts and figures. You know, not often we get to hang out with people who have put over, you know, hours and hours and hours of work work into the research to help us move this movement forward. You know, so will I really appreciate the effort you have gone through and crunching all those numbers and staring at screens for weeks and weeks on end?
Will: JJ glass mechanisms? Just like that. So anyway. Also, it was all work that goes on about those
Regen Ray: ideas and totally we wouldn’t be here speaking and having a great time if it wasn’t for that. And if you want to say real hand movements and I’m Italian and I move my hands a lot to then make sure you check out the video version of this podcast, which is hosted on the Soil Learning Center dot com. Because we animated it, I loved all the hand movements you make.
Will: That’s awesome.
Regen Ray: Well, thank you very much, will. It’s been a great chat and great thing to do for me on a Friday afternoon, and you’ve joined us all the way from Spain, so thank you very much for the long distance Zoom call.
Will: And thank you so much for having me. I really, really appreciate being able to talk about is such an excellent and important factor.
Regen Ray: It is totally, well, they have it. So lovers, get outside, get your hands dirty and next time you’re in the shopping, I’ll think about whether that food that you’re picking up should be verified, certified or are you making a good vote with your wallet until next time? I’m regen ray