What would you say to someone who told you – “You don’t need fertilisers”? “Don’t be ridiculous”? “Are you out of your mind”? “I’d like to see you reduce fertiliser use without sacrificing your yields!” I would have said the same thing a few years back…

But contrary to everything we’ve learned about growing food, we can get excellent yields without fertilisers by getting our soil ecosystems working again.[1]

It’s not hokey pokey!

That’s why I wanted to share with you a couple of videos telling the story of two leading regenerative farmers. They have the data to back up their observations and will revolutionise how you look after your soil!

Despite reducing and even eliminating fertiliser applications, Gabe Brown and Colin Seis’s soil tests demonstrate increased availability of plant nutrients rather than the declines we would expect.

These videos are worth watching, even if you are a gardener. Property size doesn’t matter.

Look at what they do to get their ecosystems functioning again. The change doesn’t happen overnight. But you can get similar benefits if you look at the eco-logical principles, and think about how you can apply them in your circumstances.

Gabe and Colin are not alone. Many other food growers are getting these benefits using eco-logical approaches to regenerative farming and gardening.

Gabe Brown – How to save money on Fertilisers

Colin Seis, Winona: Restoring Our Farm Ecosystem

Gabe Brown was filmed at the 2017 Dave Brandt Field Day by the Ohio NoTill Council.  The video has been edited to condense it to 15 minutes. If you prefer you can watch the complete video here.

How can I Reduce Fertiliser Use?

The principles are simple. Colin and Gabe get their nutrient cycles functioning again by designing their production systems to enhance their yields AND give their soil organism a better food supply.[1] With these resources, soil organisms:

  • Recycle nutrients
  • Supply nutrients to our plants as required, and
  • Create soil structures promoting root growth and biodiverse communities of soil organisms

Soil organisms are the experts at feeding our plants – they have had billions of years of on-the-job training![2,3]

By designing our gardens and farms to maximise plant growth for human and livestock consumption, our soil organisms have had a lousy catering service. [1] The menu has been limited, portions small, and the service unreliable! We have had to apply fertilisers, compost, and other organic inputs as substitutes for these FREE ecological services.

The trick to giving your soil organisms a better diet is using eco-logical principles to focus your practical effort on what will make a real difference and will work well for your circumstances. By this, I mean choosing the best regenerative practices for what you grow – veggies, fruit trees, cattle, or alpacas, and your climate, soil and other growing conditions.

Getting more Support to Reduce Fertilisers

Recommended articles:

  1. What is Healthy Soil?

  2. Compost and Biological Fertilisers – Are they Regenerative Practices?

  3. How to Build Healthy Soil – Eco-logically

Watch the videos in the playlist Fix your Nutrient Cycling‘on the Learning from Nature YouTube channel.

Alternatively, develop practical solutions for your farm with this resource. Front cover Feed plants without FertilisersOr for your garden with this resource.

Front cover Feed your Plants without Fertilisers


[1] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, What is Healthy Soil? Learning from Nature

[2] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, Eco-logical Farming Handbook, Publ Learning from Nature

[3] Wendy Seabrook, 2019, Eco-logical Gardening Handbook, Publ Learning from Nature

Featured image courtesy of the State Library of South Australia


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