October 30, 2015
This post is the second in a two-part series highlighting farmers recognized as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. This post features Martin Kleinschmit of Nebraska.
On October 26, the White House honored 12 farmers and educators as White House Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture.
We congratulate all of these hardworking individuals for their important contributions to sustainable agriculture. We especially recognize two Champions of Change with NSAC member group ties. In an earlier post we highlighted Champion Loretta Jaus. In this post we highlight another champion, Martin Kleinschmit, and the sustainable practices that he has implemented on his operation. Martin has a long association with Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs.
Martin grew up on his 385-acre organic farm in Nebraska. When he was a kid, it was only 270 acres and they raised hogs and milk cows. “The older I got, the less that worked,” he recalled.
In discussing how he became interested in sustainable practices for a White House blog profiling the Champions of Change, Martin said, “I followed traditions until 1978 when I participated in the Small Farm Energy Project, sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs. The goal of the project was to reduce energy use. While hearing about many different practices and ideas, we also learned to be critical thinkers. So, instead of expanding acres to increase profits, we decided to adopt the organic model to cut costs and sell for a premium.”
Martin transitioned to organic production in 1993. He replaced the milk cows with beef cattle and ran a grass-finished business for 20 years. During that time, he used windrow composting, which allowed them to spread compost in the summer and fall instead of early spring, cut the volume and weight of the manure by one third, and reduce the weed seed pressure.
Although he has since sold the beef cattle, the neighboring young farmer that now operates Martin’s farm brings his cattle to graze. About 10 years ago, Martin started shifting duties to the operator, who now maintains the organic certification, plans the crop rotation, and markets all of the grain. The operator shares the same management priorities as Martin and has adopted his ideas and principles, both in operating Martin’s farm and his own farm.
They rotate land in out and of grass, usually using a corn crop followed by a cover crop or grazing crop. They use annual forages as a supplement for permanent pasture. Participating in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program allowed Martin to install water lines and cross fences for managed grazing. This has allowed him to build up the carbon reserves in the soil.
In addition to farming, Martin worked as a project specialist for 17 years at NSAC member, the Center for Rural Affairs, including work on climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration in agricultural soils. He is also a mentor to other farmers that are interested in sustainable practices. More recently, Kleinschmidt has installed solar panels at his farm and started a business helping other farmers with financing and installing solar projects.
We applaud Martin for his dedication to sustainable agriculture and the progress he has made–both on and on the farm–to enhance the economic viability of farming while promoting environmental stewardship.