Farm Journal

The White Clover Farm Journal

Welcome to the White Clover Farm Journal. We track our grass-fed beef from birth to consumer, to ensure they remain safe and healthy food. 

Optimal Health…A physician/farmer perspective

As a physician, I was trained in the detection and treatment of disease.

holistic cow farmWhile the USA boasts of providing the best health care in the world, our populous suffers from an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses that are related primarily to diet and lifestyle1. To address this problem, we must change our focus from treatment to prevention of disease with good nutrition being the cornerstone. We need to emphasize whole foods as opposed to the highly processed, high calorie, hyperpalatable foods that are often deficient in nutrients and minerals2,3.

As a farmer, I have developed a more holistic view of health and nutrition that includes the environmental impact of our food production. Soil is the foundation of health. Healthy, nutrient-dense food comes from healthy biologically alive soil. Our soils have become degraded through the lack of biological diversity, high levels of chemical inputs, and bare fallows. Our current agriculture is extractive and unsustainable. Regenerative Agriculture is a way to grow our foods that mimic Nature. It is a system that produces healthy, nutrient-dense food while continuously building topsoil. It helps restore our broken carbon and water cycles.

As a first-generation farmer, my goal was to farm regeneratively. The farm I purchased was in conventional crop production of corn and soybeans with its associated tillage, chemicals, and bare winter fallows.

The 5 Tenets of Regenerative Agriculture are:

1) Keep the soil covered
2) Minimal soil disturbance i.e., no-tillage
3) Increase biodiversity
4) Keep living roots in the soil year around
5) Incorporate livestock.

I started out by planting the entire farm into perennial grasslands. I repaired a large erosion gully by building a dam to create a small farm pond. What followed demonstrated the richness and generosity of Nature. This pond is now lined with willows, cattails, and beautiful American Lotus water lilies. It is home to hundreds of fish, insects, amphibians, and reptiles. An explosion of biodiversity. Mother Nature knows what to do, she just needs us to get our boot off of her neck.

Now that the farm was in grassland, I introduced cattle as a way to build soil organic matter, recycle nutrients, and produce high-quality beef. Healthy soil is a living organism with billions of microbes in a single teaspoon. In order not to harm the soil biology, we have avoided using any harmful chemicals such as antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, or herbicides. With short periods of grazing followed by long periods of rest, the biodiversity of plants in the pasture has increased as the latent seed bank is awakened. The soil organic matter has increased from 1.5% to 4%, cycling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequestering it in the soil. This has resulted in improved soil structure with better water infiltration and water holding capacity. We can now hold an additional 50,000 gallons of water per acre. Not only does this allow us to grow more biomass, but it also helps protect the watershed from erosion, runoff, leaching, flooding, and drought. The restored groundwater provides our cattle with clean water year around from natural springs.

The Way Nature Intended:

We are able to produce our 100% grass-fed beef using only grass, sunshine, and water—the way Nature intended. Testing done at Michigan State University confirms the high mineral, vitamin, and omega-3 fatty acid content of our beef4. We direct market our beef locally, providing a healthy product while improving the land. Nature has responded to the care that we have given to the land with another gift in the form of birds. We now have hundreds of swallows that follow the cattle herd providing natural fly control. Red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, Northern Harriers, and Short-eared owls patrol the pastures and hayfields. The presence of birds of prey is an indication of a healthy ecosystem with a well-functioning food web.

A holistic definition of health includes the health of the planet as well as all of its inhabitants. They cannot be separated. As we strive to improve our health through better nutrition, we must remember that healthy soil is the foundation for healthy food as well as ecosystem function. Optimal health only occurs when the whole ecosystem is healthy.


1. Wang, Youfa et al. “Will all Americans become overweight or obese? estimating the progression and cost of the US obesity epidemic.” Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) vol. 16,10 (2008): 2323-30. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.351

2. Poti JM, Braga B, Qin B. Ultra-processed Food Intake and Obesity: What Really Matters for Health-Processing or Nutrient Content? Curr Obes Rep. 2017 Dec;6(4):420-431. doi: 10.1007/s13679-017-0285-4. PMID: 29071481; PMCID: PMC5787353.

3. Mozaffarian, Dariush et al. “Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.” The New England journal of medicine vol. 364,25 (2011): 2392-404. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1014296

4. Bronkema, Sara & Rowntree, Jason & Jain, Raghav & Schweihofer, Jeannine & Bitler, Chad & Fenton, Jenifer. (2019). A Nutritional Survey of Commercially Available Grass-Finished Beef. Meat and Muscle Biology. 3. 116. 10.22175/mmb2018.10.0034.

Regenerative Agriculture - A Pathway to a Better Future

We all value healthy, nutrient dense foods. But did you know that how this food is produced could also help mitigate global warming?

America’s industrial agriculture system has been very productive, but at a high environmental and health cost. We need a more holistic paradigm. Worldwide we have lost 50-70% of the organic matter from our soils, resulting in decreased fertility and water holding capacity. Soil depleted of carbon results in erosion and leaching with subsequent pollution of our streams, rivers and lakes. An 8,000 square mile dead zone exists in the Gulf of Mexico due to nutrient runoff into the Mississippi River. Toxic algae blooms occur in Lake Erie each summer for the same reason. There is a water crisis worldwide. This is the result of the loss of soil carbon with resultant dysfunction of the carbon and water cycles. Sustainability of such depleted topsoils is no longer sufficient. We must rebuild our soils.

The single most important determinant of a healthy, fertile, biologically alive, and functioning topsoil is organic matter. A living plant is the most efficient, cost-effective way to add carbon to the soil. Through photosynthesis, this plant takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and puts the carbon into the soil in the form of sugars. Soil microorganisms use this sugar as an energy source and are able to store some of the carbon in the form of humus. Humus can remain stable in the soil for hundreds of years, thus sequestering carbon and increasing soil organic matter. A 1% increase in soil organic matter allows the soil to hold an additional one inch of rain, or 28,000 gallons of water per acre. You can think of it as a carbon sponge. This helps ameliorate floods, droughts, runoff, and leaching, while at the same time removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It also allows more plant growth, which cools the earth through transpiration.

Fallow Soybean FieldFallow Soybean Field*Soybean fields that have been fallow since October of last year. This results in significant oxidation and loss of carbon from the soil. The resulting erosion present in one photo amounts to the loss of 5 tons of topsoil per acre. This could all be avoided by the use of cover crops.

Regenerative Agriculture (also known as carbon farming) Needs to be Our New Paradigm

The tenets of regenerative agriculture are as follows:

  1. Reduce tillage as tillage oxidizes carbon with the loss of organic matter
  2. Keep soil surfaces covered at all times to protect them from heat, wind, and water erosio
  3. Keep a living plant growing for as much of the year as possible by using cover crops. This maximizes photosynthesis, increases soil microorganisms, prevents erosion, and increases soil organic matter. Currently, our corn and soybean fields remain bare 6 months of the year. Cover crops are used on only 2% of farm acreage in USA.
  4. Rotational grazing of livestock instead of the continuous grazing that is done on the majority of farms in the USA. Beef production in CAFO’s (confined animal feeding operations) contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Several recent studies have demonstrated that grassfed beef production using rotational grazing is a net carbon sink.

White Clover Farm Receives Conservation Award

White Clover Farm received the 2016 Cooperator of the Year Award from the Ohio Soil and Water Conservation District in Highland County. We were chosen based upon our conservation practices that improve the soil and water quality.

White Clover Farm Receives Conservation AwardOur mission from the beginning has been to conserve and improve our topsoils. Franklin D. Roosevelt stated in 1937, shortly after the dust bowl, “The nation that destroys its soils, destroys itself.” Despite this warning, we have continued to destroy our soils thru the loss of soil organic matter. Worldwide we have lost 50-70% of the organic matter from our soils. This has resulted in a dysfunctional carbon and water cycle. Dr. Rattan Lal, a soil scientist at Ohio State University, states “A mere 2% increase in the carbon content of the plant’s soils could offset 100% of all greenhouse gas emissions going into the atmosphere.”

Agriculture of the future must be regenerative. We must produce food and improve our soils. Dr. Christine Jones, PhD soil biochemistry, states “If all farmland sequestered more carbon than it was losing, atmospheric CO2 levels would fall at the same time as farm productivity and watershed function improved.”

Our planet’s future food and water security is dependent on restoring the carbon and water cycles. Regenerative agriculture can accomplish this goal. As a consumer, I hope you will support this goal by purchasing your food from farms that practice regenerative agriculture.

Holistic Management

The term holistic management as developed by Allan Savory of the Savory Institute emphasizes the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. Because of this interconnectedness, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We use this model when making management decisions at White Clover Farm. We take into account the effects our decisions will have on the environment, water cycle, carbon cycle, mineral cycle, cattle, wildlife, soils, plants, and the human community.

Following is an example of using holistic management on our farm.

Problem: Poor soil fertility in a pasture.

Possible solutions:

     Option 1 - Use synthetic chemical fertilizers.

Drawbacks: Fertilizer is manufactured using fossils fuels which are a non-renewable resource and pollute the air. These soluble fertilizers pollute surface water thru runoff and groundwater thru leaching. Synthetic nitrogen also burns off soil organic matter and is harmful to soil biology.

     Option 2 - Mow the field

By leaving the grass clippings on the surface to slowly decay, they feed the soil biology and increase soil organic matter.
Drawbacks: Slow process and requires diesel fuel to mow.

     Option 3 - Holistic Management

Horses on the Farm

An Amish farmer had recently moved in down the road. He did not have enough pasture for his Belgian draft horses. I offered him the opportunity to graze this pasture free of charge. This decision helped my neighbor by providing free forage for his horses, while providing me with free manure as a source of organic fertilizer. This increases soil organic matter and feeds the soil microbes. Horses clip the pasture very short, opening up the canopy so I could frost seed clover with good seed to soil contact. Clover is a legume which fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere( thru the symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria in the soil) thus adding an additional 75-100 pounds per acre of organic nitrogen.

As you can see, this holistic approach to management decisions benefited everyone.

Benefits of Optimal Omega 6/Omega 3 Ratio

Essential Fats

Healthy Cow FeedingNot all fats are bad. In fact, there are two fats, alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6), that are essential to good health. These two FA’s are termed essential since humans cannot synthesize them on their own, and therefore must ingest them in their diets.

Now here is the key point. It is the balance or ratio of these two FA’s that determines their function. A high ratio of omega-6/omega-3 is detrimental as it promotes an inflammatory response that leads to cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. A balanced ratio of 1 to 1 omega-6/omega-3 is protective against these diseases.

Most Western diets have an omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 15/1. 100% grass-fed beef has a much healthier ratio of 1.5/1. Therefore, with grass-fed beef you are eating essential fats in the correct ratio to promote health.


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