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Regenerative Agriculture Podcast

Apr 16, 2019

Mike Omeg is a 3rd generation cherry grower who has spent the last few decades farming 350 acres of cherries in The Dalles, Oregon. Mike is an innovator with the vision for new approaches and the analytical mind to measure results. He’s tested myriad techniques in his quest for the best and most profitable methods of growing cherries, and was awarded the Good Fruit Grower award by the Fruit Grower News in 2017.

In this conversation, John and Mike delve into the type of bio-intensive system Mike has developed and the data he has collected in his trials. Mike has shown that profitable large-scale agriculture and regenerative practices are entirely compatible and speaks to how his operation has scaled regenerative practices. He also thinks deeply about return on investment, the economic growth of his operation, and discusses the positive impact that regenerative methods have had.

Believing that one of the fastest ways to improve soils is to grow a healthy crop, Mike explains his view of the tree as the conduit for putting carbon into our soils more efficiently than mulch or compost. Supported with the correct nutrition, the tree is simultaneously building this year’s crop and boosting nutrient levels in the soil for building future crops.

In the episode, Mike gives in-depth information on his experiments with different types of cover crops saying, "When we talk about having a return on our investment, we need to have every seed that goes into that mix be there because we know it’s going to earn us a return - not because we want to feel good that we're maybe doing something that we read in a book was important.”

Close to the end of this conversation, Omeg says, “I'm excited for every day to bring new challenges in farming. And focusing upon biological and restorative agriculture has just brought a real sense of joy to me when I walk through the orchard. It's exciting, and I love it.” Mike is truly an important figure in the landscape of stone fruit production. Check out his YouTube channel where he covers not only some of the most innovative stone-fruit production methods, but also a host of other fascinating topics.

Whether you grow cherries or cherry tomatoes, you will find this conversation between John and Mike to be fascinating and informative, with lessons that span all of agriculture.

Listen to this conversation to hear Mike explain:

  • His very practical experience and cost/benefit analysis with mulch, compost, cover crops and interplanting
  • How mow-and-blow replaced Mike’s use of compost
  • How plant sap analysis influenced his inputs management process
  • Mike’s extensive trials, and thinking process, for finding cover crops suitable for orchard alleyways
  • Specific information on Ajuga (Ajuga reptans), Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia), and Comfrey (Symphytum officinale var. patens)
  • Nutritional defenses against the two major cherry diseases, bacterial canker and powdery mildew that he never imagined possible
  • An interesting anecdote on freeze resistance
  • The value of fish and other inputs on orchard plantings
  • The ROI on a bio-intensive system based on increased cherry size and firmness
  • How biologically intensive practices and large scale production fit together


SeaShield (fish product mentioned by Mike)

Mike’s recommended sources for information:


The Farming Ladder by G. Henderson

Please remember to support our Community Impact featured partners! Acres USA is North America’s premier publisher on production-scale organic and sustainable farming. For more than four decades they have been helping farmers, ranchers and market gardeners grow food organically and sustainably. Acres USA is dedicated to the mission of educating growers about the benefits of ecological farming, with content that is designed to help you grow your operation in an ecologically and economically sound way. Check out their books, podcast, and monthly magazine!


Support For This Show

This show is brought to you by AEA, helping professional growers make more money using regenerative agriculture since 2006.

If you grow on a large scale and are looking to increase crop revenue and quality, email or call 800-495-6603 extension 344 to be connected with a dedicated AEA crop consultant.


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This episode was Recorded by John Kempf and Mike Omeg, Edited by Nathan Harman, Produced by Nathan Harman, Robin Kitowski, and Anna Kempf.