NCAT’s Soil for Water Member, Armed to Farm Alum Sees Healthy Soil as the Key to Healthy Food

Mississippi farmer James Burch is among a growing network of farmers, ranchers, and land managers across the United States who are taking steps to catch and hold more water in the soil with the aim of regenerating the land and strengthening their businesses.  

More than 150 farms and ranches have joined the free and voluntary Soil for Water network, a regenerative agriculture project supported in part by NCAT and ATTRA. The project aims to include farmers and ranchers who discover and share land management practices that improve soil health, catch more water in soil, reduce erosion, sustain diverse plant and animal life, and filter out pollutants, all while improving the profitability of their businesses. 

Burch’s Mississippi farm has been in his family for a century. After a long military career, it’s only recently that he started putting the land back into production. He’s passionate about locally grown produce, grass-fed beef, and pasture-raised pigs. His main concern is mitigating erosion and ensuring that the soil on his land doesn’t wash away into nearby waterways. That’s why Burch joined the Soil for Water network. 

“It’s important to build the soil to the point that you’ve got some kind of cover on it, and any time you get these big rains, it doesn’t take your topsoil to another area,” said Burch. “The vision for my farm is big. I’m taking it one step at a time and using proven methodologies to grow healthy food above ground and maintain healthy soil below ground.”  

In addition to being an early Soil for Water network member, Burch is also an alum of NCAT and ATTRA’s Armed to Farm program.