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Amanda Little

The Biggest Ideas in Farming Today Are Also the Oldest

Georgia cattle raiser Will Harris left behind the destructive techniques of modern agriculture, charting a new path forward for the livestock industry.

Will Harris: “Nature is so much smarter than we are.”

Will Harris: “Nature is so much smarter than we are.”

Photographer: Amanda Little/Bloomberg

Earth's soil can sequester vast amounts of carbon — I’ve known this for years. But it wasn't until I stood at the boundary between two farms in southern Georgia recently that I appreciated the enormous potential of that fact.

Will Harris, a fourth-generation cattleman, reached down and scooped up a handful of pale reddish-brown soil from his neighbor's peanut fields: “Dead," he pronounced it, "a lifeless mineral medium.” Then he walked a few paces and dug up another handful — inky black and unctuous — from his own land. “A thriving organic medium, teeming with life," he said. "It’s 5% organic matter compared to 0.5%, side by side.”