Understanding Nutrient Increases in Beef as it Correlates with Changes in Soil Respiration, and its Commercial Implications.

Project Overview

FS24-365
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2024: $14,137.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Tosta Family Farm
Region: Southern
State: Georgia
Principal Investigator:
Daniel Tosta
Tosta Family Farm

Commodities

No commodities identified

Practices

No practices identified

Proposal summary:

Currently, ongoing work is being
done to define “nutrient density.”  The work, led by the
Bionutrient Food Association, has concluded that nutrient
concentration disparities, within food,  remain across
different farming styles. Resulting in inability to establish one
farming style over another for consistent  maximization of
crop nutrition. However, through their work, one metric has
consistently been found in correlation with increasing nutrition.
That metric is soil respiration, as an indicator to total life
within the soil, and an accurate predictor of increased nutrition
in the crop. This has been consistent through their years of
study, however, they still report many many years remaining of
studies in which the ask for increased participation. One such
study is the Beef Study, this project will participate in this
study. 

 Most Americans are unaware
of soil respiration and its role in producing crops that have
been measured to be hundreds and sometimes thousands of times
more potent in certain anti-inflammatory polyphenols, vitamins
and minerals than produced from relatively biologically deficient
soils (the majority of the food supply.) Many farmers are also
unaware of these metrics and how they may allow for precision
marketing of the nutritional, ecological, and ethical,
differences of their crops. Our solution, in this project, is to
produce nutritionally, ethically, socially, and environmentally
superior meat that is measured and quantified through analysis by
the Bionutrient Food Association. In the process we will explore
how the soil respiration metric correlates with improving
nutritional factors. With the information gathered we will look
at the marketing problems for sustainable farms and possible
solutions concerning the data acquired through this project. The
intent is to leverage the data gathered so sustainable and
regenerative farmers can better communicate the value of their
products.

Project objectives from proposal:

Our approach is to increase the
quantity and diversity of the soil microbiota on ours soils
through seeding a diverse grouping of pasture grasses and forbs,
some currently not existing in our pastures. We are very
interested in the tillage radishes and deep rooted species that
can assists in building topsoil and allowing for deeper
penetration of the rhizosphere. In addition to adding diversity
and  larger root systems we will directly inoculate the soil
with the Natural Resources Group Granular Mix. Inoculation will
be through cultures purchased from the Natural Resources Group
that have a mixture of microbes and fungi that have been
demonstrated to assist plants in overall health and vigor. The
seeding and inoculation will be with a ‘no-till drill,” rented
through our local feed store and pulled with our farm tractor.
For best results, seeding will occur twice, once in the Spring
and once in the Fall of 2024. This allows for performance of both
Summer and Winter perennial soil builders. Inoculation will occur
once, in the Spring. 

After establishing newly seeded
plants, rotational grazing of livestock will be practiced for the
remainder of the project length. Livestock will be grass finished
on the farm. Nearing the completion of the study, one cow will be
selected that has been grazed upon the pastures, throughout the
study, for sampling. The beef sample will take part in the
ongoing Beef Study, at the Bionutrient Food Association. The Beef
Study also collects manure, soil, and grass samples from the farm
along with the beef sample.  This data will be collected
along with soil samples analyzed through our extension office. A
total of 4 soil samples will be taken. Immediatly, before each
seeding, 12 months after last seeding, and again with the
submission of the beef sample towards the end of the
project.

After quantifying the nutritional
differences between our beef sample  against supermarket
beef s
amples available at the Beef Study we will translate
the data into copy that can be used for marketing. The copy will
be designed as educational, highlighting the nutritional findings
found in this study along with relevant ecological, social, and
health implications. The project will also address insights from
the 4 soil samples into the educational materials. 

Utilizing a polling company,
Centiment, 500 beef consumers that live in six-figure income
households or greater, will be selected to receive the copy
briefing them on our project findings and relevant information
pertaining to sustainable agriculture and the health of humans,
ecosystems, and societies. Afterward, they will participate in a
15 question survey design to gain valuable market information and
their overall valuation of sustainable beef vs
conventional.   

Tosta Family Farm will use their
farm blog page and social media in disseminating the findings
from the study. Throughout, social media and the blog will be
used to track progress in the projects. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.