Brendon in his potato seed greenhouse.
Rockey Farms potato fields.
Brendon shares his biotic methods during a Rockey Farms tour.
Brendon explains Rockey Farms potato seed production.
Rockey Farms biotic fingerling potatoes.
Rockey Farms focuses on soil health.
Rockey Farms seed potatoes in the field and a flowering strip, far left.
Brendon Rockey is a biotic farmer in Colorado showing producers across the globe how to end their chemical dependencies.
Brendon's approach focuses on life. He uses biological inputs like companion crops, soil amendments, livestock, cover crops and flowers to replace synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. At 7,600 feet above sea level and under long term drought conditions, his 500 acre farm sustains yields, has greater water efficiency and it supports a flourishing ecosystem encouraging beneficial insects, soil microbes and carbon cycling.
In addition to managing the farm's annual potato crop, he grows quinoa, flax and lentils, and welcomes bees and livestock into his biotic farming system.
Rockey Farms also produces year-round certified seed in a greenhouse with biological enhanced potting soil and flowering companion crops for insect management.
The National Potato Council honored Rockey Farms with the 2014 NPC Environmental Stewardship Award. In 2011, the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts presented the farm with the Farming Division Conservationist of the Year Award for its practices.
Brendon also holds individual honors for his innovative ideas and dedication to education. He spearheaded a Future Farmers of America potato seed growing program in 2015 and is a 2016 National Association of Conservation Districts Soil Health Champion.
He also speaks about his approach with producers across the nation, participates in soil health events throughout the year and serves on numerous boards.
2014 NPC Environmental Stewardship Award
Brendon and Sheldon Rockey of Rockey Farms in Center, CO were the recipients of the 2014 National Potato Council Environmental Stewardship Award.
This award is a component of the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, a partnership between the National Potato Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to protect the environment and promote the safe and effective use of pesticides. The National Potato Council partnered with DuPont Crop Protection, who are the primary sponsor of the annual award and were responsible for the production of this video.
Biotic Farming Systems nurture life.
They create a healthy habitat for life in the soil, plant communities, livestock and humans.
Transitioning to a biotic farming system starts with identifying and removing toxic practices used to produce a crop and committing to biotic inputs that improve a farm's overall health, resiliency and productivity with respect to available resources.
Biotic farming system inputs include:
• Multi species cover crops/green manures
• Compost/compost tea
• Companion crops
• Biotic products
• Nectar rich flowering strips
• Reduced or no till
• Irrigation management
Desi Chick Peas and Chickling Vetch companion Rockey Farms potatoes.
Nitrogen fixing nodules grow alongside a potato plant.
Brendon's biotic farming system creates habitat for bees and other pollinators.
A flowering strip creates habitat for beneficial insects in a Rockey Farms potato field.
Biotic Farming Systems promote life. Ladybugs and other aphid predators protect a Rockey Farms potato field.
Grazing livestock on green manure increases the efficiency of nutrient cycling.
Plant diversity keeps the soil healthy.
Root diversity in Rockey Farm's green manure mix.
A combination of the biotic inputs enables crops to thrive in a balanced living system that creates an ideal environment for microbial and beneficial insect populations, increased water efficiency, organic nitrogen fixation, and carbon and nutrient cycling.
Managing for soil health when raising potatoes: A farmer's perspective
Brendon talks biotic farming with the NRCS
•January 21, 2017, Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum, Montrose, Colorado
•January 28 - February 1, 2017, National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting,
Soil Health Champion, Denver, Colorado
•February 20 - March 2, 2017, Normandy, France; BASE Annual Meeting and Belgium
•March 2017, Future Farmers of America Workshops, Western Slope, Colorado
•August 2017, Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District, Houlton, Maine
Check back for more dates
"Brendon probably had the most scientific seminar but approached it from such a passive, interactive way that it was easy to understand and fun to participate in, organic chemistry in a one hour nutshell."
-Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum Participant, January 2017
•January 22-23, 2016, Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum, Montrose, Colorado
•January 28, 2016, Lower Mainland Horticultural Improvement Association and Horticulture Growers' Short Course, Abbotsford, Canada
•February 1-3, 2016, UW Extension and WPVGA Grower Education Conference, Stevens Point, Wisconsin
•February 16, 2016, Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Workshop, Idaho Falls, Idaho
•February 17, 2016, Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Workshop, Burley, Idaho
•February 18-19, 2016, Soil Health Symposium and Workshop, Ontario, Oregon
•August 17, 2016, 'Survival & Growth in Unstable Markets, Are healthy soils the key?' Lava Beds-Butte Valley Resource Conservation District Soil Health Workshop, Tulelake, California
•August 19, 2016, Growing Resilience: Water Management Workshop Series, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon
•October 22, 2016, Southwest Agricultural Seminar, Dolores Colorado
•November 30 - December 1, 2016, 'Soil Health and What it means to you' Rosebud and Treasure County Conservation Districts Workshop and Ag Expo, Forsyth, Montana
"Brendon Rockey was awesome... He explained some concepts that were known, but not understood... Very good, practical information - enjoyed hearing a farmer’s perspective and the passion he demonstrates."
-Tulelake, California Producers, August 2016
•November 17-18, 2015, Annual Washington Organic Recycling Council Conference, 'Feed the Soil, Feed the World: Organic Amendments, Soil Health and the Bottom Line' Wenatchee, Washington State
Plank Stewardship Initiative, Wyoming NRCS and Conservation Districts Soil Health Workshops:
•December 8, 2015, Wheatland, Wyoming
•December 9, 2015, Riverton, Wyoming
•December 10, 2015, Greybull, Wyoming
•Washington State University Soil Health Workshop, Moses Lake, Washington State
•Western Slope Soil Health Conference, Delta, Colorado
•Western SARE Conference, Portland, Oregon
•Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District Workshop, Houlton, Maine
•Morgan Composting Field Day, Sears, Michigan
•Southern Rocky Mountain Ag Conference, Monte Vista, Colorado
•Soil and Water Conservation Society, Loveland, Colorado
•Colorado Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting
•Colorado Conservation Tillage Association, Burlington, Colorado
•Soil Health Workshops, Bismark and Fargo, North Dakota
•Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Health Workshops, Butte, Billings and Miles City, Montana
•Soil Heath Workshop, Adams State University, Alamosa, Colorado
•32nd Annual Western Washington Potato Workshop, Burlington, Washington State
"Very well done. I appreciate very much your dogged persistence and ability to ask and seek answers to very good questions. What you have developed there in Center is truly remarkable and a definite inspiration and high standard for us all."
-Jeffrey P. Mitchell, University of California Extension Specialist