In Memoriam: David Brandt, Soil Health Pioneer

by | May 29, 2023


Title Image: Pictured here on his Carroll, Ohio farm in 2022, is soil health and cover cropping pioneer David Brandt, who passed away on May 21, 202,3 from injuries sustained in a vehicular accident. Credit: Joe Dickie, Understanding AG

On May 21, 2023, the world lost a true hero. Soil health and regenerative farming pioneer, David Brandt, of Carroll, Ohio, passed away from injuries sustained in a vehicular accident.

A man who served his country in combat in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and then came home to take over the family farm, David’s life-long service firmly establishes a legacy that will live on for many generations to come.

A son, father, husband, grandfather, soldier, farmer, inventor, innovator, self-made ag engineer, teacher of others, mentor and difference maker, David was practicing regenerative agriculture before we even had a name for it.

His on-farm experiments and unique innovations are now world-renowned.  His humor and enthusiasm were infectious. He hosted countless workshops on his farm through the years and served as an inspiration and mentor to far too many to count.

Along with Ray Archuleta, Gabe Brown and Allen Williams, David was an original founding partner of Understanding Ag, LLC and the non-profit Soil Health Academy, the latter of which he served as president for two years. His vision and leadership were instrumental in establishing these organizations as the leading advocates and educators in regenerative agriculture.

David’s stature loomed large, but what he accomplished is what made him a giant in the soil health and regenerative farming movement. He had a positive impact in the lives of many and was a sincere and faithful steward of the land God blessed him with, transforming it from a degraded resource into an ecological wonder.  He truly transformed dirt into soil.  He changed people’s minds.  His ability to “entertain” while educating was unparalleled, making people laugh even while questioning the way they farmed. He was truly a joy to listen to.

He made his corner of the world a better place and enabled others to change theirs.  When the agriculture “experts” and university professors told him “It can’t be done,” David said, “Watch me,” and proceeded to change the world for the better—teaching us that by using nature’s tools we can regenerate our living and life-giving soil and breathe new life into our family farms and rural communities.

To honor this soil health pioneering legend, it is our hope that each of us will take up David’s mantle and carry on his remarkable legacy. Let’s continue to build on the foundation that he established.  And while none of us can replace David, together we can make certain that his work lives on in perpetuity.