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“Big Hugh” adopted theatrical antics of legend before congress while dramatizing America’s soil erosion crisis throughout Roosevelt’s era. Soil Conservation Service founder Dr. Hugh Hammond Bennett spread a thick bath towel across one committee table over which he dumped a half-pitcher of water in demonstrating how well-covered, well-managed land could absorb heavy, washing rains. The chief then sloshed the remainder over a smooth tabletop, representing bare eroded land, and handily won his appropriation. “Ray-the-soil-guy” Archuleta’s rational soil health evangelism in this new millennium perpetuates that “Big Hugh” showmanship tradition. NRCS agent Archuleta’s show-and-tell regularly renders roomfuls of seasoned farmers slack-jawed. Our Soil Guy submerges golf ball-sized clods, one dug from a continuously tilled field, the second from a long-undisturbed plot, into separate water-filled beakers. Tilled clods near-instantly disperse like packets of Kool-Aid, while no-till clods remain virtually intact the morning long. Ray explains how science recently discovered that soil-dwelling microbes excrete architectural glue, glomalin, with which they construct subterranean cityscapes favorable to their wellbeing and nutrient cycling. Tillage farmers regularly bulldoze microbial habitats to facilitate seed germination and weed control. Acquired in 1995, our Madera farm laid four years fallow and undisturbed. I turned shovelfuls of soil from which one could fill a can with fishing worms. Once disc and chisel worked that field for an onion crop, those critters disappeared, never to be seen since. These most obvious soil architects tunnel chimney holes to a soil’s surface, increasing its capacity to infiltrate rainwater. The second of Ray’s graphic demonstrations employs a desktop apparatus to simulate rain lashing a pair of soils; barren, tilled soil on one side, a soil with intact microbial architecture and crop residue-covered surface alongside. No-till soil’s infiltration astonishingly exceeds the tilled by a factor of ten. Gabe Brown’s South Dakota region averages only 15-inches of annual precipitation. Meager rainfall induces neighbor farmers to fallow bare fields every other year, attempting to store two years’ soil moisture for growing a single crop. Dryland grain farmers hereabouts follow a similar practice. Brown eschews tillage and seeds high-species-diversity cover crops in rotation, resulting in soil so sponge-like and moisture retentive that Gabe produces cash crops every year. T&D Willey Farm employs artificial row covers to blunt rain’s explosive power and low-flow drip tape to meter water onto tilled soil at rates no faster than it can accept. I am beginning to believe there must be a better way. Tom Willey