Zack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance Peterson
Zack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance Peterson
Stock Cropper:

The Backstory

Stock Cropper was born out of the minds of 3 corn/soybean farmers from the upper Midwest in February of 2020. The genesis of the idea was simple, a better system was needed both economically and ecologically than the status quo of corn and soybean production. Zack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance Peterson collectively brainstormed an alternative style of strip intercropping that consisted of alternating strips of corn and annual pasture. The pasture strips were to be grazed by multiple species of livestock and be contained away from the neighboring strips of corn. To do this, they conjured up the world’s first multi-species mobile grazing barn that would house and support sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. They called their mobile barn system the “ClusterCluck 5000” and the farming system “Stock Cropping”. Stock Cropping would go on to be defined as the re-intersection of livestock and crops working together in a closed loop, low carbon intensive, synergistic field arrangement. The concept went from a whiteboard in February to 2020 to barn construction in May of 2020 and finally into the field on June 14th, 2020. Over the next 4 months they moved the barn through their pasture strips with an electric powered winch several times a day and demonstrated to themselves and the world via YouTube and Twitter that this crazy concept might just be something worth pursuing.

After a successful first season, it was clear that the next step for the ClusterCluck was to make it truly autonomous to enable scalable applications of Stock Cropping. A partnership was formed with Joseph Bassett and Dawn Equipment in December of 2021 to develop an autonomous solar powered ClusterCluck that could be programmed and controlled with an app on an iPhone. 10 months later, the ClusterCluck Nano was successfully deployed with solar power, electrical drivetrain, GPS autosteer and controlled remotely by an iPhone app.

Since 2021 Zack Smith has continued to demonstrate the practice of Stock Cropping at his demonstration farm just outside of Buffalo Center, Iowa with 5 different ClusterCluck prototypes of various sizes successfully housing and moving various configurations of livestock including cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and chickens between strips of row crops. Four annual Field Day events have been hosted with attendees from folks from across the Midwest making the pilgrimage to see the Stock Cropping system and ClusterCluck barns.

2024 is set to be a big year for the project with their inclusion of the Stock Cropper story in the release of the film, “Food Inc 2, Back For Seconds” in early April. The 5th season of the Stock Cropper Demonstration plot will be on display throughout the summer and fall complete with 3 different ClusterClucks working on site. You will also be able to see the ClusterCluck Nano working at Precision Planting’s PTI farm in Pontiac IL in their own Stock Cropper plot on site. And last but not least, the arrival and pre-sale of our first commercial release of the ClusterCluck Pico…an autonomous backyard poultry barn for those seeking Protein Sovereignty with style. This will be followed over the next few years of more releases of our larger barns. It’s been a heck of ride over the last 4 years and we’re just getting started. Join us and get busy living…

Zack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance PetersonZack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance PetersonZack Smith, Sheldon Stevermer and Lance Peterson

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