A humble farmers journey from conventional to regenerative agriculture

It takes a conventional farm an average of five years before the soil “weans” itself from the chemicals used, and during the first three years, yields will drop to about half. Hence, farmers need patience and perseverance with a genuine commitment to regenerative when making the switch.


What are the principles of regenerative agriculture?

Brown says the second principle of regenerative ag is “armor on the soil surface.” Keeping the soil covered to eliminate erosion is important because you can’t build soil while it is blowing or washing away. Related to this principle is Brown’s #3, “living plant roots in soil as long as possible.”

Who is the American face of regenerative agriculture?

Brown farms near Bismarck, ND, and has become the American face of regenerative agriculture in the past decade. Here is what I learned. Brown is a good speaker, in high demand for conferences and events.

Why is regenerative agriculture so controversial?

A big reason regenerative agriculture is so polarizing and controversial is that it goes right to the core of a farmer’s belief system. Farmers practicing regenerative agriculture follow a set of principles based on farming in alignment with nature, ultimately seeking to increase soil carbon levels and “regenerate” the land.

Are regeneratively managed farms more nutritious?

New research suggests food grown on regeneratively managed farms is more nutritious than conventionally produced food. Photography by l i g h t p o e t, Shutterstock.

Can regenerative agriculture replace conventional farming?

Regenerative farming clearly has some way to go yet before it can offer an alternative to current conventional, large-scale agriculture. However, it’s equally clear that it is a source of important ideas and influence. For farmers, a regenerative approach can offer new profitable and nature-friendly economic models.

What are the 3 main principles of regenerative agriculture?

The Principles of Regenerative AgriculturePrinciple 1: Soil Armor. The first step to improving soil health is keeping litter on the soil. … Principle 2: Diversity. … Principle 3: Continual Live Plant/Root. … Principle 4: Livestock Integration. … Principle 5: Minimizing Soil Disturbance. … Holistic Planned Grazing of Livestock.

How long does it take to transition to regenerative agriculture?

The study suggests that it would take about four years until a farmer would break even and make the same amount they would have before transitioning. However, the rewards are greater after the fourth year, with higher profits than if the farm had not made the transition.

What are the 4 principles of regenerative agriculture?

4 Basic Regenerative Farming Practices The following regenerative agricultural practices aim to improve the well-being of our environment by increasing soil fertility, biodiversity, water retention and cleanliness, and soil carbon sequestration.

What are the five principles of regenerative agriculture?

5 principles of regenerative agriculture are listed below which apply distinctively to specific climatic zones and bioregions: Minimal tillage. Protect the soil. Improve soil biodiversity.

What are the benefits of regenerative farming?

Regenerative agriculture describes holistic farming systems that, among other benefits, improve water and air quality, enhance ecosystem biodiversity, produce nutrient-dense food, and store carbon to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Why is conventional farming unsustainable?

Compared to sustainable farming, conventional crops are terribly inefficient at maintaining the integrity of agricultural landscapes. Conventional agriculture is therefore unable meet the demands of the growing populations without consuming a substantial amount of land and non-renewable resources.

How does regenerative agriculture affect farmers?

Regen farming has many environmental benefits A substantial body of research shows the benefits of regenerative organic farming include: Increased carbon sequestration, better soil health , more biodiversity, reduced water pollution and more resilience to drought, floods, and pest incursions.

Why is organic farming better than conventional farming?

There are certainly environmental reasons to go organic. According to USDA guidelines, organic farming practices are designed to reduce pollution and conserve water and soil. They do not release synthetic pesticides, which can harm wildlife, and they also seek to preserve biodiversity and local ecosystems.

What makes a farm regenerative?

Instead of relying on tilling, regenerative farming practices focus on keeping the soil covered with vegetation and natural materials through mulching, cover crops, and pastures. Diversity is an essential component in building healthy soils that retain excess water and nutrients.

What are regenerative agricultural practices?

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic land-management practice that uses the power of photosynthesis in plants to sequester carbon in the soil while improving soil health, crop yields, water resilience, and nutrient density.

What are regenerative methods?

Regenerative Agriculture Techniques By keeping living roots in the soil, cover crops reduce soil erosion, increase water retention, improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and more. They can be planted during harvest time or in between rows of permanent crops.

Hemp in the US market

Since the Farm Bill was passed in two-thousand eighteen, federally legalizing the production and transport of hemp, the US has become one of the largest importers of hemp fabric, seed, and oil in the world.

Why hemp is a good choice for regenerative agriculture

Hemp is a soil remediator which means it has the ability to clean the soil, pull heavy metal and toxins from the soil. Besides removing soil contaminants, the deep roots of the plant also prevent soil erosion.

Using regenerative farming for the betterment of plants and people

The main idea behind regenerative agriculture is that you are never growing the same crop in the same place. On Hudson Hemp’s agricultural approach, she explains, «When we harvest the hemp, we plant perennial grasses so we’re not leaving the land open and dormant, it’s being regenerated by another crop.

Small Farm Alliance of Cannabis Growers

Speaking on the war on drugs which hemp was looped into because it was part of the cannabis family, Dobson says that when we talk about hemp, we also need to have conversations of repairing the injustices connected to this plant and the reparations for the people who have been prison because of dealing in the world of cannabis.

The challenges of regenerative agriculture

Dobson explains that with regenerative agriculture, you’re still at the mercy of nature. While regeneration works by trying to work with the natural world instead of resisting it, the weather can be temperamental. She says, «Some summers are very wet while others we get no rain.

The present and future of Hudson Hemp

Dobson concludes that hemp which can be split into two categories medicinal hemp and fiber hemp can be used for everything from food, medicines and supplements to papers, textiles, bath and hair products forms the basis of Hudson Hemp’s brand identity and mission.

Freya Dobson

Brand and Partnership Coordinator at Hudson Hemp. Dobson who works in the New York-based company and leads in content, events and packaging at the company with her creativity and experience in communications

Why is it important to understand the psychological, economic, and cultural motivations behind farmer decision making?

Understanding the psychological, economic, and cultural motivations behind farmer decision-making is a crucial first step in designing future investment and market strategies. Viable strategies will build roots in their response to farmers’ on-the-ground needs.

Why should farmers share benefits?

The study concludes that practitioners and organizations working with farmers should “share benefits of specific practices and programs and leverage existing practice adoption” as a way to boost farmers’ positive attitudes and awareness of conservation programs and practices. It turns out, that’s exactly what many of the organizations interviewed by the RAI are doing, with their approaches described in this article.

What is CRA in CSU Chico?

CSU Chico’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture (CRA), an on-farm research center and regenerative demonstration hub, takes a similar approach on the west coast, using research to inform practice and focusing on the power of farmer role models to inspire others. LaSalle and Daley share the importance of meeting farmers where they are, especially for more conventional farmers who might not have had much exposure to conservation practices, and have questions or concerns about how to actually implement them. Particularly for farmers who are skeptical of transitioning to a new way of doing things, LaSalle and Daley note “the unknowns weigh on people.”

How does cooperative extension work in agriculture?

Conventional agriculture benefits from the existing cooperative extension model, which has been partnering with land grant universities for more than 100 years to provide training and support to farmers, driving a feedback loop of conventional crops and dominant metrics of yield. Rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach designed to drive yields for commodity farmers across vastly different landscapes and climates in the U.S., this type of regenerative farming instead demands regionally-specific knowledge that is grounded in the nuance of particular crops grown within local climates and soils.

What are the variables that affect sustainable practices?

Some of these variables include: farmers self-identifying primarily as stewardship motivated or non-financially motivated, environmental attitudes, a positive attitude towards a particular program or practice, higher levels of income and formal education, engaging in marketing arrangements, and positive yield impact expected. While some of these variables could be targeted for program or policy design to increase adoption, many of them are more intangible human qualities that would be much more challenging for external programs and networks to influence.

What programs are used to reduce the cost of conservation?

These include the USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). However, overall adoption remains low compared to total acreage in agriculture (900 million acres according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture). About 140 million acres, or about 15% of total farmland, are receiving conservation assistance from the federal government.

Who is Gabe Brown?

Gabe Brown is a North Dakota farmer who saved his family farm from natural disasters and crop failures with regenerative practices more than 20 years ago. Now a well-known champion of soil health, and the founder of Soil Health Academy and Understanding Ag, he declares “I will take profit over yield any day.”.

What is the second principle of regenerative agriculture?

Principle #2 (and #3) Protect the soil. Brown says the second principle of regenerative ag is “armor on the soil surface. ”. Keeping the soil covered to eliminate erosion is important because you can’t build soil while it is blowing or washing away. Related to this principle is Brown’s #3, “living plant roots in soil as long as possible.”.

How does grazing help regenerative agriculture?

In the video, Brown’s last principle is “animal impact.” In all versions of regenerative agriculture, this is crucial to making regenerative agriculture work, and the main way to get the animal impact is through grazing. The particular type of grazing promoted by regenerative agriculture is management-intensive grazing, the holistic management of Allan Savory ( click for a discussion of Savory and his practices ). No argument here. Grazing livestock adds diversity to the products produced on the farm, adds value to cover crops (really annual forage crops), and recycles nutrients through manure. Nothing new here either – I helped organize management-intensive grazing workshops in NE Nebraska 25 years ago. So what is new about regenerative agriculture?

What is Brown’s principle?

Brown’s #1 principle is “least amount of mechanical disturbance possible.”. This is also the main focus of conservation agriculture. This set of principles grew out of the development of no-till in the 1970s. I see it as one of the predecessors of regenerative agriculture.

How does Brown implement biodiversity?

Brown implements his “diversity of plants” through intercropped cash crops and high-diversity cover crops that total 70 species . Impressive. Crop rotations and cover crops are, like the earlier principles, hard to disagree with. These are basics of sustainable agriculture and when markets and cropping seasons allow, they should be used.

What is the primary focus of regenerative practices?

Building or rebuilding soil is the primary focus of “regenerative” practices, all the versions agree on this (see Table 1). While some versions extend this to restoring animal health, human health, and communities, it all starts with soil health. To achieve this, they all agree that farming should minimize or eliminate tillage. Brown’s #1 principle is “least amount of mechanical disturbance possible.”

How much does soil organic matter increase?

Topsoil depth increases from 3” to 14” while soil organic matter (SOM) increases from 1.7% to 11.1%. Increasing soil organic matter by a few percentage points is normally thought of as a long, difficult process, unless you use a lot of imported manure or compost. Here, however, Brown claims to have increased SOM by over 9 percentage points. How? According to the slide, by cover crops, multi-species cover crops, and livestock integration. Let’s do the numbers according to what current soil science tells us this would require.

Is regenerative agriculture a mashup?

Well, first, regenerative agriculture seems to be a mashup of several systems of principles. It can be viewed like this:

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