does regenerative agriculture really work



Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a sub-sector practice of organic farming designed to build soil health or to regenerate unhealthy soils.

can work and can increase farmland’s profitability. Over time, this increased profitability can increase the value of an investor’s farmland asset.

The good news is that the research is clear: The practices associated with the term “regenerative agriculture” can address many of the problems plaguing American food production. RelatedRegenerative agriculture could save soil, water, and the climate.


What is regenerative agriculture and how does it work?

2019 was a hard year for cotton fields in Texas due to tough weather conditions. By implementing Regenerative Agriculture practices, one of my clients was able to produce 1880 lbs of $.56 cotton. This is in line with above-average production, which is particularly impressive in a season that produced typical yields around 500lbs less than average, as well as many fields destroyed …

Are regenerative farms more profitable than conventional farms?

 · Regenerative agriculture involves practices that: Increase biodiversity. Enrich the soil. Improve water quality. Enhance ecosystem services. Reverse climate change (This is especially important since we know climate change and nutrition are intricately linked.)

Is organic matter more important than yield in regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is good for local communities. Healthier farming practices place greater emphasis on local and regional farms, with decreased reliance on large-scale industrial agriculture. Because it is a hands-on approach, more regenerative agriculture jobs will be created as practices are developed.

Are crop yields decreasing in regenerative systems?

 · Does regenerative agriculture really work? There is broad agreement that most regenerative agriculture practices are good for soil health and have other environmental benefits. No-till reduces soil erosion and encourages water to infiltrate soils (although it can require greater use of herbicides).


How effective is regenerative agriculture?

There is broad agreement that most regenerative agriculture practices are good for soil health and have other environmental benefits. No-till reduces soil erosion and encourages water to infiltrate soils (although it can require greater use of herbicides). Cover crops do the same, and can also reduce water pollution.

Why regenerative agriculture is not good?

The list of negative impacts is long: large land use requirements for growing feed, overuse of antibiotics for fattening operations, poor manure management leading to air and water pollution, and 50% of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

Is regenerative agriculture legitimate?

While everyone can agree that soil restoration is at the heart of regenerative agriculture, it is a fairly new movement that lacks the widely recognized standards of organic farming. The new system, Regenerative Organic Certified, is still fine-tuning its standards and has only issued a handful of certifications.

Is regenerative farming profitable?

While small-scale regenerative agriculture can be profitable to an extent, profitability in agriculture generally correlates with scale.

What are 3 types of regenerative agriculture?

Examples of Regenerative AgricultureNo-Till / Minimum Till Farming. … Permaculture Design. … Organic Farming Practices. … Composting. … Biochar. … Ecological Aquaculture. … Silvopasture. … Crop Rotation.More items…

Is regenerative farming the future?

The future of farming is regenerative Regenerative agriculture goes beyond sustainable—it revitalizes and improves the environment (land, water and air) while producing abundant, nutritious and delicious food.

What are the 5 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.

What is the no-till method?

No-till method of farming requires special equipment (disc seeders or agriculture drills) to make furrows, immediately plant seeds, firm them, and cover (unlike double-passing the field after plowing). This way, the soil suffers from minimum disturbance, as it is dug exactly where the seed is supposed to drop.

How many acres do you need for a sustainable farm?

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, the minimum amount of land needed for self-sustainable food in North America or Western Europe is 17 acres per person. This number assumes absolutely no land degradation, crop failures, or waste.

How long does regenerative farming take?

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.

Do you now think farmers can make profits using regenerative agriculture?

The study found that the farms with regenerative practices were 78% more profitable than conventional plots. This increase in profitability was the result of two main factors: input costs and end markets.

How do I start regenerative farming?

The following farming and gardening practices help regenerate the soil: Beginning practices include using cover crops, reducing tilling, rotating crops, spreading compost (as well as super-compost “inoculants”), and moving away from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and factory farming.


What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture seeks to incorporate all the systems and farming practices with the aim of conserving and regenerating the organic matter in the soil and the natural biodiversity of the environment. In simple terms, regenerative farming involves little to no damage to the environment and allowing as much time for it to heal itself through natural processes instead of human intervention.

What is the principle of regenerative farming?

Hence, the first and most important principle of regenerative farming and agriculture inevitably deals with soil management and soil conservation. No tillage or minimal tillage is one such principle where the soil is not tilled and instead is left to regenerate itself. Instead of using chemical fertilizers to improve the fertility of the soil, engaging in regenerative farming practices such as using organic mulch to fertilize the soil naturally or growing cover crops (crops which help regenerate the soil). This brings us to our next principle which is growing more than one type of crop at a time.

What are some sustainable farming practices?

Thought science and research have led us a long way from conventional farming and agricultural practices, with the likes of other sustainable farming practices such as hydroponics, controlled environment farming, vertical farming.

Why is controlled grazing important?

Hence, controlled grazing method is very important to conserve the soil and allow forage crops and grasses to regrow at their own pace.

Why do we cover crops?

Cover crops offer protection and help feed the soil in the sense that they are left unattended to become organic fertilizers and provide nutrients to the soil while at the same time preventing erosion of any kind.

Why is crop diversity important?

Crop diversity focuses on improving soil health. For example, leguminous crops such as beans, peas, lentils are grown more than just for harvest but also to improve soil health as a result of their nitrogen-fixing properties. Cover crops are also equally important in protecting the soil from erosion by the natural forces such as the sun and rain.

Why is it important to grow a wide range of crops?

Growing a wide range of crops and interchanging different crops to grow at a specific period of time is very crucial to the health of the soil. At the end of the day, the soil is the backbone for growing and much care is needed to make sure it is not exhausted beyond repair.

What is regenerative agriculture?

A common practice in regenerative agriculture involves planting perennial crops. While not all crops on a regenerative farm need to be perennial, shifting more land into perennial crops and pastures helps minimize soil disruption.

Why do we grow the same crop year after year?

Growing the same crop year after year in the same spot is a recipe for pest infestations, diseased plants, the need for toxic chemicals and lower yields. When you smartly plan and plant your crop rotation, you can build up the soil and grow truly resilient plants.

Who was the father of modern agriculture?

A botanist known as the leader of the early organic movement and father of modern-day agriculture, Sir Albert Howard made a vital discovery when he traveled to India during his career: the healthier the farm soil, the healthier the people living in the community.

What is agroforestry in agriculture?

Practiced around the world for centuries, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines agroforestry as the “intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic and social benefits.”

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative Agriculture Information. The principles of regenerative agriculture apply not only to large food producers, but also to home gardens. In simple terms, healthier growing practices improve natural resources rather than depleting them. As a result, the soil retains more water, releasing less into the watershed.

Why is it important to plant different crops in the same location?

As a result, the soil is healthier and more sustainable. Planting the same crop in the same location is an unhealthy use of the soil.

What is the use of cover crops?

Cover crops and the use of compost and other organic materials prevent erosion, conserve moisture, and infuse the soil with organic matter.

What is the difference between tillage and tillage?

Tillage: Standard means of cultivation contribute to soil erosion and release large amounts of CO2. While tillage is unhealthy for soil microorganisms, low- or no-till farming practices minimize disturbance of the soil, thus increasing levels of healthy organic matter.

Can regenerative agriculture be restorative?

Research suggests that certain regenerative agriculture practices can actually be restorative, and can return CO2 to the soil. Let’s learn about regenerative agriculture and how it contributes to a healthier food supply and decreased release of CO2.

Is runoff better for agriculture?

Any runoff is safer and cleaner. Proponents of regenerative agriculture claim that it’s possible to grow fresh, healthy foods sustainably, in a renewed soil ecosystem, with decreased reliance on fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides, which create imbalances in soil microbes.

What is the most extreme way to regenerate soil?

Mob grazing is the most extreme way of regenerating soil. It’s difficult to do in smaller areas, or when you need to sustain business as well as regenerate the soil.

How does soil help plants?

It provides food, structure, and a home – in some ways it’s the all-encompassing parent of the crops we grow. So when the health of our soil is in peril, we need to find ways to restore it. So-called “regenerative agriculture” is fast becoming the spearhead of this healing process among farmers, but what is it and how does it work?

What happens when you lose carbon in soil?

When this happens you lose carbon from the soil, and once organic levels get down to low, single figures – 2-5% organic matter, perhaps – soils will start to slump and lose their natural structure. It ends up being like when you walk on a beach – there are no lumps of sand, it’s all just single grains of sand. What we want is a soil structure where different soil particles are getting stuck together, and that can’t happen without plants, organic matter and healthy soil biology. It’s the amount of organic matter in soil that’s really the best indicator of soil health.

How does regenerative agriculture work?

Regenerative agricultural systems, over time, require less external inputs, primarily in the form of seed and fertilizer. The research team observed an increase in soil organic matter. Soil organic matter decreases the need for external fertilizer by ensuring that necessary nutrients are available for crops. In fact, the team found that almost a third of farmers’ gross income went into external inputs on conventional fields, compared to 12% in regenerative fields.

How much did crop yield decrease in regenerative farming?

As expected, crop yields decreased in regenerative systems, and by 29%, no less. But while yield has served as the traditional metric of interest for farmers, that decrease in yield does not tell the whole story. The study found that the farms with regenerative practices were 78% more profitable than conventional plots. This increase in profitability was the result of two main factors: input costs and end markets.

Is soil organic matter a positive or negative?

This trade-off is a net positive on the ground and confirms that soil organic matter might just be a more important driver of approximate farm profitability than yield.

Do regenerative crops cost less to produce?

So now we have a stronger crop that costs less to produce. But what about the market for regenerative products? The same study found that regenerative farmers received higher premiums for their crop through certifications, by selling their grain as seed or feed directly to consumers, and by using their fields for more than just corn.

How does organic matter affect corn?

But the benefits go beyond fertilizer costs. Increasing soil organic matter also increased the diversity of insects found in the soil. Insect diversity has been shown to decrease harmful pest abundance in cornfields, leading to stronger crops. Now that is what I like to call a win-win.

Is regenerative farming more profitable than conventional farming?

The study found that the farms with regenerative practices were 78% more profitable than conventional plots.

Is regenerative farming a good investment?

Regenerative farming isn’t a get-rich- quick scheme or a fix-and-f lip; it takes years to get right, but has the potential to pay off in spades if you look at it as a long-term investment. Regenerative agriculture can work and can increase farmland’s profitability.

How does regenerative agriculture help the environment?

The key to regenerative agriculture is that it not only “does no harm” to the land but actually improves it, using technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment. Regenerative agriculture leads to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies. It is a dynamic and holistic, incorporating permaculture and organic farming practices, including conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, composting, mobile animal shelters and pasture cropping, to increase food production, farmers’ income and especially, topsoil.

How can we restore grasslands?

Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence

How can organic matter help to reduce drought?

Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More

How can regenerative agriculture help?

“The water cycle is broken, leading to extreme flooding and drought,” says Thomas M. Newmark, founder and chair of The Carbon Underground. “The answer is soil, and soil is created rapidly via regenerative agriculture. Even in deserts in Western Africa there are regenerative farmers creating an inch or more of new topsoil every other year, and all of this newly created soil increases the land’s water-storage capacity. More water is stored in this soil water battery, increasing the likelihood that even torrential rains can effectively infiltrate into the soil and be stored underground.” That, he adds, helps prevent erosion and gives farmers a chance to withstand serious flooding; conversely, crops can draw upon this soil water battery during periods of severe drought.

What happens to the soil in regenerative agriculture?

With regenerative agriculture, the very structure of the soil heals, allowing the retention of ever more carbon in the soils ‘pores’ and slowing water runoff. Over the seasons the soil fertility compounds, and new top-soil is created each season. Basically, it’s the very opposite result we get from chemical farming.”.

How long does it take for soil to degrade?

Citing Regeneration International, Brian Zapp, Applied Food Sciences (AFS) creative director, notes, “At the current rate of soil degradation, it will take less than 50 years to no longer have enough suitable soil to grow the crops needed for humans to feed themselves.”

Is tilling degenerative or nondegenerative?

Practices like tilling (plowing or disrupting the topsoil to prevent weeds or loosen the ground to prepare it for seeding or planting), chemical ag (spraying with chemicals in order to manage pests or weeds) and monocropping (growing a single crop year after year on the same land) are degenerative, says Davis.

What is regenerative business?

Regenerative Business: “A Race to Prosperity“. The conversation doesn’t stop at agriculture. “The simplest way to explain regenerative business is that it has a net positive effect, which is extremely important if we want future generations to have a healthy planet,” says Emily M. Olson, co-founder of ReGenFriends.

What are the challenges of agriculture?

Agriculture faces some of the world’s biggest development, economic, and environmental challenges, acknowledges Simon Brayn-Smith, head of sustainability, Olam Cocoa. “Millions of farmers, particularly smallholders, who grow cash crops like cocoa, are living at subsistence levels, while natural resources, such as soil and forests, are being degraded or lost at an alarming rate. Meanwhile around a third of all food produced is lost or wasted. With the population set to increase by 2 billion by 2050, we cannot carry on the way we are. Tackling these issues is a huge task as no issue is isolated. For example, deforestation is often bound up with low yields and poverty. Equally, while many companies like Olam Cocoa have sustainability programmes in place, we must go beyond what is currently being done today and achieve far greater impact at far greater scale.”

What is a WNC farm intern?

WNC farm interns train to use regenerative ag practices in the fields. Courtesy of Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment.

Leave a Comment