Regenerative agriculture is a set of farming practices that looks to enhance or rehabilitate the ecosystem of farmed land with a large emphasis on rebuilding soil organic matter. In short, its aim is to improve its resources rather than deplete them, as commonly seen in industrial farming/ agriculture.
Improving soil health is one of the key concepts for regenerative farming. This is because healthy soils have a huge number of benefits including
- Creating more nutritious crops for people and grazing animals to feed on
- Reversing the effects of climate change
- Improving drinking water quality
- Increasing biodiversity
- Creating resilience to adverse weather events e.g. flooding
How does it work?
Plowing and tillage dramatically erode soil and release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They also can result in the kind of bare or compacted soil that creates a hostile environment for important soil microbes. By adopting low- or no-till practices, farmers minimize physical disturbance of the soil, and over time increase levels of soil organic matter, creating healthier, more resilient environments for plants to thrive, as well as keeping more and more carbon where it belongs.
Different plants release different carbohydrates (sugars) through their roots, and various microbes feed on these carbs and return all sorts of different nutrients back to the plant and the soil. By increasing the plant diversity of their fields, farmers help create the rich, varied, and nutrient-dense soils that lead to more productive yields.
Rotation and Cover Crops
Left exposed to the elements, soil will erode and the nutrients necessary for successful plant growth will either dry out or quite literally wash away. At the same time, planting the same plants in the same location can lead to a buildup of some nutrients and a lack of others. But by rotating crops and deploying cover crops strategically, farms and gardens can infuse soils with more and more (and more diverse) soil organic matter, often while avoiding disease and pest problems naturally. Always remember, bare soil is bad soil.
Mess with it Less
In addition to minimizing physical disturbance, regenerative agriculture practitioners also often seek to be cautious about chemical or biological activities that also can damage long-term soil health. Misapplication of fertilizers and other soil amendments can disrupt the natural relationship between microorganisms and plant roots.
The soil is one of the foundations upon which our own health and the health of the planet rely upon. This is why we are so passionate about working with farms that practice regenerative farming techniques. Healthy soils directly improves your food while simultaneously improving the environment around us.