REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Regenerative Agriculture 101

By Deneé R. Woods

We know the principles behind regenerative agriculture are pretty common sense, but there’s still a learning curve when it comes to the details of farming regeneratively. Hearing about the importance of no-till cultivation for the first time can easily have you feeling out of the loop or like you didn’t do the reading – carbon sequestration what, am I right? If this sounds familiar, we’ve got you covered! We’ve put together a simple introduction to the key principles and terms of the regenerative agriculture movement to help you make sense of the world of soil-first farming.

Soil Health

The ability of the soil to do its job as an essential living ecosystem that supports plant and animal life. Kind of a big deal. Sadly, soil health is also quickly deteriorating under industrial farming practices like mono-cropping and toxic pesticide use. Imagine a world where soil can’t soil. Scary? We agree.

Land Productivity

A measurement of the labor and resources required for a piece of land to support and sustain life. The less you have to put in (fertilizer, irrigation, etc.) for what you get out (food, fiber, etc.), the better. Regenerative farms increase land productivity through practices like rotational grazing and emphasizing perennial plants.

Pollinators

The literal birds and bees, friends, and that is essentially what pollinators do. An essential part of any thriving ecosystem, pollinators travel from plant to flowering plant spreading pollen and facilitating sexual reproduction. Other pollinators sharing the work of the birds and the bees include bats, butterflies, wasps, moths, flies, beetles, and some small mammals.

Ecological Biodiversity

The many ways different species in an ecosystem relate to each other and their surroundings. Regenerative farms encourage this by cultivating native plant species, raising livestock appropriate for the farm’s ecosystem, and caring for pollinators like birds, bats, and bees.

Water Infiltration

A measurement of how easily water moves down into and through the soil. Land that’s been managed poorly or farmed using conventional industrial farming practices often suffers from low water infiltration rates. More water in the soil means happier root systems, healthier plants, and increased land fertility – and more food.

Holistic Management

A method of decision-making, resource management, and extensive planning originated by ecologist Allan Savory that emphasizes relationships, respect for nature, and shifting from control to cooperation. Originally designed to combat desertification through planned grazing, holistic livestock management mimics the predator-prey relationships between natural grasslands and wild herds to return dry, barren land back to a state of lush, productive grassland.

No Till

Farming or gardening in the soil without tilling or disrupting it. Tilling is one of the leading contributors to soil degradation and declined soil fertility, and it’s the norm for many industrial farming operations. By leaving soil undisturbed through no till practices, root systems and living organisms in the soil thrive and organic matter is able to decompose over time, rebuilding soil health.

Ground Cover

Any time you see plants growing overtop, or covering, the ground. It’s the opposite of barren ground, or ground that has nothing growing overtop. Regenerative farmers plant ground covers, also called cover crops, in between plantings or wherever ground is exposed to prevent erosion, improve water infiltration, and rebuild soil health.

Carbon Sequestration

The process of removing carbon dioxide (a dangerously abundant greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere and storing it safely. This lowers the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, effectively slowing or reversing climate change. #goals

Desertification

The process by which dreamy, fertile land turns into desert. Typically caused by climate change, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture, this degradation of land and ecosystems is to be avoided at all costs or reversed through…

Regenerative Agriculture

A holistic approach to farming that considers the farm an essential part of its surrounding ecosystem. Regenerative farms work alongside nature and focus on rehabilitating soil health and ecological biodiversity. Sustainability is cool, but regeneration is best. Work smarter, with nature, and for the benefit of all.

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