the beauty of regenerative farming
Last month I started my next chapter in helping change in ag, and I briefly talked about my thoughts on the future of ag and regenerative agriculture practices. I am adding a few more thoughts in this note, along with a very cool little youtube vid I found when doing some cursory research last weekend. And with more recent mainstream press coverage for sure discovery work is in progress! In this note, I am trying to get my head around understanding a little bit more, at a very high level, the differences and challenges to the conversion.
It’s amazing to see that regenerative farmers in the EU, North America, Brazil, Australia, and India (mainly) are working actively to change the way we farm in this decade and as a result increase biodiversity, enrich soils, improve watersheds, and enhancing the health of livestock and wildlife. And by thinking more holistically, they in turn increase the resilience of their farms to weather events and help boost the sustainability of their communities as well.
And with government policies and the food industry looking for solutions that will improve and secure food supplies in the post-covid era, orgs in the US, Brazil, India and the EU are planning to have millions of acres converted to regenerative farming methods (for example, Patagonia, Danone, General Mills and Mc Cain) and invested multi-million-dollar budgets.
Recap: 5 principles of regenerative agriculture: Regenerative Ag has five main principles,
These are put into practice under a general, guiding principle of integrating all the farm’s operations as far as possible. In today’s conventional farming approach, crops and livestock production are typically kept separate. Regenerative agriculture combines them in circular ecosystems; essentially, the animals feed the plants, and the plants feed the animals. The regulated grazing of sheep or cows, for example, encourages plant growth, and distributes natural nutrients back over the land in the form of dung. Poultry also fertilizes land, as well as eating unwelcome bugs and weeds.
The focus of regenerative farming is most commonly to be the quality and performance of the soil, and regenerative farmers use growing practices that improve the health of their land (by the way there is now evidence that this approach can enrich soil and improve watersheds, which reduces topsoil runoff) , with the more common regenerative farming methods including:
For the last century industrial farming has prioritized increasing production. Regenerative Agriculture addresses cost and regards profit for farmers as more important than production: if we can produce the same output with half the input, the farmer makes more money. Some see this as farming the way it used to be, before the shit to heavy mechanization and intense chemical us in the 1950s and 60s, which encouraged monocultures and ever-larger farms
The advantages of regenerative farming in infiltration and biodiversity
Improving the soil not only increases fertility in a sustainable way, but also tends to improve water infiltration. Better infiltration means less runoff, and also less erosion and pollution from soil being carried away in the runoff water. In some areas, water springs that dried up several years ago have begun to flow again due to new regenerative farming approaches.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted supply chains and demand, and increased the amount of food waste in farms and fields while threatening food security for many. As agriculture gradually regains its footing, participants and stakeholders are casting an eye ahead, to safeguarding food supplies against the potentially greater and more disruptive effects and once again, innovation and advanced technologies are making a powerful contribution to secure and sustainable food production. And as a new agricultural ecosystem rapidly emerges, I am convinced that regenerative ag is very well positioned to replace 20th century conventional farming.
Let me know what you think here.
My name's phil mora and I blog about the things I love fitness, hacking work, tech and anything holistic.
New Chapter! Head of Product at Vayda
Vayda is advancing regenerative outcomes in agriculture. By combining regenerative principles and a high-tech approach, we are focused on facilitating the reversal of climate change, while rebuilding natural ecosystems and feeding people with healthier food.
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8/5/2021 10:09:17 am
Fascinating Phil. Coincidentally I just spoke to a farmer in NW Wyoming last weekend about how he's transformed his farm along these lines. From the video, he was using regenerative grazing to transform his fields. He was extolling the virtues of this both from his cattle's perspective to how much additional water he was capturing in an arid area without additional irrigation. He's done a good bit of reading, investigating, and application of what's worked for his farm. Very inspiring.
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