The need is clear: “Conventional agriculture” is harming the planet, exposing people to toxic chemicals, and causing unnecessary suffering to animals that support the system.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our planet today, and agriculture is a major contributor to the problem. Traditional farming practices, such as monoculture and the heavy use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, can degrade soil health, reduce biodiversity, and emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
As grim as this picture looks, the promise of regenerative organic agriculture is not only a process that can rebuild critically needed topsoil, but also one that potentially sequesters carbon at the same time. In 2014, research by Rodale Institute estimated that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions could be sequestered in the soil.
Just as alarming is the fact that the earth’s topsoil is degrading and eroding at an alarming rate: Scientists predict that current industrial farming practices and deforestation will eliminate topsoil within 60 years.
- Rodale Institute
Regenerative agriculture offers a solution to these problems. Instead of simply trying to minimize the negative impacts of farming, regenerative agriculture actively works to restore and improve the health of the soil - embracing a holistic, integrated approach taking into consideration the ecosystem as a whole to build a more sustainable and resilient food system for the future.
If we converted all global croplands and pastures to regenerative organic agriculture we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.
- Rodale Institute
One of the key principles of regenerative agriculture is the use of diverse crop rotations and polycultures, rather than monoculture. This helps to build soil fertility and structure, as well as reduce the need for synthetic inputs. Additionally, regenerative farmers often use techniques such as cover cropping and composting to enrich the soil and increase its ability to absorb and retain water.
This not only benefits the farm itself, but also has a ripple effect on the surrounding environment. Healthy soil acts as a sponge, soaking up and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In this way, regenerative agriculture can help to mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in the soil.
Regenerative agriculture also promotes the use of animals in a holistic, integrated system. By using animals to graze and fertilize the land, farmers can mimic the natural patterns of grazing and trampling that occur in nature. This not only helps to improve soil health, but also reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers, which can have negative impacts on water quality.
As consumers, we benefit from improved environment, higher quality food, and a sustainable and resilient food system.
For farmers, regenerative agriculture becomes economically viable. By building healthy soil and reducing the need for synthetic inputs, farmers save money on expensive fertilizers and pesticides.
Of course, Mother Earth (our planet) certainly thanks us for our effort.
Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People
Resources and links
Patagonia on Regenerative Organic
Above: Difference between conventional and regenerative organic agriculture in our partner farms in Spain.