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Regenerative Agriculture

 

 

What is It? 

Regenerative Farming is farming that allows nature to remain healthy and continue to be a productive system. Nature, as we know, is a continuous system with zero waste. Everything constantly gets re-used in an interdependent system where one area’s waste is used to generate another area’s new growth. Like decomposing trees becoming nutrients to feed other plants. Or CO2, including that emitted by human actions.

 

If we let nature work the way she needs to she will continue to keep our soil, our air, and our oceans healthy and productive. If we break the natural cycle nature will break down, pure and simple. Just like what is happening with the stability of climate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does it work?

We’ve all heard that mass itself is never destroyed, but simply changes forms. It also holds true that the amount of carbon on the planet is fixed. We’re not creating more, we’re just changing its form.

Think of water—it can freeze, melt, evaporate and rise into the clouds, and then return again as water when it rains down. Carbon works much the same way. A million years ago a tree may have decomposed and become a new form of carbon—called coal. When we burn coal the carbon (CO2) rises up into the atmosphere like water rising back to the clouds.

 

In a healthy environment photosynthesis brings that carbon back again, to re-use it. Plants absorb it, and take it down under the soil where they use it to barter with bacteria and fungi for nitrogen and phosphorus, respectively, giving everyone what they need to keep things growing in a healthy way.

 

Industrial farming techniques break that cycle in several ways. By tilling soil it destroys the ecosystem underground necessary to “ask for carbon.” By using chemicals, or artificial ways to applying nitrogen and phosphorus it further shuts down the demand, so plants stop taking the CO2 from the air and putting it back into the soil. And as industrial farming almost always grows one crop on a field, nature’s interdependent system breaks down even more since nature needs variety for its system of interdependent nutrient sharing to succeed.

Regenerative Farming, on the other hand, allows us to grow the same amount of food (maybe more!) by working within nature’s rules. No more tilling the soil and shredding the ecosystem underground. No more adding chemicals that artificially force crops to grow, but at the expense of shutting down their ability to re-sequester CO2—thereby leaving it in the atmosphere to create climate change. Plus, these chemicals are in our food, causing all sorts of health issues.

 

But if stabilizing our climate and improving our health weren’t reasons enough to farm in a regenerative manner, let’s add greater food security and reduced water needs. Healthy soil is not simply a carbon sink, it’s a water sponge. Therefore it keeps soil moist, even in times of droughts. So we can produce more food, with less water, during the droughts which seem to be occurring more often and with greater severity.

 

Additional Resources:

 

text thanks to The Carbon Underground

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