Why Regenerative Agriculture is the Future of Farming

Why Regenerative Agriculture is the Future of Farming

The concept of Regenerative Agriculture has led to some passionate debates recently amongst farmers and biologists. For some, it is being hailed a solution to climate change and global warming, whilst others are more sceptical.

What is Regenerative Agriculture? 

Regenerative Agriculture is a way for farmers to make a positive impact on the environment. Regenerative farming practices allow farmers to tackle the issue of soil degradation whilst offsetting their carbon emissions.

It is considered to be a holistic land management practice that, through the use of conservation and rehabilitation, actively improves crop yield. Regenerative farming creates better conditions for growing high-quality, nutrient-dense food, reduces soil degradation, increasing water capacity and removes excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration – storing it as organic carbon in soils.

The methods utilise the power of photosynthesis – a chemical reaction between carbon dioxide, water and light that takes place inside the leaves of a plant to produce food for it to survive – to close the carbon cycle and enrich soil, crop resilience and nutrient density.[1]

It allows farms to reverse some of the environmental damage done to both soil and land in the past and build a better future, continuing to provide enough food for the growing world population sustainably, minimising the agricultural carbon footprint.

 What are some of the farming methods? 

No-till farming practices – this is a technique for growing crops without disturbing the soil by digging, stirring and turning it over. Instead, seeds are planted through the remains of previous crops or drills that cut a slot, place the seeds and close the furrow.

Fewer disruptions to the soil allow more diverse soil microbes that provide better soil structure.[2]

Managed grazing practices – moving livestock around frequently and avoiding overgrazing in one area can protect the water sources and reduce soil erosion whilst providing quality livestock nutrition.

At Morton’s Farm, we move our chicken shed weekly onto the fresh pasture and our free-range turkeys graze the pasture after the sheep.  

Permaculture design – this is basically landscape design that takes ecology into account, resulting in more efficient and productive systems that have better water cycles and more sustainable ecosystems.[3]

Different plants release different carbohydrates through their roots, and various microbes feed on this and return all sorts of different nutrients back to the plant and the soil. By increasing plant diversity, farmers can help create rich, varied and nutrient-dense soils that lead to more productive yields.[4]

Cover crops – these are crops planted specifically to cover the soil after the main crop has been harvested. Planting cover crops helps to reduce water run-off, erosion and reduces plant-specific fungal infections that can build up in the soil. Planting cover crops is particularly useful over the winter, so the soil isn’t exposed to the wind and the cold, which would naturally erode it over time.

Diverse crop rotations – planting a higher number of crops in rotation over several years and selecting crops that have different nutrient requirements in a way that complement each other.[5]

Using less fertilizer and pesticides – practising caution when it comes to chemicals is also a principal of Regenerative Agriculture. Chemicals can disrupt the natural relationships between microorganisms and plant roots.[6]

Farming has been blamed for years for its contribution to global warming and greenhouse gases, so Regenerative Agriculture is a positive way to allow farmers to play a more active role in contributing to a more sustainable future.

Whilst its full contribution to climate change has yet to be fully proven, there is no doubt that improving soil health has a huge range of benefits, resulting in stronger yields, healthier and more resilient land, more nutrient-rich crops and fewer carbon emissions.

 [1] What is Regenerative Agriculture – Regeneration International

[2] 10 Best Regenerative Practices – Helia Global

[3] Regenerative Agriculture Ultimate Guide – GROCYCLE.com

[4] Climate Reality Project

[5] Regenerative Agriculture Ultimate Guide – GROCYCLE.com

[6] Climate Reality Project

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