Quick summary: Discover how regenerative agriculture practices can help to combat climate change and promote sustainability. Learn about the benefits of regenerative farming methods including increased soil health, biodiversity and carbon sequestration and how these practices can drive positive environmental impact.
The long days and sleepless nights. A farmer’s job isn’t easy. In the last two decades, agritech has revolutionized how we grow and produce food and one such solution that not only benefits the environment, but also improves the productivity and resilience of our farms is regenerative agriculture practices.
About one third of the global green house gas emissions are recorded from human activities are from agriculture. To meet the rising demand of food production with growing world population, agriculture has for most of the 20th century focused on commercial practice. Regenerative Agriculture is turning that approach around by choosing instead to work with nature. Massively reducing the need of tilling and commercial fertilizer, Regenerative Agriculture also aims to improve carbon sequestration by both keeping and increasing carbon in the soil and capturing new carbon in above ground biomass, thus mitigating, or even potentially reversing, current global trends of atmospheric carbon accumulation. Let us explore what these regenerative agriculture practices are, what are its principles and how the help in climate action.
Regenerative Agriculture is based upon a philosophy that seeks to replicate the structure and function that is equivalent natural systems in the design similar to biologically healthy and resilient farm systems. Regenerative farming requires a mindset that is structured, systems-based, place-based, and positive-outcome oriented. Regenerative design is approach where the output of a system improves the health and resiliency of that system over the time.
Let’s understand it in broader way, On one end is degenerative and on other is regenerative. Degenerative includes the processes/practices that decrease the health and wellbeing of a land and even ecological and social degradation of soil. Whereas, regenerative agriculture is known for renewing the degraded systems while maintaining (or even increasing) production.
Regenerative agriculture is a farming practice that embraces the principles of sustainability and aims to restore the degraded farmland back to a state of health while sustaining its land-based income to those who depend on it for their livelihood. This practice has been gaining popularity among farmers and consumers alike, as it offers a more natural approach to agriculture that is not only beneficial to the environment but also helps to improve the productivity and resilience of farms.
By keeping the soil rich and healthy, regenerative agriculture can create healthy food for consumers to eat. Regenerative agriculture is not just about reducing harm – but seeks to improve the health of the land, waterways, the animals that live on it, and people that benefit from it. As our population expands and demand for resources increases so too do the strains of acquiring our resources in ways that blend in with the natural function of ecosystems. The sustainable production of resources must ultimately be blended in with sustaining healthy natural ecosystems.
Despite a large spectrum of applications, there are four overarching principles of regenerative agriculture:
The main context of regenerative agriculture is to restore degraded farmland back to a biological state of health while sustaining it’s land-based income to those who are dependent on that land for their livelihood. By adopting regenerative farming enriched soils, improve watersheds and enhance ecosystem services such as soil carbon and nitrogen sequestration, improve biodiversity, and promote farmer and livestock welfare.
Ploughing associated with conventional agriculture exposes bare soils for extended time periods. Exposed bare soils often result in the the oxidation and release of soil organic carbon from the soil into the atmosphere as CO2. Whereas, in conventional agriculture, CO2 is lost from bare land to atmosphere. Whereas, in regenerative agriculture, practicing no-till and usage of cover crops can reverse the process resulting in more CO2 being stored as SOC in the soil than is released into the atmosphere.
Conventional Agriculture induces monoculture styled cropping, ploughed soil, application of synthetically produced fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides has greatly reduced the diversity and adaptability of agricultural soil to climate change whereas, Regenerative agriculture improves crop resilience and benefits soils. In addition to raising SOC Moreover, regenerative agriculture enhances water holding and retention parameters of soil and enhances pest resistance.
Equilibrium between production and ecosystem health can be understood by considering an instance, fostering native insects and birds can support the pollination of crops. Supporting grassland birds can mitigate livestock pest pressure. Wildlife can co-exist with and benefit food production. The practice of decreasing tillage can protect soil biota and fungal networks that improve soil fertility and water infiltration, reducing soil erosion. This allows for less chemical fertilizer use, cutting costs. Production can improve at the same time that small faunas are protected.
In terms of the climate problem, a healthier soil means more CO2 gets removed from the atmosphere, or sequestered. A wide variety of varied microorganisms can be found in soil (at least in good soil), and they collaborate with the plants that are growing there. During photosynthesis, plants take in carbon, which they utilize to grow, and they transport any extra carbon to the soil, where it decomposes into organic matter.
This extra carbon feeds the fungi and other soil-dwelling bacteria, which in turn give the plants the nutrients plant require. Although there’s a perfect balance, extensive conventional farming practices disturb it. By moving towards this regenerative approach, some of its proponents argue, the sector wouldn’t need to cut as many emissions as the soil would be capturing more CO2.
In contrast to conventional agriculture, regenerative agriculture “enhances and protects the health of the soil by recovering its carbon content, which in turn boosts productivity,” according to Project Drawdown, a climate NGO that studies and promotes climate change solutions.
Project drawdown estimates that regenerative agriculture could sequester between 14.5 and 22 gigatons of CO2 by 2050.
Nevertheless, the estimates of amount of carbon would vary between experts. The World Resources Institute (WRI) asserts that, because to inadequate scientific knowledge, it is currently unclear if scaling regenerative agriculture over vast areas can boost climate change mitigation.
TraceX is working with a number of companies promoting regenerative agriculture practices. Trace Gro, the Farm Management solutions
enables tracking of regenerative agriculture practices that includes relevant data like soil health, biodiversity, water usage and carbon sequestration. This allows farmers to make informed decisions about how to optimize farming operations for both productivity and sustainability. It also helps to demonstrate compliance with sustainability standards and certifications and communicate them to the stakeholders.
Because “success” is measured as “yield per acre,” the current business model for conventional agriculture contains a significant misconception. Agriculture’s “success” should be measured by “profit” as opposed to “yield per acre”. Additional costs to the farmer and the consumer are incurred due to expensive seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides.
Regenerative Agriculture farmers put “profit” and “regeneration” ahead of “yield per acre”. Furthermore, Regenerative Agriculture is a proven that it can reverse the damage done to human/animal health and welfare by Conventional Agriculture and concomitantly reverse the climate emergency brought on by global warming.