Introduction to Regenerative Farming
Updated: Apr 6
Ever since humans have become civilized, we have practiced farming and agriculture. Farming is essential to our survival, because we obviously need to eat, and farming provides us with the means to feed the masses. Unfortunately, farming is not as simple as planting seeds, watering, waiting for plants to grow, harvesting, rinse and repeat. There are other things to consider that come with it, such as crop rotation, pest management, soil nutrient composition, and much more.
Land and soil can be farmed so often that the soil is depleted of nutrients, and therefore nothing will be able to grow out of it. This is the case with many modern farming practices, where industrial farming and the use of chemical pesticides has deprived the nutrients out of fertile ground. This causes the farmers to find new land to till, and if they don’t farm with sustainability in mind, they will soon find themselves with the same issue.
With this in mind, many farmers have turned to a relatively newer method of farming known as regenerative farming.
So, what is regenerative farming? As the name suggests, this is a method of farming that is intended to replenish and rejuvenate the soils while still producing crops and bountiful harvests. The term was coined in the 1980s by the Rodale Institute and, although there is no one set definition for it, it is more so a set of practices that advocate for sustainable techniques such as crop diversity, no use of pesticides, livestock grazing, etc. In my research, I’ve found that there are 4 main principles, courtesy of a blog post from Zizira.com:
Minimizing soil disturbance
The soil is where crops and plants get their nutrients from. To disturb the soil means to till it, spray down chemicals on it, things like that. Incorporating a no till routine or using organic mulch can help minimize the stress on the soil, and also helps to replenish it in a more natural way.
Instead of growing one crop, farmers should grow multiple crops on a rotating basis. This helps reinvigorate the soil, such as using legumes to incorporate more nitrogen into it, something that I have learned is a crucial element when it comes to agriculture.
Protecting the soil from the weather and erosion is also crucial. This principle goes hand in hand with diversifying your crops, as the legumes mentioned above also help protect the soil from drying out via the sun. Cover crops also become an all natural fertilizer when left unattended.
Livestock grazing management
Animals that are left to overgraze can also diminish soil health by eating the plants intended to reinvigorate the soil. Implementing better livestock management such as how and when the animals can graze will help the soil retain its fertility.
Regenerative farming is something that I learned about recently, and I didn’t think there was a lot to it. But, as usual, I learned that there is a plethora of information about regenerative farming, all of its different methods and practices, and how it could be an important piece of the puzzle that is climate change. This topic will definitely be revisited in the future, but for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this short introductory piece to regenerative farming.
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