Regenerative agriculture is one of the best tools to fight carbon emissions
We widely agree that the world’s climate is going in the wrong direction. For the last 3.5 billion years, the world’s temperature was pretty much stable. In the last 150 years, we started seeing an increase in the temperature. In the beginning, some thought it was part of a harmonical change that will revert. Now there is already a wide agreement on the fact that some things about the way our civilization lives affect the stability of our planet’s environmental system. The same environmental system that supported the evolution of complex forms of life themselves.
A big part of the talks about sustainability focuses on finding solutions to keep on maintaining our lifestyle with our increasing damage to the ecosystem. The thing we like the most about regenerative agriculture is that it’s not only about growing food in sustainable ways it also has the potential of repairing some of the damage we have done over the past 150 years.
What Is Regenerative Agriculture?
Since the industrial revolution alongside many other changes, the way we produce food has changed a lot.
We developed many practices to increase the production of food without taking into the equation the land we count on to grow our food. Regenerative agriculture is a name to describe a widely spreading approach to agriculture. The core concept at the heart of it is to keep on producing a lot of food but this time in a way that aligns with our ecological system. We want to replace the linear production line thinking of food production with a more circular approach. An approach that respects the nature, and soil that feeds us and the biological part every organism has in the system. There are many different techniques to apply this approach in agriculture but the common to them all is being mindful of everything that builds an ecological system and not only what we want to harvest out of it.
How Could Regenerative Agriculture Help Us Repair The Climate System?
When talking about climate change carbon became the image of what we are fighting against. The truth is that we are, as humans a carbon-based form of life. About 20% of our body is made of carbon. So why did carbon get the bad image of the responsibility for climate change? Many of the actions in our day-to-day lives from driving cars to generating electricity release carbon. To be more precise it’s carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere. CO2 is an organic compound that was around us ever since the atmosphere of this planet was established. Problems start when the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises. The latest cause many ecological systems start failing and climate stability is dangered.
The interesting thing about healthy soil is that it contains a lot of carbon, carbon that otherwise would be in the atmosphere. Regenerative agriculture focuses on building and maintaining the land. There are many benefits to it but the one most relevant for carbon is that the process absolves a lot of carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in the land. By doing that we could revert to many years of increasing carbon emissions.
How Is It Done
There are many techniques for regenerative agriculture, some of them are based on mimicking nature itself, and others on permaculture. It is more of a philosophy rather than a specific how-to technique, there are infinite ways of applying it. All of the practices aim to benefit one or more of the following categories:
- Land management – the way we seed and harvest, what tools are we using, and how we plan it to not exhaust the soil. Soil is a living thing filled with microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi. We need to give them enough “rest” to recover from cycle to cycle. A practice we commonly use in this category is rotational grazing.
- Bio management – Nature is filled with bio-diversity we want to retain that since they help both the resilience of the system and co-symbiosis of the different species. when modern agriculture is mainly a monoculture where each field grows mainly one specie of animals or plants regenerative approach would be to keep the biodiversity to make sure the system is well nourished. A practice we commonly used in this category is food forests.
- Water management – One of the foundations for every flourishing ecosystem is water. All living creatures need them. Doesn’t matter if your area is raining all of the time or if rain is limited to a few months a year. By managing the water the land gets you can make sure to have enough to maintain a healthy flourishing ecosystem. The concept regards the small water cycle. Permaculture water management techniques can address a few of the common obstacles like run-off water and retrieving the soil’s water level. An example of one of those practices we commonly use is slowing water flow speed to increase absorption.
The Benefits Of This Type of Agriculture
There are countless benefits to regenerative agriculture both in social and moral terms and on biological and nutritious levels. As it is a developing field we see from year to year more branches of techniques developing. With them, we discover new ways to create a better man-nature relationship.
- The ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere – As we stated to start with, a healthy solid can contain a lot of carbon inside of it. The erosion of once healthy solid releases all of the contained carbon back into the atmosphere. In the process of industrializing the food production chains, we also caused massive land erosion which this kind of agriculture could reverse. As ambitious as it sounds, this is by far the most scalable and simple solution we have to reverse carbon levels in the atmosphere.
- Polyculture leads to more resilient ecosystems – In the heart of regenerative agriculture, lays the philosophical idea of diversifying the crops and animals we are growing. Just as it happens in the natural environment. Not only we may increase our food security with that by preventing one species’ diseases, but the symbiotic relations between many plants and animals also enrich the entire environmental system and help to protect many animals from extinsion.
- Financial life saver for the traditional farmers – fertilizers prices are rising to new peaks continuously for the last two decades and with the damage industrialized agriculture causes to the soil farmers are left with no choice but to use more and more of them in order to manage and fill the demand for food. The obvious effect of it is that the profit margins of farms have been decreasing gradually in recent years.
The regenerative solid treatment eliminates the need for any fertilizers and creates a situation where even if a farmer grows a lower weight of food he could still remain with the same or higher profit line. For that reason, many farmers adopt the regenerative way to make their businesses more resilient.
Regenerative agriculture is an interesting approach that could help us fight climate change and produce food in a more sustainable way. It has many benefits both socially environmentally and financially. Surely it’s a great tool we have to fight global warming. As consumers, we could and should be more mindful of where our food comes from. We can prefer sources that are beneficial to our ideology and use our grocery shopping as votes.