Regenerative farming is on the rise. Whether it can gain enough momentum to disrupt the global food system (in a good way!) remains to be seen. Nevertheless, education is crucial – farmers and consumers who understand how regenerative practices can impact the planet and society are more likely to adopt them. So keep reading to see how regenerative farming benefits Earth, economy, and equity.
Regenerative farming increases soil fertility and health. Techniques like rotation, cover crops, and natural fertilizers keep nutrient levels high, promoting the growth of beneficial microbes. These microbes are the foundation of carbon cycling, allowing complex life to exist.
Water Quality and Supply
Regenerative farming also improves water quality by reducing chemical herbicides and pesticide runoff. In addition, synthetic fertilizers contribute to excess algae growth that can damage waterways and ocean reefs. Finally, healthier soil filters and holds more water, replenishing the groundwater supply more quickly and making it more resistant to droughts.
Biodiversity Above Ground
Diverse microbes in the soil lead to greater biodiversity above ground. For example, birds, bees, and other helpful animal life are typically absent from monocropped land. However, rich soil hosts diverse plants that attract natural pollinators and pesticides.
Healthy soil holds carbon – a lot of carbon. Scientists estimate that arable land in the US could pull over 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere yearly. Keeping soil as healthy as possible through proper maintenance and animal integration may be the best way to build an enormous carbon sink.
Regenerative farming also makes the land more resilient, increasing its resistance to droughts and floods. Furthermore, grazing animals eliminate brush – so often the cause of rampant forest fires.
Regenerative farming reduces costs and raises revenue for farms. Farmers can save when they don't rely on buying synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In addition, no-till farms have much lower equipment costs because they use less diesel-fueled machinery.
On the other hand, higher-quality, nutritionally dense food commands higher prices. Biodiversity brings its own financial rewards, as cover crops and border plantings can yield edibles like honey, mushrooms, nuts, and seeds to supplement the main crops.
Rural Economic Development
One of the primary directives of sustainable and regenerative initiatives is to think local. Regenerative farming practices emphasize indigenous plant and animal life. As a result, fewer farming inputs (fertilizer, seeds, equipment, etc.) are imported to the community, and less produce is exported.
When the input/output dynamic of farming remains local, workers receive fairer wages and access to food, allowing them to spend more freely in the local economy. In essence, the value generated by productivity accrues in the community, improving access to goods and services for the population.
Environmental Racism and Restorative Justice
Regenerative practices are not just for farms – they have similar effects on society. Eliminating synthetic farming inputs, alleviating the impact of climate change, and providing more nutritious food will disproportionally benefit minority communities in the US and abroad.
Furthermore, by dispersing the food supply and making it more local, the cleaner, more robust system will become accessible to everyone. As a result, groups previously passed over for business loans will experience less discrimination. It is even possible that the knock-on economic effects will eliminate the need for loans altogether.
- You Are What You Eat – Provide and consume a varied diet from regenerative farms. The produce is healthy and resilient; you will be too.
- Stay Local – Find farmers' markets nearby. They provide an opportunity to ask questions of the grower directly, so you know exactly how your food was grown—Reward regenerative farmers for their labor.
- Be A Grower – You don't' need much room. Even a small garden plot can make a difference when grown regeneratively. So grow, enjoy, and share the benefits!