What is regenerative agriculture and why is it different?
Regenerative agriculture is a fairly new term in the world and is used to describe farmers who are literally regenerating their soils in order to provide a far more sustainable future and to leave farms in a far better condition in which it was acquired. You see the main asset of most farms is the soil and this is something that extreme care should be given to on the understanding that it is a living organism.
For about a 4000 years, ploughing has been the mainstay of agriculture, the problem is for 3920 years of this, the ploughs were pulled by animals who had huge limitations which meant ploughing was only a very shallow operation, this kept the soil biology in an aerobic situation and soils continued to function well. Over the past 80 years, with the anything but ‘green’ revolution, farms became larger which meant machinery got bigger, bigger heavier machinery pulling larger and larger ploughs deeper and deeper (In order to plough wider with a plough, you have to go deeper) This subsequently destroyed the living soil biology together with the invention of chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
So, the idea behind regenerative farming is making a transition between the soil destroying methods of farming to methods that increase soil health and provide a much more sustainable future for farming. There are 5 main principles in which we try and implement what nature has formulated well for well over 1/2 billion years.
- Soil amour – keep soil covered at all times (mother nature puts plants on bare soil at every opportunity, which is why garden weeding is often a futile job)
- Living roots – Incredibly unaware by most, but are you aware that roots put sugar-rich carbon into soils naturally that feeds the soil biology? and huge amounts too? In return, soil biology provides plants with the nutrients locked up in the soil.
- Disturbance – Soil disturbance should be kept to an absolute minimum – nowhere in nature does mother nature plough, add synthetic fertilisers and hydrocarbon pesticides.
- Diversity – Mixtures of plants and species wherever possible, this will reduce the pressure that nature places on a mono-crop system by trying to balance these unnatural environments by invading them with what we call are pests, weeds and diseases.
- Animals – where possible integrate livestock and their manures in the system – nowhere in nature are animals devoid. (For those wondering about the ‘greenness’ of meat, liken it to the production of electricity, coal-powered vs solar-powered, both produce the same result but by very different environmental methods – this is the same for meat production)