Regenerative Farming and Soil Health: A New Approach to Agriculture
If farming isn’t done correctly it can lead to numerous negative effects that can harm the land, and sometimes the land is so damaged it’s no longer farmable. Bad farming practices have been around for years, and along with economic depression, drought, and high temperatures, these practices led to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Since then, the agriculture industry has been looking for a way to protect the environment while effectively farming over and over again with the same land and the same soil. Regenerative farming has become a method that, if done correctly, could revolutionize farming.
What is Regenerative Farming?
Regenerative farming is a holistic land-management practice, involving farming and grazing, that uses photosynthesis in plants to trap carbon in the soil. This improves soil health, crop yields, water resilience, and nutrient density. While the earth spirals into a climate crisis, regenerative farming can help to rebuild the top soil, allowing for more food security. These practices can also help to restore water cycles and water quality.
Regenerative Farming Practices
The following practices help regenerate the soil:
- Plant cover crops
- Reduce tilling
- Rotate crops
- Spread compost
- Eliminate synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides
Some of the more advanced farming practices include multi-species cover crops, integrating animals and crops, and introducing more trees and other perennial crops. Other advanced practices include: silvopasture, which is the combination of trees, forage plants, and livestock together as an integrated, intensively managed system, and agroforestry, which is the restoration of trees on farms.
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Organic vs. Regenerative
A lot of people talk about organic foods, but organic farming and regenerative farming are two vastly different things. Organic foods are produced and distributed under a strict set of federal rules and regulations, and regenerative farming focuses on ways to keep soil healthy and sustainable by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity.
How Can Regenerative Farming Help the Environment?
Regenerative farming actually protects the soil and environment by using certain methods and technologies. This leads to healthy soil that can produce high-quality, nutritious foods that lead to a healthier community. These practices improve the land rather than degrade it, leading to productive farms. Some even feel that prolonged use of regenerative farming could lead to a positive climate change.
What are the Five Principles of Regenerative Farming?
The five recognized principles of regenerative agriculture are:
- keep the soil covered
- minimize soil disturbance
- maximize crop diversity
- maintain living root in the ground year-round
- integrate livestock
Why is Soil Health Important?
When farming with healthy soil, we are able to have clean air and water, healthy crops, productive grazing lands, diverse wildlife, and amazing, fertile land. Here are the five functions of healthy soil: water regulation, sustaining plant and animal life, stability and support for plants, cycling nutrients, and filtering pollutants.
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