Regenerative agriculture is a rehabilitation approach to farming. This might sound very foreign and distant, but modern agriculture is in deep shtook and it’s affecting all of us.
The root of the problem lies in the soil (yes, another pun). About one-third of the world’s topsoil is acutely degraded. According to the United Nations, if current practices continue, a complete degradation will hit us within the next 60 years. How did it get so bad you ask? Well, we only have ourselves to blame.
GREED IS NOT SUSTAINABLE
Synthetic fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide… these are things our ancestors invented to yield more crops. Think of them as steroids and antibiotics, and the soil as our body. When your body is greeted with drugs everyday and becomes reliant on them, it loses its ability to adapt and fight off any illnesses. In this case, these chemicals constrain the nutrient level and resilience of our soil, impacting the quality and quantity of crops.
IT’S SO(IL) SIMPLE
Soil births our crops and it’s home to microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and nematodes that are crucial to protecting the plants from insects and diseases. A humble 1% increase in organic matters not only improves the health of the crops, but also boosts the soil’s water holding capacity by 20,000 gallons per acre. A bigger capacity means stronger resilience in plants and therefore a better chance of them surviving droughts and floods. Net net, healthier soil means more and better crops to feed the world.
BUT WAIT, ISN’T SOIL BASICALLY DIRT?
Remember learning about photosynthesis in primary school? That’s when plants breathe in carbon dioxide and let out oxygen. Have you ever wondered what sends nutrients to grow these hero leaves and stems? Soil. And what takes the carbon and turns it into fuel for microbes? Also soil.
Let’s not forget about the most effortless contribution of soil – reducing greenhouse gases. By simply existing and with a cost of zero, soil can sequester and store carbon for up to one thousand years. Until, of course, some farmer ploughs through it with a heartless machine and releases it right back into the atmosphere.
THE FUTURE IS HOPEFUL
Regenerative agriculture introduces techniques such as drilling seeds into the soil instead of ploughing); moving cattle around to avoid overgrazing; rotating crops with livestock grazing; and here’s our favourite from our documentary of the month “Kiss the Ground” – keeping poop in the loop (maximising compost). All these practices are designed to inject life back into the soil and reverse the damage we’ve done.
While no one is expecting us to put on our farmer boots and work the soil, acknowledging the issue, spreading the word and making small donations are solid ways to show our support.