What is regenerative agriculture and why do we need it?
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
You might be hearing more and more about regenerative agriculture. What is it and why do we need it?
Mainly, we need a different path than the current conventional industrial model of agriculture. While it is certainly true that the current system is VERY productive in terms of amount of food produced (i.e. yield). The ends don't justify the means when the means include depleting our resources.
Practices like tilling break down soil structure which leads to soil erosion.
We spray herbicides to keep back weeds. But overtime, nature adapts and weeds thrive anyway. So GMO seeds are planted because they've been designed to produce higher yields and be resistant to pests and disease. These seeds are also designed to require copious applications of synthetic fertilizers (NPK = nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium).
Pesticides are applied to keep pests at bay, fungicides are applied to kill certain fungi that will inhibit growth and yield.
All of these herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides are biocides. They kill biology. They kill both detrimental and beneficial pests and fungi without discrimination. All these practices kill life in the soil. Our soils are blowing and washing away, these chemicals are binding to metals and nutrients in the soil and making them unavailable for the plants and food. These dead and dying soils lose their capacity to hold water (increasing the impact of drought years) and capture carbon and nitrogen from the atmosphere.
And all of these inputs, the chemical sprays and fertilizer applications, the GMO seeds, the time/labor and fuel needed to apply them to the land with the tractors all cost producers more and more.
It is increasingly the case that more and more farms and their families cannot be profitable without government subsidies and multiple family members holding off farm jobs, or needing to sell their farms all together.
Very few people truly benefit from this current system and it is certainly not sustainable. These are the issues that regenerative agriculture practices try to address.
More on what these practices are in the next post. Thanks for reading.