In past blog posts, we’ve talked quite a bit about responsible, sustainable farmers and farming practices. Increasingly, farmers are turning their focus to regenerative farming methods as today’s consumers are looking to buy from more sustainable sources, and you know we’re all about sustainability at Tommy’s.
What is Regenerative Farming?
Regenerative farming, also known as biological farming, describes a group of farming practices that focus on maintaining soil health and the amazing benefits that come from healthy soil.
Want to know more? Watch the video below to learn more about regenerative farming and how these practices are being used by a farm in New Zeland.
How Do Regenerative Methods Make an Impact?
Regenerative farming methods make a big impact in a variety of ways, from soil to crops, to the farmer and our planet. Here’s why regenerative farming methods are so great:
Regenerative methods help to maintain mineral-rich, biologically-diverse, healthy soil. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization:
“Soil health is the capacity of soil to function as a living system, with ecosystem and land use boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health.”
A focus on soil health develops good soil structure and builds soil resilience and organic matter. Regenerative farming methods put soil health and the overall ecosystem before things like crop yield.
Regenerative practices do more than just keep the soil healthy, they also produce healthy crops. Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables grown on farms that follow regenerative farming practices frequently have a higher vitamin and mineral counts than comparable vegetables grown with more traditional methods. When soil health is put first, there is not an overabundance of chemicals or pesticides used, and fields are appropriately rotated or allowed to “rest” the resulting produce is always higher quality.
That means healthier, tastier vegetables just by putting a little more conscious thought into dirt.
As you might know from our post on soil and climate, soil health actually has an effect on climate change! Climate change is caused by a greenhouse effect, which means that as our atmosphere traps heat that radiates from Earth, it becomes warmer. As we burn fossil fuels like coal and oil to power our lives, we contribute to the increase in gases that are trapped in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the traditional farming industry also contributes to climate change through extensive use of plows, grazing, and clear-cutting, and releasing carbon from gas-powered farm equipment. Not to mention all the carbon released by wasted food piling up in landfills.
Healthy soil can take harmful carbon out of the atmosphere and absorb it, which helps plants absorb more carbon as well. Regenerative practices can assist plants in drawing nutrients up to the surface by adding organic matter to farmland. These practices can actually help to reduce greenhouse gasses and potentially reverse climate change!
What Are Some Regenerative Farming Methods?
Just like typical farming practices, there are a variety of ways that farmers can institute regenerative practices. Here are a few:
Composting is a form of regenerative farming that we’ve spoken about in previous posts. John Wick, a regenerative farmer, found that using compost on his own farm helped the soil to absorb carbon, maintain a good structure, and stay healthy.
2. No-Till Farming
Each year, we lose about 23 billion tons of fertile soil, due in part to practices like tilling the soil. Farmers who are adopting no-till practices are making an effort to preserve and improve their soil health. This means increasing the organic matter and natural structure of the soil to grow better crops and keep the Earth healthy.
3. Planting Perennial Crops
Perennial crops are crops that can be planted and grown year-round. Many of the crops that we eat, like corn and wheat, can only be grown during a certain time of year. Perennial crops can help reduce excessive traffic and use of equipment on farms, and they can also take carbon out of the atmosphere, contributing to the fight against climate change.
What’s the Difference Between Regenerative and Other Methods of Responsible Farming?
While there are other kinds of farming practices that focus on the soil, there are some key differences between regenerative and other methods of farming.
For example, both regenerative and organic farming place an emphasis on chemical-free farming methods. However, while organic farmers may stay away from using chemical substances, that doesn’t mean they follow best practices for healthy soil. They may still frequently till or not appropriately rotate crops with animals – all things that are key to true regenerative farming.
On the other hand, a farmer using regenerative processes works hard to make sure their soil is healthy, mineralized, and biologically diverse. They do more than “organic farms” so it’s important to know the difference when you’re making purchasing decisions.
Want to Know More?
If you want to learn more about regenerative and sustainable farming practices, check out our blog posts on sustainability! You can also look at Regenerative International to find even more information.
What are your thoughts on regenerative practices? Leave us a comment and let us know!