Regenerative Agriculture -or Biological Farming, as it is also known- aims to restore the health of the soil and of all the ecosystems related to it.
It is a holistic approach where the first step is to sustain, nurture and "build" soil by closely looking at and working with the water cycle, mineral cycle, energy cycle, and community dynamics (how species interact.)
Overgrazing and understocking have been causing desertification in many parts of the world. There is proof that this can be reverted; plants can grow and take back the landscape in a process that can take anywhere from 2 to 6 years.
Following regenerative agriculture practices It is possible to create “micro-climates”. Rainfall matters a lot, but more so than the amount of rain that falls what counts is the ability of the soil to retain the water.
Every farm or ranch is different, as are the people managing them, it is therefore important to begin by creating what Allan Savory calls a 'Hollistic Context" in order to better understand nature and its processes, as well as our own particular needs, and be able to plan and make decisions that balance all the elements of the equation. (Think about all the aspects that will make the farm ecologically, socially and economically beneficial.)
These are the five main principles that build resilient land:
- • Minimum soil disturbance (both mechanical and chemical.)
- • Soil coverage (keep the soil covered throughout the year.)
- • Diversity (encourage and increase diversity of species.)
- • Living roots in the soil (keep something growing at all times.)
- • Integration of animals (proper management of livestock through various grazing practices.)
It is important to mention that there were already various indigenous peoples around the world who were following these principles. They had a deep understanding of the connection and interdependence of all things, they respected the land and wanted to preserve it for future generations.
In our own imperfect way, we are aiming to do the same. At our farm we want to work with nature, follow the seasons, reduce inputs, grow quality nutrient-dense produce, make the most of our resources (material and human), and preserve a healthy land for many generations to come.
Things we have learnt
We are all connected, what we do affects other parts of the world and viceversa.
Farmers and ranchers have been leading the way regarding biological agriculture, there needs to be more supportive farmer-led schemes. We need to work with nature and make every day count (grow the right plants and animals, to the right place, at the right time, with the right behaviour, for the right reason.)
Learning must come from slowing things down and protecting the space to think.
"Science is a slow process of incremental knowledge building where no one study proves anything (words by Elissa Epel, PhD, University of California.)"
If you are interested in learning more about Regenerative Agriculture these are a few names of people to follow:
Allan Savory (biologist and farmer), Dr Christine Jones (soil ecologist), Gabe Brown (farmer and educator), Kris Nichols (soil microbiologist), Richard Perkins (farmer and educator).