Regenerative Agriculture: Solid Principles, Extraordinary Claims | CSANR (2022)

What is regenerative agriculture? Why is it different from sustainable agriculture? And how do I reconcile what practitioners of this system are claiming with the scientific evidence? These were all going through my mind when, a couple weeks ago at an advisory committee meeting of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, we watched a YouTube video of Gabe Brown’s TEDx talk in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Brown farms near Bismarck, ND, and has become the American face of regenerative agriculture in the past decade. Here is what I learned.

Brown is a good speaker, in high demand for conferences and events. Our meeting organizers invited him to speak, but he is booked a year out, so we watched the video. Brown spoke of his 20+ year journey from a conventional row crop farmer to a regenerative farmer. In the video, he answered my first question, “what is it?” by giving five principles of regenerative agriculture. However, Brown’s version of regenerative agriculture is not the only one.

In my past explorations of regenerative ag, I had found that there are multiple versions of these principles, each with a different flavor. Rodale and partners offer their strictly organic version with a new certification program attached. Project Drawdown includes regenerative ag in its plan to reverse global warming, and California State University at Chico has theirregenerative ag initiative PDF. Table 1 shows Brown’s principles/practices compared to these other versions, and to conservation agriculture.

Principle #1 Minimize or eliminate tillage

Building or rebuilding soil is the primary focus of “regenerative” practices, all the versions agree on this (see Table 1). While some versions extend this to restoring animal health, human health, and communities, it all starts with soil health. To achieve this, they all agree that farming should minimize or eliminate tillage. Brown’s #1 principle is “least amount of mechanical disturbance possible.”

This is also the main focus of conservation agriculture. This set of principles grew out of the development of no-till in the 1970s. I see it as one of the predecessors of regenerative agriculture. Not much new here, but not anything to disagree with. So far, so good.

Principle #2 (and #3) Protect the soil

Brown says the second principle of regenerative ag is “armor on the soil surface.” Keeping the soil covered to eliminate erosion is important because you can’t build soil while it is blowing or washing away. Related to this principle is Brown’s #3, “living plant roots in soil as long as possible.” I think the idea is that the soil will always be covered if there is no tillage and there always a living plant growing.

Like principle #1, this is one that few will disagree with, but which is hard to implement with crops like potatoes or carrots, because they grow underground and require tillage to harvest them, and with small-seeded vegetables, because they require precise shallow planting which is difficult to achieve with crop residues on the soil surface. It is interesting that the climate-change and organic versions do not include a principle related to protecting the soil, at least explicitly (see Table 1). They are also the two versions that explicitly ban synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. If you can’t use herbicides, it is very difficult to always keep the soil covered with either dead crop residues or living plants.

(Video) Regenerative Agriculture with Dr Ken Giller - webinar

Principle #4, Biodiversity

The next principle is to increase biodiversity. It is shared by all the regenerative ag versions, and conservation ag, although the latter does not often refer to it as biodiversity, per se. Brown implements his “diversity of plants” through intercropped cash crops and high-diversity cover crops that total 70 species. Impressive. Crop rotations and cover crops are, like the earlier principles, hard to disagree with. These are basics of sustainable agriculture and when markets and cropping seasons allow, they should be used.

Principle #5, Integrate livestock

In the video, Brown’s last principle is “animal impact.” In all versions of regenerative agriculture, this is crucial to making regenerative agriculture work, and the main way to get the animal impact is through grazing. The particular type of grazing promoted by regenerative agriculture is management-intensive grazing, the holistic management of Allan Savory (click for a discussion of Savory and his practices). No argument here. Grazing livestock adds diversity to the products produced on the farm, adds value to cover crops (really annual forage crops), and recycles nutrients through manure. Nothing new here either – I helped organize management-intensive grazing workshops in NE Nebraska 25 years ago. So what is new about regenerative agriculture?

Well, first, regenerative agriculture seems to be a mashup of several systems of principles. It can be viewed like this:

From what I have seen, one of the actual new things about regenerative agriculture is the intense focus on multi-species cover crops. The cover crop mixes in regenerative agriculture are not just 2- or 3- or even 5-way mixes, they range from 10 to 60 or more species PDF. Brown and other proponents of regenerative agriculture claim that these cover crop mixes stimulate the soil microbial population to supply plants with the nutrients they need, greatly reducing or eliminating the need for synthetic fertilizers.

I have written previously about the lack of evidence supporting the use of cover crop mixtures over monoculture cover crops. Gabe Brown even commented on my essay, as did other fans of regenerative agriculture. I may have a “monoculture mindset” as Brown wrote, and be an “externalist” as another commenter suggested, but for all the comments, I did not receive any published evidence that cover crop mixtures are consistently better than monocultures. If cover crop mixtures are so beneficial, those benefits are sure hard to detect. Nor have I found evidence showing that intercropping is better than a diverse rotation of monocultures. If you know of evidence contrary to my conclusions, please let me know.

The other thing that characterizes regenerative agriculture are claims by practitioners and scientist proponents that go against all published soil science evidence, indeed they seem truly miraculous by the standards of what we think we know about the soil. There are many examples, but let’s look at just one, given in Brown’s TED talk.

An Improbable Increase in Soil Organic Matter

During his talk, Brown offers the following slide showing the increase of his topsoil depth and soil organic matter over his 20-year transition from conventional farming to regenerative practices.

Topsoil depth increases from 3” to 14” while soil organic matter (SOM) increases from 1.7% to 11.1%. Increasing soil organic matter by a few percentage points is normally thought of as a long, difficult process, unless you use a lot of imported manure or compost. Here, however, Brown claims to have increased SOM by over 9 percentage points. How? According to the slide, by cover crops, multi-species cover crops, and livestock integration. Let’s do the numbers according to what current soil science tells us this would require.

First, some assumptions. My calculations are for the top 6” of soil for all 20 years. This ignores the increased topsoil depth shown on the slide and is therefore conservative. I am assuming that what Brown is showing is real organic matter, and not just undecomposed plant roots or shoots. Soil organic matter is not all organic material in the soil, it is the result of a complex biological process, with the resulting organic matter having very different properties from plant roots or shoots.

In the process from plant (or microbe) biomass to SOM, losses of mass (CO2 released to the atmosphere) range from 80-90% PDF. I assumed a loss of 85%, equivalent to a plant/microbe mass to SOM mass conversion rate of 15%. I took the nutrient contents of SOM from this NRCS publication PDF.

For ease of calculations, I assumed a constant rate of SOM increase. In reality, it is generally easier to increase SOM when levels are lower and more difficult as they get higher. Now we are ready for the calculations.

(Video) 30: The Future of Farming (Regenerative Agriculture) with Allen Williams

First, the amount of plant biomass required to obtain Brown’s increase in SOM. Given the 15% conversion rate, he would have had to add 31 tons (dry), per acre, of plant or other biomass to the soil, every year, for 20 years (see figure 1). If 31 tons does not mean much to you, it is more than the entire aboveground biomass of a fully fertilized, irrigated corn crop. It is more than a full season, four cuttings, of irrigated alfalfa hay production. It’s a lot of biomass. And this amount of biomass was added to the soil –what was harvested as a crop or as meat through livestock grazing is in addition to this 31 tons per acre per year.

Building soil organic matter requires more than biomass; nutrients are also needed, either in the added biomass or from the soil. SOM averages 5% nitrogen and 0.5% phosphorus. So then, Brown’s SOM increase requires 470 lb. of nitrogen and 47 lb. of phosphorus per acre, each year, for 20 years. This is more nitrogen than is applied to a high yielding irrigated potato crop, and as much as is harvested in a 9 ton per acre alfalfa crop. And this 470 lb of nitrogen per acre is in addition to what is needed to produce a crop or to produce meat.

To top this all, Brown states (after mentioning his land with 11.1% SOM), “We’ve done this without the use of any synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides.”

We are to believe that biodiversity-powered microbes free up large amounts of phosphorus, fix large amounts of nitrogen from the air, while plants produce 31 tons of biomass in a short North Dakota season, while also producing harvested crops and livestock?

I cannot say that this scenario is impossible, but I find it highly improbable, because if this is true, then it means that science has missed an astounding, extraordinary process. And it has been missed by not just agricultural soil scientists, but also those who work in prairies and forests, because, according to regenerative agriculture, this is how it works in nature. And we have been studying nature for a long time. And this is not just about a claim made by Gabe Brown; similar claims are commonplace in regenerative ag circles. If this and similar claims are true, then we are talking about a revolution in agriculture, which is what regenerative farmers and their supporters say it is.

Another principle

However, there is another principle here: extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. What counts as evidence are peer-reviewed publications in scientific journals – I have looked for the evidence to support the claims of regenerative agriculture. What I have found are lots of YouTube videos, testimonials, articles and interviews. None of these sources are extraordinary evidence.

Extraordinary claims also require scrutiny, which is why I wrote this piece. I cannot disprove with words and calculations what Brown says he has observed in the field, but words and calculations can show that this is extraordinary, and so demand more evidence. I also wrote it to show the regenerative agriculture community the reasons why people like me, scientists and researchers, and those who believe in the scientific process, are skeptical of their claims.

If the claims of regenerative agriculture are real and repeatable, then they are of such magnitude (i.e. 1.7 to 11.1% SOM) that they should be easy to measure. So here is a challenge to regenerative agriculture. Provide the extraordinary evidence. If it exists, let me know and I will post it here. If the research still needs to be done, connect with researchers to start the process. Don’t let regenerative ag become the cold fusion of agriculture. Pursue rigorous science to demonstrate its value.

Go to Comments

An excellent analysis of the many aspects of regenerative agriculture. Open access.

Giller, K.E., R. Hijbeek, J.A. Andersson, and J. Sumberg. 2021. Regenerative Agriculture: An agronomic perspective. Outlook Agric: 0030727021998063. doi: 10.1177/0030727021998063.

LeCanne and Lundgren 2018

LaCanne, C.E., and J.G. Lundgren. 2018. Regenerative agriculture: merging farming and natural resource conservation profitably. PeerJ 6: e4428. doi: 10.7717/peerj.4428.

(Video) Can We Grow The Farming Economy Of Sa By Harnessing The Power Of Nature?

Here is a 2018 paper that offers itself as an evaluation of the “relative effects of regenerative and conventional corn production systems on pest management services, soil conservation, and farmer profitability and productivity throughout the Northern Plains of the United States.”

The “most” regenerative farms were defined as using multi-species cover crops, “never-till”, used no insecticides, and grazed livestock on their cropland. None of the conventional farms used cover crops, almost all of them used tillage and none of them grazed their cropland (Table 1 in the paper). What did they find?

Pest management services

The abstract states:

Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems outperform farmers that react to pests chemically.

However, the paper states that “none of these pests [in either system] were at economically damaging levels.” Both types of farms managed their pests, so this 10-fold difference does not really matter. The paper also tells us that the treatment in “insecticide-treated fields” consisted of “genetically modified insect resistant varieties and neonicotinoid seed treatments.” Not really a high concern scenario in terms of insecticides.

Soil conservation

Although the paper measured soil organic matter levels on all the farms (Table 2 in the paper), and particulate organic matter, a more biologically active part of the organic matter, it does not directly compare these values for conventional and regenerative farms. I would guess that this is because such a comparison would inappropriate given that they did not control for region, or soil texture, manure application, etc. Although the abstract promises an evaluation of soil conservation, the paper does not deliver any such evaluation.

Productivity

The authors found that corn yields on regenerative farms, despite having 10x fewer insect pests, were 29% less than those on conventional farms. This reinforces the point that the insect pest differences did not matter. The yield difference is explained:

Yield reductions are commonly reported in more ecologically based food production systems relative to conventional systems.

Profitability

Given the lower yields, it might be a surprise that regenerative farms were found to be nearly twice as profitable as conventional farms. But the profits included in the calculations were not just from corn yields; the regenerative farm’s profits include meat production from grazing, organic premiums, and direct marketing. It is not possible to tell from the paper how much these influenced the net profits, but given that the regenerative farms started with 29% less yield, I assume grazing and marketing made up a large part of the difference. On the cost side, the regenerative farms had lower fertilizer costs due to the use of legume cover crops, and lower seed costs because they, I assume, did not plant GM corn.

Curiously, profits were plotted against soil organic matter and soil bulk density (Figure 3 in the paper) and a positive correlation was found for both. One of the beliefs of regenerative agriculture is that profits are directly related to soil health/organic matter/carbon. This was implied in the paper’s conclusions, except the language switches from correlation, which they rightly showed, to causation, which they did not show: “Soil organic matter was a more important driver of proximate farm profitability than yields were…”

What did we learn?

We know that tillage degrades soil, cover crops improve soil, and organic premiums and direct marketing can improve profits; nothing new there. And I see nothing that supports the extraordinary claims of regenerative farming.

Also, don’t rely on just the abstract; read the paper if it is available.

Machmuller et al. 2015

Machmuller, M.B., M.G. Kramer, T.K. Cyle, N. Hill, D. Hancock, and A. Thompson. 2015. Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter. Nature Communications 6: 6995. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7995.

(Video) SAN AgroTalk | Regenerative Agriculture: Back to the Basics

I don’t have to review this because Alan Franzluebber, a respected soil scientist, has already done it. See his long comment at the very bottom of the webpage. Franzluebbers concludes, “Although the enormous rate of soil organic C accumulation reported from this study is an outcome of contention, the real concern is the lack of robust experimental procedures used to obtain the estimate. High quality and replicated data are needed to make such bold proclamations.”

Robust research in agriculture is not easy to do, and not every peer-reviewed paper is of equal worth.

van Groenigen etl al. 2017

van Groenigen, J.W., C. van Kessel, B.A. Hungate, O. Oenema, D.S. Powlson, and K.J. van Groenigen. 2017. Sequestering Soil Organic Carbon: A Nitrogen Dilemma. Environmental Science & Technology 51(9): 4738–4739. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01427.

I am not the only one who wonders where the nitrogen comes from. Here is a paper that calculates the nitrogen needed to increase organic matter % in soils globally by 0.4% per year. They conclude that the studies done to assess this goal “overlooked limitations imposed by nutrient availability.”

Sullivan et al. 2014

Sullivan, Benjamin W., W. Kolby Smith, Alan R. Townsend, Megan K. Nasto, Sasha C. Reed, Robin L. Chazdon, and Cory C. Cleveland. 2014. “Spatially Robust Estimates of Biological Nitrogen (N) Fixation Imply Substantial Human Alteration of the Tropical N Cycle.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, May, 201320646. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1320646111.

This study made robust measurements of biological nitrogen fixation in a very diverse environment of tropical forests, both primary and secondary. The highest rate they measured was about 20 lb N/ac per year in contrast to earlier estimates by Cleveland et al. 1999, which I mention in a comment below. Diversity does not guarantee high or even moderate rates of nitrogen fixation in natural ecosystems, although the nitrogen fixation here could be limited by available P.

Reed et al. 2011

Reed SC, Cleveland CC, Townsend AR. 2011. Functional ecology of free‐living nitrogen fixation: a contemporary perspective. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 489–512.

Free-living N fixing organisms may contribute up to 10–15 lb/ac per yr in some ecosystems. These ecologists seemed to be impressed with this rate, but this agronomist is not.

Kallenbach et al. 2016

Kallenbach, C.M., S.D. Frey, and A.S. Grandy. 2016. Direct evidence for microbial-derived soil organic matter formation and its ecophysiological controls. Nature Communications 7: 13630. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13630.

Here is a recent paper that shows that microbes are the source of much of the soil’s organic matter. However, they find that 75% of added C from plants through microbes to SOM is lost. This is lower than my estimate, but not too far off. “Using SOC stocks as an integrator of mass C balance, the majority (>75%) of total substrate-C added was lost via respiration across all treatments by 18 months (Table 1).” https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13630

Castellano et al. 2015

Castellano, M.J., K.E. Mueller, D.C. Olk, J.E. Sawyer, and J. Six. 2015. Integrating plant litter quality, soil organic matter stabilization, and the carbon saturation concept. Glob Change Biol 21(9): 3200–3209. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12982.

(Video) Harnessing the potential of nature-based solutions

This paper has a table listing papers that measured the amount of C addition converted to soil organic carbon. The field measurements in the table from nine studies range from 3% to 33%, or 67-97% loss.

FAQs

What are the four regenerative agricultural practices? ›

Regenerative agriculture practices such as no-till farming, rotational grazing, mixed crop rotation, cover cropping, and the application of compost and manure have the potential to reverse this trend.

What are 3 ways that regenerative agriculture better simulates nature? ›

Regenerative agriculture works to decarbonize the supply chain by reducing deforestation, improving nutrient management, and introducing farming and grazing practices that sequester carbon.

What is the difference between sustainable agriculture and regenerative agriculture? ›

Sustainable practices, by definition, seek to maintain the same, whereas regenerative practices recognize that natural systems are currently impacted and it applies management techniques to restore the system to improved productivity.

What is the difference between organic and regenerative? ›

While Regenerative agriculture is based around observable improvement to ecological and social function of the farm and community, organic agriculture is more about a set of rules to follow which are mostly things not to do. i.e. don't use synthetic pesticides.

What are the six 6 common practices of regenerative agriculture? ›

Although they recognise a range of regenerative agricultural systems, they use the term “regenerative agriculture” for annual cropping systems that include at least four of the following six practices: no-till or reduced tillage, cover crops, crop rotations, compost applications, green manures, and/or organic ...

What are the pros and cons of regenerative agriculture? ›

By not tilling the soil, farmers can save between 30 and 40 percent of time, and can decrease the amount of soil erosion in certain terrains, but the disadvantages of regenerative agriculture are, in many cases, that more unwelcome plants grow on the land, and some farmers compensate for this by increasing their use of ...

What is the main goal of regenerative agriculture? ›

Regenerative agriculture* is an approach to agriculture which focuses on improving and revitalizing soil health. This movement is gaining momentum at a time when it is greatly needed. Poor soil stewardship has led to a troubling decrease in arable top soil available for food production.

What is the difference between permaculture and regenerative agriculture? ›

Regenerative agriculture takes it further by ensuring that the soil is made healthier while permaculture levels it up by encompassing our way of life and how we see the world.

Is organic farming regenerative? ›

Organic alone is a prescriptive standard for the production of food. While stating the intention to promote ecological balance and conserve biological diversity, the system does not endeavor to rebuild or regenerate the soil.

What makes regenerative agriculture sustainable? ›

Regenerative agriculture is just one example of a farming system born from the desire to not only create food but to do so in a way that rehabilitates and enhances land and entire ecosystems, resulting in food that is both ethical and sustainable in the long term.

How is regenerative design different to sustainable design? ›

While sustainable design practices have enabled the architecture industry to work towards achieving net-zero carbon, water, and waste in many facets of the built environment, regenerative design aspires to realize net positive benefits in these areas and move towards long-term circularity.

Is regenerative farming better than organic farming? ›

Results of the new study showed that the farms practicing regenerative agriculture had healthier soils, as measured by their organic matter, or carbon, content and by a standard test.

Is regenerative farming more productive? ›

Regenerative agriculture leads to healthy soil, capable of producing high quality, nutrient dense food while simultaneously improving, rather than degrading land, and ultimately leading to productive farms and healthy communities and economies.

What are regenerative foods? ›

There is no single definition of regenerative agriculture, but most people agree that regenerative farming includes things such as no-till farming, cover crops, perennial and native plants, integrated livestock and crop diversity.

What are the 6 principles of soil structure? ›

The six soil health principles are:

Cover the Soil. Minimize Soil Disturbance. Increase Diversity. Maintain Continuous Living Plants/Roots.

What are the 5 principles of soil health? ›

The soil health foundation consists of five principles: 1) Soil armor; 2) minimizing soil disturbance; 3) plant diversity; 4) continual live plant/foot; and 5) livestock integration. These principles are intended to be applied in a systems approach, maximizing the soil building impact.

What are the four principles of regenerative agriculture kiss the ground? ›

The movie doesn't just dive into the microbiology of soil and soil carbon interactions, it also covers the four main principles of soil health: increasing diversity, minimizing soil disturbance, keeping above ground covered and below ground active at all times, and animal integration.

Can regenerative agriculture feed the world? ›

Regenerative agriculture focuses on improving the health of soil, which has been degraded by the use of heavy machinery, fertilizers and pesticides in intensive farming. There may not be enough soil left to grow food to feed the world within 50 years.

Is regenerative agriculture scalable? ›

Though regenerative agriculture is considered a win-win for both farmers and the environment, broad adoption of these practices has yet to be achieved. This lack of scale can be explained by the cost and risk taken on by farmers when they choose to adopt new regenerative practices.

How does regenerative agriculture improve soil health? ›

There is broad agreement that most regenerative agriculture practices are good for soil health and have other environmental benefits. No-till reduces soil erosion and encourages water to infiltrate soils (although it can require greater use of herbicides). Cover crops do the same, and can also reduce water pollution.

Why are people against regenerative agriculture? ›

The list of negative impacts is long: large land use requirements for growing feed, overuse of antibiotics for fattening operations, poor manure management leading to air and water pollution, and 50% of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

How profitable is regenerative farming? ›

There are multiple studies now coming out to show that, on average, regenerative agriculture is about 78% more profitable than the industrial model.

How is regenerative agriculture profitable? ›

Regenerative agriculture CAN be significantly more profitable than conventional agriculture because the system of practices can lead to lower input costs; the ability to grow higher value crops and access new markets and premiums; and as an additional benefit, increased resilience, reducing risks associated with ...

What are regenerative principles? ›

The Principle: “A regenerative material economy mimics the metabolic process found in resilient living systems, up taking what we now discard as 'waste' in an ongoing, productive, circulatory, and value-enhancing flow. Likewise for the circulatory, value-enhancing flow of information and money.”

What is regenerative agriculture in simple terms? ›

In simple terms, regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to agriculture that focuses on the interconnection of farming systems and the ecological system as a whole. The concept of regenerative farming is not new. It was used by Indigenous communities centuries ago, long before industrial agriculture occurred.

Can regenerative farming reverse climate change? ›

With the use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage, we can actually sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100% to reverse climate change.

Who invented regenerative farming? ›

Robert Rodale (pictured) coined the term "regenerative organic" to describe a holistic approach to farming that encourages continuous innovation and improvement of environmental, social, and economic measures.

Why is permaculture better than agriculture? ›

Industrial agriculture, like monoculture, is to produce the most produce at the cheapest cost, regardless of the environmental implications. In contrast, Permaculture considers all environmental implications and uses them to design its spaces.

Can permaculture replace modern agriculture? ›

“Permaculture allows farms to weather harsh conditions just the way forests would do,” says Chandmal. Little quantification of yields has been done for permaculture farms, which makes it difficult to judge whether this agricultural system can replace conventional farming and would be able to feed the world.

When did regenerative farming start? ›

The origins of regenerative agriculture

Originally coined by the Rodale Institute in the late 1980s, regenerative agriculture as a term was very originally heavily rooted in minimal or no-till practices. However, the idea of regenerative agriculture is not a new concept.

Where does regenerative agriculture come from? ›

The modern regenerative agriculture movement prioritises effective water management and climate-specific adaptations in order to do so. Most of these practices have indigenous origins. A popular one being the use of mounds to conserve moisture in the soil.

What are regenerative products? ›

Products created from waste retrieved from oceans, landfills, the atmosphere, and other locations can be considered regenerative. Carbon Upcycling Technologies of Calgary does a little bit of both. Its process fixes carbon emissions into solid products such as concrete, coatings, and solar cells.

How can we promote regenerative agriculture? ›

  1. Support Companies Who Advocate for Regenerative Farming. ...
  2. Donate to Regenerative Farming Non-Profits and Research Organizations. ...
  3. Purchase Regenerative Clothing. ...
  4. Shop Locally and Support Regenerative Farmers in Your Area.
6 Jan 2020

What is the opposite of regenerative agriculture? ›

Conventional agriculture has the opposite effect. Plowing, using synthetic fertilizer and chemical pesticides, and growing the same crop year after year degrade the soil and release carbon into the atmosphere.

Does regenerative agriculture reduce emissions? ›

Regenerative agriculture can take large amounts of CO2 out of the atmosphere and tie it back into the soil. “We are literally standing on the largest and most potent carbon capture storage of the planet,” Orsolya Valkó says.

What are regenerative design strategies? ›

Regenerative design is all about thinking ahead, where architects must design with the future in mind every step of the way.
...
Some of the top regenerative design strategies are:
  • Green Roofs & Skins. ...
  • Capturing Rainwater. ...
  • Energy Consumption & Production. ...
  • Thermal Efficient Construction.
12 Apr 2019

Why is regenerative design important? ›

Regenerative design creates an opportunity for new supply chains and increased availability of resources for future projects of all types, both vertical buildings and horizontal infrastructure such as roads, bridges and water system.

What is Biophilic design concept? ›

Biophilic design is an approach to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature. Biophilic designed buildings incorporate things like natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements for creating a more productive and healthy built environment for people.

How many farmers use regenerative agriculture? ›

In order to better understand the potential impact of Regenerative Agriculture (RA) across the developing world, and what has been happening among the more than 15 million smallholder farmers using its practices, let's look at the impact it has had on a single, average farmer among them.

What resources do farmers need to make regenerative agriculture feasible? ›

Composted biological materials such as crop residue, food waste, and animal waste to build soil organic matter are crucial in regenerative agriculture. These materials contain carbon, that when incorporated into soils breaks down slowly, building stable organic matter.

Is organic cotton regenerative? ›

By eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides and GMO seeds, organic cotton offers an alternative model for more sustainable, regenerative cotton production which supports both farmers and the environment.

Does regenerative agriculture require animals? ›

Animals are a key part of regenerative agriculture. Grazing animals and livestock help manage the extensive grasslands and rangelands in the Midwest and western states. Forage plants sequester carbon from the atmosphere in living plants and underground in the form of roots and organic matter.

How does regenerative farming increase biodiversity? ›

The Importance of Biodiversity

Regenerative organic farming, by contrast, encourages biodiversity. A rich mix of microorganisms, plants, and animals on the farm creates healthy soil, strong crops, and resilient natural systems that don't require chemical intervention to manage pests and diseases.

How can regenerative farming affect the carbon footprint? ›

Regenerative farming techniques usher in a host of benefits: Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Food production processes contribute to around 26% of the global GHG emissions that are a significant cause of global warming. Regenerative farming seeks to introduce techniques that lead to much reduced GHG emissions.

Who uses regenerative agriculture? ›

Other companies pursuing regenerative agriculture include Danone, Unilever, Hormel, Target and Land O' Lakes. To those who think these numbers are modest, understand that only 5 million acres of farmland are currently dedicated to organic farming practices.

What brands use regenerative agriculture? ›

These companies are partnering and innovating to support their farmers as they adopt and scale regenerative farming practices.
  • PepsiCo. ...
  • Walmart. ...
  • Kering. ...
  • VF Corporation. ...
  • General Mills. ...
  • Unilever. ...
  • Grupo Bimbo. ...
  • Microsoft.
6 Apr 2022

How do you regenerate soil? ›

The following farming and gardening practices help regenerate the soil: Beginning practices include using cover crops, reducing tilling, rotating crops, spreading compost (as well as super-compost “inoculants”), and moving away from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and factory farming.

What are the 4 principles of regenerative agriculture kiss the ground? ›

The movie doesn't just dive into the microbiology of soil and soil carbon interactions, it also covers the four main principles of soil health: increasing diversity, minimizing soil disturbance, keeping above ground covered and below ground active at all times, and animal integration.

What are regenerative principles? ›

The Principle: “A regenerative material economy mimics the metabolic process found in resilient living systems, up taking what we now discard as 'waste' in an ongoing, productive, circulatory, and value-enhancing flow. Likewise for the circulatory, value-enhancing flow of information and money.”

What is regeneration in agriculture? ›

What is Regenerative Agriculture? “Regenerative Agriculture” describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.

What are regenerative products? ›

Products created from waste retrieved from oceans, landfills, the atmosphere, and other locations can be considered regenerative. Carbon Upcycling Technologies of Calgary does a little bit of both. Its process fixes carbon emissions into solid products such as concrete, coatings, and solar cells.

What are the 5 principles of soil health? ›

The soil health foundation consists of five principles: 1) Soil armor; 2) minimizing soil disturbance; 3) plant diversity; 4) continual live plant/foot; and 5) livestock integration. These principles are intended to be applied in a systems approach, maximizing the soil building impact.

What are the cons of regenerative agriculture? ›

Therefore, the main disadvantages of regenerative agriculture are:
  • Farmers will need to acquire new knowledge and skills.
  • Less tilling may lead to more unwelcome plants.
  • Some farmers compensate by increasing their use of herbicides.
  • *Potentially lower yields, dependent on crop and local conditions.

Is permaculture the same as regenerative agriculture? ›

Regenerative agriculture does take permaculture into account, but annual crops are also part of many regenerative agriculture farms. Both permaculture and regenerative farming use organic methods but go beyond organic to create even more sustainable food systems.

What are the 6 principles of soil structure? ›

The six soil health principles are:

Cover the Soil. Minimize Soil Disturbance. Increase Diversity. Maintain Continuous Living Plants/Roots.

How is regenerative design different from sustainable design? ›

While sustainable design practices have enabled the architecture industry to work towards achieving net-zero carbon, water, and waste in many facets of the built environment, regenerative design aspires to realize net positive benefits in these areas and move towards long-term circularity.

What does regenerative mean in sustainability? ›

Regenerative sustainability is about sustainability +, not just stopping doing new damage, fixing the problems (Burt, personal communication), but fundamental interdependence that is generative, its focus is on net positive outcomes, vital connections, putting the future of life at the heart of everything we do.

What are the benefits of regenerative agriculture? ›

Regenerative agriculture describes holistic farming systems that, among other benefits, improve water and air quality, enhance ecosystem biodiversity, produce nutrient-dense food, and store carbon to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Why is regenerative agriculture needed? ›

Regenerative agriculture also offers many benefits beyond carbon storage! It increases the soils water holding capacity, stops soil erosion, protects the purity of groundwater and sets up the conditions for crops to become more disease and pest resilient. The benefits are many-fold.

Can regenerative agriculture feed the world? ›

Regenerative agriculture focuses on improving the health of soil, which has been degraded by the use of heavy machinery, fertilizers and pesticides in intensive farming. There may not be enough soil left to grow food to feed the world within 50 years.

How do I start a small regenerative farm? ›

The following farming and gardening practices help regenerate the soil: Beginning practices include using cover crops, reducing tilling, rotating crops, spreading compost (as well as super-compost “inoculants”), and moving away from synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and factory farming.

Who uses regenerative agriculture? ›

Other companies pursuing regenerative agriculture include Danone, Unilever, Hormel, Target and Land O' Lakes. To those who think these numbers are modest, understand that only 5 million acres of farmland are currently dedicated to organic farming practices.

Is regenerative farming organic? ›

Regenerative Organic Farming Practices

Farmers grow crops like alfalfa or clover instead of letting their land lie fallow between cash-crop seasons. These cover crops increase soil organic matter, produce natural fertilizer, sequester carbon, and reduce erosion.

Videos

1. WEBINAR: Regional Dialogue on Regenerative Agriculture, Agroecology & Climate Smart Agriculture
(PAEPARD)
2. Innovation, Investment and Policy in Regenerative Agriculture
(Belfer Center)
3. Ep. 43: A Reality Check on Regenerative Agriculture
(Undark Magazine)
4. Webinar Recording: Unlocking the Power of Regeneration 19th October 2021
(Edge Environment)
5. ILM Ethical sourcing, regenerative agriculture and leathermaking.
(International Leather Maker (ILM))
6. 3 Food Tips to Save the Planet | Climate Change
(Nutrition Made Simple!)

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