What is Regenerative Agriculture?
"If you’ve never heard about the amazing potential of regenerative agriculture and land use practices to naturally sequester a critical mass of CO2 in the soil and forests, you’re not alone. One of the best-kept secrets in the world today is that the solution to global warming and the climate crisis (as well as poverty and deteriorating public health) lies right under our feet, and at the end of our knives and forks."
-Ronnie Cummins, Regeneration International Steering Committee Member
Regenerative agriculture is a wide array of farming and grazing methods that rebuild rather than extract. Regenerative agriculture builds soil, increases biodiversity, sequesters carbon, improves water cycles, supports farmers and communities, and helps protect our watersheds, ocean, and climate.
Unless new approaches to farming are adopted, the global amount of arable and productive land per person in 2050 will be only a quarter of 1960s levels due to growing population and soil degradation, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
Why Regenerative Agriculture?
Restoring our soils with regenerative practices could sequester up to 60 tons of carbon per acre, increase crop productivity and improve nutrient uptake, water retention and pest resistance. Rattan Lal, a leading soil expert, has calculated that “a mere 2 percent increase in the carbon content of the planet’s soils could offset 100 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions [currently] going into the atmosphere.”Project Drawdown (an organization that analyzes and shares information on climate solutions), ranks regenerative farming as among the “greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.”
According to Regeneration International, regenerative agriculture can:
- Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
- Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
- Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
- Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
- Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
- Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
- Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
- Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
- Restore grasslands: One third of the earth's surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
- Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
“It is not possible to add pesticides to water anywhere without threatening the purity of water everywhere.” - Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
When it rains, animal waste, fertilizer, pesticides, and topsoil are washed into tributaries and rivers, and eventually out to the sea, harming wildlife, disrupting the balance of nutrients in the ocean, and causing dead zones and toxic algae blooms each spring and summer.
The average size of the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico over the past five years has been 5,400 square miles--bigger than the state of Connecticut.
Farming for the Ocean is a collaboration between the Inland Ocean Coalition, farmers, and ranchers to support the health of our watersheds, ocean, and climate by recognizing landowners who practice ocean-friendly farming.
This collaboration focuses on supporting landowners who prevent agricultural pollutants, from plastics to pesticides, from making their way into our waterways and runoff, and inevitably into our ocean, causing dead zones and other harmful issues.
What Makes an Ocean-Friendly Farmer?
To be recognized as an Ocean Friendly Farmer, landowners must implement the following practices:
- Riparian Buffers: Using a buffer zone of riparian or non-agricultural plant life to soak up extra nutrients from runoff and groundwater seeping into the soil from agricultural and livestock fields.
- Cover Crop: Using cover crops to replenish a field’s soil health and prevent soil erosion. Cover crops can include those commonly used (legumes, grasses, clover, peas, vetch, wheats and rye etc.) but native plants, and flowering plants are especially beneficial as they support pollinators while also protecting and enriching the soil.
- Rotational Grazing (rangeland owners only): Practicing the rotational movement of livestock to different fields at appropriate time intervals. This ensures that previously grazed fields can recover and no one field is over utilized which can deprive the soil of nutrients and make it more susceptible to erosion.
Become an Ocean-Friendly Farmer
To be recognized as an Ocean-Friendly Farmer, landowners must implement the following practices:
- Riparian Buffers: Use a buffer zone of riparian or non-agricultural plants to soak up extra nutrients from running off from agricultural and livestock fields.
- Cover Crop: Use cover crops to replenish soil health and prevent soil erosion. Cover crops can include those commonly used (legumes, grasses, clover, peas, vetch, wheats and rye etc.) but native and flowering plants are especially beneficial as they support pollinators while also protecting and enriching the soil.
- Rotational Grazing (rangeland owners only): Practice the rotational movement of livestock to different fields at appropriate intervals. This ensures that previously grazed fields can recover and no one field is over utilized, which can deprive the soil of nutrients and make it more susceptible to erosion.
Do your farming practices support healthy watersheds? Fill out our application to join the movement and be promoted on our website and social media platforms as an ocean-friendly farmer!