Farmers hear a lot about growth profit from different enterprises in the agriculture sector but very little about their returns on investments. There is no question that our agricultural system is broken. Industrial agriculture is the number one driver of deforestation. It’s eroding the soils, pushing wildlife, insects, and plants into extinction, and it’s responsible for about 30% of the world’s total emissions of greenhouse gases. It is why farmers need to learn more about regenerative farming to learn a more sustainable way of making profits.
What is regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is a set of farming practices that increases biodiversity in soil organic matter. Currently, most agricultural practices are devastating biodiversity. Even organic agriculture, while not as bad, still does more harm than good. Regenerative agriculture is a way to reverse this trend to make a positive impact on the land.
What does regenerative agriculture involve?
The answer to this question is tricky because the best practices largely depend on the land. So, the variety of practices borders infinity, which is a bit more than we would cover in this post. However, let’s look at three common forms of regenerative agriculture can take.
- No-Till Farming
- Regenerative Grazing
The soil is full of organisms that, in their unique way, are helpful for plants. Some convert soil nitrogen into a usable plant form. Some bring water to the plants that otherwise be out of reach. Others loosen and aerate the soil increasing water absorption and allowing plant roots to penetrate deeper. When a machine turns over soil, most of these organisms are killed. So, the crops must rely on chemical fertilizer which ends up leaching into the water. Central to no-till farming is not to do that.
Instead of tilling plants, cover crops whose roots break up the soil. Let the worms aerate the soil and bring down nutrients. Keep the ground covered with organic mulch, which will break down over time, adding more organic matter to the earth.
From the release of methane to clearing the forests for pastureland, cattle raising is very environmentally destructive. But this is not inherent to grazing animals. If the proper practices are in place, it can sequester enormous amounts of carbon into the ground. It can build soil, and it can reverse even desertification in a matter of years. Here is how it works.
The growth of grass tends to start slow, accelerate and slow down again. There is a state in the middle where it accrues the most biomass the most efficiently. If it’s eaten before that point, its growth will never speed up. It happens with pastured animals, and they eat all the grass that doesn’t have the chance to grow back fast enough before getting eaten again, so we end up with overgrazing. Overgrazing leads to soil erosion, drought, and desertification. But if they keep animals tightly packed, the grass has time to grow before being eaten.
All that biomass in the grass is carbon that comes from the air. However, not all the grass gets eaten. Some of it gets pooped on and trampled, which creates the perfect conditions for new topsoil. It ends up happening incredibly quickly.
Agro-Forestry is one of the most complex and location-dependent practices there are. It starts with locating a local forest and the relationship between everything in it – the plants, animals, fungi, landscape, soil, water and then recreating these relationships in a way that’s just as ecologically resilient but produces more food.
Food forests comprise seven layers the root layer, the ground cover layer, the herb layer, the shrub layer, the low tree layer, the high tree layer, and the vine layer. Every layer has its significance to the whole agricultural system.
All these three regenerative agricultural practices have some things in common. Whereas in conventional agriculture, you seek to create as many things as possible, regenerative agriculture desires to build as many relationships between things as possible. It’s up to you what kind of a relationship you want to foster with the land.About Complete Controller® – America’s Bookkeeping Experts Complete Controller is the Nation’s Leader in virtual bookkeeping, providing service to businesses and households alike. Utilizing Complete Controller’s technology, clients gain access to a cloud-hosted desktop where their entire team and tax accountant may access the QuickBooks™️ file, critical financial documents, and back-office tools in an efficient and secure environment. Complete Controller’s team of certified US-based accounting professionals provide bookkeeping, record storage, performance reporting, and controller services including training, cash-flow management, budgeting and forecasting, process and controls advisement, and bill-pay. With flat-rate service plans, Complete Controller is the most cost-effective expert accounting solution for business, family-office, trusts, and households of any size or complexity.