Regenerative Ag Has to Prove Itself

Regenerative agriculture has a key role to play in pulling carbon into the world’s soils and helping fight climate change, says a U.S. soil scientist who is studying the practice.

However, it will need to both carefully manage the agricultural role of carbon and be able to prove its value to the wider world.

“In the midst of all these challenges … soils are really central,” said Francesca Cotrufo, a soil specialist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University.

“We really need to do something to restore carbon.”

Cotrufo told farmers at Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association’s annual regenerative ag conference that enormous amounts of soil carbon have been lost over decades of tillage, disturbance agriculture, simple rotations and indifference. Erosion and stripped soil have emitted more carbon than they have stored, he said.

Soil organic matter proportions have collapsed, allowing significant amounts of stored carbon to escape. That has led to agriculture being one of the biggest contributors to carbon escape among industries.