Farmers who want to move past ‘sustainability’ have lots of management advice, but they’re also drawn from a wide range of sectors and every practice may not fit every operation.
About Alexis Stockford
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Entries by Alexis Stockford
As we face an ever-growing need to combat climate change, many people around the world are looking at how we produce our food. Agriculture has a strong effect on climate change (and vice versa). While some methods contribute to higher pollution and environmental degradation, others actually have the potential to reverse climate change. And one of those practices is regenerative agriculture.
While agriculture is suffering the impacts of a warming world, it is also a part of the problem. As the guardians of one of the planet’s largest carbon sinks – soils – farmers have contributed around 10 to 12 percent of the manmade carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. With a view to short-term gains, many farmers have made a habit of ripping organic matter out of the soil and leaving fields bare, to prepare their fields for growing crops. This has led to a plethora of issues, including soil erosion and water runoff – and it means that, where soil could be sequestering carbon into the earth, it is instead releasing it into the atmosphere.
Now, in the twenty-first century, awareness is growing that we depend on farmers for more than food. We need farmers and their farmland to sequester carbon, to buffer against floods, and to provide wildlife habitat. Perhaps less evidently, we also need farms to inspire us with their beauty, to cultivate our respect and awe of the more-than-human, and to light the pathways to a more just and prosperous world.
In light of the newest IPCC and US climate change reports, coupled with reports of the ongoing declines of wild species—birds, insects—you name them, just so long as they aren’t human, I have turned to thinking about shrubs. It is precisely their adaptive characteristics that give shrubs their potential to be powerful players in soil carbon sequestration and ecosystem regeneration in certain parts of the world, such as the Midwest.
Middle and lower income people who can’t afford healthy vegetables, uncontaminated dairy, and non-CAFO meat are stuck eating unhealthy foods produced from government subsidized commodity food crops, like corn and soy.
Both the Green New Deal and the New Food Deal can reorient the basics— and put Americans, our democracy, and the earth on the path to health. Just transitioning 10 percent of agricultural production to best practice regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate.
Take these eight steps to make soils more resilient to drought, produce more food and store emissions, urge Cornelia Rumpel and colleagues.
When you over-farm soil and douse it in chemical fertilizers and pesticides, you kill soil microbes and fungi. On the other hand, rich, healthy soil has microorganisms in it that consume carbon and sequester it. If society can convert a good portion of the world’s agricultural land to regenerative practices, we could heal the soil enough that it could start sequestering a whole lot more carbon—enough to actually reverse climate change.
A new study looks at the natural solutions that could help the US do its part to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (approximately 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the goal adopted by the 195 countries who signed the Paris Climate Agreement in December 2015.
Of the 21 natural solutions the researchers studied, increased reforestation efforts had the largest carbon storage potential, equivalent to keeping 65 million passenger cars off the road.
This is the most comprehensive list of best Regenerative Agriculture blogs on the internet.
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