Regenerative Food and Farming: Survival and Revival

“Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.” Dr. Vandana Shiva, Co-Founder Regeneration International

Regenerative agriculture and holistic livestock management represent the next, crucial stage of organic food and farming, not only avoiding toxic pesticides, fertilizers, sewage sludge, GMO seeds, and excessive greenhouse gas emissions, but regenerating soil fertility, water retention, carbon sequestration, and rural livelihoods as well.

Regeneration has now become the hottest topic in the natural and organic food sector. At the same time, climate activists regularly discuss the role of organic and regenerative practices in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering excess atmospheric carbon dioxide in soils and agricultural landscapes.

Inside Regeneration International, which now includes 400 affiliates in more than 60 countries, our primary focus is  moving beyond the basics of Regeneration to identifying regenerative and organic “best practices” around the globe and figuring out how to utilize farmer innovation, marketplace demand, policy reform, and public and private investing to qualitatively spread and scale these best practices up so that organic and regenerative becomes the norm, rather than just the alternative, for the planet’s now degenerative multitrillion-dollar food, farming and land use system.

Either we move beyond merely treating the symptoms of our planetary degeneration and build instead a new system based upon regenerative food, farming and land use, coupled with renewable energy practices and global cooperation instead of superpower competition and belligerence, or we will soon pass the point of no return.

In 2010 Olaf Christen stated, “Regenerative agriculture is an approach in agriculture that rejects pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and is intended to improve the regeneration of the topsoil, biodiversity and the water cycle.”

This corresponds almost exactly with the stated principles of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) or Organics International.

Since 2014, the Rodale Institute, IFOAM, Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Patagonia, the Real Organic Project, the Biodynamic Movement, the Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, Navdanya and others have also been discussing and implementing organic standards, practices and certification, which incorporate regenerative principles.

Changing the Conversation: Regenerative Food and Farming

In September 2014 a group of food, natural health and climate activists, including Vandana Shiva, Andre Leu, Will Allen, Steve Rye, Alexis Baden-Meyer and staff from Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Organic Consumers Association and the Rodale Institute, organized a press conference at the massive climate march in New York City to announce the formation of Regeneration International and to set for ourselves a simple, but what seemed like then ambitious, goal.

We all pledged to change the conversation on the climate crisis in the U.S. and around the world — then narrowly focused on renewable energy and energy conservation — so as to incorporate regenerative and organic food, farming and land use as a major solution to global warming, given its proven ability to drawdown and sequester massive amounts of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil, trees, and plants.

Now, seven years later, it appears that our growing Regeneration Movement has achieved this goal. Regeneration is now the hottest topic in the natural and organic food and farming sector, while climate activists including the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion regularly talk about the role of organic and regenerative practices in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.

More and more people now understand that we can achieve, through enhanced photosynthesis and drawdown, “Net Zero” emissions by 2030, a figure will be necessary if we are to avoid runaway global warming and climate catastrophe.

Identifying Regenerative and Organic ‘Best Practices’

Inside Regeneration International, which now includes 400 affiliates in more than 60 countries, our conversation has shifted from promoting a basic discussion about organic and regenerative food, farming, and land-use to identifying regenerative and organic “best practices” around the globe.

Our discussions and strategizing are not just an academic exercise. As most of us now realize, our very survival as a civilization and a species is threatened by a systemic crisis that has degraded climate stability, our food and our environment, along with every major aspect of modern life.

This mega-crisis cannot be resolved by piecemeal reforms or minor adjustments such as slightly cutting our current levels of fossil fuel use, reducing global deforestation, soil degradation and military spending.

Either we move beyond merely treating the symptoms of our planetary degeneration and build instead a new system based upon regenerative food, farming and land use, coupled with renewable energy practices and global cooperation instead of belligerence, or we will soon (likely within 25 years) pass the point of no return.

A big challenge is how do we describe the crisis of global warming and severe climate change in such a way that everyday people understand the problem and grasp the solution that we’re proposing, i.e., renewable energy and regenerative food, farming and land use?

Enhanced Photosynthesis Is All-Important

The bottom line is that humans have put too much CO2 and other greenhouse gases (especially methane and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere (from burning fossil fuels and destructive land use), trapping the sun’s heat from radiating back into space and heating up the planet.

And, unfortunately, because of the destructive food, farming and forestry practices that have degraded a major portion of the Earth’s landscape, we’re not drawing down enough of these CO2 emissions through plant photosynthesis, soil carbon sequestration, and perennial above ground carbon storage in biomass (forest, grass, and plants) to cool things off.

In a word, there’s too much CO2 and greenhouse gas pollution blanketing the sky (and saturating the oceans) and not enough life-giving carbon in the ground and in our living plants, trees, pastures, and rangelands.

Increasing plant and forest photosynthesis (accomplished via enhanced soil fertility and biological life, as well as an adequate amount of water and minerals) is the only practical way that we can draw down a significant amount of the excess CO2 and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere that are heating up the Earth and disrupting our climate.

Through photosynthesis, plants and trees utilize solar energy to break down CO2 from the atmosphere, release oxygen, and transform the remaining carbon into plant biomass and liquid carbon.

Photosynthesis basically enables plants to grow above ground and produce biomass, but also stimulates growth below ground as plants transfer a portion of the liquid carbon they produce through photosynthesis into their root systems to feed the soil microorganisms that in turn feed the plant.

From the standpoint of drawing down enough CO2 and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequestering them in our soils and biota to reverse global warming, qualitatively enhanced photosynthesis is all-important.

Agave Power: Greening the Desert

As RI, OCA, and our Mexico affiliate Via Organica’s contribution to the global expansion of regenerative and organic food and farming practices, we have spent the last several years working with Mexican farmers and ranchers, the Hudson Carbon Project, consumer organizations, elected political officials (mainly at the local and state level), and socially and environmentally-concerned “impact investors.”

Our goal is to develop a native agave agroforestry and livestock management system that we believe can be a game-changer for much of the 40% of the world’s pasturelands and rangelands that are arid and semi-arid, areas where it is now nearly impossible to grow food crops without irrigation, and where the land is too overgrazed and degraded for proper livestock grazing.

We call this Mexico-based agave and agroforestry/livestock management system Agave Power: Greening the Desert, and are happy to report that its ideas and practices are now starting to spread from the high desert plateau of Guanajuato across much of arid and semi-arid Mexico.

We now are receiving inquiries and requests for information about this agave-based, polyculture/perennial system from desert and semi-desert areas all over the world, including Central America, the Southwestern U.S., Argentina, Chile, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Lebanon, and Oman.

You can learn more about this Agave Power system on the websites of Regeneration International and the Organic Consumers Association.

Primary Drivers of Regeneration and Degeneration

What I and others have learned “on the ground” trying to expand and scale-up regenerative and organic best practices is that there are four basic drivers of regenerative (or conversely degenerative) food, farming and land use.

The first driver is consumer awareness and market demand. Without an army of conscious consumers and widespread market demand, regenerative practices are unlikely to reach critical mass. The second driver is farmer, rancher and land stewardship innovation, including the development of value-added products and ecosystem restoration services.

The third driver is policy change, starting at the local and regional level. And last, but not least is regenerative finance — large-scale investing on the part of the public and private sector, what is now commonly known as “impact investing.”

In order to qualitatively expand organic and regenerative best practices and achieve critical mass sufficient to transform our currently degenerative systems, we need all four of these drivers to be activated and working in synergy.

Let’s look now at four contemporary drivers of degeneration, degenerative food, farming and land use, in order to understand what the forces or drivers are that are holding us back from moving forward to regeneration.

 

1-Degenerated grassroots consciousness and morale — When literally billions of people, a critical mass of the 99%, are hungry, malnourished, and/or stuffed and supersized with ultraprocessed foods and empty calories, revolution is all but impossible. When billions are scared and divided, struggling to survive with justice and dignity… when the majority of the global body politic are threatened and assaulted by a toxic environment and food system; when hundreds of millions are overwhelmed by economic stress due to low wages and the high cost of living; when hundreds of millions are weakened by chronic health problems, or battered by floods, droughts and weather extremes, regenerative change — Big Change — will not come easily.

Neither will it happen if we continue to allow endless wars and land grabs for water, land and strategic resources to spiral out of control, or fail to organize and resist on a mass scale while indentured politicians, corporations, Big Tech, and the mass media manipulate crises such as COVID-19 to stamp out freedom of expression and participatory democracy in order to force a “Business-as-Usual” or “Great Reset” paradigm down our throats.

Disempowered, exploited people, overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday survival, usually don’t have the luxury of connecting the dots between the issues that are pressing down on them and focusing on the Big Picture.

It’s the job of regenerators to connect the dots between the climate crisis, COVID-19, elite control and people’s everyday concerns including food, natural health, jobs, and economic justice, to globalize awareness, political mobilization and, most of all, to globalize hope.

It’s the job of regenerators to make the connections between personal and public health and planetary health, to expose the truth about the origins, nature, prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and chronic disease, and to mobilize the public to reject a so-called Great Reset disguised as fundamental reform, but actually a Trojan Horse for a 21st Century Technocracy that is profoundly antidemocratic and authoritarian.

Regenerators have to be able to make the connections between different issues and concerns, identify and support best practitioners and policies and build synergy between social forces, effectively lobby governments (starting at the local level), businesses and investors for change, all the while educating and organizing grassroots alliances and campaigns across communities, constituencies and even national borders.

But of course this long-overdue Regeneration Revolution will not be easy, nor will it take place overnight. Our profoundly destructive, degenerative, climate-destabilizing food and farming system, primarily based upon industrial agriculture inputs and practices, is held together by a multibillion-dollar system of marketing and advertising that has misled or literally brainwashed a global army of consumers into believing that cheap, ultra-processed, artificially flavored, “fast food” is not only acceptable, but “normal” and “natural.”

After decades of consuming sugar, salt, carbohydrate-rich and “bad fat”-laden foods from industrial farms, animal factories and chemical manufacturing plants, many consumers have literally become addicted to the artificial flavors and aromas that make super-processed foods and “food-like substances” so popular.

2-Degenerate “conventional” farms, farming and livestock management  

Compounding the lack of nutritional education, choice, poverty, inertia and apathy of a large segment of consumers, other major factors driving our degenerative food and farming system include the routine and deeply institutionalized practices of industrial and chemical-intensive farming and land use (mono-cropping, heavy plowing, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMOs, factory farms, deforestation, wetlands destruction) today.

These soil-, climate-, health- and environmentally-destructive practices are especially prevalent on the world’s 50 million large farms, which, in part, are kept in place by global government subsidies totaling $500 billion a year.

Meanwhile, there are few or no subsidies for organic or regenerative farmers, especially small farmers (80% of the world’s farmers are small farmers), nor for farmers and ranchers who seek to make this transition.

Reinforcing these multibillion-dollar subsidies for bad farming practices are a global network of chemical- and agribusiness-controlled agricultural research and teaching institutions, focused on producing cheap food and beverages (no matter what the cost to the environment, climate and public health) and agro-export agricultural commodities (often pesticide-intensive GMO grains).

What we need instead are subsidies for organic and regenerative practices, research and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to produce healthy, organic and regenerative food for local, regional and domestic markets, rewarding farmers with a fair price for producing healthy food and being a steward, rather than a destroyer, of the environment.

3-Monopoly Control — Another driver of degeneration, holding back farmer adoption of regenerative practices and determining the type of food and crops that are produced, is the monopoly or near-monopoly control by giant agribusiness corporations over much of the food system, especially in industrialized countries, as well as the monopoly or near-monopoly control by giant retail chains such as Walmart and internet giants like Amazon.

The out-of-control “Foodopoly” that dominates our food system is designed to maximize short-term profits and exports for the large transnational corporations, preserve patents and monopoly control over seeds, and uphold international trade agreements (NAFTA, WTO) that favor corporate agribusiness and large farms over small farms; factory farms over traditional grazing and animal husbandry; and agro- exports instead of production for local and regional markets.

Food and farming is the largest industry in the world with consumers spending an estimated $7.5 trillion a year on food. In addition, the largely unacknowledged social, environmental and health costs (i.e., collateral damage) of the industrial food chain amounts to an additional $4.8 trillion a year. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/etc-whowillfeedus.pdf

4-Degenerate public policy and public and private investments  

Agriculture is the largest employer in the world with 570 million farmers and farm laborers supporting 3.5 billion people in rural households and communities. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/etc-whowillfeedus.pdf In addition to workers on the farm, food chain workers in processing, distribution and retail make up hundreds of millions of other jobs in the world, with over 20 million food chain workers in the U.S. alone (17.5% of the total workforce).

This makes public policy relating to food, farming and land use very important. Unfortunately, thousands of laws and regulations are passed every year, in every country and locality, that basically prop up conventional (i.e., industrial, factory farm, export-oriented, GMO) food and farming, while there is very little legislation passed or resources geared toward promoting organic and regenerative food and farming.

Trillions of dollars have been, and continue to be, invested in the so-called “conventional” food and farming sector, including trillions from the savings and pension funds of many conscious consumers, who would no doubt prefer their savings to be invested in a different manner, if they knew how to do this.

Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of public or private investment is currently going toward organic, grass fed, free-range and other healthy foods produced by small and medium-sized farms and ranches for local and regional consumption.

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate, healthy societies — our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, are directly connected to the soil, biodiversity and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems. Regenerative organic farming and land use can move us back into balance, back to a stable climate and a life-supporting environment.

It’s time to move beyond degenerate ethics, farming, land use, energy policies, politics and economics. It’s time to move beyond “too little, too late” mitigation and sustainability strategies. It’s time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators, before it’s too late.

 

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International. To keep up with RI’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Our Global Regeneration Revolution: Organic 3.0 to Regenerative and Organic Agriculture

“Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandry is the next and higher stage of organic food and farming, not only free from toxic pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farm production, and therefore good for human health; but also regenerative in terms of the health of the soil.” Ronnie Cummins

Regeneration is a Global Revolution

Hardly anyone had heard of regenerative agriculture before 2014. Now it is in the news everyday all around the world. A small group of leaders of the organic, agroecology, holistic management, environment and natural health movements started Regeneration International as a truly inclusive and representative umbrella organization.

The concept was initially formed at the United Nations Climate Change Meeting in New York in October 2014, at a meeting in the Rodale headquarters. The aim was to set up a global network of like minded agricultural, environmental and social organizations.

The initial steering committee meetings included Dr Vandana Shiva from Navdanya, Ronnie Cummins from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr Hans Herren from The Millennium Institute, Steve Rye from Mercola and myself, André Leu from IFOAM-Organics International. It was soon expanded to include Precious Phiri from the Africa Savory Hub, Ercilia Sahores from Via Organica in Mexico, Renate Künaste from the German Green Party, John Liu the China based filmmaker and Tom Newmark and Larry Kopald from the Carbon Underground.

Our founding meeting was held on a biodynamic farm in Costa Rica in 2015. We deliberately chose to hold it in the global south rather than in North America or Europe and include women and men from every continent to send a message that regeneration was about equity, fairness and inclusiveness. Ronnie Cummins raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the travel, accommodation, food and other expenses for all the representatives from the global south. It was a truly global and inclusive start.

The meeting agreed to form Regeneration International to promote a holistic concept of regeneration. The following consensus Mission and Vision Statements came out of this consultative and inclusive event.

OUR MISSION

To promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

OUR VISION

A healthy global ecosystem in which practitioners of regenerative agriculture and land use, in concert with consumers, educators, business leaders and policymakers, cool the planet, nourish the world and restore public health, prosperity and peace on a global scale.

In six years Regeneration International has grown to more than 360 partner organizations in 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe.

Organic 3.0 the third phase of the Organic sector

The need to form an international regeneration movement was inspired in part by the development of Organic 3.0 by IFOAM – Organics International. Organic 3.0 was conceived as an ongoing process of enabling organic agriculture actively engage with social and environmental issues and been seen as a positive agent of change.

Organic 3.0 has six main features. The fourth feature was the “Inclusiveness of wider sustainability interests, through alliances with the many movements and organizations that have complementary approaches to truly sustainable food and farming.”

One aim of Organic 3.0 was to work with like minded organizations, movements and similar farming systems with the aim of making all of agriculture more sustainable. The concept was to have organic agriculture as a positive lighthouse of change to improve the sustainability of mainstream agriculture systems, as seen in the following diagram.

Move beyond Sustainable

Many people in the organic, agroecology and environmental movements were not happy with the term sustainable for a number of reasons, not the least that it has been completely greenwashed and was seen as meaningless.

“Sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Unfortunately, this definition of sustainable has led to concept of Sustainable Intensification – where more inputs are used in the same area of land to lower negative environmental footprints. This concept has been used in sustainable agriculture to justify GMOs, synthetic toxic pesticides and water soluble chemical fertilizers to produce more commodities per hectare/acre. This was presented as better for the environment than “low yielding” organic agriculture and agroecological systems that need more land to produce the same level of commodities. Sustainable Intensification is used to justify the destruction of tropical forests for the industrial scale farming of commodities such as GMO corn and soy that are shipped to large scale animal feedlots in Europe and China, on the basis that less land is needed to produce animal products compared to extensive rangeland systems or organic systems. These Sustainable Intensification systems meet the above definition of sustainable compared to organic, agroecological and holistically managed pasture based systems.

Companies like Bayer/Monsanto were branding themselves as the largest sustainable agriculture companies in the world. Many of us believed it was time to move past sustainable.

In this era of the Anthropocene, in which human activities are the dominant forces that negatively affect the environment, the world is facing multiple environmental, social, and economic crises. These include the climate crisis, food insecurity, an epidemic of non-contagious chronic diseases, new pandemics of contagious diseases, wars, migration crises, ocean acidification, the collapse of whole ecosystems, the continuous extraction of resources, and the greatest extinction event in geological history.

Do we want to sustain the current status quo or do we want to improve and rejuvenate it? Simply being sustainable is not enough. Regeneration, by definition, improves systems.

The Hijacking of Organic Standards       

Another driver towards regeneration were the widespread concerns about the hijacking of organic standards and production systems by corporate agribusiness.

The neglect of the primacy of soil health and soil organic matter and allowing inappropriate plowing methods were raised as major criticisms.

The organic pioneers started concept of soil health. Jerome Rodale who popularized the term Organic Farming in the 1940s used the term specifically in relation to farming systems that improved soil health by recycling and increasing soil organic matter. Consequently most organic standards start with this, however certifiers rarely check this – if ever these days. The introduction of certified organic hydroponics as soilless organic systems, was been seen by many as the ultimate sell out and loss of credibility for certified organic systems.

Major concerns and criticisms about the hijacking of certified organic by industrial agriculture were raised by allies in the agroecology and holistic management movements. These included large scale, industrial, organic monocultures and organic Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs).  These CAFOS go against the important principles of no cruelty and the need to allow animals to naturally express their behaviors, that are found in most organic standards. The use of synthetic supplements in certified organic CAFOs was seen as undermining the very basis of the credibility of certified organic systems. The lack of enforcement was seen as a major issue. These issues were and still are areas of major dispute and contention within global and national organic sectors.

Many people wanted a way forward and saw the concept of ‘Regenerative Organic Agriculture’, put forward by Robert Rodale, son of the organic pioneer Jerome Rodale, as a way to resolve this. Bob Rodale, used the term regenerative organic agriculture to promote farming practices that go beyond sustainable.

Dealing with Greenwashing

The term regenerative agriculture is now being widely used, to the point that in some cases it can be seen as greenwashing and as a buzz word used by industrial agricultural systems to increase profits.

Those of us who formed Regeneration International were very aware of the way the large agribusiness corporations hijacked the term sustainable to the point is was meaningless. We were also aware of how they are trying to hijack the term of agroecology, especially through the United Nations systems and in some parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America where a little biodiversity is sprinkled as greenwash over agricultural systems that still use toxic synthetic pesticides and water soluble chemical fertilizers.

Similarly we have been concerned about the way organic agriculture standards and systems have been hijacked by industrial agribusiness as previously stated in the above section.

The critical issue is how do we engage with agribusiness in a way that can change their systems in a positive way as proposed in Organic 3.0? Many of the corporations that are adopting regenerative systems are improving their soil organic matter levels using systems such as cover crops. They are also implementing programs that reduce toxic chemical inputs and improving environmental outcomes. These actions should be seen as positive changes in the right direction. They are a start – not an end point. They need to be seen as part of an ongoing process to become fully regenerative.

There are also corporations that are rebranding their herbicide sprayed GMO no-till systems as regenerative. These corporations and systems are being called out as Degenerative because they are not Regenerative.

The Concept of Degeneration to call out Greenwashing

The opposite of regenerative is degenerative. By definition, agricultural systems that are using degenerative practices and inputs that damage the environment, soil, and health, such as synthetic toxic pesticides, synthetic water soluble fertilizers, and destructive tillage systems, cannot be considered regenerative, and should not use the term. They must be called out as degenerative.

Regenerative and Organic based on Agroecology – the path forward

From the perspective Regeneration International, all agricultural systems should be regenerative and organic using the science of agroecology.

Bob Rodale observed that an ecosystem will naturally regenerate once the disturbance stops. Consequently, regenerative agriculture, working with nature, not only maintains resources, it improves them.

Regeneration should be seen as a way to determine how to improve systems and to determine what practices are acceptable and what are degenerative and therefore unacceptable. The criteria to analyze this must be based on the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture. These principles are clear and effective ways to decide what practices are regenerative and what are degenerative.

Consequently, the four principles of organic agriculture are seen as consistent and applicable to Regenerative Agriculture.

Health

Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

Ecology

Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

Fairness

Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.

Care

Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

Why focus on Regenerative Agriculture?

The majority of the world’s population are directly or indirectly dependant on agriculture. Agricultural producers are amongst the most exploited, food and health insecure, least educated and poorest people on our planet, despite producing most of the food we eat.

Agriculture in its various forms has the most significant effect on land use on the planet. Industrial agriculture is responsible for most of the environmental degradation, forest destruction, toxic chemicals in our food and environment and a significant contributor, up to 50%, to the climate crisis. The degenerative forms of agriculture are an existential threat to us and most other species on our planet. We have to regenerate agriculture for social, environmental, economic and cultural reasons.

Why focus on the Soil and Soil Organic Matter?

The soil is fundamental to all terrestrial life of this planet. Our food and biodiversity start with the soil. The soil is not dirt – it is living, breathing and teeming with life. The soil microbiome is the most complex and richest area of biodiversity on our planet. The area with the greatest biodiversity is the rhizosphere, the region around roots of plants.

Plants feed the soil microbiome with the molecules of life that they create through photosynthesis. These molecules are the basis of organic matter – carbon based molecules  – that all life on earth depends on. Organic matter is fundamental to all life and soil organic matter is fundamental to life in the soil.

Farming practices that increase soil organic matter (SOM) increase soil fertility, water holding capacity, pest and disease resilience and thus the productivity of agricultural systems. Because SOM comes from carbon dioxide fixed through photosynthesis, increasing SOM can have a significant impact in reversing the climate crisis by drawing down this greenhouse gas.

The fact is our health and wealth comes from the soil.

Regenerative agriculture is now being used as an umbrella term for the many farming systems that use techniques such as longer rotations, cover crops, green manures, legumes, compost and organic fertilizers to increase SOM. These include: organic agriculture, agroforestry, agroecology, permaculture, holistic grazing, sylvopasture, syntropic farming and many other agricultural systems that can increase SOM. SOM is an important proxy for soil health – as soils with low levels are not healthy.

However, our global regeneration movement is far more than this.

Regenerating our Degenerated Planet and Societies – Our Regeneration Revolution

We have a lot of work to do. We are currently living well beyond our planetary boundaries and extracting far more than our planet can provide. As Dr Vandana Shiva puts it: “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.”

According to Bob Rodale, regenerative organic agriculture systems are those that improve the resources they use, rather than destroying or depleting them. It is a holistic systems approach to farming that encourages continual innovation for environmental, social, economic, and spiritual wellbeing.

We must reverse the Climate Crisis, Migration Crisis, Biodiversity Crisis, Health Crisis, Food Crisis, Gender Crisis, Media Crisis, War Crisis, Land Grabbing Crisis, Racism Crisis, Democracy Crisis and Planetary Boundary Crisis so that we can regenerate our planet and our descendants can have a better and fairer world.

The vast majority of the destruction of biodiversity, the greenhouse gases, pesticides, endocrine disrupters, plastics, poverty, hunger, poor nutrition are directly caused by the billionaire corporate cartels and their obscene greed aided by their morally corrupt cronies. We need to continue to call them out for their degenerative practices.

More importantly; we need to build the new regenerative system that will replace the current degenerate system.

We have more than enough resources for everyone to live a life of wellbeing. The world produces around 3 times more food than we need. We have unfair, exploitative and wasteful systems that need to be transformed and regenerated.

We need to regenerate our societies so we must be proactive in ensuring that others have access to land, education, healthcare, income, the commons, participation, inclusion and empowerment. This must include women, men and youths across all ethnic and racial groups.

We must take care of each other and regenerate our planet. We must take control and empower ourselves to be the agents of change. We need to regenerate a world based on the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture: Health, Ecology Fairness and Care.

Ronnie Cummins, one of our founders, wrote: “Never underestimate the power of one individual: yourself. But please understand, at the same time, that what we do as individuals will never be enough. We’ve got to get organized and we’ve got to help others, in our region, in our nation, and everywhere build a mighty Green Regeneration Movement. The time to begin is now.”

 

Andre Leu is the International Director for Regeneration International. To sign up for RI’s email newsletter, click here.

Mercola Fights for Regenerative Agriculture by Supporting Biodynamic Farmers

CAPE CORAL, Fla. (June 24, 2021) – Leaders in natural health with a legacy rooted in sustainability, Dr. Mercola and his team promote the future of regenerative agriculture by working with biodynamic farmers to offer Demeter Certified Biodynamic® products in more categories than any other U.S. brand.
 
Demeter Certified Biodynamic®, the world’s oldest ecological certification, is the conscious, holistic way of farming that elevates the organic standards on regenerative agriculture by using a soil-first approach.
 
“Restoring our soil improves the overall quality of our food, which naturally drives progress toward biodiversity and a more regenerative future,” says Steve Rye, Mercola CEO. “Our team is dedicated to building relationships with family farmers from across the world to restore agricultural communities and environmental resilience.”
 
Mercola supports the success of biodynamic farms – across five continents, in eight countries – by paying farmers a premium price for their harvests.
 
“Through regenerative agriculture, we are able to bring excess carbon from the air and put it back into the ground where it can be utilized to grow better crops and preserve more water,” says Ryan Boland, Mercola Chief Business Officer. “The biodynamic standard of farming reduces carbon emissions, improves water quality and promotes climate health all while producing nutrient-rich foods. We can heal the planet through agriculture – it all starts with soil.” 
 
The rich, nutritious foods harvested from these farmers make up Solspring®, Mercola’s authentic food brand that offers unique Demeter Certified Biodynamic® and organic foods – like olive oil from 100-year-old trees found in the Kalamata region of Greece, vinegars and tomato sauces sourced from 40-year-old farms in the Modena region of Italy, and more – all in a variety of fresh, full-bodied flavors. The Dr. Mercola brand also initiated the first-ever standards for Demeter Certified Biodynamic® supplements and currently has six available.
 
Dr. Mercola is amongst the original supporters of regenerative agriculture with his passionate dedication starting nearly a decade ago when he helped pioneer the Non-GMO movement. He assisted in funding the addition of Proposition 37 to the ballot during the 2012 California statewide election, which required the labeling of genetically engineered food. Most recently, he has funded the Billion Agave Project by Regeneration International, which is a game-changing ecosystem-regeneration strategy that combines the growing of agave plants and nitrogen-fixing companion tree species, such as mesquite, with holistic rotational grazing of livestock for a high-biomass, high forage-yielding system that works well even on degraded, semi-arid lands.
 
Mercola.com is a natural health website dedicated to helping nearly ten million monthly readers improve their health with research-proven nutritional, lifestyle and exercise principles. Using a holistic approach for optimal health and wellness, Dr. Mercola has been a trusted source of natural health information for more than 20 years. Together with his team, they deliver the highest quality supplements, biodynamic and organic foods, and personal care products for your health, home and pet through the online store – Mercola Market. Visit mercolamarket.com to browse more than 1,000 premium products that help Take Control of Your Health®. For the most up-to-date health news and information, visit mercola.com and subscribe to the daily newsletter.
 

RI’s Response to The Ecologist’s “The Regenerative Ranching Racket”

Brendan Montague,

Editor of The Ecologist, at brendan@theecologist.org

Re: The regenerative ranching racket by Spencer Roberts, June 14, 2021

 

Dear Brendan,

 

The credibility of the Ecologist is being seriously questioned when it engages in deliberate fraud and makes false claims in order to try to discredit the fastest growing agricultural movement in the world.

Your journalist conducted outright fraud and lied when registering a false farm on our Farm Map and openly admits this. He further deliberately misrepresented the purpose of our Farm Map.

The Farm Map is a free service that connects thousands of farmers around the world to hundreds of thousands of potential customers. It is a self-regulating service not a certification system. Customers can let us know if farms are making false claims and we can remove them from the map. This service is particularly important in the developing world where farmers are the lowest socioeconomic group, in part, due to not being paid fairly for what they produce.

The same journalist that openly lies and commits fraud, then goes on to try and discredit various leaders of the global regeneration movement. We have the verified published data to show that these farmers and their various systems sequester more CO2 out of the atmosphere  than they emit. Unlike industrial farming which, depending on the methodologies used, accounts for up to 50% of global emissions, regenerative agriculture has solid published science to show that it sequesters more CO2 than it emits. We can change agriculture from being a major problem to becoming a major solution for the climate crisis.

32 countries, many regions, UNFAO, IFAD, GEF, CGIAR and hundreds of NGOs support changing farming from being a major CO2 emitter to becoming a major mitigator of CO2 by storing it in soil as soil organic matter. They have signed on to the 4 for 1000 initiative that was launched by the French Government at the Paris Climate Change meeting Dec. 2015. The UNFCCC recognizes this initiative as part of the Lima – Paris accord in the Paris agreement.

Industrial agriculture in its various forms has the most significant effect on land use on the planet. It is responsible for most of the environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, forest destruction, toxic chemicals in our food and environment and a significant contributor, up to 50%, to the climate crisis. The degenerative forms of agriculture are an existential threat to us and most other species on our planet. We have to regenerate agriculture for social, environmental, economic and cultural reasons and that is exactly what we in the global regenerative movement are doing.

 

Yours Faithfully,

 

André Leu, International Director,  June 19, 2021

World Bee Day: No Pollination, No Life

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On May 20 we celebrate World Bee Day. Bees, like other pollinators, play a key role in making life possible on our planet.

Without pollination there is no life

It is known that 75 percent of the world’s crops depend on pollinators; without them, most of the fruits, flowers, and seeds that we know would not exist. Without pollinators, we would not witness the diversity we still enjoy today, despite the great damage that humans have caused to landscapes and ecosystems. The ecosystem service provided by bee pollination and other pollinators is crucial and immeasurable.

There are approximately 20,000 species of pollinating wild bees distributed throughout the world —except for Antarctica—and approximately 1,800 of these species live in Mexico, the second country with the largest diversity of bees in the world after the United States 1.

Beekeeping practices with “domesticated” bees are very diverse and vary from region to region: from stingless bees in Mexico and Guatemala to the practices of the Gurung, collectors of hallucinogenic honey from the Himalayas.

Pollinators’ life under threat

Pollinators in general, and Apis mellifera in particular, which is the best known bee species for giving us honey, pollen, propolis and other by-products, are under threat.

The deterioration of bee colonies is directly related to degenerative agricultural practices.

Industrial agriculture leads to loss of habitat due to deforestation, monocultures that threaten biodiversity, and the use of pesticides. On top of this, stressors caused by the climate crisis are also greatly affecting bee colonies’ survival. A phenomenon that is becoming more and more common is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Although we usually hear about the effect of CCD on domestic honey bees, CCD is also devastating wild bee populations.

For beekeepers, the evidence of collapse is easily visible when they open the beehive box: hives have less and less population or are even uninhabited, as if bees had fled. It is also possible to see worker bees return to the entrance of the hive lost and disoriented, walking in circles, in some cases not even recognizing their own hive.

More and more traces of pesticides are found in pollen and in the hives themselves, in particular neonicotinoids, which affect the central nervous system of the insects and cause disorientation.

Bees are directly poisoned by these pesticides and their immune systems weaken, making them more susceptible to pathogens such as mites, bacteria, fungi and viruses which, even though they have always existed, are now growing in alarming numbers.

Real or adulterated honey?

Along with coffee and olive oil, honey is one of the most adulterated food products in the world. Beekeepers in Mexico who practice natural and regenerative beekeeping, respecting the cycles of the hive organism and its vital stages, are affected by a drastic drop in honey prices as a result of the commercialization of adulterated honeys. This causes unfair competition and a collapse in the price of honey both in the domestic and export markets, and it particularly affects those who practice agroecological and regenerative beekeeping. Adulterated honey is made from corn and cane syrups.

This “honey” (we use quotation marks because it is far from being honey) lacks the nutrients and properties of real honey, which is high in minerals, vitamins and trace elements, and has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and soothing properties.

China is directly involved in adulteration of honey in Mexico and around the world. According to FAO, in the last fifteen years, China has increased honey production by 88% due to an increase in external demand. However, the number of hives in China for the same period only increased by 21%. The large increase in honey production and the comparably much more modest increase in the number of hives is striking.

Honey labelling is often not very transparent. Unless its ingredients include glucose or high fructose syrup, additives used to increase its volume, prevent it from solidifying and increase production, it is difficult to recognize the adulteration process with the naked eye and without performing a quality test. 

Another way to adulterate the honey and confuse the consumer is to mix different types of honey (different in their origin, not in their flowering) and not specify its source, or directly lie about the real origin.

There are, however, some home tests that can help: 

  • If you put the honey on a spoon or on your finger and it runs off, then it is definitely adulterated.
  • If you put the honey in a glass of water and it dilutes, it is most likely adulterated. Real honey would go to the bottom of the glass.
  • With the passage of time, real honey will crystallize and will not remain liquid. This is a key indicator of whether or not it has been adulterated.

The solution: awareness and acting consciously

First of all, you have to understand that real honey is expensive. The high price tag reflects the effort and dedication that the beekeeper has to put in to produce honey in an honest and regenerative way, but in fact, it should be even more expensive if we consider all the effort the bee puts into producing honey.

On average, to produce a kilo of honey requires the work of about 2,500 bees. Each bee will have to fly up to 60 kilometers a day to find suitable flowers and will do so for around twenty-one days, sucking nectar from six hundred flowers.

When you understand all that goes into honey production, it becomes clear that buying a kilo of honey for a dollar is nonsense. The price of honey in Mexico and in other parts of the world has decreased due to the proliferation of adulterated honeys, as we mentioned before. It is crucial to buy honey directly from local producers and beekeepers, or buy certified honeys, understanding that the price you pay is directly proportional to its nutritional value and that it supports the beekeeper who practices fair and regenerative beekeeping.

Stricter regulations should also be promoted not only in terms of labelling, but also quality control and traceability of honey through its pollen.

It is also essential to be aware of the impact that the use of pesticides has on bees and to support campaigns to ban them, facilitating the conservation and restoration of ecosystems for bees and other pollinators.

We invite you to continue exploring this topic. You can find more concrete actions on the Save the Bees Campaign, an initiative of the Organic Consumers Association.

1 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982220315967

Ercilia Sahores is the Latin America Director of RI. To sign up for RI’s email newsletter, click here.

Hope Below Our Feet

Peer-Reviewed Publications on Well-Managed Grazing as a Means of Improving Rangeland Ecology, Building Soil Carbon, and Mitigating Global Warming

Prepared by Soil4Climate Inc.

Updated May 2021

Left: Soil with approximately 7% soil organic matter at North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown’s holistically managed ranch. Top right: Kroon family holistically managed ranch on left side of fence, Karoo region, South Africa, with livestock density about 4X that of the neighbor’s ranch on right side of fence. Bottom right: Holistically managed herd on Maasai lands in Kenya. (Top right photo by Kroon family. Left and bottom right photos by Seth J. Itzkan.)

Accelerating regenerative grazing to tackle farm, environmental, and societal challenges in the upper Midwest

2021 Viewpoint by Spratt et al. in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation defines “regenerative grazing” as a “win-win-win” component of “regenerative agriculture” that “uses soil health and adaptive livestock management principles to improve farm profitability, human and ecosystem health, and food system resiliency.”

Spratt et al. 2021, doi:10.2489/jswc.2021.1209A

https://www.jswconline.org/content/jswc/76/1/15A.full.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expanding grass-based agriculture on marginal land in the U.S. Great Plains: The role of management intensive grazing

2021 paper by Wang et al. in Land Use Policy finds that the adoption of management intensive grazing (MIG) is a key factor for restoring marginal croplands to permanent grassland cover to enhance environmental benefits across the Great Plains from a social perspective. It also notes that compared to conventional tillage-based crop production, grass-based agriculture can provide substantially more ecosystem benefits and that management intensive grazing (MIG) offers the potential to enhance grassland resilience, thereby increasing the profitability of grass-based agriculture.

Tong Wang, Hailong Jin, Urs Kreuter, Richard Teague,Expanding grass-based agriculture on marginal land in the U.S. Great Plains: The role of management intensive grazing, Land Use Policy, Volume 104, 2021,105155,ISSN 0264-8377, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2020.105155.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264837720324935

Adaptive multi-paddock grazing enhances soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and stabilization through mineral association in southeastern U.S. grazing lands

2021 paper by Mosier et al. in Journal of Environmental Management finds that adaptive multi-paddock grazing (AMP) increases both soil carbon and soil nitrogen stocks when compared with conventional grazing (CG). Specifically, carbon stocks were increased 13% and nitrogen stocks 9%.  It concludes, “Findings show that AMP grazing is a management strategy to sequester C and retain N.”

Mosier S, Apfelbaum S, Byck P, Calderon F, Teague R, Thompson R, Francesca Cotrufo M, Adaptive multi-paddock grazing enhances soil carbon and nitrogen stocks and stabilization through mineral association in southeastern U.S. grazing lands, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 288, 2021, 112409, ISSN 0301-4797, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112409 

Ecosystem Impacts and Productive Capacity of a Multi-Species Pastured Livestock System

2020 paper by Rowntree et al. documents the soil carbon increases from “holistic planned grazing” in a multi-species pasture rotation (MSPR) system on the USDA-certified organic White Oak Pastures farm in Clay County, Georgia. Over 20 years, the farm sequestered an average of 2.29 metric tonnes of carbon per hectare per year (2.29 Mg C/ha/yr).  The paper also shows that the area required to produce food in this regenerative way was 2.5 times that of conventional farming (which would have resulted in soil degradation and toxic chemicals impact). It notes that production efficiency comes at a cost of “land-use tradeoffs” that  must be taken into consideration.

Rowntree JE, Stanley PL, Maciel ICF, Thorbecke M, Rosenzweig ST, Hancock DW, Guzman A and Raven MR (2020) Ecosystem Impacts and Productive Capacity of a Multi-Species Pastured Livestock System. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 4:544984. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2020.544984

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2020.544984/full

Climate change mitigation as a co-benefit of regenerative ranching: insights from Australia and the United States

2020 paper in Interface Focus finds that “‘Managed grazing’ is gaining attention for its potential to contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing bare ground and promoting perennialization, thereby enhancing soil carbon sequestration (SCS).” The paper explores principles and practices associated with the larger enterprise of ‘regenerative ranching’ (RR), which, it states, “includes managed grazing but infuses the practice with holistic decision-making.” It argues that the holistic framework is appealing “due to a suite of ecological, economic and social benefits” and notes that climate change mitigation a “co-benefit.”

Gosnell H, Charnley S, Stanley P. 2020 Climate change mitigation as a co-benefit of regenerative ranching: insights from Australia and the United States. Interface Focus 10: 20200027. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2020.0027

A half century of Holistic Management: what does the evidence reveal?

2020 paper in Agriculture and Human Values provides a meta-analysis of Holistic Management (HM) considering “epistemic”  differences between disciplines associated with the agricultural sciences. It concludes that the way to resolve the controversy over HM is to “research, in partnership with ranchers, rangeland social-ecological systems in more holistic, integrated ways.” This broader approach to research, it argues, can account for “the full range of human experience, co-produce new knowledge, and contribute to social-ecological transformation.”

Gosnell, Hannah & Grimm, Kerry & Goldstein, Bruce. (2020). A half century of Holistic Management: what does the evidence reveal?. Agriculture and Human Values. 10.1007/s10460-020-10016-w. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10460-020-10016-w

Soil greenhouse gas emissions as impacted by soil moisture and temperature under continuous and holistic planned grazing in native tallgrass prairie. 

2020 paper in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment finds that holistic planned grazing protocols, used in adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) management, had superior ecological performance in a tallgrass prairie region when compared with high-density continuous  grazing and medium-density continuous grazing systems. Results demonstrate AMP grazing had lower soil temperature, higher soil moisture, and lower N2O and CH4 emissions.

Dowhower, S. L., Teague, W. R., Casey, K. D., & Daniel, R. (2020). Soil greenhouse gas emissions as impacted by soil moisture and temperature under continuous and holistic planned grazing in native tallgrass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 287, 106647. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.106647

Impacts of holistic planned grazing with bison compared to continuous grazing with cattle in South Dakota shortgrass prairie

2019 paper in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment demonstrates that Adaptive Multi-paddock (AMP) grazing increases fine litter cover, water infiltration, forage biomass and soil carbon stocks in a comparison with heavy continuous grazing (HCG) on shortgrass prairie of the Northern Great Plains of North America. 

Hillenbrand, M., Thompson, R., Wang, F., Apfelbaum, S., & Teague, R. (2019). Impacts of holistic planned grazing with bison compared to continuous grazing with cattle in South Dakota shortgrass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 279, 156–168. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2019.02.005

 

Simulating the influence of integrated crop-livestock systems on water yield at watershed scale

2019 paper in the Journal of Environmental Management shows that Integrated crop-livestock (ICL) systems have superior water retention (reduction in “water yields”) than in crops systems without a livestock grazing rotation. 

Pérez-Gutiérrez, J. D., & Kumar, S. (2019). Simulating the influence of integrated crop-livestock systems on water yield at watershed scale. Journal of Environmental Management, 239, 385–394. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2019.03.068

 

 

 

 

Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems

2018 Michigan State University study in Agricultural Systems finds 1.5 metric tons of carbon per acre per year drawdown via adaptive multi-paddock grazing, more than enough to offset all greenhouse gas emissions associated with the beef finishing phase.

Stanley, P. L., Rowntree, J. E., Beede, D. K., DeLonge, M. S., & Hamm, M. W. (2018). Impacts of soil carbon sequestration on life cycle greenhouse gas emissions in Midwestern USA beef finishing systems. Agricultural Systems, 162, 249-258. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2018.02.003

The effect of Holistic Planned Grazing™ on African rangelands: a case study from Zimbabwe

2018 paper in African Journal of Range & Forage Science finds positive long-term effects on ecosystem services (soils and vegetation) for Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG) and shows this approach enhancing the sustainability of livestock and wildlife.

Peel, M., & Stalmans, M. (2018). The effect of Holistic Planned Grazing™ on African rangelands: a case study from Zimbabwe. African Journal of Range & Forage Science, 35(1), 23-31. doi:10.2989/10220119.2018.1440630 https://doi.org/10.2989/10220119.2018.1440630

Enhancing soil organic carbon, particulate organic carbon and microbial biomass in semi-arid rangeland using pasture enclosures

2018 study in BMC Ecology demonstrates that controlling livestock grazing through the establishment of pasture enclosures is the key strategy for enhancing multiple ecological indicators including total soil organic carbon, and that “the establishment of enclosures is an effective restoration approach to restore degraded soils in semi-arid rangelands.” Other improved indicators include particulate organic carbon, microbial biomass carbon, and microbial biomass nitrogen. 

Oduor, C.O., Karanja, N.K., Onwonga, R.N. et al. Enhancing soil organic carbon, particulate organic carbon and microbial biomass in semi-arid rangeland using pasture enclosures. BMC Ecol 18, 45 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12898-018-0202-z

Grasslands may be more reliable carbon sinks than forests in California

2018 paper in Environmental Research Letters finds that California grasslands are a more resilient carbon sink than forests in response to 21st century changes in climate. The paper also notes that, in data compilations, herbivory has been shown to increase grassland C sequestration rates.

Dass, P., Houlton, B. Z., Wang, Y., & Warlind, D. (2018). Grasslands may be more reliable carbon sinks than forests in California. Environmental Research Letters, 13(7), 074027. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aacb39

https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aacb39

 

The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America

2016 Texas A&M study in Journal of Soil and Water Conservation finds 1.2 metric tons of carbon per acre per year drawdown via adaptive multi-paddock grazing and the drawdown potential of North American pasturelands is 800 million metric tons of carbon per year. 

Teague, W. R., Apfelbaum, S., Lal, R., Kreuter, U. P., Rowntree, J., Davies, C. A., R. Conser, M. Rasmussen, J. Hatfield, T. Wang, F. Wang, Byck, P. (2016). The role of ruminants in reducing agriculture’s carbon footprint in North America. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 71(2), 156-164. doi:10.2489/jswc.71.2.156 http://www.jswconline.org/content/71/2/156.full.pdf+html

 

 

 

Potential mitigation of midwest grass-finished beef production emissions with soil carbon sequestration in the United States of America

2016 paper in Journal on Food, Agriculture & Society finds that where soil carbon sequestration is included in a life cycle assessment of Midwest grass-finished beef production systems, such systems can be overall carbon sinks.

Rowntree, J., Ryals, R., Delonge, M., Teague, R. W., Chiavegato, M., Byck, P., . . . Xu, S. (2016). Potential mitigation of midwest grass-finished beef production emissions with soil carbon sequestration in the United States of America. Future of Food: Journal on Food, Agriculture & Society, 4(3), 8. https://asu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/potential-mitigation-of-midwest-grass-finished-beef-production-em

Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter

2015 University of Georgia study in Nature Communications finds 3 metric tons of carbon per acre per year drawdown following a conversion from row cropping to regenerative grazing.

Machmuller, M. B., Kramer, M. G., Cyle, T. K., Hill, N., Hancock, D., & Thompson, A. (2015). Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter. Nature Communications, 6, 6995. doi:10.1038/ncomms7995 https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms7995

 

 

 

 

GHG Mitigation Potential of Different Grazing Strategies in the United States Southern Great Plain

2015 paper in Sustainability finds that a conversion from heavy continuous to multi-paddock grazing on cow-calf farms in the US southern Great Plains can result in a carbon sequestration rate in soil of 2 tonnes per hectare per year or approximately 0.89 tonnes per acre per year. In a sensitivity analysis that accounts for farm animal emissions, this sequestration in soil is sufficient to make the farm a net carbon sink for decades.

Wang, T., Teague, W., Park, S., & Bevers, S. (2015). GHG Mitigation Potential of Different Grazing Strategies in the United States Southern Great Plains. Sustainability, 7(10), 13500. Retrieved from http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/7/10/13500

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Cooling by Grassland Soils of the Geological Past and Near Future

2013 paper in Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences by University of Oregon Department of Geological Sciences professor Gregory J. Retallack shows the co-evolution of ruminants and grassland soils (mollisols) was essential for geologic cooling of the past 20 million years – leading to the conditions suitable for human evolution – and can be an instrumental part of the necessary cooling in the future to reverse global warming.

Retallack, G. (2013). Global Cooling by Grassland Soils of the Geological Past and Near Future (Vol. 41, pp. 69–86): Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-earth-050212-124001

Sustainability of holistic and conventional cattle ranching in the seasonally dry tropics of Chiapas, Mexico

2013 study in Agricultural Systems finds practitioners of Holistic Management in the dry tropics region of Chiapas, Mexico have denser grass, deeper topsoil, and more earthworms in their pastures than conventional graziers, and that “Holistic management is leading to greater ecological and economic sustainability.”

Ferguson, B. G., Diemont, S. A. W., Alfaro-Arguello, R., Martin, J. F., Nahed-Toral, J., Álvarez-Solís, D., & Pinto-Ruíz, R. (2013). Sustainability of holistic and conventional cattle ranching in the seasonally dry tropics of Chiapas, Mexico. Agricultural Systems, 120, 38-48. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2013.05.005

Tall Fescue Management in the Piedmont: Sequestration of Soil Organic Carbon and Total Nitrogen

2012 study in Soil Science Society of America Journal demonstrates improved grazing management systems can have an enormous benefit on surface soil fertility restoration of degraded soils in the southeastern United States, and managed grazing can sequester 1.5 metric tons of carbon per hectare per year.

Franzluebbers, A. J., D. M. Endale, J. S. Buyer, and J. A. Stuedemann. 2012. Tall Fescue Management in the Piedmont: Sequestration of Soil Organic Carbon and Total Nitrogen. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 76:1016-1026. doi:10.2136/sssaj2011.0347 

Effect of grazing on soil-water content in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho

2011 paper in Journal of Arid Environments finds simulated holistic planned grazing (SHPG) had significantly higher percent volumetric-water content (%VWC) after two years of comparison with similar ranch plots using rest-rotation (RESTROT), and total rest (TREST) systems in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho. Measured percent volumetric-water content were 45.8 for SHPG and 34.7 and 29.8 for RESTROT and TREST, respectively.

Weber, K. T., & Gokhale, B. S. (2011). Effect of grazing on soil-water content in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho. Journal of Arid Environments, 75(5), 464-470. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaridenv.2010.12.009

 

 

Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie

2011 paper in Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment demonstrates multi-paddock grazing of the type recommended by Allan Savory, and representative of Holistic Management, led to improved soil health indicators including higher bulk density, greater infiltration rate, and increased fungal/bacterial ratios when compared with continuous single-paddock grazing, typical of conventional practice. Soil organic matter averaged 3.61% in the multi-paddock ranches, compared to 2.4% for heavy continuous, single-paddock grazing.

Teague, W. R., Dowhower, S. L., Baker, S. A., Haile, N., DeLaune, P. B., & Conover, D. M. (2011). Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 141(3–4), 310-322. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2011.03.009

Benefits of multi-paddock grazing management on rangelands: Limitations of experimental grazing research and knowledge gaps

2008 chapter in “Grasslands: Ecology, Management, and Restoration,” published by H. G. Schroder, finds in a comprehensive literature review that multi-paddock rotational grazing produces superior results for grassland ecology when compared to conventional continuous grazing. It also finds that misunderstandings exist in the management techniques needed to achieve these benefits and in the scientific protocols required to assess them. 

Teague, W. R., Provenza, F., Norton, B., Steffens, T., Barnes, M., Kothmann, M. M., & Roath, R. (2008). Benefits of multi-paddock grazing management on rangelands: Limitations of experimental grazing research and knowledge gaps. In H. G. Schroder (Ed.), Grasslands: Ecology, Management, and Restoration (pp. 41-80): Nova Science Publishers, NY. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285918973_Benefits_of_multi-paddock_grazing_management_on_rangelands_Limitations_of_experimental_grazing_research_and_knowledge_gaps

 

Considerations for the Biden Administration Regarding a National Carbon Farming Program

A national carbon farming program at the USDA level would be a tremendous leap forward with regards to incentivizing agricultural practices that can help mitigate climate change. However, the current primary focus on no-till and cover cropping is narrow in scope. While cover cropping is an extremely important and impactful agricultural practice, it is merely a part of a larger system needed to regenerate healthy soils on a nationwide basis.

Designing a Whole-System, Outcome-Based Approach

Rather than focus on single farming practice benefits, designing a whole-system approach will create synergy between practices and enterprises, and bring about significant soil carbon sequestration, GHG emissions reductions, and other ecological co-benefits. Fortunately, there are myriad other management interventions that the USDA can fold into their strategy to ensure that the agriculture sector maximizes its full potential in the fight against climate change.

In order for the Biden Administration to ensure that money spent on climate-related USDA incentive programs is supporting real net impact, these programs must be spurred by practice-based incentives that are holistic in scope and supported by comprehensive outcomes-based assessments.

Furthermore, these outcomes must be quantified by a hybrid approach that includes:

  • Ground-basedmonitoring,
  • Remotesensing,
  • Process-basedmodeling

In addition, outcomes must be assessed comprehensively, within the context of whole systems, throughout supply chains, and across all GHGs (including methane and nitrous oxide) and emissions scopes.

Integrating cover crops into a row crop system can:

  • Increase levels of soil organic carbon,
  • Increasesoilwaterinfiltrationandholdingcapacity,
  • Reducetheneedforsyntheticfertilizers.

However, the system where cover crops are adopted will dictate how these benefits are achieved.

Limitations of Current Soil Carbon Measurement Standards

For example, in annual row-crop systems that use conservation tillage and chemical no-till practices, research has demonstrated that gains in soil organic carbon in the top 20-30 cm of soil in these systems can be offset by losses in deeper layers, and therefore these practices are likely not as effective as previously understood (1,2).

It is now clear that the ability to monitor and model changes in SOC deeper in the soil profile is essential to assessing real outcomes. Thus, having the right kind of monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) strategy that can adequately and comprehensively assess the ecological, social, and economic impacts of a comprehensive, sector-wide incentive program is of the utmost importance.

Traditionally, carbon offset methodologies for the agriculture sector have relied solely on process-based modeling, the quantification standard in data-poor environments. However, process-based models are only as good as the ground truth data used to develop them.

The most widely used modeling tool to-date is the USDA’s COMET-Farm tool, which is designed to estimate GHG emissions and sequestration at field scale, based on management practices. While this tool has been developed over the course of decades, with data from dozens of research projects throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, it lacks the sophistication to adequately quantify outcomes.

The two most limiting factors of this particular model are its inability to estimate SOC sequestration below 20 centimeters (8 inches), and its inability to quantify the impacts of a broad spectrum of management practices related to cover cropping, grazing, and manure management (3). As a result, necessary practice and system innovation are not supported by these tools. Furthermore, there is a larger limitation with models in general, which is that their output is focused at field scale, and therefore excludes upstream and downstream impact.

In our opinion, the Biden Administration will face grave political consequences and fail to achieve its urgently needed climate goals in agriculture if it follows through with a narrowly-defined incentive program supported by inadequate quantification infrastructure.

Direct measurement of outcomes in an incentive program should be the holy grail.

The greatest challenge to direct measurement is decreasing the sampling burden enough while still capturing spatial and climatic variability. As satellite and ground-based sensor technology advances, the potential for adequately quantifying variability to support cost-effective sample stratification is significant (4,5).

In addition, as the development of process-based modeling must always be an ongoing project, satellite and ground-based sensors can continuously feed necessary ground truth to further advance the accuracy and sophistication of models, and to automate the model input process.

Proper Funding for Soil Health Measurement Technology is Key to Program Success

It is essential that the Biden Administration allocate funding to advance the state of the art of NASA’s Earth Observing System satellites, and to engage in public private partnerships with the world’s best satellite data providers, with the goal of enhancing our ability to leverage remote sensing as a means to monitor the ecological impacts of the agriculture sector. Note: Further efforts to develop and deploy earth observing satellite platforms should be focused on:

  • Advancing sensor technology,
  • Enhancing spatial and temporal resolution of satellite data,
  • Making data publicly available

This will allow for the necessary access to correlative datasets to further develop accurate monitoring platforms.

It is also essential that the USDA support the strategic deployment of sector-wide ground-based sensors, monitoring sites and stations across crop fields, CAFO facilities, and at points throughout critical watersheds facing immense pollution pressure (such as the Mississippi and Chesapeake Bay). This will serve to support the development of remote sensing and process-based modeling tools, and also to provide a critical feed-back system that can allow USDA program officials to conduct regular impact assessments based on directly-observed outcomes, and to more rapidly recalibrate the approach to management recommendations.

The current state of ground-based sensor technology, including in-situ soil and water monitoring systems, is such that national-scale monitoring can be rolled out with the necessary degree of standardization.

When considering the environmental impact of the agriculture sector in the United States, it is important to consider the extent to which agricultural enterprises have become consolidated, dis-integrated and specialized compared to a century ago. Therefore the sector as a whole should be considered as one large system, with one type of enterprise (i.e. grain) providing inputs that feed into another (i.e. livestock). In this holistic context, it is clear that the impact of a single management intervention in a certain sub-sector, such as cover-cropping, will be much less in the aggregate (or even fully offset) when measured against the impacts of other downstream sub-sectors, such as CAFO methane emissions.

Therefore, fully functioning incentive programs would be comprehensive and sector-wide, would facilitate GHG emissions reductions and atmospheric drawdown across supply chains, and would consider and quantify not only GHG emissions reductions and SOC sequestration, but also other forms of ecological impact related to water (6) and biodiversity, as well economic and social impact.

Expand and Fully Fund Conservation Programs – CRP and Regenerative Grazing

The expansion of existing USDA programs can also go a long way towards supporting a comprehensive carbon farming program, if high-level principles of regenerative organic agriculture are considered. These principles include biodiversity, tillage reduction, annual-perennial crop rotations, animal integration, aerobic manure management, natural fertility inputs, and protection of waterways.

One of the largest pieces of low-hanging fruit with regard to existing programs is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). There are two simple ways in which CRP can support carbon farming in the U.S.:

1) Expanding the CRP budget to increase enrolled acres, and

2) Developing a grazing program on enrolled CRP land that establishes a supply chain between cow-calf operations grazing on public and private land in the western U.S., and CRP grazing permittees, which will have the effect of diverting animals from feedlots to pasture, which will increase domestic production of grass-fed beef, a market for which there is significant demand in this country that we are not currently meeting domestically.

This will also significantly decrease GHG emissions associated with feedlot production and crop production. In order to support a CRP grazing program, funding for fencing and water infrastructure could be met through expanding the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) budget. In addition, EQIP funding for cover crop seed and planting equipment, and composting infrastructure (7), will go a long way towards further reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions associated with crop and livestock production. Direct coordination with USDA and the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service, in the form of rangeland management and rangeland health assessments, is also essential to supporting a national carbon farming program.

Healthy rangeland is a tremendous carbon sink, and presents perhaps one of the greatest opportunities in this country to sequester carbon in soils. The USDA must work with BLM and USFS to improve rangeland health assessments using satellite and ground-based monitoring (8), and to provide technical and financial support for improved rangeland management. This kind of monitoring approach will provide a comprehensive geospatial feedback mechanism that can help pinpoint best grazing management practices and support data-driven implementation.

The Biden Administration has a tremendous opportunity to deploy a robust carbon farming program across the United States, and can leverage many existing USDA programs in support of its goals. However, pains must be taken to ensure that the scope of such a program is sector-wide. This will ensure the full spectrum of opportunities to reduce emissions and sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide are on the table, so as to avoid perceptions of greenwashing and industry placation. Additional pains must be taken to include in this program the farmers and ranchers who have already taken financial risks by adopting and implementing best management practices absent any robust federal program to-date.

 

Matthew Sheffer is the Managing Director at Hudson Carbon.

References:

  1. 1.)  No-till and carbon stocks: Is deep soil sampling necessary? Insights from long-term experiments – Humberto Blanco-Canqui a, *, Charles Shapiro a, Paul Jasa b, Javed Iqbal a
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2020.104840
  2. 2.)  Tillage and soil carbon sequestration—What do we really know? – John M. Baker a,b,*, Tyson E. Ochsner a,b, Rodney T. Venterea a,b, Timothy J. Griffis b
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agee.2006.05.014
  3. 3.)  Comparison of COMET-Farm Model Outputs to Long-Term Soil Carbon Data at Stone House Farm – Matthew Sheffer, Mike Howardhttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1dVx_ICmMSKeiELIR00v6JHsJoBxABLu_WDyl0Chwick/edit?usp=sharing
  4. 4.)  A New Index for Remote Sensing of Soil Organic Carbon Based Solely on Visible Wavelengths – Evan A. Thaler* ,Isaac j.Larsen, Qian Yuhttps://doi.org/10.2136/sssaj2018.09.0318
  5. 5.)  Optimizing Stratification and Allocation for Design-Based Estimation of Spatial Means Using Predictions with Error

– J. J. De Gruitjter* B. Minasny A. B. McBratney

  1. 6.)  https://doi.org/10.1093/jssam/smu024Understanding the temporal behavior of crops using Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2-like data for agricultural applications – Amanda Veloso ⁎,1, Stéphane Mermoz, Alexandre Bouvet, Thuy Le Toan, Milena Planells, Jean-François Dejoux, Eric Ceschia
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rse.2017.07.015
  2. 7.)  Compost: Enhancing the Value of Manure; An assessment of the environmental, economic, regulatory, and policy opportunities of increasing the market for manure compost – Sustainable Conservation, 2017 https://suscon.org/pdfs/compostreport.pdf

8.) Beyond Inventories: Emergence of a New Era in Rangeland Monitoring – Matthew O. Jones , David E. Naugle , Dirac Twidwell , Daniel R. Uden , Jeremy D. Maestas , Brady W. Allreda
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rama.2020.06.009

We Need to Regenerate our Whole Planet on Earth Day

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In this era of the Anthropocene, in which human activities are the dominant forces that negatively affect the environment, the world is facing multiple environmental, social, and economic crises. These include the climate crisis, food insecurity, an epidemic of non-contagious chronic diseases, new pandemics of contagious diseases, wars, migration crises, ocean acidification, the collapse of whole ecosystems, the unsustainable extraction of resources, and the greatest extinction event in geological history.

Are we prepared to sustain a world where nearly a billion people do not have enough food to eat, a billion more are deficient in key nutrients and more than two billion are overweight because they have too much food? A world where the majority of people do not have access to adequate healthcare and education? A world where half the population face multiple forms of discrimination such as violence, land ownership, personal finances, education, control over their fertility, job promotions, representation on boards, government and leadership because of their gender? A world where persistent toxic chemicals are damaging all life on the planet including ours and our children? A world where the very basis of life, DNA, is being uncontrollably altered based on flawed science for the sake of the profits of billionaire poison cartels? Where there are continuous wars and conflicts. Where 1% control 99% of the world’s wealth and unfairly influences the political, social, health and environmental agendas to increase their power and wealth?

Simply being sustainable is not enough. Do we want to sustain the current status quo or do we want to improve and rejuvenate it? Regeneration improves systems.

We need to regenerate our societies so we must be proactive in ensuring that others have access to land, education, healthcare, income, the commons, participation, inclusion and empowerment. This must include women, men and youths across all ethnic and racial groups.

On Earth Day, Regeneration International, with our 360 partner organizations in almost 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe, will continue to promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

Our vision to is to achieve a healthy global ecosystem in which practitioners of regenerative agriculture and land use, in concert with consumers, educators, business leaders and policymakers, cool the planet, nourish the world and restore public health, prosperity and peace on a global scale.

 

Andre Leu is the International Director for Regeneration International. To sign up for RI’s email newsletter, click here.

Vandana Shiva: Bill Gates Empires ‘Must Be Dismantled’

In an interview with Dr. Joseph Mercola, Vandana Shiva says, “… if In the next decade, if we don’t protect what has to be protected … and take away the sainthood from this criminal, they will leave nothing much to be saved.”

In this interview, Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., discusses the importance and benefits of regenerative agriculture and a future Regeneration International project that we’ll be collaborating on.

We’re currently facing enormously powerful technocrats who are hell-bent on ushering in the Great Reset, which will complete the ongoing transfer of wealth and resource ownership from the poor and middle classes to the ultra-rich. Perhaps the most well-known of the individuals pushing for this is Bill Gates who, like John Rockefeller a century before him, rehabilitated his sorely tarnished image by turning to philanthropy.

However, Gates’ brand of philanthropy, so far, has helped few and harmed many. While his PR machine has managed to turn public opinion about him such that many now view him as a global savior who donates his wealth for the good of the planet, nothing could be further from the truth.

Gates’ stranglehold on global health

The magnitude of Gates’ role over global health recently dawned on me. I believe the COVID-19 catastrophe would not have been possible had it not been for the World Health Organization (WHO), which Gates appears to exert shadow-control over. Remember, it was primarily the WHO that facilitated this global shutdown and adoption of freedom-robbing, economy-destroying measures by virtually every government on the planet.

When then-President Trump halted U.S. funding of the WHO in 2020, Gates became the biggest funder of the WHO. As explained in “WHO Insider Blows Whistle on Gates and GAVI,” the WHO has turned global health security into a dictatorship, where the director general has assumed sole power to make decisions that member states must abide by, but according to a long-term WHO insider, Gates’ vaccine alliance GAVI actually appears to be the directing power behind the WHO.

The two — Gates and the WHO — have been working hand in hand pushing for a global vaccination campaign, and Gates has a great deal of money invested in these vaccines. We’ve also seen extraordinary efforts to censor natural alternatives and inexpensive, readily available and clearly effective drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, and it appears the reason for this is probably because they’re competitors to the vaccine.

Emergency use authorization for pandemic vaccines are only given when there are no other treatments, so vilifying alternatives has been a key strategy to protect vaccine profits.

The parallels between Rockefeller and Gates

As noted by Shiva, the comparisons between Rockefeller and Gates are quite apt. Rockefeller created not just Big Oil but also Big Finance and Big Pharma. He had intimate connections with IG Farben. There was a Standard Oil IG Farben company. Without the fossil fuels of Standard Oil, IG Farben couldn’t have made synthetic fertilizers or fuels.

In 1910, Rockefeller and Carnegie produced The Flexner Report, which was the beginning of the end for natural medicine in the conventional medical school curriculum. They eliminated it because it saw natural medicine as a hugely competitive threat to the new pharmaceuticals that were primarily derived from the oil industry.

Much of Rockefeller’s history has been captured by Lily Kay, who sifted through Molecular Vision of Life’s archives. There, she discovered that the Nazi regime, which was a eugenics regime that thought some people were inferior and needed to be exterminated to keep the superior race pure, didn’t vanish when Germany lost the war.

Eugenics simply migrated to the U.S., and was taken up by Rockefeller under the term of “social psychology as biological determinants.” The word gene did not exist at that time. Instead, they called it “atoms of determinism.” Rockefeller paid for much of the eugenics research, which ultimately resulted in the silencing and suppression of true health.

To be healthy means to be whole, and wholeness refers to the “self-organized brilliance of your integrated body as a complex system,” Shiva says. That’s what Ayurveda is based on, and even this ancient system of medicine has been attacked in recent times. The notion of genetic determination ignores this foundational wholeness, seeking instead to divide the human body into mechanical components controlled by your genes.

“Coming back to the parallels, Rockefeller was behind it because he was driving the chemical industry. When the wars were over, they said, ‘Oh my gosh, we have all these chemicals to sell.’ And they invented the Green Revolution and pushed the Green Revolution on India.

“Rockefeller, the World Bank, the U.S. all worked together, and if the farmers of India are protesting today, it’s a result of Rockefeller’s initiative, the Green Revolution in India. Most people don’t realize what high cost India has borne; what high cost the state of Panjon has born.

“Then you have Gates joining up with Rockefeller and creating the Alliance for the Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) … which pretends to be his solution to climate change. I say, “My god, what kind of stage has the world reached that absolute nonsense can pass the science?” I’ll give you just three examples from his chapter on agriculture, in which he talks about how we grow things.

“First of all, plants are not things. Plants are sentient beings. Our culture knows it. We have the sacred tulsi. We have the sacred neem. We have the sacred banyan. They are sentient beings. So many people are awake to animal rights. I think we need more people awake to plant rights and really tell Mr. Gates, “No, plants are not things.”

“He goes on to celebrate Norman Borlaug, who was in the DuPont defense lab, whose job it was to push these four chemicals by adapting the plants [to them]. So, he created the dwarf variety, because the tall varieties are free varieties … [Gates] says we’re eating food because of Borlaug. No, people are starving because of Borlaug. The farmers are dying because of Borlaug.”

Gates offers problems as solutions

Gates hails synthetic fertilizer is the greatest agricultural invention. “Doesn’t he realize synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are creating desertification, dead zones in the ocean and nitric oxide, which is a greenhouse gas?” Shiva says. In short, he’s offering the problem as the solution. Gates also, apparently, does not understand that nitrogen-fixing plants can fix nitrogen. He incorrectly claims that plants cannot fix nitrogen.

Gates is equally wrong about methane production from livestock. “Have you smelt methane behind nomadic tribes?” Shiva asks. “Have you ever smelt methane behind our sacred cow in India? No, they don’t emit methane.” The reason cows in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) emit methane that stinks to high heaven is because they’re fed an unnatural diet of grains and placed in crowded quarters. It’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s a man-made one.

“You know what Mr. Gates wants to teach us? He says cows make methane because of their poor stomachs,” Shiva says. “They call them containers. I think we should sue him for undoing basic biology 101. You’ve talked about how he controls the WHO. He’s also trying to take control of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

“[FAO] has recognized ecological agriculture is the way to go and supported [regenerative] agriculture up until last year, when Gates started to take charge. Now he’s moving the food summit to New York. Five hundred organizations have said, ‘This is no longer a food summit, it’s a poison summit. The poison cartel and Bill Gates are running it to push more poisons, now under new names. So, we have a lot of work to do.’”

The answer to the environmental problems we face is not more of the very things that created the problems in the first place, which is what Gates proposes. The answer is regenerative agriculture and real food.

“When people are eating healthy food, there is no problem,” Shiva says. “[Gates] wants to commit a crime against our gut microbiome, pushing more fake food through Impossible Food. And he wants to create conditions so that real food will disappear. That’s why we all have to organize together and the scientists have to start being protected.

“There’s an extinction taking place. They call it the sixth mass extinction. Most people think the sixth mass extinction is about other species. They don’t realize large parts of humanity are being pushed to extinction. Food is health, as Hippocrates said, [and that requires] indigenous systems of learning, ecological agriculture, small farmers.

“In Bill Gates’ design, all this that makes life, life, that makes society, society, that makes community, community, that makes healthy beings, he would like to push this to extinction because he’s afraid of independence, freedom, health and our beingness. He wants us to be ‘thingness,’ but we are beings …

“The worst crime against the Earth and against humanity is using gene editing technologies for gene drives, which is a collaboration of Gates with DARPA, the defense research system. Gene drives are deliberately driving [us] to extinction. Now he does it in the name of ending malaria. No. It’s about driving to extinction.

“Amaranth is a sacred food for us. It’s a very, very important source of nutrition … There’s an application in that DARPA-Gates report of driving the amaranth to extinction through gene rights. And when this was raised at the Convention on Biological Diversity, do you know what he did? He actually hired a public relations agency and bribed government representatives to not say no. Can you imagine?”

Gates’ long-term play

Gates clearly had a long-term vision in mind from the start. His growing control of the WHO began over a decade ago. Over this span of time, he also started transitioning into Big Pharma and the fake food industry, which would allow his influence over the WHO’s global health recommendations to really pay off.

While fake foods have many potential problems, one in particular is elevated levels of the omega-6 fat linoleic acid (LA). If you eat real food, you’re going to get more than enough LA. Our industrial Western diet, however, provides far more than is needed for optimal health already, and engineered meats are particularly loaded with LA, as they’re made with genetically modified soy oil and canola oil.

This massive excess of LA will encourage and promote virtually all degenerative diseases, thereby accelerating the destruction of human health. In addition to that, Gates is also investing in pharmaceuticals, which of course are touted as the answer to degenerative disease. Again, his solutions to ill health are actually the problem. Shiva says:

“Gates … [is] entering every field that has to do with life. Our work in Navdanya, which means nine seeds, is basically work on biodiversity in agriculture. We started to bring together all the work that he’s doing in taking over. I mentioned the Rockefeller Green Revolution, now the Gates-Rockefeller Green Revolution in Africa. The next step he wants to push is … digital agriculture.

“He calls it Gates Ag One, and the headquarters of this is exactly where the Monsanto headquarters are, in St. Louis, Missouri. Gates Ag One is one [type of] agriculture for the whole world, organized top down. He’s written about it. We have a whole section on it in our new report, ‘Gates to a Global Empire.’”

Stolen farmer data is repackaged and sold back to them

What does digital agriculture entail? For starters, it entails the introduction of a digital surveillance system. So far, Shiva’s organization has managed to prevent Gates from introducing a seed surveillance startup, where farmers would not be allowed to grow seeds unless approved by Gates surveillance system.

The data mining, Shiva says, is needed because they don’t actually know agriculture. This is why Gates finances the policing of farmers. He needs to mine their data to learn how farming is actually done. This knowledge is then repackaged and sold back to the farmers. It’s evil genius at its finest.

Through his funding, Gates now also controls the world’s seed supply, and his financing of gene editing research has undercut biosafety laws across the world. As explained by Shiva, the only country that doesn’t have biosafety laws is the U.S. “The rest of the world does because we have a treaty called the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety,” she says.

“While he created the appearance of philanthropy, what he’s doing is giving tiny bits of money to very vital institutions. But with those bits of money, they attract government money, which was running those institutions. Now, because of his clout, he is taking control of the agenda of these institutions. In the meantime, he’s pushing patenting, be it on drugs, vaccines or on seeds.”

Taken together, Gates ends up wielding enormous control over global agriculture and food production, and there’s virtually no evidence to suggest he has good intentions.

The anatomy of monopolization

The company that collects patents on gene-edited organisms, both in health and agriculture, is Editas, founded by a main financial investor for the Gates Foundation. Gates is also a big investor in Editas.

“So, here’s a company called Editas to edit the world as if it is a Word program. The two scientists who got the Nobel Prize this year have both been funded in their research by Gates. My mind went back to how Rockefeller financed the research, got the Nobel Prize, and then made the money.

“So, you finance the research. Then you finance the public institutions, whether they be national or international. You invest and force them down the path where they can only use what is your patented intellectual property. And, as he has said in an interview, his smartest investment was vaccines, because it is a 1-to-20 return. Put $1 in and make $20. How many billions of dollars have been put in? You can imagine how many trillions will be made.

“At the end of it, where does food come from? It comes from seed. He wants to control it. It comes from land. He’s controlling that. He’s become the biggest farmland owner [in the U.S.]. But you need weather [control]. You need a stable climate.

“So, what could be a weapon of control of agriculture? Weather modification. He calls it geoengineering. This is engineering of the climate. Again, making it look like he’s going to solve global warming by creating global cooling.”

As explained by Shiva, Gates is also heavily invested in climate modification technologies that not only will destabilize the earth’s climate systems more, but also can be weaponized against the people by controlling rainfall and drought. In India, they’ve been having massive hail during harvest time, which destroys the harvest.

Is the UN subservient to Gates?

According to Shiva, Gates is also corrupting the UN system, just like he’s corrupted world governments and the WHO, and in so doing, he’s destroying the efforts built over the last three decades to protect the global environment.

“Whether it be the climate treaty, the biodiversity treaty or the atmospheric treaties, he is absolutely behaving as if the UN is his subservient institution,” Shiva says. “[He thinks] governments and regulatory bodies should not exist … and that people in democracy have no business to speak. [If they do], they’re conspiracy theorists.”

Taking down Gates’ empires

As it stands right now, ordinary people are forced to fight battles that are in actuality rooted in institutional, structural and societal crimes. These crimes really need to be addressed the way Rockefeller’s Standard Oil empire was addressed. In the case of Gates, his empire is actually multiple empires, and they all need to be dismantled. To that end, I will be collaborating with Shiva and Regeneration International, which she co-founded, on a project to boycott Gates’ empires.

“I’ve noticed that no matter what the movement, they’re using the word regeneration now. It could be a health movement, a democracy movement, a peace movement, a women’s movement — everyone has realized that regeneration is what we have to shift to,” Shiva says.

“So, what do we need to be doing in the next decade? For me, the next decade is the determining decade, because these petty minds’ insatiable greed want to go so fast that if, in the next decade, we don’t protect what has to be protected, build resilient alternatives and take away the sainthood from this criminal, they will leave nothing much to be saved.

“The poison cartel is also big pharma. People think agriculture is here, medicine is there. No. The same criminal corporations gave us agrichemicals. They gave us bad medicine that creates more disease than it solves. So, Big PharmaBig AgBig Poison — it’s all one. And Bill Gates is holding it all together even more, and trying to make them bigger because he has investments in all of them …

“I think [seeds] is where we have to begin … I’m hoping that we will be able, together, to launch a global movement soon to take back our seeds from the international seed banks. The strategy is we need to remind the world that these are public institutions [and] that they’re accountable to the farmers whose collections these [seeds] are …

“On the food question, I think that’s the big one because food and health go [together]. In Ayurveda, it says food is the best medicine, and if you don’t eat good food, then no medicine can cure whatever disease you have. The best medicine is good eating. And Hippocrates said ‘Let food be thy medicine.’ So, I think this is the time to really grow a very big global campaign for food freedom.

“Food freedom means you cannot destroy our right to grow food. Secondly, you cannot destroy our governments’ obligations to us to support regenerative agriculture rather than support degenerative agriculture and subsidize it. And third, I think we should call for a worldwide boycott of lab foods …

“Another part of this should be, don’t let Big Tech enter our bodies. Let big tech not enter life sciences … These guys will make life illegal. Living will be illegal except as a little piece in their machine through their permission.”

Each year, Navdanya holds a two-week campaign on food freedom starting October 2, which is nonviolence day. We now need to take that campaign to the global stage, and I will do my part to aid this effort. So, mark your calendar and prepare to join us in a global boycott of food that makes you sick — processed food, GMO foods, lab-created foods, fake meats, all of it.

More information

You can learn more about Shiva’s work and her many projects on Navdanya.org. During the first week of April every year, Navdanya gives a five-day course called Annam, Food as Health, via Zoom. In this course, you’ll learn about soil and plant biodiversity and healthy eating for optimal health.

You can also learn more by reading the report “Earth Rising, Women Rising: Regenerating the Earth, Seeding the Future,” written by female farmers. And, again, mark your calendars and plan your participation in the food freedom campaign, starting October 2, 2021.

“When all the spiritual forces, all of nature’s forces and most of people’s forces are aligned together, what can [a few] billionaires, technocrats — who want to be richer than they are, greedier than they are, more violent than they are — do?” Shiva says. “They don’t count in the long run, really. It’s just that we cannot afford to not do the things that we can do.”

Reposted with permission from Mercola.com

Regenerative Grazing – Increased Production, Biodiversity Resilience, Profits and a Climate Change Solution

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Picture courtesy of Richard Teague

Around 68 percent of the world’s agricultural lands (eight billion acres as compared to four billion acres of croplands) are used for grazing. The majority of these landscapes are unsuitable for cropping. They are home to over a billion people who are dependent on the livestock that graze on them for their living.  These landscapes are often some of most degraded lands on the planet due to deforestation and inappropriate grazing practices.

The good news is that there are a range of grazing systems that are proven to regenerate these ecosystems, increasing ground covers, biodiversity, soil organic matter, water holding capacity, and production outcomes.

Adaptive Multi-paddock (AMP) Grazing

One of the most successful methods of managing weeds and improving the productivity of pastures is called adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing. In many of the current grazing systems, where the animals are not rotated across pastures and rangelands, the animals tend to overgraze on the species that they prefer and continuously eat them all the way down to the ground, even pulling them out by the roots. This devastates the most nutritious grasses and allows weeds and invasive species to proliferate. Too many grazing systems allow the stock to overgraze, leaving bare, exposed soil that ends up being eroded by wind and water. Much of the environmental degradation in arid and semi-arid areas (which currently comprise 40% of the Earth’s lands) is due to degenerative grazing practices.

AMP rotates a large number of livestock across smaller paddocks or delineating grazing areas for short periods, forcing them to thoroughly graze all the edible plants. Being massed together (mob grazing) forces the livestock to eat all the edible plants, not just their preferred species, resulting in a more efficient use of the pasture.

The higher stock density also ensures that weeds are crushed and trampled and that the manure is kicked and scattered across the ground, fertilizing the soil. The animals are then moved to another pasture or paddock and the process is repeated. There is a continuous rotation of controlled grazing in different pastures, and animals only return to the original paddock when the grasses and groundcover has regrown.

The key to AMP systems is intense, short periods of grazing that ensure that fewer than 50 percent of the available forage is eaten. This means that ground covers will not shed too many roots and will consequently recover more quickly. Research shows that these systems produce much more feed per hectare, are better at efficiently using rainfall, and significantly improve soil health and fertility. Farms managed with AMP systems can carry more stock per acre than those with fixed stocking systems.

Picture Courtesy of Christine Jones and Acres USA

Another very important benefit of these rotational systems is better control of internal parasites. Starting with clean stock is important. Most stock get infected from the eggs of the parasites in the bare soil. By always ensuring that less that 50 percent the leaf area is eaten, ranchers can prevent the mouths of livestock from being in contact with the eggs of the parasites. The other important management technique is to know the length of the lifecycle of the parasites and to not return the stock to a

Picture courtesy of Richard Teague

paddock/cell until the life cycle has finished. In some cases this will require a period of up to three life cycles to ensure that the paddock /cell is clean.

Researchers have demonstrated that the appropriate time-managed grazing systems will not kill a single plant and will increase the biodiversity of native plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms in the farm ecosystem.

Some of the most successful examples of AMP use multiple species in succession, such as grazing cattle followed by sheep followed by poultry, as each will tend to eat different species.

AMP grazing with sheep (courtesy of Google Photos).

Rotational grazing is also being use with many poultry species for both eggs and meat. Following cattle with chickens is a great way to spread cattle manure and to reduce pests and weeds, since chickens eat the bugs and weed seeds. Geese can also be very useful in managing weeds. Young Chinese geese can be trained to eat specific weeds by feeding these weeds to goslings when they are very young. They develop a taste for these weeds and they become their preferred forage. The geese will actively seek them out and graze them down.

 

AMP grazing with young poultry (courtesy of Google Photos).

The published evidence shows that correctly managed pastures can build up soil organic matter faster than many other agricultural systems, and this carbon is stored deeper in the soil.

Research by Machmuller and and others show that regenerative grazing practices can regenerate soil and ground covers in three years. The ranches studied increased their cation exchange capacity (nutrient availability) by 95 percent and increased their water holding capacity by 34 percent.

These grazing systems are some of the best ways to increase soil organic matter levels. Machmuller et al. noted that they sequestered 29,360 kg of COper hectare per year. This is an enormous amount of carbon dioxide being taken out of the air by photosynthesis and converted into organic matter to feed the soil microbiome.  Several studies show that the amount of CO2 sequestered from the atmosphere is greater than greenhouse gas emissions from livestock systems showing that scaling up regenerative grazing can help to reverse climate change. There are several soil carbon credit schemes that are paying farmers and ranchers for increasing soil organic matter levels.

Regenerative grazing can turn livestock production from being one of the major contributors to climate change into one of the largest solutions to climate change.

There are many farming and research organizations involved in scaling up regenerative grazing systems on every arable continent. There is now a considerable body of published science and evidence-based practices showing that these systems regenerate degraded lands and increase pasture species diversity thereby improving productivity, water holding capacity, and soil organic matter levels. There are numerous excellent books, websites, online social groups, and organizations that can provide detailed information on the most effective systems.

Some of the resource links are provided below

Regeneration International

https://www.facebook.com/regenerationinternational/

Books

Acres USA is a great online bookstore for Regenerative Agriculture

Another excellent publisher of books on regenerative and organic food and farming is Chelsea Green Publishers.

Chelsea Green published Ronnie Cummins’ 2020 book on Regenerative and Organic food and farming as a solution to Climate Change: Grassroots Rising: A Call to Acion on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal.

Professional Trainers/Consultants

Savory Hubs

Facebook groups – there are many more than these – search to find local groups

Soils4Climate

Regenerative Agriculture Group

Regenerative Agriculture to Reverse Global Warming

Soils For Life

Innovation in Agriculture

Andre Leu is the International Director for Regeneration International. To sign up for RI’s email newsletter, click here.

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International. To keep up with RI’s news and alerts, sign up here.