Syntropic Agriculture: Cacao, Costa Rica, Case Study

After organizing and attending our first syntropic farming workshop in 2019, our team at Porvenir Design knew that we were looking for just the right client to implement a larger scale system to learn more about these ideas. Finca Luna Nueva presented that opportunity as they were seeking to expand their existing cacao orchards and we had recently taken over full administration of their farm.

As part of this work we documented the transformation of the space during its first year and a half, from design and planning to implementation and feedback. This blog seeks to explain in detail exactly why and how we incorporated syntropic farming principles into the installation of a one hectare cacao orchard. It is also our chance to explore feedback, discuss what we would do differently in the future and hear from the larger syntropic farming community.

Special thanks to the Finca Luna Nueva farm crew: Carlos A., Jose, Eladio, David, Christopher, Frander, Nelson, Carlos R., and Walter for their diligence and patience.

Special thanks to Elena Valverde and Iva Alvarado for the photos and editing, Travis Wals for the video creation, and Alejandro Arturo for the graphics.


What is Syntropic Farming

Syntropic Farming is a process and principle based form of agriculture developed and propagated primarily in Brazil. Syntropic farming is a field within the larger domains of agroecology and agroforestry. Syntropic systems complement the food forest ideas within permaculture design by providing more specific design details, metrics, and arrangements that focus on precisely imitating the spatial and temporal relationships of the region’s native forest ecology. It has shown the ability to be scaled beyond many similar fields of agroecology. Syntropic agriculture provides a set of principles and tools for shifting from organic monocultures and input based agriculture towards a holistic focus on ecology. In the end it is a system that seeks to imitate the forest and results in a forest ecosystem.

This blog won’t attempt to define syntropic farming beyond this. The following links are key places to explore the topic.

Life in Syntropy

Agenda Gotsch

What is Syntropic Farming?












Finca Luna Nueva and a New Ecology of Agriculture

Finca Luna Nueva (FLN) is a farm and eco-lodge located in the Costa Rican lowland Caribbean slopes, near the town of La Fortuna and the famed Arenal volcano. It is situated down river of the Bosque Eterno de Los Niños. FLN was one of the first certified organic and Demeter certified biodynamic farms in Central America, focused primarily on growing ginger and turmeric for export to the United States of America. The farm was successful in this endeavor until the soil fungal pathogen Fusarium sp became such an issue that total crop loss approached 80%. In the following years the farm resources shifted toward tourism activities as the lodge pivoted to remain financially viable and create diverse revenue streams. The Porvenir Design team was brought on board in 2018 to begin re-vitalizing the farm with a new perspective in agriculture.


Why Adopt Syntropic Farming in this Context?

As FLN watched their turmeric crops fail following conventional organic/biodynamic approaches, they realized a new approach was going to be required on the farm. Their agricultural exploration shifted towards a focus on ecology, in particular the microbial health of the farm as a whole. Our team brought the additional perspective of creating systems which imitate forest ecology. For us, syntropic farming nests within permaculture design as a more organized form of agroforestry, integrating existing concepts of alley cropping, intercropping, keyline design and layout, and tree crop based agriculture.

FLN has a long history of pushing the edge of agricultural norms, being early adopters of many now-commonplace techniques and crops. They have the resources to trial new systems, so this was our chance to apply our new knowledge of syntropic agriculture in an opportune setting.

The Context of the Site

  • Elevation: 350 m above sea level in the Tileran Cordillera of the Caribbean slope.

  • Climate: Wet tropics, 4000 mm of rain/year average, driest season from January through May.

  • Watershed: San Carlos river watershed

  • Slope: Gentle slope toward the SE, drop of 12 meters from high to low points.

  • Size of Orchard: 1.1 hectares

  • Existing Vegetation: Pioneer species, early secondary forest growth, five to eight years of rest from any previous agriculture depending on the location in the site.

  • Existing trees, approximately 100, after thinning of overstory for timber crops: 1/3 timber, 2/3 fruit trees primarily breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) and mamonchino (Nephelium lappaceum).

  • Neighbors: The orchard is within the original FLN farm, within a short walk to the lodge and other hotel infrastructure; the syntropic plot also borders 12 hectares of protected forest.

  • History: First cleared in 1997 for ginger planting. Management and practices included certified organic and biodynamic preparations/amendments, crop rotation, fallow period, tillage with oxen, cover crops, and earthworks with vetiver grass for erosion control.


Goals and Decision Making in the Syntropic Cacao Orchard

The stakeholders at FLN are highly involved as advocates within the regenerative agriculture movement, hence the system needed to demonstrate the principles of regenerative agriculture. Carbon sequestration in particular was an important goal in the design of the system.

In addition, we recognized the privilege and resources available at this particular project and wanted to leverage them to create an experimental system, as far from monoculture as possible. We anticipated it would be a complex system to manage, and we knew the farm crew, with decades of experience, would be able to do just this. We understood that this would be a very labor intensive system.

The more specific goals of the farm were to grow food for the lodge’s kitchen, while developing a few export grade cash crops (turmeric, cacao, ojoche) over all time scales. The system was designed to have yields within six months through 50 years. Much of the specific species selected to fill in the ecological niches were selected based on seed which we could source easily at quantity in our bioregion.

The COVID-19 pandemic struck after the initial set up of this system and forced our team to minimize labor intensive activities. Since the beginning of the pandemic we adjusted our goals to focus on maintenance of the most valuable crops, like cacao, while minimizing maintenance of short rotation crops.

Orchard Design

Row Design and Layout

As can be seen in the below graphic, the system was designed primarily to accommodate the cacao crops. A rows, featuring cacao, are spaced at 5 meters distance, parallel and offset from an initial contour line near the top of the slope. In between these rows are B rows, and in between all A-B lines are C rows. The pattern looks as follows A-C-B-C-A-C-B-C-A-C.

In total there are 17 A rows, 17 B rows, and 34 C rows. The longest row is 129 meters, the shortest is 73 meters, and the average is approximately 110 meters long.

Syntropic Farming Costa Rica

A row detail

  • Cacao (Theobroma cacao) planted every 4 meters

  • Poro (Erythrina sp.) posts planted every 4 meters between cacao

  • Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan) was planted between each cacao and poro post

  • In a few select rows Sacha Inchi (Plukenetia volubilis) was established on these poro posts

  • Jack Bean (Canavalia sp.) was seeded throughout the rows, especially around the cacao planting location

B row detail

  • Tithonia diversifolia was planted every meter

  • Musa sp were planted every 3 meters

  • Pejibaye (Bactris gasipaes) and Ojoche (Brosimum alicastrum) were planted every 18 meters, with the exceptions of locations with existing overstory trees .

C row detail:

  • Turmeric (Curcurma longa) was planted in mounds every 2 meters, 150 grams of turmeric per mound.

  • In a few select rows only pineapple were planted.

  • Between turmeric, depending on light conditions and seed material, the following crops were planted:

    • Papaya (Carica papaya)

    • Pigeon Pea

    • Rosa de Jamaica (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

    • Jack Bean

    • Sun hemp (Crotalaria sp.)

    • Squash (Cucurbita spp.)

    • Yuca (Manihot esculenta)

    • Chili Dulce (Capsicum annum)

    • Moringa (Moringa oleifera)

    • Beans (Phaseolus sp.)

    • Corn (Zea mays)

Strata and Life Cycle

The below chart demonstrates how and where each plant fits within their expected time and space niches, as the system evolves toward maturity. In syntropic systems, plants are used to prepare the conditions for the next life cycle of plants. Hence Placenta species will be pruned or harvested out of the system to make room for the Secondary group of plants to grow to maturity.

Syntropic Farming Costa Rica

Plant and Other Materials

The following is an approximate list of the number of species put into the ground over the first year of this orchard:

  • 500 cacao trees of the following varieties: Buffalo 1, UF 613, UF 653, ICS 95, R6

  • 40 pejibaye palms

  • 40 ojoche trees

  • 450 kg of turmeric

  • 2000 Tithonia cuttings

  • 600 Musa sp seedlings

  • 3000 gandul seedlings

  • 20 kg of canavalia

  • 2500 pineapple (Ananas comosus) starts

  • All other noted species were planted at relatively small numbers by comparison.

Compost was applied to the base of each fruit tree and to the turmeric mounds. In total 2500 kgs of compost were applied

Mountain Microorganisms (MM) and other foliar sprays such as fish emulsion (Pescagro) have been applied to the fruit trees and turmeric periodically.

Two strands of woven electric wire were used to fence the entire site to prevent animal predation of crops, particularly that of wild pigs.

Implementation and Management Process

Our first step began with clearing the land. This process took approximately two months, and we laid out the orchard as it was cleared. We removed approximately 5000 cubic inches of milled timber with an oxen team in this process.

The first A row was selected from an existing contour line near the top of the slope. All lines were pulled parallel from this line. This allowed us to maintain equidistant spacing between lines but still approximate the natural topography of the slope.

A small part of the orchard was laid out and planted during our Permaculture Design Course, the rest of the work was accomplished by the FLN farm crew, six full time workers.

Plantings were done first to delineate the A and B Rows with Tithonia, Musa, and Poro in particular. The approximate calendar of installation looked as followed:

  • October-November 2019: Clearing and lay out of lines

  • November -December 2019: Primary planting to delineate lines

  • December- February 2020: Planting of long term overstory trees/palms, cover crops, and most shorter rotation crops

  • March – April 2020: Harvest of squash, beans, corn, and cover crop seeds

  • May 2020: Heavy pruning, planting of turmeric crop

  • June 2020: Planting of cacao trees

  • August 2020: Heavy pruning

  • December 2020: Cacao maintenance

  • February 2021: Heavy pruning and cacao formation pruning

This first heavy pruning occurred in May 2020 prior to the planting of the turmeric crop. This primarily involved pruning or removing Tithonia, Pigeon Pea, and Jack Bean to create more light. A second pruning occurred in August to open up additional light for the turmeric and cacao trees. A third heavy pruning occurred in February 2021. Ideally all planting would have occurred at the same time but was limited due to sourcing and logistical challenges.

Foliar sprays are applied every three months to at least the cacao crop. Specific pest control sprays are applied as the farm crew sees fit. It is important to understand that in this context, the farm crew has years of experience working within organic systems and has an understanding of remedies for in field issues such as insect pressure, bacterial/fungal influence, and more.


While the pandemic significantly reduced both the lodge’s demand for food and the farm crew’s hours, we have experienced significant harvests of existing breadfruit and mamon chino trees, bananas, and plantains. We harvested and continue harvesting smaller quantities of chili, pina, corn, beans, and yucca. The turmeric harvest will occur in April 2021.

IMG_4985 smaller.png


Feedback and Conclusion

Our team continues to take in a number of lessons from this installation and management. The following are from our notes on what we learned and would have done differently.

  • Parallel Offset versus Triangulation: When laying out the initial cacao tree planting holes, we expected to triangulate the trees from each other while maintaining the equidistant planting lines. After much head scratching, we realized this is impossible on a terrain whose topography varies even slightly. We could only do one or the other. As usual, it was a challenge to take something from theory and put it into practice on a larger scale.

  • Pest Control: Our workers stated very clearly that tuber, grains, and pulses would be easy food for nearby wildlife. We wanted to see if a more diverse system, with more regular human presence would deter this, but quickly found out that wild pigs don’t care about those ideas. We adjusted rapidly and placed an electric fence around the entire hectare. An alternative decision would have been to simply not grow these types of short rotation crops. There is a good argument to be made that the cost of the fence and its maintenance is not worth the benefit of mixing our long term perennials, which don’t need protection, with these short rotation crops.

  • Access: In hindsight we would have adjusted the line layout slightly. Around the halfway point of the slope we would have liked to add a wider access path and used this to find a new contour line and run the lower lines parallel and offset to this. We considered this at the start but in order to simplify the installation process, decided against it.

  • Seeding Logistics: We used a mix of direct seeding, bare rooting plants from in ground planters and establishing plants in bags prior to planting. There are distinct pros and cons to each of these. In general we feel that the more one can direct seed the better, but this requires a higher level of skill from the farm crew. We are continually working with our farm crew to determine what they believe are the most efficient methods.

  • Simplification: During our workshop in 2019, we were astounded by the complexity and number of plant species and interactions that were recommended by our instructors. We sought to replicate this, despite some hesitation, by incorporating 23 different species into this system. Many of these crops did not thrive because it was simply too challenging, in our context, to manage this complexity. Some of this was based on having too few plants, some based on COVID labor shortages, some on poor crop selection, and so forth. In a more recent 3000 sq meter vanilla orchard we simplified our syntropic system to around 10 species.

  • Limitations of Organic Certification: It has become clear to us in this process, and with another installation at a different site, that conventional organic certification does not match well with highly diverse systems such as this. We felt severely limited in the soil amendments we could use and the complications of documenting all the sourcing becomes a part time job for someone. Organic certification is clearly designed for input-based agriculture and not process-based agriculture.

  • Pruning, Light and Biomass Management: We found ourselves needing to heavily prune certain biomass species to open up more sunlight for the turmeric and cacao. Although many crops can adjust to shade, they really need lots of sun to start growing well. This management, the details of pruning, has been the most challenging piece to communicate to our farm crew, as we learn with them. In addition figuring out exactly where to place biomass on the ground has been a full conversation, as the biomass both helps with weed suppression but also makes clearing around young trees more challenging. These are the details which we will be playing with for years to come.

In summary, we are excited to keep learning about syntropic systems in the future and hope that this project can be a source of inspiration and learning for anyone else interesting in this realm. Come and visit the farm!

Young Urban Farmer Plots Growth of Regenerative Agriculture Endeavor

Chander Payne digs dirt.

The budding farmer’s fondness for linking humans to the promise of the oft-disregarded ground beneath their feet spurred him to launch a social — and earthy — enterprise as a high schooler in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

Chander Payne headshot

Chander Payne

His hands-on effort to connect farming with homeless shelters and schools in underserved communities has thus far delivered 3,600-plus pounds of fresh vegetables to residents of local food deserts.

Payne, now in college, named his city-centric endeavor Urban Beet. The ambitious effort to connect students with gardening, families with real food and everyone with the soil was awarded a Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes in 2020, the year he graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase, a top-ranked high school in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Colorado-based nonprofit affiliated with the prize annually recognizes 25 young, inspiring and public-spirited leaders across the United States and Canada who have made a significant difference to people, their communities and the environment.

Payne was introduced to the concept of regenerative agriculture at a summer job where he learned how pesticides and tilling had severely disrupted the natural carbon-capturing ability of plants and soil microorganisms. Reversing those modern trends can mitigate climate change in at least a couple of ways. Healthy replenished soil can store carbon underground, offsetting some of the emissions from fossil fuel power plants and vehicles. Urban gardens can also reduce what’s known as the heat island effect when they replace asphalt and other heat-absorbing hard surfaces.

These lessons led him to see his surroundings as a garden that needs tending. Beyond food, he wants his farms to offer joy, empowerment and healing to children.

“My work has led me to see the world as a regenerative farmer, to be perceptive and empathetic,” said Payne, now a freshman at Williams College in Massachusetts, leaning toward a major in environmental studies. “I envision a world where I walk into underserved neighborhoods and see colorful beets and tomatoes growing — a world where every kid has a close relationship with living soil and fresh food.”

Chemistry teacher Christopher Knocke was part of the team that nominated Payne for a Barron Prize. Author T.A. Barron established the prize two decades ago to honor his mother, Gloria, who labored for years to create a nature museum at the Colorado School for the Blind.

Payne’s idea for Urban Beet sprouted as a single raised bed filled with soil, compost and seeds in his high school’s courtyard. It’s still thriving and has expanded to 200 square feet, with an additional solar-powered vertical farm.

Now, the 18-year-old is executive director of what’s evolved into an LLC fueled by donations. His team of young go-getters has constructed farms at three high schools in suburban Maryland and five at homeless shelters and related facilities in the nation’s capital and Delaware. Urban Beet plans to create 10 additional farms in Virginia and elsewhere around the region later this year.

“I am eager to continue investigating the relationship between the well-being of soil microbiomes, families and farming communities,” he said.

In an interview with the Energy News Network, Payne explained how and why food insecurity, urban heat islands and soil degradation in his own backyard inspired his passion for global soil health and the climate fight. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What prompted your interest in growing vegetables?

A: It all started when I noticed food inequality at my high school when I was a sophomore. My classmates who ate in the cafeteria, typically those without extra money to eat off campus, had french fries as their only vegetable. That motivated me to ask to see the school kitchen. When I looked into the vegetable refrigerator, it was empty. I took a photo to remember.

Three labeled shelves for fruits, vegetables and dairy; the veggie shelf is empty.

Credit: Chander Payne / Courtesy

Q: The photo evidently had an impact on you. What did you do next?

A: I wanted to address the disparity in access to nutritious food, so I created a partnership between a local rooftop garden and my school’s food pantry in 10th grade. Previously, the pantry provided families with canned food. Soon, needy families had access to 20 pounds of fresh produce weekly. Besides lettuce and tomatoes, the harvests include beets, kale, corn, chard, okra and spinach.

Q: Then, you decided to get your hands dirty. How did that work out?

A: I spent the summer of 2017 building vegetable gardens around the District of Columbia for Love & Carrots, a local company. That’s where I learned the practice of regenerative agriculture, farming techniques that build healthy soil by sequestering carbon in the ground.

Q: And that, literally, laid the groundwork for what is now Urban Beet?

A: Yes. As the school year began, my aspiration was to make urban farming accessible. I wanted to help marginalized young people grow food regeneratively while sharing the soothing mental escape that gardening provides.

Q: How did you find like-minded classmates to work in that courtyard garden at your high school?

A: It was challenging because soil is not the most thrilling topic to all 16-year-olds. But I eventually assembled a dedicated team of nine. We called ourselves the Avengers of Urban Farming.

One of our first partnerships was with the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, a nonprofit. I invited them to receive produce by joining us on summer field trips to our regenerative farm. When we host community workdays at our farms, children enjoy their harvest as farm-fresh meals made by True Food Kitchen.

Q: You refer to soil as the silent hero beneath our feet. Why?

A: I have found the magic of soil. It connects everything, capturing carbon from the air and nourishing families. My love for soil is why my initial intention to fight food deserts through produce deliveries has transformed into a project connecting people with their environment and each other.

Q: You mentioned that your mentor from Paraguay at Love & Carrots, Manuel Rojas, showed you how to read plants as closely as scholars read texts. What does that mean?

A: I learned to relate the tiniest detail to the whole. For instance, a single wilted leaf on a sunflower can reveal a garden-wide need for water. Manuel’s lessons opened my heart and eyes as he inspired me to act with the compassionate vigilance of a regenerative farmer in other areas of my life.

Urban Beet’s Free Little Farms offered relief to struggling families during the coronavirus pandemic by offering portable container gardens. Credit: Chander Payne / Courtesy

Q: What are Free Little Farms, another offshoot of Urban Beet? 

A: These windowsill planters, complete with soil, seeds and a note of support, are created for families and people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. We partnered with homeless shelters and food pantries to distribute these portable container gardens and have donated 205 so far throughout the region.

Q: Does gardening or farming run in your family?

A: My “Namma,” or grandma, was my family’s original urban farmer. She grew up on a farm in Southern India where she grew food in harmony with the Earth. When she immigrated to America, she started growing a thriving garden.

Q: Lastly, you refer to yourself as a natural introvert. Did that make it hard for you to act on this project?

A: Nourishing young people with education and complete meals has taught me the beauty of courageous openness when communicating with others.

Reposted with permission from

Pastoreo regenerativo: aumento de la producción, resiliencia de la biodiversidad, ingresos y una solución al cambio climático

Alrededor del 68% de las tierras agrícolas del mundo (3,2 mil millones de hectáreas en comparación con 1,6 mil millones de hectáreas de tierras de cultivo) se utilizan para el pastoreo. La mayoría de estos paisajes no son aptos para el cultivo, sin embargo, son hogar para más de mil millones de personas que dependen del ganado que los pasta para su sustento. Estas áreas son a menudo algunas de las tierras más degradadas del planeta debido a la deforestación y a las prácticas inapropiadas de pastoreo.

Imagen cortesía de Richard Teague

La buena noticia es que hay una variedad de sistemas de pastoreo que han demostrado que regeneran estos ecosistemas, aumentando la cobertura del suelo, la biodiversidad, la materia orgánica del suelo, la capacidad de retención de agua y la capacidad de producción.

Pastoreo adaptativo multi-parcelas (AMP)

Uno de los métodos más exitosos para manejar las malezas y mejorar la productividad de los pastos es el pastoreo adaptativo de multi-parcelas (AMP). En muchos de los sistemas de pastoreo actuales, los animales no se mueven por diferentes pastizales y pasturas y esto causa el sobrepastoreo, ya que los animales se comen las especies que prefieren continuamente, incluso arrancándolas de raíz. Este sobrepastoreo elimina los pastos más nutritivos y permite que proliferen las malas hierbas y las especies invasoras. Existe una gran cantidad de  sistemas de pastoreo que permiten que el ganado paste en exceso, dejando un suelo desnudo y expuesto que termina siendo erosionado por el viento y el agua. Gran parte de la degradación ambiental en las zonas áridas y semiáridas (que actualmente comprenden el 40% de las tierras del mundo) se debe a prácticas de pastoreo degenerativas.

Mediante el sistema AMP se rota una gran cantidad de ganado por potreros más pequeños o se delimitan áreas de pastoreo por períodos cortos, lo que los obliga a pastar absolutamente todas las plantas comestibles. El estar en masa (pastoreo en turba) obliga al ganado a comer todas las plantas comestibles, no solo sus especies preferidas, lo que resulta en un uso más eficiente del pasto.

La mayor densidad de población también asegura que las malas hierbas sean aplastadas y pisoteadas y que el estiércol sea pisoteado y esparcido por el suelo, actuando como fertilizante. Luego, los animales se trasladan a otro pastizal o potrero y se repite el proceso. Hay una rotación continua de pastoreo controlado en diferentes potreros, y los animales solo regresan al pastizal original cuando la hierba y la cubierta vegetal han vuelto a crecer.

La clave de los sistemas AMP son los períodos cortos e intensos de pastoreo que garantizan que los animales se coman menos del 50% del forraje disponible. Esto significa que la cobertura vegetal del suelo no formará muchas raíces y, en consecuencia, se recuperarán más rápidamente. La investigación muestra que estos sistemas producen mucho más alimento por hectárea, hacen un uso más eficiente de la lluvia y mejoran significativamente la salud y fertilidad del suelo. Las granjas administradas con sistemas AMP pueden tener más ganado por hectárea que aquellas con sistemas de ganado fijos. 

Imagen cortesía de Christine Jones y Acres USA

Traducción imagen:

  • Uso del 50%: las raíces no dejan de crecer cuando se elimina el 50% de la planta.
  • Uso del 70%: con el 70% de la planta eliminado, el 50% de las raíces dejan de crecer por 17 días.
  • Uso del 90%: con el 90% de la planta eliminado, el 100% de las raíces dejan de crecer por 17 días.


Otro beneficio muy importante de estos sistemas rotativos es un mejor control de los parásitos internos. Es importante comenzar con el ganado limpio. La mayoría de los animales se infectan por los huevos de los parásitos presentes en el suelo desnudo. Al asegurarse de que el ganado nunca se coma más del 50% del área foliar, los ganaderos pueden evitar que la boca del ganado entre en contacto con los huevos de los parásitos. La otra técnica de gestión importante es conocer la duración del ciclo de vida de los

Imagen cortesía de Richard Teague

parásitos y no devolver el ganado a un potrero hasta que finalice su ciclo de vida. En algunos casos, esto requerirá un período de hasta tres ciclos de vida para garantizar que el potrero esté limpio.

Los investigadores han demostrado que los sistemas donde el tiempo de pastoreo es administrado de manera adecuada no eliminarán una sola planta y aumentarán la biodiversidad de plantas, animales, insectos y microorganismos nativos en el ecosistema agrícola.

Algunos de los ejemplos más exitosos de AMP utilizan múltiples especies de animales en sucesión, como el ganado de pastoreo seguido de ovejas y aves de corral, ya que cada una tenderá a comer especies diferentes.

Pastoreo AMP con ovejas (cortesía de Google Fotos).

El pastoreo rotativo también se está utilizando con muchas especies de aves de corral tanto para huevos como para carne. Incluir el pastoreo de pollos después del ganado es una excelente manera de esparcir el estiércol del ganado y de reducir las plagas y las malas hierbas, ya que los pollos se comen los insectos y las semillas de las malas hierbas. Los gansos también pueden ser muy útiles para controlar las malas hierbas. Se puede entrenar a los gansos chinos jóvenes para que coman malezas específicas dándoles estas malezas a los pichones cuando son muy jóvenes. Desarrollan el gusto por estas malas hierbas y se convierten en su forraje preferido. Los gansos los buscarán activamente y se los comerán por completo.


Pastoreo AMP con aves de corral jóvenes (cortesía de Google Fotos).

La evidencia publicada muestra que los pastos administrados correctamente pueden acumular materia orgánica del suelo más rápido que muchos otros sistemas agrícolas, y este carbono se almacena más profundamente en el suelo.

La investigación de Machmuller et al muestra que las prácticas de pastoreo regenerativo pueden regenerar el suelo y la cobertura del suelo en tres años. Los ranchos analizados aumentaron su capacidad de intercambio de cationes (disponibilidad de nutrientes) en un 95% y aumentaron su capacidad de retención de agua en un 34%.

Estos sistemas de pastoreo son algunas de las mejores formas de aumentar los niveles de materia orgánica del suelo. Machmuller et al señalaron que secuestraron 29.360 kg de CO2 por hectárea por año. Se trata de una enorme cantidad de dióxido de carbono que se extrae del aire mediante la fotosíntesis y se convierte en materia orgánica para alimentar el microbioma del suelo. Varios estudios muestran que la cantidad de CO2 secuestrado de la atmósfera es mayor que las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero de los sistemas ganaderos, lo que demuestra que aumentar el pastoreo regenerativo puede ayudar a revertir el cambio climático. Hay varios proyectos de créditos de carbono del suelo que están pagando a los agricultores y ganaderos por aumentar los niveles de materia orgánica del suelo.

El pastoreo regenerativo puede convertir la producción ganadera de ser uno de los principales contribuyentes al cambio climático a una de las mayores soluciones al cambio climático.

Hay muchas organizaciones agrícolas y de investigación involucradas en la ampliación de los sistemas de pastoreo regenerativo en todos los continentes cultivables. En la actualidad existe un corpus considerable de prácticas científicas y basadas en  evidencia que muestran que estos sistemas regeneran tierras degradadas y aumentan la diversidad de especies de pastos, mejorando así la productividad, la capacidad de retención de agua y los niveles de materia orgánica del suelo. Existen numerosos libros, sitios web, grupos sociales en línea y organizaciones excelentes que pueden proporcionar información detallada sobre los sistemas más eficaces.

Enlaces a algunos recursos:

Regeneration International y Regeneración Internacional (español) (español)


Acres USA es una tienda en línea de libros muy buena especializada en agricultura regenerativa 

Chelsea Green Publishers es una excelente editorial de libros sobre alimentos y agricultura regenerativos y orgánicos.

Chelsea Green publicó el libro de Ronnie Cummins del 2020 sobre los alimentos y la agricultura regenerativos y orgánicos como solución al cambio climático: Grassroots Rising: A Call to Acion on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal.

Instructores / consultores profesionales 

Hubs Savory

Grupos de facebook – hay muchos más que estos- busque grupos en su área 

En español:

Agricultura Regenerativa


Manejo Holístico Argentina

Biodiversidad en América Latina y El Caribe

En inglés:


Regenerative Agriculture Group

Regenerative Agriculture to Reverse Global Warming

Soils For Life

Innovation in Agriculture


Andre Leu es el Director Internacional de Regeneration International

Ronnie Cummins es cofundador de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y Regeneration International

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The Rodale Institute’s Soil-Carbon Solution and the Future of Regenerative Agriculture

According to a recent white paper from the Rodale Institute, global implementation of regenerative practices could sequester more than 100 percent of human-related carbon emissions.

One decade ago the United Nations Environment Programme predicted that in a worst case scenario, yearly global greenhouse emissions could reach 56 gigatons in 2020. And Rodale Institute’s paper notes that in 2018 total emissions approached this projection, reaching 55.3 gigatons. Global agricultural production accounts for roughly ten percent of these yearly emissions.

Despite this, Rodale Institute remains confident the world is already equipped with the tools it needs to achieve massive drawdown. The action paper assures that the technology necessary for a massive ecological rehabilitation is already available.

The paper defines regenerative agriculture as a set of farming practices that return nutrients to the earth and rehabilitate entire ecosystems, rather than depleting them. These practices include farming organically without synthetics and chemical sprays, diversifying crop rotations, cover cropping, and integrating livestock with rotational grazing.

And the Institute stresses the importance of incorporating these techniques into conventional farming in the hope that every farming model may make use of its most valuable tool: healthy soil.

The paper indicates that soil can contain three to four times as much carbon as the atmosphere or terrestrial vegetation. This implies that even small changes to the quantity of carbon stored in the soil can vastly impact levels of atmospheric carbon.

“There are very few cost-effective tools that work as well as the soil, that can be implemented across such a broad spectrum of topographies and cultures,” Jeff Moyer tells Food Tank. “We’d be amiss to not use this tool.”

Moyer says that cover crops, when grown to maturity, are one of the easiest and most cost-effective tools farmers can use to sequester carbon anywhere in the world. But this isn’t always a priority. In the United States, for example, activists say that crop insurance doesn’t incentivize farmers to take advantage of the benefits of cover crops. “We have very conflicting incentives, and we need to change that,” Moyer says.

Producers and consumers also have a key role to play. “If we don’t incentivize [regenerative agriculture] at the policy level, then we have to incentivize it from within the supply chain,” Moyer says.

Elizabeth Whitlow, Executive Director of the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA), says incentivizing regenerative farming and generating trust with shoppers may go hand-in-hand. In 2017, ROA created a certification, Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC), to incentivize regenerative practices from within the supply chain.

“We wanted to create a high-bar standard to demonstrate and clarify what regenerative can and should be: a holistic type of agriculture that regenerates resources and considers all players in the farm system, from the soil microbiome to the animals to the workers,” Whitlow tells Food Tank.

According to Whitlow, ROC surpasses what is required by most other certifications. To pass, farms must apply with a baseline of organic certification and meet strict requirements under each of ROC’s three pillars: soil health, animal welfare, and social fairness. Since its founding, the program has certified 15 brands through its pilot program, including Dr. Bronner’s and Patagonia Provisions.

Whitlow says brands will have a significant role to play in driving interest and investment in regenerative organic farming. While she believes consumers are ready to start making purchases in line with their values, producers may need a push from their supply chains.

“Growers operate on razor-thin margins,” Whitlow tells Food Tank. “To adopt regenerative organic practices, which carry more risk than chemical-intensive methods, growers need buyers that will pay a premium and commit long-term through the trials and tribulations of adopting new, innovative methods.”

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

Leer en español aquí


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


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


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.


Organic Farming Practices Could Boost Carbon Sequestration By Double-Digits, New Study Finds

While organic agriculture has long been hailed as key to building a sustainable food system, a new study pinpoints the critical role that it could play in combating climate change. In a meta-analysis of over 4,000 studies, researchers found that best management organic farming practices could lead to a significant double-digit increase in the amount of carbon captured in soil.

Organic farmers could be amplifying their positive climate impact by adopting the best agricultural practices to boost carbon sequestration. The study, undertaken by scientists at the University of Maryland in collaboration with Washington D.C.-based nonprofit research organisation The Organic Center and published in the journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, found that the amount of carbon captured in soil increased by 18%, while the amount of microbial biomass carbon storage went up by 30%.

Over 4,000 scientific articles were included in the meta-analysis led by Professor Kate Tully and Dr. Rob Crystal-Ornelas to identify the specific carbon-building techniques that farmers could implement.


Ethical Meat Standards Need to Be about More than Just the Animals

Most discussions around the ethics of meat center on the animal—raising, processing, carbon footprints, and packaging—while so often neglecting the people behind that process. Even Whole Foods’ widely popular quality meat standards focus on everything but the farmer and the workers.

If we are to reimagine the way we eat meat, and do so in a way that’s truly humane, we must apply ethical standards to all aspects of food production and acknowledge what is required to meet them.

The People

As COVID-19 laid bare, inhumane conditions in large meatpacking plants extend to employees. Forced to stand elbow to elbow in a pandemic, line workers fell ill in record numbers. Sick workers without benefits had to choose between infecting their colleagues or forfeiting their already low pay. Plants shut down one after another, halting the food production that people relied on, while leaving both sick and healthy workers without the means to survive. Meanwhile, big meat companies looked to replace jobs with automation, rather than address animal and employee abuse.


Will Regenerative Agriculture Change How We Grocery Shop?

Look for the word “regenerative” at your local grocery store. Chances are, you’ll spot it on boxes of mac and cheese, cartons of milks, or even bags of chips. Regenerative agriculture, also called carbon farming, has become the latest darling of everyone from food companies to universities to politicians. But what is regenerative agriculture? How do products made with these practices differ from others, and can buying them help consumers fight the climate crisis? Here’s what you need to know about this farming philosophy.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Ask 10 different people to define regenerative agriculture, and you’ll get 10 different answers. There is no one single definition, although several organizations are currently working to establish formal guidelines.

“The idea with regenerative agriculture is to make the land better than it was,” says Dawn Pettinelli, associate cooperative extension educator at the University of Connecticut’s Institute of the Environment.

In essence, regenerative agriculture is farming done in a way that helps build soil health, increase organic matter, store water more effectively, and draw carbon out of the atmosphere.


Cómo las mejores prácticas de agricultura y uso de la tierra orgánicas y regenerativas pueden revertir el calentamiento global


  • Los suelos de la tierra, junto con los árboles y las plantas, son el mayor sumidero de carbono después de los océanos.
  • Las prácticas agrícolas orgánicas regenerativas secuestran CO2 y lo almacenan debajo y sobre el suelo en forma de materia orgánica. Los policultivos perennes, la agrosilvicultura y la reforestación pueden mantener y aumentar el carbono tanto por debajo como en la superficie del suelo.
  • La implementación a gran escala de un pequeño porcentaje (5-10%) de los sistemas orgánicos y regenerativos que incluyen las mejores prácticas dará como resultado que miles de millones de toneladas (Gt) de CO2 por año sean secuestradas en el suelo y en forma de biomasa aérea continua y perenne. La identificación, financiación y despliegue de las mejores prácticas en el 5-10% o más del total de tierras de cultivo (1,6 mil millones de hectáreas), pastizales (3,2 mil millones de hectáreas) y bosques (4 mil millones de hectáreas) del mundo será más que suficiente para capturar y eliminar todo el CO2 y los gases de efecto invernadero (43 Gt de CO2) que se emiten actualmente, sin agregar  más CO2 a la atmósfera ni a los océanos.
  • Cuando se libera dióxido de carbono CO2 a la atmósfera por la quema de combustibles fósiles o por prácticas agrícolas o de uso de la tierra destructivas (actualmente equivalen a 43 Gt de emisiones de CO2 por año), aproximadamente el 50% de estas 43 Gt de emisiones de CO2 permanecen en la atmósfera (21,5 Gt de CO2 al año), mientras que el 25% es absorbido por la tierra, las plantas y los árboles (10,75 Gt de CO2) y el 25% restante (10,75 Gt de CO2) es absorbido por el océano. Por lo tanto, debemos comenzar a reducir 32,25 Gt de CO2 (y eventualmente más) de las emisiones totales actuales (junto con la conversión a energía alternativa y la conservación de energía), para alcanzar emisiones netas cero (eliminar o cancelar todas las emisiones que van a la atmósfera y a los océanos). Necesitaremos una reducción neta de 32,75 Gt lo antes posible, ya que nuestros suelos y bosques ya están capturando 10,75 Gt de CO2. Una vez que dejemos de agregar  más CO2 a los océanos (y la atmósfera), y continuemos por el camino de la energía alternativa y la agricultura y el uso de la tierra regenerativos, los océanos, los suelos y la biota podrán extraer cantidades cada vez más significativas del legado (exceso) de carbono en la atmósfera, que, a su vez, comenzará a reducir el calentamiento global de manera constante.
  • Regeneration International, una red mundial de agricultura orgánica y regenerativa, con 354 organizaciones afiliadas en 69 países de África, Asia, América Latina, Oceanía, América del Norte y Europa, ha comenzado a ayudar a promocionar las mejores prácticas mundiales y a coordinar el despliegue, la financiación y la implementación a gran escala de estos sistemas.


Casi nadie había oído hablar de la agricultura regenerativa antes de septiembre de 2014, cuando Regeneration International fue fundada por un pequeño grupo de líderes internacionales de los movimientos orgánicos, agroecológicos, de manejo holístico, medioambiental y de salud natural con el objetivo de cambiar la conversación mundial sobre el clima, la agricultura y uso de la tierra. Ahora, la agricultura regenerativa aparece en las noticias todos los días en todo el mundo.

El concepto de un movimiento de regeneración global coordinado se presentó inicialmente en la masiva Marcha del Cambio Climático en Nueva York, el 22 de septiembre de 2014, en una conferencia de prensa en la sede del Instituto Rodale. La conferencia de prensa reunió a una red global de agricultores, ganaderos, administradores de tierras, consumidores y activistas climáticos con ideas afines.

La primera Asamblea General de RI se celebró en Costa Rica en 2015 con participantes de todos los continentes. En cinco años, Regeneration International ha crecido y ya cuenta con 354 organizaciones afiliadas en 69 países de África, Asia, América Latina, Oceanía, América del Norte y Europa. RI y nuestros aliados hemos tenido éxito en la promoción del concepto de agricultura regenerativa como un sistema revolucionario para la restauración de ecosistemas y la captura de dióxido de carbono a una escala y un cronograma apropiados para nuestra actual emergencia climática.

¿Por qué la agricultura regenerativa?

La agricultura regenerativa se basa en una variedad de prácticas agrícolas, ganaderas y de uso de la tierra que utilizan la fotosíntesis de las plantas y los árboles para capturar CO2 y almacenarlo por debajo y en la superficie del suelo. La agricultura regenerativa se está utilizando ahora como un término genérico para los muchos sistemas agrícolas que utilizan técnicas como rotaciones más largas, cultivos de cobertura, abonos verdes, leguminosas, composta, fertilizantes orgánicos, manejo holístico del ganado y agrosilvicultura. Sin embargo, Regeneration International cree que la verdadera agricultura regenerativa debe ser tanto orgánica como regenerativa.

Otros términos que describen la agricultura regenerativa incluyen: agricultura orgánica, agrosilvicultura, agroecología, permacultura, pastoreo holístico, silvopastoreo, agricultura sintrópica, pasture cropping o método CCPP (cultivos de cereal sobre pastos permanentes) y otros sistemas agrícolas que pueden aumentar la materia orgánica / carbono del suelo. La materia orgánica del suelo es un indicador importante de la salud del suelo, ya que los suelos con niveles bajos no son saludables.

El suelo contiene casi tres veces la cantidad de carbono que la atmósfera y la biomasa (bosques y plantas) combinadas. La investigación a largo plazo muestra que el carbono del suelo puede ser estable durante más de 100 años, mientras que las prácticas forestales y agroforestales adecuadas pueden almacenar carbono en la superficie del suelo de forma continua.

La gestión del cambio climático es un tema importante que tenemos que abordar ahora

Los niveles de CO2 atmosférico han incrementado hasta llegar a 2 partes por millón (ppm) por año. El nivel de CO2 alcanzó un nuevo récord de 400 ppm en mayo de 2016. Sin embargo, a pesar de todos los compromisos asumidos por los países en París en diciembre de 2015, los niveles de CO2 aumentaron en 3,3 ppm en 2016 estableciendo un récord. Desde 2018 aumentó de nuevo en 3,3 ppm para establecer un nuevo récord de 415,3 ppm en mayo de 2019. A pesar del cierre económico mundial como respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19, los niveles de CO2 aún establecieron un nuevo récord de 417,2 ppm en mayo de 2020. Este es un aumento masivo de emisiones por año desde el Acuerdo de París y muestra que en realidad la mayoría de los países ni siquiera están cerca de cumplir con sus compromisos de reducción de CO2 de París.

Revertir el cambio climático

417 ppm supera con creces el objetivo de París de limitar el aumento de la temperatura terrestre a 2 grados centígrados.

Para estabilizar los niveles de CO2 atmosférico, los sistemas agrícolas regenerativos deberán reducir el actual aumento de emisiones de 3,3 ppm de CO2 por año. El uso de la fórmula aceptada de que 1 ppm de CO2 = 7,76 Gt de CO2 significa que, como mínimo, es necesario extraer de la atmósfera 25,61 gigatoneladas (Gt) de CO2 por año. Pero en realidad necesitamos reducir 31,25 Gt de CO2 o más si queremos evitar que más CO2 caliente nuestros océanos ya recalentados y comenzar a reducir el legado de 417 ppm de CO2 alojado en la atmósfera.

El potencial de las “mejores prácticas” de la agricultura regenerativa

Existen numerosos sistemas agrícolas regenerativos que pueden secuestrar CO2 de la atmósfera mediante la fotosíntesis mejorada de las plantas y convertir este CO2 en materia orgánica del suelo a través de la actividad de las raíces y la biología del suelo: el microbioma del suelo. Otros pueden aumentar el almacenamiento de carbono sobre el suelo a través de prácticas forestales y agrosilvopastoriles / silvopastoriles regenerativas. No tenemos tiempo que perder en sistemas agrícolas o de uso de la tierra que solo capturan pequeñas cantidades de CO2. Necesitamos concentrarnos en escalar y expandir cualitativamente los sistemas que pueden lograr altos niveles de secuestro de carbono y restauración de ecosistemas, sistemas que sean apropiados y escalables para diferentes países, regiones, culturas y ecosistemas.

Los cálculos aproximados utilizados para los ejemplos a continuación son un buen ejercicio para mostrar el potencial de cambio a nivel mundial de estos sistemas regenerativos que incluyen las mejores prácticas para abordar la emergencia climática y comenzar a revertir el calentamiento global.

Sistema agroforestal de agave

El “proyecto mil millones de agaves” es una estrategia revolucionaria de regeneración de ecosistemas adoptada recientemente por un número creciente de granjas mexicanas innovadoras en la región desértica de Guanajuato, que ahora se extiende por todo México.

Este sistema agroforestal combina el cultivo denso (800 por acre / 2.000 por hectárea) de plantas de agave y especies de árboles fijadoras de nitrógeno (como el mezquite), con el pastoreo rotativo y holístico del ganado. El resultado es un sistema de alta biomasa y alto rendimiento de forraje que funciona bien incluso en tierras degradadas y semiáridas.

El sistema produce grandes cantidades de hojas y piñas de agave. Cuando se pica y se fermenta en recipientes cerrados, este material vegetal produce un ensilaje excelente y económico que sirve como forraje para animales.

Tener una gran cantidad de forraje animal fermentado a la mano reduce la presión para sobrepastorear los pastizales frágiles y mejora la salud del suelo, la retención de agua y la salud de los animales, al mismo tiempo que extrae y almacena cantidades masivas de CO2 atmosférico (270 toneladas de CO2 por hectárea almacenadas en la superficie del suelo de manera continua cada año después de 3-10 años.)

El sistema agroforestal de agave puede implementarse a gran escala en gran parte de las regiones áridas y semiáridas del mundo utilizando leguminosas y pastos nativos, y formar así sistemas agroforestales biodiversos altamente productivos que se basen en las especies nativas de cada región. El picado y la fermentación de las vainas de los árboles leguminosos, como el mezquite (que fijan nitrógeno y nutrientes en el suelo), agregadas al agave fermentado, producen un forraje para animales de alto contenido proteico superior a la alfalfa y a una fracción de su costo, todo sin la necesidad de irrigación o de productos químicos sintéticos.

Investigaciones recientes de Hudson Carbon muestran que este sistema agroforestal de agave puede secuestrar 270 toneladas de CO2 por hectárea (109 toneladas por acre) en la superficie del suelo por año de forma continua, sin contar el secuestro subterráneo ni la cantidad de carbono secuestrado por los árboles compañeros (494 por hectárea / 200 por acre).

Según la Convención de las Naciones Unidas de Lucha contra la Desertificación (UNCCD por sus siglas en inglés), aproximadamente el 40% de la tierra del mundo (4 mil millones de hectáreas / 10 mil millones de acres) son desiertos y tierras secas, principalmente en África, Asia y América Latina. Estas zonas sustentan a más de dos mil millones de personas y suministran alrededor del 60% de la producción mundial de alimentos. Si el sistema agroforestal de agave orgánico y regenerativo se implementara a nivel mundial en el 10% (400 millones de hectáreas) de estas 4 mil millones de hectáreas de tierras áridas y semiáridas, secuestraría 10,8 Gt de CO2 por año. Esto representa aproximadamente 1/3 de la cantidad de CO2 que se necesita capturar cada año para revertir el cambio climático.

El método BEAM

El método BEAM (Manejo Agrícola Biológicamente Mejorado), desarrollado por el Dr. David Johnson de la Universidad Estatal de Nuevo México, produce composta orgánica con una gran diversidad de microorganismos del suelo, especialmente material fúngico. Múltiples cultivos manejados con BEAM han logrado niveles muy altos de secuestro de CO2 y rendimiento. La investigación publicada por el Dr. Johnson y sus colegas muestra: “… un estudio de campo agrícola de 4,5 años promovió la captura y almacenamiento promedio anual de 10,27 toneladas métricas de C ha-1 año -1 del suelo al mismo tiempo que aumentó la disponibilidad de macro, meso y micronutrientes del suelo ofreciendo un mecanismo de secuestro de carbono robusto y rentable dentro de un enfoque de gestión agrícola sostenible más productiva y a largo plazo”. Estos resultados se están reproduciendo actualmente en otros ensayos.

Estas cifras significan que el método BEAM puede capturar 37.700 kilos (37,7 toneladas) de CO2 por hectárea por año, lo que equivale aproximadamente a 15,3 toneladas de CO2 por acre.

El método BEAM se puede utilizar en todos los sistemas de producción de alimentos basados ​​en el suelo, incluidos los cultivos anuales, los cultivos permanentes y los sistemas de pastoreo, y también en las regiones áridas y semiáridas. Si BEAM se implementara a nivel mundial en solo el 5% de todas las tierras agrícolas (2.500 millones de hectáreas o 12.000 millones de acres), secuestraría 9,18 Gt de CO2 por año.

El potencial del método “sin matar sin arar” orgánico biointensivo

La granja Singing Frogs es una granja hortícola orgánica y agroecológica que “no mata y no ara” altamente productiva con una rica biodiversidad en tres acres (1,2 ha). La clave de su sistema de cero labranza es cubrir las camas de cultivo con cobertura vegetal y composta en lugar de arar o usar herbicidas, plantar directamente en la composta, y una gran biodiversidad de cultivos comerciales y de cobertura que se rotan continuamente para eliminar las malezas, los ciclos de enfermedades y las plagas.

Según la Universidad Estatal de Chico, los niveles de materia orgánica del suelo (MOS) han aumentado en un 400% en seis años. Los Kaiser, fundadores y propietarios de la granja Singing Frogs, han aumentado su MOS del 2.4% a un óptimo 7-8% con un aumento promedio de aproximadamente 3/4 de punto porcentual por año. Este sistema agrícola es apto para más del 80% de los agricultores de todo el mundo, ya que la mayoría de ellos tienen menos de dos hectáreas o cinco acres. Si el modelo de la granja Singing Frogs se implementara globalmente a tierras de cultivos permanentes y arables, se capturarian 179 Gt de CO2 por año.

El potencial del pastoreo regenerativo

En la actualidad, existe un conjunto considerable de ciencia publicada y prácticas basadas en evidencia que muestran que los sistemas de pastoreo regenerativo pueden secuestrar más gases de efecto invernadero de los que emiten, lo que los convierte en una importante solución para revertir el cambio climático.

Además de secuestrar CO2, estos sistemas regeneran pasturas y pastizales degradados, mejoran la productividad, la capacidad de retención de agua y los niveles de carbono del suelo.

Alrededor del 68% de las tierras agrícolas del mundo se utilizan para el pastoreo. La evidencia publicada muestra que los pastizales administrados correctamente pueden acumular carbono en el suelo más rápido que muchos otros sistemas agrícolas y lo almacenan más profundamente en el suelo.

La investigación realizada por Machmuller et al. 2015: “En una región de extensa degradación del suelo en el sureste de los Estados Unidos, evaluamos la acumulación de C en el suelo durante 3 años en una cronosecuencia de 7 años de tres granjas convertidas al pastoreo manejado de forma intensiva. Aquí mostramos que estas granjas acumularon C en 8,0 Mg ha-1 año-1, aumentando el intercambio catiónico y la capacidad de retención de agua en un 95% y 34% respectivamente”.

Significa que han secuestrado 29.360 kilos de CO2 por hectárea al año. Esto es aproximadamente 29.000 libras de CO2 por acre. Si estas prácticas de pastoreo regenerativo se implementaran en el 10% de las tierras de pastoreo del mundo, secuestrarían 9,86 Gt de CO2 por año.

Método CCPP (cultivos de cereal sobre pastos permanentes)

El método CCPP o pasture cropping consiste en sembrar un cultivo comercial en un pastizal perenne en lugar de sobre un suelo desnudo. No es necesario arar las especies de pastos como las malezas o eliminarlas con herbicidas antes de plantar el cultivo comercial. El pasto perenne se convierte en cultivo de cobertura.

Este método fue desarrollado por primera vez por Colin Seis en Nueva Gales del Sur, Australia. El principio se basa en el sólido principio ecológico de que las plantas anuales crecen en sistemas perennes. La clave es adaptar este principio al sistema de gestión apropiado para los cultivos comerciales y el clima específicos.

Un excelente ejemplo del desarrollo del método CCPP y el método de 0 labranza “sin matar sin arar” es Soil Kee, una herramienta diseñada por Neils Olsen.

Primero, la cobertura del suelo / pastos se pasta o se cubre con mantillo para reducir la competencia de raíces y luz. Luego, Soil Kee rompe la masa de raíces, levanta y airea el suelo, cubre la cobertura del suelo / pastos en franjas estrechas y planta semillas, todo con una alteración mínima del suelo. Las semillas de los cultivos de cobertura / comerciales se plantan y simultáneamente se alimentan con un nutriente orgánico como el guano. Cuanto más rápido germina y crece la semilla, mayor es el rendimiento. Es fundamental proporcionar la biología y la nutrición a la semilla en el momento de la germinación y eliminar la competencia de las raíces.

El cultivo de pastos es excelente para aumentar la materia orgánica del suelo / el carbono del suelo. Neils Olsen fue pagado por secuestrar 11 toneladas de CO2 por hectárea por año, bajo el Programa de Agricultura de Carbono del gobierno australiano en 2019. En 2020, le pagaron por secuestrar 13 toneladas de CO2 por hectárea. Es el primer agricultor del mundo en ser pagado por secuestrar carbono en el suelo bajo un sistema regulado por el gobierno.

Si este sistema se implementara en el 10% de todas las tierras agrícolas, secuestraría 6,38 Gt de CO2 por año.

Reforestación global

Además de recargar y regenerar las tierras agrícolas, una parte importante de la regeneración de la Tierra y revertir el cambio climático será preservar, restaurar y expandir los 4 mil millones de hectáreas de bosques y humedales del mundo. Esta reforestación y forestación incluirá la plantación de hasta un billón de árboles en áreas deforestadas, así como varios cientos de miles de millones de árboles y plantas perennes en los 1,6 mil millones de hectáreas de tierras de cultivo (agrosilvicultura) y 3,2 mil millones de hectáreas de pasturas o pastizales (silvopastoreo) del mundo.

Se estima que la población mundial de árboles, que cubre el 30% de la superficie terrestre de la Tierra, es de tres billones de árboles, y se talan 15 mil millones de árboles cada año. Desde que los humanos comenzaron a cultivar, hace 10.000 años, aproximadamente la mitad de los árboles de la Tierra han sido talados y no replantados. Los bosques y humedales de la Tierra ahora secuestran más de 700 mil millones de toneladas de carbono y absorben, incluso teniendo en cuenta la deforestación masiva y los incendios forestales, unos adicionales 1,2 gigatoneladas de carbono neto. (White, Biosequestration and Biological Diversity, p.101) El poder de sumidero neto o de secuestro de carbono de los bosques de hoy asciende aproximadamente al 12% de todas las emisiones humanas actuales.

Si la “deforestación neta” (más árboles cortados, talados o quemados que la cantidad de árboles nuevos y saludables) pudiera detenerse en áreas boscosas, especialmente en áreas tropicales donde los árboles crecen más rápido y almacenan la mayor cantidad de carbono, y los bosques de todo el mundo se manejaran para aumentar la fotosíntesis y la biomasa a través de la reforestación masiva (y reduciendo los árboles por hectárea de las áreas boscosas favoreciendo que haya menos árboles pero más grandes y saludables por hectárea), los bosques del mundo podrían secuestrar cuatro mil millones de toneladas o más de carbono atmosférico al año, un 40% de todas las emisiones humanas actuales. Junto con la energía renovable y el cultivo de carbono, si detenemos la deforestación y reforestamos la Tierra con un billón de árboles apropiados para cada especie, y luego mantenemos estos árboles, podemos literalmente revertir el calentamiento global.

El Proyecto Ambiental de las Naciones Unidas (PNUMA) ha anunciado ahora un nuevo objetivo para la reforestación mundial y el secuestro de carbono llamado “Campaña 1 billón de árboles“. La ONU señala que hay suficiente espacio deforestado o vacío en áreas rurales y urbanas para plantar mil millones de árboles en el planeta, de los cuales se espera que sobrevivan 600 mil millones de árboles maduros. Y esta campaña de plantación de un billón de árboles no incluye los más de 100 mil millones de árboles adicionales que podrían y deberían plantarse en las 4,8 mil millones de hectáreas de tierras de cultivo y pastos de la Tierra utilizando las técnicas  de agrosilvicultura y silvopastoreo más que probadas que secuestran carbono, amigables con el ganado y que mejoran la fertilidad. El PNUMA advierte, sin embargo, que hay “170 mil millones de árboles en riesgo inminente de destrucción”, que deben ser protegidos para el almacenamiento de carbono y la protección de la biodiversidad cruciales.

Según el PNUMA, “la reforestación global podría capturar el 25% de las emisiones de carbono anuales globales y crear riqueza en el sur global”. Ya se han plantado más de 13.600 millones de árboles como parte de la Campaña 1 billón de árboles, que analiza y proyecta, no sólo dónde se han plantado árboles, sino también las vastas áreas donde los bosques podrían restaurarse.

La Campaña de 1 billón de árboles de la ONU está inspirada en parte por un estudio reciente del Dr. Thomas Crowther y otros, que integra datos de encuestas terrestres y satélites, que encontró que la replantación de los bosques del mundo (1,2 billones de árboles adicionales) a una escala masiva en los espacios vacíos de los bosques, las áreas deforestadas y las tierras degradadas y abandonadas en todo el planeta absorberían 100 mil millones de toneladas de exceso de carbono de la atmósfera.

Según Crowther: “hay 400 gigatoneladas ahora, en los 3 billones de árboles, y si tuvieras que escalar eso en otro billón de árboles, estaríamos hablando de cientos de gigatoneladas capturadas de la atmósfera – al menos 10 años de emisiones antropogénicas completamente borradas… [los árboles son] nuestra arma más poderosa en la lucha contra el cambio climático”, dijo.

Y las proyecciones de Crowther (10 años o 450 Gt de emisiones de CO2 que se pueden secuestrar a través de la reforestación global) no incluyen la enorme cantidad de absorción y secuestro de carbono que podemos lograr a través de prácticas agroforestales y silvopastoriles, plantando árboles, aunque solo sea unos pocos árboles por hectárea, en los 1,6 mil millones de hectáreas de tierras de cultivo y 3,2 mil millones de hectáreas de pasturas y pastizales a menudo deforestadas de EE. UU. y del mundo.

Acabar con la emergencia climática: implementación a gran escala

Regeneration International cuenta con 354 organizaciones afiliadas en 69 países de África, Asia, América Latina, Oceanía, América del Norte y Europa. Esto nos da la capacidad de trabajar con nuestras organizaciones afiliadas en todos los continentes cultivables para desarrollar y ampliar soluciones agrícolas regenerativas apropiadas para múltiples países y regiones.

La transición de una pequeña proporción (10%) de la producción agrícola mundial a estos sistemas regenerativos basados ​​en la evidencia y las mejores prácticas capturará suficiente CO2 para revertir el cambio climático y restaurar el clima global, especialmente en conjunto con un agresivo programa global de reforestación como la Campaña de 1 billón de árboles.

Si el sistema agroforestal de agave orgánico y regenerativo patrocinado por RI se implementa a nivel mundial en el 10% (400 millones de hectáreas) de las tierras áridas y semiáridas, secuestrará 10,8 Gt de CO2 por año.

El 5% de las tierras agrícolas globales regeneradas por el sistema de compostaje orgánico BEAM puede secuestrar 9,18 Gt de CO2 por año.

El 5% de las granjas pequeñas en tierras de cultivo permanente y arable que utilizan los sistemas orgánicos biointensivos “sin matar sin arar” de la granja Singing Frogs podrían secuestrar 8,9 Gt de CO2 / año.

El 10% de los pastizales manejados bajo pastoreo regenerativo podría secuestrar 9,86 Gt de CO2 por año.

El 10% de las tierras agrícolas que utilizan el método CCPP podrían secuestrar 6,38 Gt de CO2 por año.

El despliegue a nivel mundial de todas estas prácticas regenerativas y orgánicas de primer nivel en el 5-10% de todas las tierras agrícolas (incluidas las tierras áridas y semiáridas donde la siembra de cultivos y el pastoreo de animales son cada vez más problemáticos) resultaría en 45,12 Gt de CO2 por año secuestrado en el suelo y almacenado en la superficie de forma continua, que es un 50% más que la cantidad de secuestro necesaria para extraer los 31,25 Gt de CO2 que se liberan actualmente a la atmósfera y los océanos. Y esto no incluye el secuestro masivo de CO2 que es posible bajo la Campaña de un billón de árboles.

Estos cálculos aproximados están diseñados para mostrar el considerable potencial de implementar a gran escala estos sistemas regenerativos probados de alto rendimiento. Los ejemplos son soluciones “listas para usar”, ya que se basan en prácticas existentes. No es necesario invertir en tecnologías caras, potencialmente peligrosas y no probadas, como la captura y almacenamiento de carbono o la geoingeniería.

El objetivo de lograr tasas de adopción del 5-10% para estas prácticas regenerativas y orgánicas en todo el mundo es realista y alcanzable. Las prioridades fundamentales son educar a los consumidores y crear la demanda del mercado, identificar y promover las mejores prácticas regenerativas en todos los países y regiones del mundo, cambiar las políticas públicas siempre que sea posible (desde a nivel local al internacional) y luego financiar (usando dinero del sector público y privado), expandir y escalar estos sistemas orgánicos y regenerativos para restaurar ecosistemas, secuestrar carbono, regenerar la salud pública y eliminar la pobreza rural.

Es hora de continuar con la restauración de los ecosistemas globales y la reducción del exceso de CO2 mediante la implementación masiva de las “mejores prácticas” existentes de la agricultura regenerativa, la gestión ganadera, las prácticas forestales y el uso de la tierra. Todo esto es muy factible y alcanzable. Requerirá una inversión sustancial en capital natural de los donantes públicos y privados existentes y de instituciones nacionales e internacionales, pero obviamente “el costo vale la pena” en comparación con las pràcticas de siempre de nuestra actual “economía suicida”. Requerirá que las organizaciones de capacitación y las ONG relevantes lleven a cabo cursos y talleres desde los pueblos estadounidenses a Oriente Medio y más allá, a través de sistemas de capacitación de agricultor a agricultor impulsados ​​desde las bases, y apoyados por consumidores urbanos en todo el mundo. Es tarde. Pero todavía hay tiempo para cambiar las cosas.

La adopción generalizada de las mejores prácticas orgánicas y regenerativas debe ser la máxima prioridad para los agricultores, ganaderos, gobiernos, organizaciones internacionales, representantes electos, industria, organizaciones de capacitación, instituciones educativas y organizaciones de cambio climático. Se lo debemos a las generaciones futuras y a toda la rica biodiversidad de nuestro precioso planeta viviente.


Referencias / fuentes:

         Johnson D, Ellington J and Eaton W, (2015)  Development of soil microbial communities for promoting sustainability in agriculture and a global carbon fix, PeerJ PrePrints | | CC-BY 4.0 Open Access | rec: 13 ene 2015, publ: 13 ene 2015

Jones C, (2009) Adapting farming to climate variability, Amazing Carbon,

Lal R (2008). Sequestration of atmospheric CO2 in global carbon pools. Energy and Environmental Science, 1: 86–100.

Kulp SA & Strauss BH (2019), New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, Nature Communications, (2019)10:4844,,

McCosker, T. (2000). “Cell Grazing – The First 10 Years in Australia,” Tropical Grasslands. 34:  207-218.

Machmuller MB, Kramer MG, Cyle TK, Hill N, Hancock D & Thompson A (2014). Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter, Nature Communications 6, articulo numero: 6995 doi:10.1038/ncomms7995, Received 21 June 2014 Accepted 20 marzo 2015 publicado 30 abril 2015

NOAS (2017). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US), visitado 30 ene 2017

Rohling EJ, K. Grant, M. Bolshaw, A. P. Roberts, M. Siddall, Ch. Hemleben and M. Kucera (2009) Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles, Nature Geoscience, advance online publication,

Spratt D and Dunlop I, 2019, Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach, Breakthrough – National Centre for Climate Restoration, Melbourne, Australia, mayo 2019 actualizado 11 junio 2019

Tong W, Teague W R, Park C S and Bevers S, 2015, GHG Mitigation Potential of Different Grazing Strategies in the United States Southern Great Plains, Sustainability 2015, 7, 13500-13521; doi:10.3390/su71013500, ISSN 2071-1050,

UNCCD, 2017, The Global Land Outlook 2017, Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Platz der Vereinten Nationen 153113 Bonn, Germany

Global Agricultural Land Figures

United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  FAOSTAT data on land use, recuperado 4 diciembre, 2015

La cantidad total de tierra utilizada para producir alimentos es de 4.911.622.700 hectáreas (18.963.881 millas cuadradas).

Esta se divide en: 

Tierras cultivables/arables: 1.396.374.300 hectáreas (5.391.431 millas cuadradas)

Pastos permanentes: 3.358.567.600 hectáreas (12.967.502 millas cuadradas)

Cultivos permanentes: 153.733.800 hectáreas (593,570 millas cuadradas)

Cálculos del Proyecto mil millones de agaves

Según la UNCCD The Global Land Outlook 2017, casi el 45% de las tierras agrícolas del mundo se encuentran en áreas secas, principalmente en África y Asia.

45% de tierras de cultivos (4.911.622.700 ha x 45%) = 2,2 mil millones de hectáreas

2,2 x 270 t de CO2 por ha = 594 Gt of CO2 por año

Cálculos BEAM 

Un cálculo básico demuestra el potencial de implementar esta tecnología simple a gran escala en las tierras agrícolas mundiales. Carbono orgánico del suelo x 3,67 = CO2, lo que significa que 10,27 toneladas métricas de carbono del suelo = 37,7 toneladas métricas de CO2 por hectárea por año (t CO2 / ha / año). Esto significa que BEAM puede secuestrar 37,7 toneladas de CO2 por hectárea, lo que equivale aproximadamente a 38.000 libras de CO2 por acre.

Si BEAM se extrapolara globalmente a tierras agrícolas, secuestraría 185 Gt de CO2 / año. (37,7 t CO2 / ha / año X 4,911,622,700 ha = 185,168,175,790t CO2 / ha / año)

Cálculos de la granja Singing Frogs

Los Kaiser han logrado aumentar la materia orgánica del suelo del 2,4% a un óptimo 7-8% en solo seis años, un aumento promedio de aproximadamente 3/4 de punto porcentual por año.

(Elizabeth Kaiser Pers. Com. 2018 and Chico State University

“Un aumento del 1% en el nivel de carbono del suelo en el perfil del suelo de 0-30 cm equivale a un secuestro de 154 tCO2 / ha si se cuenta con una densidad aparente promedio de 1,4 g / cm3” (Jones C. 2009)

3/4 % OM = 115,5 toneladas métricas de CO2 por hectárea (115.500 libras por acre por año)

Este sistema se puede utilizar en tierras arables y de cultivos permanentes. Tierra cultivable / arable: 1.396.374.300 hectáreas más cultivos permanentes: 153.733.800 hectáreas = 1.550.108.100 hectáreas

Extrapolado a nivel mundial a través de tierras cultivables permanentes y arables, secuestraría 179 Gt de CO2/año (1.550.108.100 hectáreas x 115,5 toneladas métricas de CO2 por hectárea = 179.037.485,550 toneladas métricas)

Cálculos del pastoreo regenerativo

Para explicar la importancia de las cifras de Machmuller: 8,0 Mg ha − 1 año − 1 = 8.000 kg de carbono almacenados en el suelo por hectárea por año. Carbono orgánico del suelo x 3,67 = CO2, lo que significa que estos sistemas de pastoreo han secuestrado 29.360 kg (29,36 toneladas métricas) de CO2 / ha / año. Esto es aproximadamente 30.000 libras de CO2 por acre.

Si estas prácticas de pastoreo regenerativo se implementaran en las tierras de pastoreo del mundo, secuestrarían 98,6 Gt CO2 / año.

(29,36 t CO2/ha/año X 3.358.567.600 ha = 98.607.544.736t CO2/ha/año)

Cálculos de CCPP

Tierras agrícolas: 4.911.622.700 ha x 13t CO2/ha/año = 63,8 Gt of CO2 por año 

Cálculos de la reforestación global

El Proyecto de un billón de árboles


Andre Leu es el Director Internacional de Regeneration International. 

Ronnie Cummins es cofundador de Organic Consumers Association (OCA) y Regeneration International

Para suscribirse al boletín de RI haga clic aquí.

Best Practices: How Regenerative & Organic Agriculture and Land Use Can Reverse Global Warming

Leer en español aquí


  • The earth’s soils, along with trees and plants, are the largest sink or depository for carbon after the oceans.
  • Regenerative organic agricultural practices sequester CO2 and store it in the soil and above ground as organic matter. Perennial polycultures, agroforestry, and reforestation can sustain and increase both above ground and below ground carbon.
  • Scaling up a small percentage (5-10%) of best practice regenerative and organic systems will result in billions of tons (Gt) of CO2 per year being sequestered into the soil and into continuous, perennial above ground biomass. The identification, funding, and deployment of these best practices on 5-10% or more of the world’s total croplands (4 billion acres), rangelands (8 billion acres), and forestlands (10 billion acres) will be more than enough to draw down and cancel out all the current CO2 and greenhouse gases (43 Gt of CO2) that are currently being emitted, without putting any more CO2 into the atmosphere or the oceans.
  • Currently when carbon dioxide CO2 is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels or destructive agriculture or land use practices (currently 43 Gt of CO2 emissions per year), approximately 50% of these 43 Gt of CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere (21.5 Gt of CO2 annually), while 25% is absorbed by land, plants, and trees (10.75 Gt CO2), and the remainder 25% (10.75 Gt CO2) is absorbed into the ocean. Therefore, we need to begin to draw down 32.25 Gt CO2 (and eventually more) of current total emissions (in conjunction with the conversion to alternative energy and energy conservation), in order to reach net zero emissions (eliminate or cancel out all the emissions going into the atmosphere and the oceans). We will need a net drawdown of 32.75 Gt as soon as possible since 10.75 Gt is already being sequestered by our soils and forests. Once we stop putting more CO2 into the oceans (and the atmosphere), while continuing down the path of alternative energy and regenerative agriculture and land use, the oceans, soils, and biota will be able to draw down evermore significant amounts of the legacy (excess) carbon in the atmosphere, which, in turn, will begin to steadily reduce global warming.
  • Regeneration International, a global regenerative and organic agriculture network, with 354 partner organizations in 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe has begun to help publicize global best practices and coordinate the deployment, funding, and scaling up of these systems.



Hardly anyone had heard of regenerative agriculture before September 2014, when Regeneration International was founded by a small group of international leaders in the organic, agroecology, holistic management, environment, and natural health movements with the goal of changing the global conversation on climate, farming, and land use.  Now the topic of regenerative agriculture is in the news everyday all around the world.

The concept of a coordinated global regeneration movement was initially put forth at the massive Climate Change March in New York, September 22, 2014, at a press conference in the Rodale Institute headquarters. The press conference brought together a global network of like-minded farmers, ranchers, land managers, consumer, and climate activists.

RI’s first General Assembly was held in Costa Rica in 2015 with participants from every continent.  In five years Regeneration International has grown with 354 partner organizations in 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe. RI and our allies have been successful in promoting the concept of regenerative agriculture as a game-changing system for ecosystem restoration and sequestering carbon dioxide on a scale and timeline appropriate to our current Climate Emergency.

Why Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is based on a range of farming, livestock management, and land use practices that utilize the photosynthesis of plants and trees to capture CO2 and store it in the soil and above ground. Regenerative agriculture is now being used as a generic term for the many farming systems that use techniques such as longer rotations, cover crops, green manures, legumes, compost, organic fertilizers, holistic livestock management, and agroforestry. However, Regeneration International believes that true regenerative agriculture must be both organic and regenerative.

Other terms describing regenerative agriculture Include: organic agriculture, agroforestry, agroecology, permaculture, holistic grazing, silvopasture, syntropic farming, pasture cropping and other agricultural systems that can increase soil organic matter/carbon. Soil organic matter is an important proxy for soil health—as soils with low levels are not healthy.

The soil holds almost three times the amount of carbon as the atmosphere and biomass (forests and plants) combined. Long term research shows that soil carbon can be stable for more than 100 years, while appropriate forestry and agroforestry practices can store carbon aboveground on a continuous basis.

Managing climate change is a major issue that we have to deal with now

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been increasing at 2 parts per million (ppm) per year. The level of CO2 reached a new record of 400 ppm in May 2016. However, despite all the commitments countries made in Paris in December 2015, the levels of CO2 increased by 3.3 ppm in 2016 creating a record. It increased by 3.3 ppm from 2018 to set a new record of 415.3 ppm in May 2019. Despite the global economic shut down as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CO2 levels still set a new record of 417.2 ppm in May 2020. This is a massive increase in emissions per year since the Paris Agreement and shows the reality is that most countries are not even close to meeting their Paris reduction commitments.

Reversing Climate Change

417 ppm far exceeds the Paris objective of limiting the earth’s temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius.

In order to stabilize atmospheric CO2 levels, regenerative agricultural systems will have to drawdown the current increase of emissions of 3.3 ppm of CO2 per year. Using the accepted formula that 1 ppm CO2 = 7.76 Gt CO2 means that, at a minimum, 25.61 gigatons (Gt) of CO2 per year needs to be drawn down from the atmosphere. But in reality we need to drawdown 31.25 Gt of CO2 or more if we want to stop more CO2 from heating up our already overheated oceans and begin to drawdown the legacy 417 ppm CO2 lodged in the atmosphere.

The Potential of “Best Practices” of Regenerative Agriculture

There are numerous regenerative farming systems that can sequester CO2 from the atmosphere through enhanced plant photosynthesis and turn this CO2 into soil organic matter through the actions of the roots and soil biology – the soil microbiome. Others can increase above ground carbon storage through regenerative forest and agroforestry/silvopasture practices. We don’t have time to waste on farming or land use systems that only sequester small amounts of CO2. We need to concentrate on qualitatively scaling up and expanding systems that can achieve high levels of carbon sequestration and ecosystem restoration, systems that are appropriate and scalable for different countries, regions, cultures, and ecosystems.

The simple back of the envelope calculations used for the examples below are a good exercise to show the world-changing potential of these best practice regenerative systems to address the climate emergency and actually start to reverse global warming.

Agave Agroforestry System

The “Billion Agave Project” is a game-changing ecosystem regeneration strategy recently adopted by a growing number of innovative Mexican farms in the high-desert region of Guanajuato, now spreading across Mexico.

This agroforestry system combines the dense cultivation (800 per acre, 2,000 per hectare) of agave plants and nitrogen-fixing companion tree species (such as mesquite), with holistic rotational grazing of livestock. The result is a high-biomass, high forage-yielding system that works well even on degraded, semi-arid lands.

The system produces large amounts of agave leaf and root stem or piña. When chopped and fermented in closed containers, this plant material produces an excellent, inexpensive silage as animal fodder.

Having a large quantity of fermented animal forage on hand reduces the pressure to overgraze brittle rangelands and improves soil health, water retention, and animal health, while drawing down and storing massive amounts of atmospheric CO2 (270 tons of CO2 stored above ground per hectare on a continuous annual basis after 3-10 years.)

The agave agroforestry system can be scaled up across much of the arid and semi-arid regions of the world using native legume trees and grasses, to form highly productive biodiverse agro-forestry systems that are based on the native species of each region. The chopping and fermentation of the legume tree seed pods, such as mesquite (which fix nitrogen and nutrients into the soil), added to the fermented agave, produce a high protein animal fodder superior to alfalfa and at a fraction of the cost, all without the need for any irrigation or synthetic chemicals whatsoever.

Recent research by Hudson Carbon shows that this agave agroforestry system can sequester 270 tons of CO2 per hectare (109 tons per acre) above ground per year on a continuous basis, without counting below ground sequestration nor the amount of carbon sequestered by the (200 per acre) companion trees.

According to the United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) approximately 40 per cent of the world’s land (4 billion hectares, 10 billion acres) is composed of deserts and drylands, mainly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These areas sustain over two billion people and supply about 60 per cent of the world’s food production. If the organic and regenerative agave agroforestry system was deployed globally on 10% (400 million hectares) of these 4 billion hectares of arid and semi-arid drylands, it would sequester 10.8 Gt of CO2 per year. This represents approximately 1/3 of the amount of CO2 that needs to be sequestered every year to reverse climate change.


BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management), developed by Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, produces organic compost with a high diversity of soil microorganisms, especially fungal material. Multiple crops grown with BEAM have achieved very high levels of sequestration and yields. Research published by Dr. Johnson and colleagues show: “… a 4.5-year agricultural field study promoted annual average capture and storage of 10.27 metric tons’ soil C ha-1 year -1 while increasing soil macro-, meso- and micro-nutrient availability offering a robust, cost effective carbon sequestration mechanism within a more productive and long-term sustainable agriculture management approach.” These results are currently being replicated in other trials.

These figures mean that BEAM can sequester 37,700 kilos (37.7 tons) of CO2 per hectare per year which is approximately 15.3 tons of CO2 per acre.

BEAM can be used in all soil based food production systems including annual crops, permanent crops and grazing systems, including arid and semi-arid regions. If BEAM was deployed globally on just 5 % of all (2.5 billion hectares or 12 billion acres) agricultural lands, it would sequester 9.18 Gt of CO2 per year.

Potential of “No Kill No Till” Bio-intensive Organic

Singing Frogs Farm, located just north of San Francisco, California, is a highly productive No Kill No Till richly biodiverse organic, agroecological horticulture farm on 3 acres. The key to their no till system is to cover the planting beds with mulch and compost instead of plowing them, or using herbicides, and planting directly into the compost, along with a high biodiversity of cash and cover crops that are continuously rotated to break weed, disease and pest cycles.

According to Chico State University they have increased the soil organic matter (SOM) levels by 400% in six years. The Kaisers, the owner/operators of Singing Frogs Farm, have increased their SOM from 2.4% to an optimal 7-8% with an average increase of about 3/4 of a percentage point per year. This farming system is applicable to more than 80% of farms around the world as the majority of farmers have less than 2 hectares (5 acres). If the Singing Frogs farm was extrapolated globally across 5% of arable and permanent crop lands it would sequester 8.9 Gt of CO2/yr.

Potential of Regenerative Grazing

There is now a considerable body of published science and evidence based practices showing that regenerative grazing systems can sequester more greenhouse gases than they emit, making them a major solution for reversing climate change.

As well as sequestering CO2, these systems regenerate degraded pasture and rangelands, improve productivity, water holding capacity and soil carbon levels.

Around 68% of the world’s agricultural lands are used for grazing. The published evidence shows that correctly managed pastures can build up soil carbon faster than many other agricultural systems and this is stored deeper in the soil.

Research by published Machmuller et al. 2015: “In a region of extensive soil degradation in the southeastern United States, we evaluated soil C accumulation for 3 years across a 7-year chronosequence of three farms converted to management-intensive grazing. Here we show that these farms accumulated C at 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1, increasing cation exchange and water holding capacity by 95% and 34%, respectively.”

The means that they have sequestered 29,360 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year. This is approximately 29,000 pounds of CO2 per acre. If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on 10 % the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 9.86 Gt of CO2 per year.

Pasture Cropping

Pasture cropping is where the cash crop is planted into a perennial pasture instead of into bare soil. There is no need to plough out the pasture species as weeds or kill them with herbicides before planting the cash crop. The perennial pasture becomes the cover crop.

This was first developed by Colin Seis in New South Wales. The principle is based on the sound ecological fact that annual plants grow in perennial systems. The key is to adapt this principle to the appropriate management system for the specific cash crops and climate.

An excellent example of the development of pasture cropping / no-till no-kill is the Soil Kee, which was designed by Neils Olsen.

First the ground cover/pasture is grazed or mulched to reduce root and light competition. Then the Soil Kee breaks up root mass, lifts and aerates the soil, top-dresses the ground cover/pasture in narrow strips, and plants seeds, all with minimal soil disturbance. The seeds of the cover/cash crops are planted and simultaneously fed an organic nutrient such as guano. The faster the seed germinates and grows, the greater the yield. It is critical to get the biology and nutrition to the seed at germination and to remove root competition.

Pasture cropping is excellent at increasing soil organic matter/soil carbon. Neils Olsen has been paid for sequestering 11 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year, under the Australian government’s Carbon Farming Scheme in 2019. He was paid for 13 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year in 2020. He is the first farmer in the world to be paid for sequestering soil carbon under a government regulated system.

If this system were deployed on 10% of all agricultural lands it would sequester 6.38 Gt of CO2 per year.

Global Reforestation

In addition to re-carbonizing and regenerating agricultural lands, a major part of regenerating the Earth and reversing climate change will be to preserve, restore, and expand the world’s 10 billion acres of forests and wetlands.  This reforestation and afforestation will include planting up to a trillion tress in deforested areas, as well as several hundred billion trees and perennials back into the world’s four billion acres of cropland (agroforestry) and eight billion acres of pasturelands or rangeland (silvopasture).

The global tree population, which covers 30% of the Earth’s land area, is estimated to be three trillion trees, with 15 billion trees cut down every year. Since humans began farming, 10,000 years ago, approximately half of the trees on Earth have been cut down and not replanted. The Earth’s forests and wetlands now sequester over 700 billion tons of carbon, and currently draw down, even with massive deforestation and forest fires taken into account, an additional “net sink” of 1.2 gigatons of carbon. (White, Biosequestration and Biological Diversity, p.101) The net sink or carbon sequestration power of today’s forests amounts to approximately 12% of all current human emissions.

If “net deforestation” (more tress being cut down, clear-cut, or burned than the amount of healthy and new tree growth) could be halted in forested areas, especially in tropical areas where the trees grow faster and store the most carbon, and forests worldwide could be managed to increase photosynthesis and biomass through massive reforestation (and by thinning out crowded forest areas with thousands of trees per acre to hundreds of the healthiest and largest trees per acre), the world’s forests could net sequester four billion tons or more of atmospheric carbon a year, a full 40% of all current human emissions.  Along with renewable energy and carbon farming, If we stop deforestation and reforest the Earth with an a trillion, species-appropriate trees, and then maintain these trees, we can literally reverse global warming. 

The United Nations Environmental Project (UNEP) has now announced a new goal for global reforestation and carbon sequestration called the “Trillion Tree Campaign.” The UN points out that there is enough deforested or empty space in rural and urban areas to plant a trillion trees on the planet of which 600 billion mature trees can be expected to survive. And this trillion tree planting campaign does not include the additional 100 billion-plus trees that could and should be planted on the Earth’s 12 billion acres of croplands and pastures utilizing the tried-and-proven carbon sequestering, livestock friendly, fertility-enhancing techniques of agroforestry and silvopasture. UNEP warns however that there are “170 billion trees in imminent risk of destruction,” that must be protected for crucial carbon storage and biodiversity protection.

According to UNEP, “Global reforestation could capture 25 percent of global annual carbon emissions and create wealth in the global south.” More than 13.6 billion trees have already been planted as part of the Trillion Tree Campaign, which analyzes and projects, not only where trees have been planted, but also the vast areas where forests could be restored.

The UN’s Trillion Tree Campaign is inspired in part by a recent study by Dr. Thomas Crowther and others, integrating data from ground-based surveys and satellites, that found that replanting the world’s forests (an additional 1.2 trillion trees) on a massive scale in the empty spaces in forests, deforested areas, and degraded and abandoned land across the planet would draw down 100 billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere.

According to Crowther: “There’s 400 gigatons now, in the 3 trillion trees, and if you were to scale that up by another trillion trees that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – at least 10 years of anthropogenic emissions completely wiped out… [trees are] our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” he said.

And Crowther’s projections (10 years or 450 Gt of CO2 emissions that can be sequestered via global reforestation) do not include the massive amount of carbon drawdown and sequestration we can achieve through agroforestry and silvopasture practices, planting trees, if only a few trees per acre, on the US and the world’s often deforested 4 billion acres of croplands and 8 billion acres of pasturelands, rangelands, and pastures.

Ending the Climate Emergency- Scaling Up

Regeneration International has 354 partner organizations in 69 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe. This gives us the ability work with our partner organizations on every arable continent to develop and scale up appropriate regenerative agricultural solutions for multiple countries and regions.

Transitioning a small proportion (10%) of global agricultural production to these evidence based, best-practice, regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate, especially in conjunction with an aggressive global reforestation program such as the Trillion Tree Campaign.

If the RI-sponsored organic and regenerative agave agroforestry system is deployed globally on 10% (400 million hectares) of arid and semi-arid drylands, it will sequester 10.8 Gt of CO2 per year.

Five percent of global agricultural lands regenerated by the BEAM organic compost system can sequester 9.18 Gt of CO2 per year.

Five percent of small holder farms across arable and permanent crop lands using Singing Frogs Farm’s biointensive organic No Kill No Till systems could sequester 8.9 Gt of CO2/yr.

Ten percent of grasslands under regenerative grazing could sequester 9.86 Gt of CO2 per year.

10% of agricultural lands using pasture cropping could sequester 6.38 Gt of CO2 per year.

The deployment of all of these regenerative and organic best practices across the world on 5-10% of all agricultural lands (including arid and semi-arid lands where raising crops and grazing animals are increasingly problematic) would result in 45.12  Gt of CO2 per year being sequestered into the soil, and stored aboveground on a continuous basis, which is 50% more than the amount of sequestration needed to drawdown the 31.25 Gt of CO2 that is currently being released into the atmosphere and the oceans. And this does not include the massive CO2 sequestration that is possible under the Trillion Tree Campaign.

These back of the envelope calculations are designed to show the considerable potential of scaling up proven high performing regenerative systems. The examples are ‘shovel ready’ solutions as they are based on existing practices. There is no need to invest in expensive, potentially dangerous and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage or geo-engineering.

Aiming to achieve 5-10% adoption rates for these regenerative and organic practices across the globe is realistic and achievable. The critical priorities are to educate consumers and build market demand, identify and promote regenerative best practices in all the countries and regions of the world, change public policies wherever possible (from the local to the international level) and then fund (through private and public money), expand, and scale up these regenerative and organic systems to restore ecosystems, sequester carbon, regenerate public health and eliminate rural poverty.

It is time to get on with restoring global ecosystems and drawing down excess CO2  by scaling up the existing “best practices” regenerative agriculture, livestock management, forest practices, and land use. All of this is very doable and achievable. It will require substantial investment in natural capital from existing private and public funders and national and international institutions, but it is obviously “worth the cost” compared to the business as usual of our current “suicide economy.” It will require training organizations and relevant NGOs to run courses and workshops from Main Street to the Middle East and beyond, scaled up through grassroots-powered farmer to farmer training systems, and supported by urban consumers across the world. The hour is late. But there is still time to turn things around.

The widespread adoption of best practice regenerative and organic practices should be the highest priority for farmers, ranchers, governments, international organizations, elected representatives, industry, training organizations, educational institutions and climate change organizations. We owe this to future generations and to all the rich biodiversity on our precious living planet.



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McCosker, T. (2000). “Cell Grazing – The First 10 Years in Australia,” Tropical Grasslands. 34:  207-218.

Machmuller MB, Kramer MG, Cyle TK, Hill N, Hancock D & Thompson A (2014). Emerging land use practices rapidly increase soil organic matter, Nature Communications 6, Article number: 6995 doi:10.1038/ncomms7995, Received 21 June 2014 Accepted 20 March 2015 Published 30 April 2015

NOAS (2017). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (US), Accessed Jan 30 2017

Rohling EJ, K. Grant, M. Bolshaw, A. P. Roberts, M. Siddall, Ch. Hemleben and M. Kucera (2009) Antarctic temperature and global sea level closely coupled over the past five glacial cycles, Nature Geoscience, advance online publication,

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UNCCD, 2017, The Global Land Outlook 2017, Secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Platz der Vereinten Nationen 153113 Bonn, Germany

Global Agricultural Land Figures

United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  FAOSTAT data on land use, retrieved December 4, 2015

The total amount of land used to produce food is 4,911,622,700 Hectares (18,963,881 square miles).

This is divided into:

Arable/Crop land: 1,396,374,300 Hectares (5,391,431 square miles)

Permanent pastures: 3,358,567,600 Hectares (12,967,502 square miles)

Permanent crops: 153,733,800 Hectares (593,570 square miles)

The Billion Agave Project Calculations

According to the UNCCD The Global Land Outlook 2017, almost 45 per cent of the world’s agricultural land is located on drylands, mainly in Africa and Asia.

45% of croplands (4,911,622,700 ha x 45%) = 2.2 billion Hectares

2.2 x 270 tons of CO2 per ha = 594 Gt of CO2 per year

BEAM Calculations

A basic calculation shows the potential of scaling up this simple technology across the global agricultural lands. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2 which means that 10.27 metric tons soil carbon = 37.7 metric tons of CO2 per hectare per year (t CO2/ha/yr). This means BEAM can sequester 37.7 tons of CO2 per hectare which is approximately 38,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 185 Gt of CO2/yr. (37.7 t CO2/ha/yr X 4,911,622,700 ha = 185,168,175,790t CO2/ha/yr)

Singing Frogs Farm Calculations

The Kaisers have managed to increase their soil organic matter from 2.4% to an optimal 7-8% in just six years, an average increase of about 3/4 of a percentage point per year (Elizabeth Kaiser Pers. Com. 2018 and Chico State University

“An increase of 1% in the level of soil carbon in the 0-30cm soil profile equates to sequestration of 154 tCO2/ha if an average bulk density of 1.4 g/cm3” (Jones C. 2009)

3/4 % OM = 115.5 metric tons of CO2 per hectare (115,500 pounds an acre per year)

This system can be used on arable and permanent crop lands. Arable/Crop land: 1,396,374,300 Hectares plus Permanent crops: 153,733,800 Hectares = 1,550,108,100 Hectares

Extrapolated globally across arable and permanent crop lands it would sequester 179 Gt of CO2/yr (1,550,108,100 Hectares x 115.5 metric tons of CO2 per hectare = 179,037,485,550 metric tons)

Regenerative Grazing Calculations

To explain the significance of Machmuller’s figures: 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1 = 8,000 kgs of carbon being stored in the soil per hectare per year. Soil Organic Carbon x 3.67 = CO2, which means that these grazing systems have sequestered 29,360 kgs (29.36 metric tons) of CO2/ha/yr. This is approximately 30,000 pounds of CO2 per acre.

If these regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.6 Gt CO2/yr.

(29.36t CO2/ha/yr X 3,358,567,600 ha = 98,607,544,736t CO2/ha/yr)

Pasture Cropping Calculations

Agricultural lands 4,911,622,700 ha x 13t CO2/ha/yr = 63.8 Gt of CO2 per year

Global Reforestation Calculations

The Trillion Tree Project


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.