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We Can Partner With Nature To Feed Everybody

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin is transforming the food system from the ground up by introducing poultry-powered, planet-cooling, regenerative agriculture. He talks about the need to rebalance humanity’s relationship with nature with Pip Wheaton, Ashoka’s co-lead of Planet & Climate.

Pip Wheaton: Why do you do this work?

Regionaldo Haslett-Marroquin: I came into this because of people’s suffering. I’m an agronomist; I’m passionate about nature. I believe I understand how nature operates, and how we can be partners with nature to feed everybody. The current system isn’t doing that. As a consequence, the way people live, the quality of people’s lives because of the food they eat, is impacted. Consumers are sick from conventional foods; diet related diseases, diabetes, heart disease. Minorities are more severely affected because of the way food reaches minority communities all around the world. Whether it is indigenous communities in Guatemala and Mexico, or African Americans or Hispanic or other minorities in the United States, or minorities in other countries, they’re the ones at the tail end. The people who hoard are normally able to have access to everything, but it is at the expense of the majority having real scarcity.

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Livestock: A Powerful Tool

“Everything we humans do is 1,000% dependent on agriculture. Yet if you looked at our world from space you would consider us a desert-making species.”

That blunt observation comes from Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean ecologist, livestock farmer, and president and co-founder of the Savory Institute. He offers a remedy, however, for what he describes as the “desertification” of much of our planet: livestock grazing.

Letting Forests Regrow Naturally Is a Simple yet Effective Way to Fight Climate Change

  • The potential rates of carbon capture from natural forest regrowth are far higher than previously estimated.
  • Letting forests regrow naturally has the potential to absorb up to 8.9 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year through 2050.
  • This is the equivalent of 23% of global CO2 emissions and will be on top of the 30% currently absorbed by existing forests.

There’s increasing recognition of how nature can help tackle the climate crisis. From protecting standing forests to planting new trees, forests offer significant climate mitigation benefits. Now, new research shows that letting forests regrow on their own could be a secret weapon to fighting climate change.

Experts at WRI, The Nature Conservancy and other institutions mapped potential rates of carbon capture from “natural forest regrowth,” a restoration method distinct from active tree-planting, where trees are allowed to grow back on lands previously cleared for agriculture and other purposes.

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‘Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution’: New Paper Outlines Vision for Climate Action

A white paper out Friday declares that “there is hope right beneath our feet” to address the climate crisis as it touts regenerative agriculture as a “win-win-win” solution to tackling runaway carbon emissions.

“Humans broke the planet with grave agricultural malpractice,” Tom Newmark, chairman of The Carbon Underground and a contributor to the research, said in a statement. “With this white paper, Rodale Institute shows us how regenerative agriculture has the potential to repair that damage and actually reverse some of the threatening impacts of our climate crisis.”

“This is a compelling call to action!” he added.

Released by the Rodale Institute and entitled Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution (pdf), the white paper discusses how a transformation of current widespread agricultural practices—which now contribute indirectly and directly to the climate crisis—”can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.”

The findings are based on Rodale’s own trials, research data, and interviews with experts, and build upon the institute’s 2014 paper Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming.

The claim made in the new paper is bold: “Data from farming and grazing studies show the power of exemplary regenerative systems that, if achieved globally, would drawdown more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.”

Regenerative agriculture, as the researchers describe, represents “a system of farming principles that rehabilitates the entire ecosystem and enhances natural resources, rather than depleting them.”

In contrast to industrial practices dependent upon monocultures, extensive tillage, pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers, a regenerative approach uses, at minimum, seven practices which aim to boost biodiversity both above and underground and make possible carbon sequestration in soil.

  • Diversifying crop rotations
  • Planting cover crops, green manures, and perennials
  • Retaining crop residues
  • Using natural sources of fertilizer, such as compost
  • Employing highly managed grazing and/or integrating crops and livestock
  • Reducing tillage frequency and depth
  • Eliminating synthetic chemicals

While passers-by may easily spot visual differences above ground between the divergent agricultural approaches, what’s happening below ground is also vital. From the paper:

Contrary to previous thought, it’s not the recalcitrant plant material that persists and creates long-term soil carbon stores, instead it’s the microbes who process this plant matter that are most responsible for soil carbon sequestration. Stable soil carbon is formed mostly by microbial necromass (dead biomass) bonded to minerals (silt and clay) in the soil. Long term carbon storage is dependent on the protection of the microbially-derived carbon from decomposition.

As for claims such as agricultural transformation wouldn’t be able to produce enough food, the paper counters: “Actual yields in well-designed regenerative organic systems, rather than agglomerated averages, have been shown to outcompete conventional yields for almost all food crops including corn, wheat, rice, soybean, and sunflower.”

But that is far from the only benefit. “When compared to conventional industrial agriculture,” the authors write, “regenerative systems improve”:

  • Biodiversity abundance and species richness
  • Soil health, including soil carbon
  • Pesticide impacts on food and ecosystems
  • Total farm outputs
  • Nutrient density of outputs
  • Resilience to climate shocks
  • Provision of ecosystem services
  • Resource use efficiency
  • Job creation and farmworker welfare
  • Farm profitability
  • Rural community revitalization

Rather than framing it as a “wake-up call,” the institute says the paper should be seen as an “invitation to journey in a new direction.”

“It is intended to be both a road map to change and a call to action to follow a new path,” the authors write. “One led by science and blazed by farmers and ranchers across the globe.”

“Together we both sound the alarm and proclaim the regenerative farming solution: It’s time to start our journey with a brighter future for our planet and ourselves as the destination,” the paper states.

Resources accompanying the white paper include a sample letter to members of Congress to urge support for the Agriculture Resilience Act (H.R. 5861), introduced in February by Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and a “buyer’s guide to regenerative food” to help decipher food labels and questions to ask suppliers at farmers’ markets.

“A vast amount of data on the carbon sequestration potential of agricultural soils has been published, including from Rodale Institute, and recent findings are starting to reinforce the benefits of regenerative agricultural practices in the fight against the climate crisis,” said Dr. Andrew Smith, COO and chief scientist of Rodale Institute.

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams

La edad del suelo influye mucho menos en un ecosistema que los cambios ambientales

En un comunicado, este organismo científico ha señalado que en este estudio han participado investigadores del Grupo de Enzimología y Biorremediación de Suelos y Aguas del Centro de Edafología y Biología Aplicada del Segura (CEBAS-CSIC).

Además, la investigación sugiere que este contexto ecológico controla los procesos de fertilidad, acumulación de carbono y producción de plantas a lo largo de millones de años.

Fertilidad del suelo

Manuel Delgado-Baquerizo, coordinador del estudio y director del laboratorio de Biodiversidad y Funcionamiento Ecosistémicos de la Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Sevilla), ha explicado que las zonas áridas siempre tendrán suelos menos fértiles, menor contenido de carbono y menor capacidad para producir alimento que ecosistemas templados o tropicales, independientemente de la edad de los ecosistemas.

De igual manera, los ecosistemas que se forman en suelos arenosos siempre serán menos fértiles que los ecosistemas que se desarrollan sobre suelos volcánicos, independientemente de su edad, ha añadido Delgado-Baquerizo.

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Regenerative Ranching Could Solve Climate Change

A new study from Oregon State University shows regenerative ranching increases adaptability and socioeconomic status while helping to mitigate climate change.   

Climate Reality Project describes regenerative agriculture as a system of farming principles and practices that seeks to rehabilitate and enhance the entire ecosystem of the farm by placing a heavy premium on soil health with attention also paid to water management, fertilizer use, and more.   

According to Regeneration International, this method can help to reverse climate change as it works to rebuild organic matter and restore biodiversity to the soil.   

Regenerative ranching refers to the practices familiar to most of us as organic farming. These changes are brought about by using a dynamic and holistic approach, including organic farming techniques such as cover cropscrop rotationsno till and compost. These practices encourage carbon sequestration, and can dramatically affect the climate in extremely positive ways.   

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The Importance of a Regenerative Food System for Sustainable Agriculture

A regenerative food system focuses on feeding humanity without depleting the Earth. It is a holistic systems approach, stressing the importance of finding solutions that address problems collectively.

There is no single definition of regenerative agriculture, but most people agree that regenerative farming includes things such as no-till farming, cover crops, perennial and native plants, integrated livestock and crop diversity. Building a regenerative food system is vital to feeding humanity while also repairing damaged ecosystems. In the face of climate change, a regenerative food system will create resiliency by localizing economies, sequestering carbon and building greater food security.

Carbon Sequestration

One of the main benefits of a regenerative food system is the ability to sequester carbon. Agriculture is a top contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and industrialized agriculture has a serious carbon footprint. Soil erosion and nutrient depletion are also two common side effects of conventional agriculture.

Utilizing techniques such as cover crops and no-till growing help sequester carbon, keeping carbon in the soil instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.

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Why Healthy Soil Means A Healthier Planet

Dirt, it turns out, has been underestimated. Healthy soil is perhaps the most essential part of a thriving ecosystem. In the face of climate change, farmers and scientists are working to better understand how soil supports a healthy planet. It turns out that without it, the rest of an ecosystem suffers.

Soil is composed of various materials, including sand, silt, stone and water. Depending on the geographic location, it can be sandy, dense, rocky or porous. Soil is a living thing and composed of millions of tiny organisms that help keep it healthy. Different types of insects, bacteria and fungi all work together to keep things in balance. Fungal networks, known as mycelium, play a vital role in helping dirt communicate with plant roots. In fact, the largest known organism in the world is a fungus that covers 4 square miles of forest in the Pacific Northwest.

Modern farming practices, land development and pollution are threatening the health of our planet.

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Excrementos de lombriz para revelar los niveles de carbono en el suelo

Zaragoza, 3 sep (EFE).- Un estudio internacional del Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE) analiza los niveles de carbono en el suelo a través de las deposiciones producidas por lombrices de tierra en el Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido (Huesca).

Como ha informado esta entidad dependiente del Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), el investigador Juan José Jiménez ha liderado este proyecto que revela la edad y el origen de las deposiciones producidas por estos invertebrados.

Publicado en la revista PLoS one, el trabajo detalla, a través de la edad y el origen de los excrementos, los efectos sobre el suelo en la zona, lo que permitirá precisar los parámetros en modelos de acumulación de carbono en el suelo y emisiones de CO2.

Los oligoquetos (lombrices de tierra) juegan un importante papel en el suelo, como reveló Charles Darwin en su último libro sobre la formación del mantillo vegetal por la acción de las lombrices con observaciones sobre sus hábitos, publicado en 1881.

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David Montgomery: “Estamos cerca de una revolución basada en la salud del suelo”

En el marco del XXVIII Congreso de Aapresid, ‘siempre vivo, siempre verde’, el geólogo de la Universidad de Washington, David Montgomery, habló del rol de los suelos en la civilización y la importancia de su restauración en términos del futuro de la humanidad.

“Estamos cerca de una revolución basada en la salud del suelo; en un punto de cambio en la historia. Podemos convertir a la agricultura en actor de recuperación del suelo en lugar de degradador. La reconstrucción del suelo es una de las inversiones más grandes que puede hacer hoy la humanidad”, dijo.

“Se habla de la deforestación como causante principal de esta degradación, pero la realidad es que el arado contribuyó más que el hacha”, advirtió. A lo largo de la charla también explicó que la erosión y degradación del suelo jugó un rol critico en la caída de antiguas civilizaciones, desde la Europa neolítica hasta Roma.

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