The Regenerative Revolution in Food

Low lying and layered with clay, the soils of Molescroft Farm in East Yorkshire have never been the easiest to cultivate. Driven by ever-dwindling productivity, the land was pushed to its limits for decades – more passes with machinery, more fertilisers, more pesticides. These intensive agricultural practices kept the farm afloat; but beneath the surface, the soil was dying.

“The land had been farmed very conventionally, so the ground was overworked and had lost its organic matter,” recalls managing director Tamara Hall, who joined the estate in 2003. “We had to change, for environmental reasons as well as profitability.”

And so, bit by bit, Molescroft was reworked with sustainability in mind. The farm’s main crops – wheat, peas, beans and barley – had their rotation widened, drainage was improved and fewer chemicals were sprayed. Cultivation was also dialled down, with far less ploughing and tilling to keep soil disturbance at a minimum.

For the health of the land and its long-term yield potential, Hall believes her interventions have been resoundingly positive. But in the short-term, these regenerative practices were expensive as yields fell, carrying the risk of financial shortfall. The solution, Hall realised, was resting beneath her feet: soil carbon.


Composting and Mulching to Build Healthy Soils

When weather conditions are dry, it is a good time to explore ways to conserve water. Organic material is essential to good soil. Well-decomposed organic matter helps increase water and nutrient holding capacity of the soil. Undecomposed material like leaves and clippings used as surface mulch can help conserve moisture and keep weeds under control. Nematodes, those little microscopic worms that feed on your roots, will do less damage in a high organic soil. Organic matter may also increase the minor element and microbiological activity of your soil.

For these reasons, save your grass clippings and leaves. They are like money in the bank. You can store these materials in a corner of the garden. Decay of plant material deposited in a compost pile can be hastened through the use of fertilizer.

For each bushel of leaves, grass clippings or pruning tips, add two cups of balanced fertilizer and one cup crushed coral or hydrated lime. Build the compost pile in layer-cake method, a layer of plant material 6 inches deep.

This Forest Has Remained Wild for 5,000 Years-thanks to the Soil

We sometimes think that the Amazon rainforest has not been modified by humans and can peep into the Earth’s past. In the last few years, scientists have learned that many parts of the Amazon are completely untouched. The Amazon has been cultivated by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, and only centuries ago there were cities and farmlands. But that’s not the case everywhere.In a new study at PNASResearchers have found that the rainforests of the Putumayo region of Peru have been home to relatively unaltered forests for 5,000 years, and that the people who lived there have found a long-term way to coexist with nature. .. Silica and charcoal in the soil.

“Even experienced ecologists find it very difficult to tell the difference between a 2,000-year-old forest and a 200-year-old forest,” said Nigel, an ecologist and co-author of the paper at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.・ Pitman says. PNAS paper. “There are more and more studies showing that many of the Amazon forests we consider to be wilderness are actually only 500 years old, because the people who lived there were also by Europeans. He died in a pandemic and the forest grew again. “


Changes in Farming Practices Could Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 70% by 2036

Team used Argonne’s GREET model to simulate changes, predict outcomes.

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory participated in a study that shows innovation in technologies and agricultural practices could reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from grain production by up to 70% within the next 15 years.

Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the study identifies a combination of readily adoptable technological innovations that can significantly reduce emissions and fit within current production systems and established grain markets.

The study, Novel technologies for emission reduction complement conservation agriculture to achieve negative emissions from row crop production,” maintains that reductions in GHG emissions could be attained through digital agriculture, crop and microbial genetics and electrification. The new technologies, when implemented, promise to drive the decarbonization of agriculture while supporting farm resilience and maintaining profitability and productivity.


How Dirt Could Help Save the Planet

The American dust bowl of the 1930s demonstrated the ruinous consequences of soil degradation. Decades of farming practices had stripped the Great Plains of their fertile heritage, making them vulnerable to severe drought. Ravaging winds lifted plumes of soil from the land and left in their wake air choked with dust and a barren landscape. Thousands died of starvation or lung disease; others migrated west in search of food, jobs and clean air.

Today, we again face the potential for extreme soil erosion, but this time the threat is intensified by climate change. Together, they create an unprecedented dual threat to the food supply and the health of the planet—and farmers can be key partners in averting the catastrophic consequences. Both erosion and climate change can be mitigated by incorporating more carbon into soil. Photosynthetic carbon fixation removes carbon dioxide from the air, anchoring it in plant material that can be sequestered in soil.


Soil Carbon: What Role Can It Play in Reducing Australia’s Emissions?

The Morrison government is backing soil carbon – drawing carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in the land – as a major part of its response to the climate crisis.

The idea isn’t new, and at times has been derided as “soil magic” due to exorbitant claims about what it could achieve. But it is receiving renewed focus after the government listed it as one of five priority areas under its so-called “technology, not taxes” approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The agriculture minister, David Littleproud, has flagged that farmers should expect more support for soil carbon and other carbon farming projects in the May budget. Meanwhile, other Nationals MPs have rejected any steps to tackle the climate crisis and called for agriculture to be exempt from a target of reaching net zero emissions, should the government ever commit to one.

So what is the truth about soil carbon? What role can it – and agriculture generally – play in reducing emissions?


Una manera diferente de gestionar la tierra: que las vacas la apisonen

CANADIAN, Texas — Adam Isaacs estaba de pie al lado de su ganado en un viejo pastizal que durante años había tenido un pastoreo excesivo. Ahora, era un revoltijo de maleza.

“La mayoría de la gente quisiera venir y empezar a rociar herbicidas”, afirmó. “Mi familia solía hacerlo… y no funciona”.

En cambio, Isaacs, un ganadero perteneciente a la cuarta generación de estas tierras onduladas ubicadas en la franja noreste de Texas, pondrá a trabajar a sus animales en el pastizal mediante el uso de una cerca portátil electrificada con la que los confina en un área pequeña para que apisonen la maleza mientras pastan.

“Hacemos que el ganado pisotee mucho pastizal”, comentó. Eso incorpora materia orgánica al suelo y lo expone al oxígeno, cosa que ayuda a que se llene de hierbas y otras plantas útiles. A la larga, el pastizal volverá a estar saludable, gracias a un manejo esmerado y continuo del pastoreo.


A Different Kind of Land Management: Let the Cows Stomp

Leer en español aquí

CANADIAN, Texas — Adam Isaacs stood surrounded by cattle in an old pasture that had been overgrazed for years. Now it was a jumble of weeds.

“Most people would want to get out here and start spraying it” with herbicides, he said. “My family used to do that. It doesn’t work.”

Instead, Mr. Isaacs, a fourth-generation rancher on this rolling land in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle, will put his animals to work on the pasture, using portable electrified fencing to confine them to a small area so that they can’t help but trample some of the weeds as they graze.

“We let cattle stomp a lot of the stuff down,” he said. That adds organic matter to the soil and exposes it to oxygen, which will help grasses and other more desirable plants take over. Eventually, through continued careful management of grazing, the pasture will be healthy again.


Regen Farming Tools Go Beyond Just Keeping Carbon

Carbon Credits Are Coming!! Carbon Credits Are Coming!

You can’t pick up an ag magazine or listen to a farm report without hearing SOMETHING about all the news in Washington D.C. about carbon sequestration and carbon markets. Heck, you can hardly listen to ANY news source without hearing how soil health/regenerative agriculture is going to play a major role in our nation’s strategy to combat climate change.

Personally, I think this focus is a good thing—for some time now I have been pushing the benefits that practices like no-till, cover crops, grass plantings on highly erodible and improved grazing practices can have when it comes to sequestering carbon in the soil and reducing emissions.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I at one time was the executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and helped create and run a state based carbon credit program that, at its peak, had over 50,000 acres enrolled. I’m a firm believer that anything that encourages conservation work on the ground and rewards farmers and ranchers for their stewardship is something worth pursuing.


How Regenerative Ag and Strip Grazing Improves Soil Health

Ray Archuleta talks about three basic concepts for soil health during an Illinois Conservation Cropping Seminar.

  • One: The soil is alive.

A living plant is one of the most powerful tools on the farm. Plants and microbes feed the soil ecosystem and improve the quality of life.

  • Two: Everything is connected.

If it isn’t understood how the soil, inputs, crops, and management practices are connected, then harm can come from using tools incorrectly.

  • Three: The goal is to emulate nature (or “biomimicry”).

While efficiency has been a No. 1 priority, now it is known that the best approach is to mimic the natural system.

Archuleta says while these seem simple, the most challenging obstacle to overcome when adopting these three concepts is your mind-set.

“Thanks to the years of information we gained from our schools, our grandparents, and from our local community, our mind-set is the most difficult thing to change on the farm. The soil is easy to fix. Our mind-set is not,” he says.