What is Regenerative Agriculture and How Does it Benefit Your Farm?

Blog post 11 – manuel troya-featured image
13 Jun, 2023
— Arlene Barclay

Regenerative agriculture is gaining momentum across the globe. From the long list of benefits it brings for farmers to its ability to combat modern-day challenges, it’s easy to understand why.

Here, we’ll explore the core concepts of regenerative management, how it works, and how it benefits your farm.

 

THE CURRENT STATE OF AGRICULTURE

Agriculture is at the mercy of natural systems – natural systems that happen to be changing. Shifts in temperature and water availability are negatively impacting crop yields and livestock productivity, which is in turn jeopardising the economic security of farmers. A domino effect that ploughs through every part of the food chain.

Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts are causing significant economic losses for farmers in Southern Europe. Poorer harvests and higher costs are impacting the price, quantity and quality of produce. By 2050, yields of crops like wheat, corn and sugar could decrease by up to 50%.

We need to build resilience from the ground up to ensure farmers are well-positioned down the line. Regenerative agriculture is key to making this possible.

 

WHAT IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?

Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that seeks to restore and enhance farm ecosystems.

It places a heavy premium on soil health, while sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere, increasing farm biodiversity and improving water management in the process.

It goes beyond organic farming by improving the resources it uses rather than depleting them. This is guided by the objective of making farmland more healthy, diverse and productive.

Notably, regenerative farming is highly context-specific. There’s no single one-size-fits-all approach, as it depends on the unique conditions at play on each farm. There are, however, key principles and practices often associated with the management style.

On the practice level, these include the likes of conservation tillage, cover cropping, planned livestock grazing, crop rotation, reduced/no synthetic fertilisers, and organic matter application. These practices are guided by the 5 principles of regenerative agriculture that remain consistent across the board.

This approach to farming is a return to what some might brand as traditional agriculture. But it also represents a very modern opportunity for farmers.

The recent drive to mitigate the effects of climate change paired with the soil’s ability to draw down carbon from the atmosphere means farmers practising regenerative agriculture can generate new revenue for their climate efforts.

THE BENEFITS OF REGENERATIVE FARMING

Ecological

Increasing the health of your soil delivers a cascade of positive outcomes on the field.

Regenerative management improves soil biodiversity and organic matter. This simultaneously decreases the impact of erosion and degradation while increasing soil function.

For example, one study found that for every 1% increase in organic matter, soils can hold up to 30,000 more litres of water per hectare.

Furthermore, healthy soils with good porosity play an essential role in limiting the impact of extreme weather conditions. By absorbing and storing water that would otherwise run off, it limits the impact of flooding on the field. The same pores allow roots to grow deep in the soil and recover water during a drought.

 

Financial

Beyond the long list of ecological benefits, regenerative agriculture is intrinsically good for business.

A BCG study found that regenerative farming is up to 60% more profitable than other farming methods after six years. This is a result of farmers benefiting from lower input costs, secure yields, increased natural capital and higher margins for their produce.

Our Carbon+ Program provides an additional economic opportunity for farmers. By implementing regenerative agriculture techniques on your land, you can generate a new revenue stream through Carbon+ Credits.

Social

The social value of regenerative agriculture at the individual level should not be understated. Farmers regularly cite being part of a community and increased well-being as key outcomes of the transition.

The advantages for farmers are extensive. But regenerative agriculture also delivers an abundance of value to wider society.

We depend on healthy ecosystems to purify the air so we can breathe, sequester carbon for climate regulation, provide clean drinking water for human survival and pollinate crops so we don’t starve. The management style contributes to every single one of these essential ecosystem services.

 

CHALLENGES OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Regenerative agriculture is entirely context-specific. As such, farmers looking to make the change often face difficulties in discovering not only how to implement new practices, but also whether these methods will succeed on their land. Furthermore, despite regenerative agriculture being significantly more profitable, financial barriers such as upfront investment stand in the way.

Our work at Climate Farmers tackles these core challenges by ensuring you have the necessary resources, knowledge, and financial support to transition your farm.

Do you want support for implementing regenerative agriculture?

CLOSING REMARKS

Farmers are highly skilled in adaptation. And although the transition to regenerative agriculture requires a new, unfamiliar kind of adaptation, it’s undeniably worth the reward.

Considerable challenges lie ahead. By starting the journey to regenerative management now, you’ll be significantly better positioned down the line.