Regenerative Agriculture: Beyond Organic

You hear the term regenerative agriculture more and more these days. What does it mean? “Regenerative agriculture is a sub-sector practice of organic farming designed to build soil health or to regenerate unhealthy soils. The practices associated with regenerative agriculture are those identified with other approaches to organic farming, including maintaining a high percentage of organic matter in soils, minimum tillage, biodiversity, composting, mulching, crop rotation, cover crops, and green manures.

When combined with the spirit of organic agriculture such practices are said to produce healthy soil, healthy food, clean water and clean air using inexpensive inputs local to the farm. Practices that minimize biota disturbance and erosion losses while incorporating carbon rich amendments and retaining the biomass of roots and shoots are encouraged in regenerative farming.

Foremost among best practices in regenerative farming are zero-tolerance for synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, and other inputs that disrupt soil life. On the other hand, conservation tillage, while not yet widely used in organic systems, is viewed as a regenerative organic practice integral to soil-carbon sequestration.

The concept of regenerative organic agriculture was coined by Robert Rodale prior to his untimely death in 1990. The Rodale approach defines regenerative farming as a long-term, holistic design that attempts to grow as much food using as few resources as possible in a way that revitalizes the soil rather than depleting it, while offering a solution to carbon sequestration.”

Rodale Institute

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