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What is REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
...it is the process of Thinking Like Nature to Heal the Earth!
Our planet is out of balance: too much carbon in the atmosphere, not enough in the soil. We’ve disrupted the carbon cycle’s return route to the soil due largely to destructive practices like industrial agriculture (monocropping: one crop grown year after year, factory farming: animal feedlots, and unmanaged grazing) that degrade and desertify (turn to desert) land.
Industrial agriculture does not think like Nature.
Our climate and planet are suffering because of the negative impacts of things like industrial agriculture and manufacturing, transportation, etc. Regenerative Agriculture is not just about creating a healthy food system, it is also about helping to draw down the legacy load of carbon in the atmosphere that has accumulated mostly since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s.
Regenerative Agriculture is Thinking Like Nature. It is a process that asks us to return to the indigenous roots of agriculture and partner with Nature. By regenerating soil health utilizing regenerative, holistic management practices, we can reverse climate change, restoring planetary ecological balance. Regenerative Agriculture can be broadly thought of as mimicking nature and working with nature, rather than against it, and a key focus is soil health. The ecology of any given area informs holistic management decisions, creating a positive domino effect for the health of the planet and people.
Key Fact: Globally, about 70% of grasslands are currently degraded and desertifying. By regenerating just half of these grasslands, the land can store enough carbon to take our atmosphere back to pre-industrial levels (that’s pre-1850!).
-Allan Savory, Savory Institute
Yes, our planet is unbalanced, but not broken.
The earth is made up of vast webs of interrelated, complex, biological living systems and functions that connect the entire planet, thus binding together the health of the planet and all living beings, including us.
When we listen to and partner with Nature, the possibilities are endless to create positive, virtuous cycles that heal the earth and us! Nature will regenerate when given the chance.
Regeneration is all about healing Relationships... relationships within the soil, within Nature, between humans and Nature, and with one another.
Let the healing begin!
What are Ruminant Animals?
...and why are they so important?
Ruminants (e.g. cattle, bison, elk, deer, sheep, goats) are herbivorous, hoofed mammals with multi-chambered stomachs. Plant material, like grass, is their perfect food and is what they are made to eat and process in their unique digestive system, giving them the ability to digest food that we cannot. There are many regenerative practices that improve soil health and therefore everything else. This display features one of the main aspects of Regenerative Agriculture which is Holistic Planned Grazing (livestock grazing method developed by Allan Savory) which focuses on utilizing ruminants to positively impact the land by moving them the way nature intended.
Historically, pack-hunting predators (like wolves) kept large herds of ruminants moving in tightly-knit bunches across the land. This is how the grasslands evolved…in partnership with predators and prey. This coevolution created extremely fertile soils. In more arid/brittle environments, the moisture and bacterial composition that the land needs to cycle nutrients lives in the guts of ruminant herbivores.
Grasslands need animals just as much as animals need grasslands!
The photo here shows the difference between land managed via strategically moving ruminants (a.k.a. Holistic Planned Grazing, Holistic Land Management) versus land without beneficial animal impact. On the left side of the fence, we see biodiverse and thriving vegetation that is busy drawing down carbon, holding water on the land, and creating a cooler surface temperature at ground level which positively impacts the climate. On the right side of the fence, we see land that is turning to desert, releasing carbon into the atmosphere, and creating a much warmer surface temperature at ground level which negatively impacts the climate as it contributes to warming.
Image credit: Savory Institute
The Benefits of Properly Grazed Ruminants are Immense.
In Holistic Planned Grazing, ruminants are strategically moved to new grazing paddocks using electric fencing, mimicking the role of predators and allowing previous paddocks to regenerate. This is one of the main reasons why this kind of agriculture is so different from industrial agriculture and has a net positive impact on the environment!
The urine and feces of ruminants naturally fertilize the land as they move and help to feed and grow critically important below-ground microorganisms.
Their hooves press seeds into the soil and break the soil crust, allowing water infiltration.
Their mouths tear at the grasses in such a way that actually spurs growth along with their saliva adding to the soil microbiome health.
Unlike most grass-based ruminants you see in pastures, holistically-managed ruminants don’t overgraze (therefore desertifying) the pasture because they are always moving to a new paddock.
They spend 100% of their lives on healthy, vibrant pastures that are constantly regenerating.