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Regenerative Agriculture: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?

Updated: Feb 8

Regenerative agriculture is using farming methods to restore soil health and practices that are beneficial to the earth and people. In other words, the farming practice reverses climate change by revitalizing the environment all while maintaining soil biodiversity. There is no rule or limit to this practice because it varies from region to region. Instead, it has become a philosophy of creating a healthier environment through farming. This idea is not new. In fact, it was a successful part of indigenous farming practices before urbanization and conventional farming practices took over.

Community, Workers Rights, and Race

There are countless benefits to regenerative agriculture that are not limited to nature. When finding out how enormous these benefits are, it may surprise you to find why more are not aware of it. Regenerative agriculture is also about community, connection with people, and bridging social inequalities. Most farmers practice this form of farming to help their family and communities. By growing healthy food free of pesticides and with practices that uphold their morals, it creates a community that puts strong values on regenerative agriculture. In addition, workers are treated with respect and fair wages in contrast to unfair treatment and unlivable wages given to workers in most conventionally-run farms.

What many don’t consider is how racial and ethnic inequality has hindered some farmers, specifically those of color. According to the NRDC, “Back in 1920, there were nearly one million Black farmers in the United States. But after more than a century of land theft, racist policies, and discrimination, that number is closer to 45,000 today—out of an estimated 3.4 million farmers, according to census data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).” By contrast, the philosophy of regenerative agriculture aims to bridge this gap yet acknowledges that there is a lot of work to do to accomplish that goal.

The Environment

According to Regeneration International, main practices of regenerative agriculture include but are not limited to: aquaculture, agroecology, agroforestry, biochar, compost, holistic planned grazing, no-till, pasture croppings, perennial crops, and silverpasture. The positive impact this could have on the environment is enormous on a global scale. It’s no surprise that toxic pesticides and herbicides, and typical farming methods remove biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential to soil health and survival for plants, animals, and humans. An example of the lack of biodiversity threatening life is how trees are planted in cities. When only one type of tree and mainly male trees are planted in cities and suburban areas, they are more vulnerable to disease, create more allergies for people, and the single species is generally weaker. Conversely, regenerative agriculture focuses on encouraging biodiversity and consequently, higher resilience and less susceptibility to the growing threats and diseases posed by global warming.

According to Regeneration International, “The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions.” On a global scale, this number would be in the single digits. By that point, climate change would be reversible because the practices of regenerative agriculture, when upheld, can not only benefit the environment. This is attributed to the practice aiming to work with the environment rather than controlling it.

The Takeaway

Generative agriculture is definitely revolutionary if it is practiced throughout the world, but it is not new. Sustainable farming practices that characterize regenerative agriculture have been practiced by indigenous groups for hundreds of years before the rise of conventional farming practices which are detrimental to the environment. Regenerative agriculture is not just a practice, but it is a philosophy to connect communities, address racial issues in farming, and pay livable wages to workers on top of the objective of protecting the environment.

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