Regenerative Agriculture: What Is It & What Can It Offer?

If you've scrolled through Netflix sometime in the past year, you may have seen this doc floating in your Recommended:

Kiss the Ground was a game-changing documentary which took a close look at the role that soil health plays in the overall climate crisis. While both entertaining and illuminating, the documentary (narrated by Woody Harrelson) also stands as an indication of a looming industry and media trend: regenerative agriculture.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices which protect and regenerate the land's resources, rather than exploiting and depleting them. The most important element of regenerative agriculture is soil health.

Why is soil health so important?

Healthy soil (which contains bacteria and surface plant matter) absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere, as carbon dioxide is required to generate energy for plants and for the microorganisms living beneath the soil.

Go to section to learn more!

What's the problem with "regular" farming?

Conventional farming is responsible for just short of 25% of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Tilling bare fields erodes the soil and releases massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere

  • Tilling and working fields with huge machines compacts the soil, making it inhospitable to microorganisms

  • Because microorganisms cannot thrive in eroding and compacted earth, conventional farmland is less able to support plant growth - which means that farmers have to spray synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in order to meet demand (which further exacerbates the soil health problem)

  • Animal feedlots are not only inhumane, but they are absolutely disastrous for the environment

  • feedlots create dead zones in coastal areas where nitrogen-rich animal waste leaches into nearby waterways

  • animals, particularly cows and pigs, consume a huge amount of food and water resources for the calories that they offer as a protein source, which means that more and more land is being turned to (conventional) corn and soy production in order to feed these animals for less and less caloric return

Conventional agriculture is a complex and important topic which deserves its own blog post; the above is only a quick look into why conventional farming is one of the most pressing threats to the environment.