Better Soil for Better Health: How Regenerative Agriculture Can Protect Our Health and Our Planet
“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Food is only as healthy as the soil within which it grows. This makes soil one of our most important resources. With proper care, soil can thrive and provide the basis for nutrient-rich foods to nourish our bodies and prevent disease. Without healthy soil, however, humankind’s health and sustenance is in jeopardy.
Topsoil is being lost at alarming rates across the United States and the world due to erosion from wind and rain. Land that at one time was rich and fertile has now been stripped of nutrients due to a lack of focus on healthy soil practices. Fortunately, a new form of agriculture is leading the way in solving these problems. It is known as Regenerative Agriculture.
Regenerative Agriculture works in harmony with nature and moves beyond sustainability. It focuses on how soil functions, and ways to rebuild soil health.
Key principles followed in Regenerative Agriculture include:
· Minimize mechanical or chemical disturbance: avoid tilling soil as much as possible; reduce use of synthetics, including fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides.
· Protect the soil by keeping it covered: grow a variety of plants to keep living roots in the soil as long as possible, then allow organic matter to cover the soil; this reduces temperature of the soil, increases water absorption and retention, and reduces erosion from wind and water runoff.
· Manage rotation of animals on grasslands: this fertilizes and rebuilds the soil from the animals’ excrement, while careful rotation gives the land time to rest and regenerate between grazing; it also improves the health of the animals by providing a variety of appropriate plant foods and increases their overall quality of life.
Regenerative Agriculture also benefits our climate. A diversity of plants that have living roots in the ground for a longer period of time allows plants to take more carbon from the air in the form of carbon dioxide. Plants use this carbon for their own growth and also store it in the soil. This reduces carbon emissions in the atmosphere, which helps to combat climate change. Healthier soil also increases crop yield, resulting in increased profits for farmers and a greater volume of food that can feed more people.
We can improve our health and the health of the planet by using the power of our dollar to purchase food from farmers and producers using regenerative practices.
In Minnesota, where I live, Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed is an organization of 30 family farms whose members are regenerating soil by following regenerative practices in grazing cattle. https://thousandhillslifetimegrazed.com/ . I purchase beef from this company at my local co-operative store or buy directly from them online. Regeneration International provides a Regenerative Farm Map where you can search for regenerative farms in your area. https://regenerationinternational.org/regenerative-farm-map
You can also learn learn how to use regenerative practices in your own garden. Kiss the Ground is a non-profit organization in California that supports soil regeneration. They offer a course on regenerative gardening (https://kisstheground.mykajabi.com/kiss-the-ground-s-introduction-to-regenerative-gardening). They also produced a beautiful documentary that is worth watching to learn more about the power of regenerative agriculture (Kiss the Ground Documentary: https://kissthegroundmovie.com/ ).
Knowledge is power. Improve your health and the health of our planet by supporting regenerative soil practices. Be part of the solution.
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· How Regenerative Agriculture Can Help by Gabe Brown: https://bit.ly/3c2jcYO
· Regenerative Renegades by Matt Maier and Natural Grocers: https://bit.ly/2MPeFRe
· Soil Carbon Cowboys by Gabe Brown, Allen Williams and Neil Dennis: https://bit.ly/3bYR2xZ
· The Truth in Grass Fed Beef: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqQLFjZ_UJc