With a greater understanding of the increasing threat of climate change, the world’s biggest industries are getting smarter when it comes to implementing sustainable practices. As one of the largest and most important industries in the world, agriculture is one of the areas where key practices are being changed to ensure that resources are being used more efficiently.
Positive Feedback Loop of Food Production and Climate Change
We have an imbalanced global food system that is contributing to a destructive cycle of climate change and agricultural inefficiencies. A growing population requires greater agriculture output, yet agriculture output contributes greatly to climate change, and climate change negatively impacts agricultural output. This system puts stress on our ability as global citizens to produce enough nutritious, affordable food to avoid worsening food insecurity across the globe. More on this topic here.
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture is a series of farming and grazing practices that result in biosequestration, or the capture and storage of greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere via a series of biological processes and moves it back into the soil for the use of various biological and agricultural processes. Regenerative agriculture moves away from industrial farming practices like the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and antibiotics, and turns to holistic practices that aim to improve the health of the whole farm’s system.
The downstream effects of regenerative agricultural practices include:
⦁ Increase in soil health
⦁ Improvements in nutrient density
⦁ Increase strength of crop resistance
⦁ Improve watersheds
⦁ Enhance the entire ecosystem
Ultimately, these effects contribute to reversing the damages of climate change globally.
“The benefits of doing [regenerative agriculture] are numerous:
Regenerative agriculture practices increase soil biodiversity and organic matter, leading to more resilient soils that can better withstand climate change impacts like flooding and drought. Healthy soils beget strong yields and nutrient-rich crops. It also diminishes erosion and runoff, leading to improved water quality on and off the farm.” – The Climate Reality Project
Four Principles of Regenerative Agriculture
According to regenerativeagriculturedefinition.com, there are four principles of regenerative agriculture that can be uniquely applied to any farm based on their region, climate, and current practices:
1. IMPROVE WHOLE AGROECOSYSTEMS
2. CREATE CONTEXT-SPECIFIC DESIGNS & HOLISTIC DECISIONS
3. ENSURE AND DEVELOP JUST AND RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS
4. ENSURE AND DEVELOP JUST AND RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIPS
Image Sources: http://www.regenerativeagriculturedefinition.com/
What regenerative agriculture has to do with climate change
Regenerative agriculture can ultimately reduce atmospheric CO2 levels, improve nutrient density of the soil and therefore food from that soil, and reduce overall agricultural waste. Regenerative agricultural practices can play a huge role in the forward movement of a healthier, less wasteful world.
Big food and its relation to regenerative agriculture
Writer Gosia Wozniacka, Civil Eats writes in his NBC article “Can regenerative agriculture reverse climate change? Big Food is banking on it” :
“General Mills, the packaged food giant, is one of several Big Food corporations jumping on the regenerative agriculture bandwagon, escalating the buzz around the idea that capturing carbon in the soil could reverse climate change.”
Source: NBC News
The effects that regenerative agriculture have on climate change have the potential to have a huge impact. There are various ways farmers and ranchers can implement these practices, and each farm will have their unique regeneration processes. The participation of Big Food Corporations like General Mills utilizing and promoting these practices provide a positive outlook on the positive shift we are seeing today towards sustainable practices.