5 Things you Need to Know: Regenerative Agriculture

5 Things you Need to Know: Regenerative Agriculture

April 27, 2022

By Kelly Bristow MS, RDN, LD, Manager- Science & Nutrition Partnerships- International Organizations at Bayer

Regenerative agriculture is a hot topic in professional circles. Read on to learn five things you need to know about it.

  1. What is regenerative agriculture? While there is no single definition used, regenerative agriculture is a set of farming principles and practices that aim to improve soil health, mitigate climate change, increase biodiversity, improve water resources, and improve social and economic well-being of farmers and their communities.1 This style of agriculture focuses on long-term positive outcomes. Regenerative agriculture has been increasingly promoted as a potential solution for the triple challenge of meeting growing food demand, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and halting the loss of biodiversity.
  2. Watch outs. As with many topics in food and agriculture, the lack of a unified definition can create confusion for professionals and consumers. No solution fits every situation and if it sounds too good to be true. . .it probably is. Farmers face many challenges and working sustainably is at the top of the list to overcome these challenges.  Sustainable practices create good business practices and ensure a thriving farm for future generations. Regenerative agriculture practices show great promise to be effective tools, but need to be used alongside others like digitization, integrated pest management, and biotechnology to name a few. In addition, what and how regenerative agriculture is implemented needs to vary by crop, geography, and type of production system.  Farmers will need to focus on outcomes vs. generalized farming practices.  Each farm, each geography, each farmer is so different.
  3. Impacts on the food industry. As consumer demand for foods produced sustainably continues to rise, food companies and food retailers are constantly looking to deliver these consumer demands. Agriculture plays a critical role in delivering these expectations.  Creating evidence and science-based systems is the first step to ensure transparent food systems that deliver more sustainable end products to consumers.
  4. Examples. In 2020 the Bayer Carbon Program was launched in the U.S. and Brazil. It takes an industry-first, science-based, transparent, and collaborative approach to rewarding farmers for employing sustainable practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering carbon in the soil. Other examples of regenerative agriculture on the farm level include no-till farming which is a practice of not plowing soil before and after harvests.   No-till helps farmers improve soil to retain water, prevent erosion, and benefit overall soil health.  In addition, farmers are providing pollination services, crop rotation, and doing cover crops all to maintain soil health.
  5. What’s next. Healthy soil, healthy people? This is a question that remains to be fully answered and research is needed to support this hypothesis on how soil nutrients translate into food nutrients that translate to consumed nutrients. In the meantime, creating agriculture systems that emphasize practices like those with regenerative agriculture help create healthy soil which will enable more production of nutritious foods.  This in turn assists with healthier more sustainable food systems.

Bottom line: Farmers are working hard every day to ensure food is being grown sustainably while taking best possible care of the land to keep it for future generations to come and this means utilizing many different resources and what works for one farmer may be different to the next

Source: 1. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fsufs.2020.577723/full