A Sustainable Approach to Farming
Regenerative agriculture is a relatively new concept that has attracted a lot of buzz and hype. It's also often misused in situations where it doesn't properly apply. For this reason, several different organizations have begun to define regenerative agriculture with their own set of standards and certification processes.
Many of them are interesting and thought-provoking. Here are a few links in case you're interested.
Certified Regenified™ is based on six principles, three rules, and four
processes. These verification standards are the culmination of work led by Gabe Brown and Dr. Allen Williams
- The Soil Carbon Initiative focused on rapidly scaling regenerative agriculture through commitments and verification
- Certified Regenerative by A Greener World
- Regenerative Organic Certified® aims to create a healthy food system that respects land, and animals, empowers people, and restores communities and ecosystems through regenerative organic farming.
If I were to see these labels on something at the store, I would and I have jumped at them. Good on them, these producers who have taken the steps to go through these intense and involved certification processes. However, that doesn't necessarily make sense for us, at our small scale.
In this blog post, we'll delve into what I'm calling "principles of common-sense regenerative agriculture." They won't come with a 30+ page PDF to study. They do encourage a biology-first approach, conscientious soil and water management, and the humane treatment of livestock.
Regenerative ag is a holistic approach that focuses on revitalizing our agricultural practices by working in harmony with nature. It champions the well-being of the ecosystem, supports biodiversity, and promotes the sustainable management of resources.
1. Embrace a Biology-First Approach
Regenerative agriculture places a strong emphasis on using natural biological processes to enhance farming practices. This approach strives to reduce or eliminate synthetic inputs whenever possible. While organic practices serve as a foundation, organic certification is not mandatory, and it is understood that these practices alone may not fully meet the regenerative standard. The focus here is to work in harmony with nature, nurturing the soil, plants, and animals that are integral to the farm's ecosystem.
2. Avoid GMOs
Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are to be avoided in the purchase of seeds and feeds. GMO crops often rely on synthetic inputs, pesticides, herbicides, and monoculture practices, which can disrupt the delicate balance of ecosystems and lead to soil degradation. There are also reasons to be concerned that these GMO crops are harmful to the human gut biome.
3. Promote Ecosystem Health
Regenerative agriculture is committed to nurturing the health of the soil, air, and water, recognizing them as critical components of the ecosystem. Sustainable management is the cornerstone, aiming to avoid degenerative and extractive practices such as tilling and overgrazing. By preserving the water cycle, mineral cycle, energy flow, and community dynamics, regenerative agriculture supports biodiversity and long-term sustainability.
4. Respect the Nature of Livestock
The health and natural behaviors of livestock are paramount. Regenerative agriculture encourages animals to have access to green pastures during the growing season and fresh, unsoiled ground. Prolonged captivity should be avoided, though reasonable exceptions are made for animal protection from predators, inclement weather, or ensuring the rest and recovery of land and waterways. Regenerative farmers are committed to respecting and preserving the dignity and natural instincts of their animals.
5. Prioritize Immune System Health
Regenerative agriculture promotes the support of animal health primarily through their own immune systems and the overall health and cleanliness of their environment. The use of preventative agri-pharmaceuticals is to be avoided, while we respect the discretion of individual producers to employ a systematic vaccine program. Preventative antibiotics or growth-enhancing hormones are strictly prohibited, aligning with the philosophy of promoting natural and healthy livestock practices.
In summary, common-sense regenerative agriculture principles underscore the importance of a biology-first approach, sustainable resource management, GMO avoidance, respectful treatment of livestock, and prioritizing animal health without resorting to preventative agri-pharmaceuticals. By implementing these principles, farmers can contribute to the restoration and preservation of the environment while also delivering wholesome, sustainable agricultural products to consumers. Through these practices, we can cultivate a more ecologically responsible and ethical approach to farming that benefits both the planet and our communities.