by Joseph Waters
“Regenerative Agriculture is, broadly speaking, an agricultural system that seeks to regenerate the landscape. This method endeavours to rejuvenate the complex natural cycles that thrive in healthy soils and works alongside millions of bacteria, fungi and microorganisms, which both depend on, and support it.
Regenerative Agriculture therefore implies much more than just sustaining, but rather an active rebuilding, or regeneration of existing systems to full health. The term ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ is a fairly loose one. It allows for different systems to adapt for their own specific environment. This also means that it has very varied levels of practical application and theological principle, as it implies an ongoing process of continuing improvement and positive transformations.
The entire natural system relies on a perfect balance between livestock, plants, bacteria, fungi, microorganisms, minerals, carbon exchanges and the man-made management systems that govern them all. This balance can and should be provided; a necessity that regenerative agriculture aims to fulfil. These farming practices observe natural grazing patterns, with rotations of grazing followed by extended rest times. This practice simulates the natural environment in which these animals have evolved and replicates the long term sustainability of this grassland/Savannah style ecosystem.
This ‘resting’ of the fields also allows for plants to rejuvenate, as, by grazing for no more that 5 days on a single patch of ground, the grazing has minimal impact on the capacity of the plant to ‘feed’ the ‘underground livestock’, as it exchanges sugars with the fungi networks in the soil. This practice improves and maintains soil health, and therefore has hugely beneficial effects, including increased water infiltration and retention, increased wildlife numbers and generating greater plant growth. The building of topsoil using these methods can reverse and prevent desertification, allowing for the preservation of ground, especially in volatile climates.
Increased water infiltration and retention could also provide a useful backstop against droughts and prevent, or reduce, the occurrence of flooding. The capacity of regenerated land for supporting wildlife could also provide a solution for the long-disputed argument that sets wildlife conservation against agriculture. This method could unite the two, providing huge benefits for both.
Increased ground productivity could provide farmers with greater income potential, allowing food to be produced locally, without the need for environmentally damaging imports. This would also facilitate the production of plentiful, environmentally friendly food and would provide a great solution for what has been, up to now, a great problem for the country.
All in all, these methods can benefit both humans, and the wider population of animals, both UK and worldwide. This system presents a solution to one of the most pressing questions of the environmental movement, how do we feed the world’s population sustainably? This farming technique proposes a shift towards a new method which may allow us to live alongside nature once again, in harmony and in peace.”