Regenerative agriculture or carbon farming is an approach which focuses on improving and revitalizing soil health by restoring the soil’s carbon content and supporting the soil’s essential microbiology. Healthy soil equals a healthy human microbiome and a healthy planet.
Regenerative agricultural practices include:
- Composting – our inedible organic waste that has decomposed creates a rich fertilizer for the soil
- No or low tillage – little to no plowing fields when planting crops to preserve the carbon in the soil
- Cover Cropping – Instead of leaving fields bare when they’re not planted on with the harvest crop, we cover them with off-season crops that add nutrients and protect against erosion.
- Multiple crop rotations – Instead of planting one crop on the same plot year after year, we change its location from year to year, which prevents the depletion of nutrients in the soil and reduces pests.
- Diverse cover crops; and
- No pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or other harmful chemicals.
Read this article which describes what’s wrong with industrial agriculture and how some farmers are bucking agribusiness and instead taking a ‘climate-friendly’ approach.
The Issue with Glyphosate
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup®, a weedkiller produced by Monsanto. Glyphosate is an herbicide, antibiotic/antimicrobial agent, and a carcinogen and endocrine disruptor that contaminates the soil. Glyphosate functions by blocking the production of proteins needed for growth in plants. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s cancer research agency (International Agency for Research on Cancer) stated that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, but the EPA maintains that it is safe. There are currently numerous cases against Monsanto in both federal and state courts, arguing that the plaintiffs’ cancers are directly linked to the glyphosate that is used in Roundup®.
The following three bills are currently pending in the MA Legislature:
H. 792 would establish a penalty for transfer or use of glyphosate (Roundup/Rodeo) in Massachusetts, making a total ban of glyphosate in the Commonwealth.
S. 447 would empower municipalities to regulate pesticides at the local level, instead of in the Commonwealth’s pesticide board.
S. 499 would require a permit for the use of glyphosate-based herbicides on public lands owned/maintained by the Commonwealth.
Learn more about glyphosate and take further action.
Healthy Soils Bill
Currently, there is a bill in the MA Legislature that is relevant to regenerative agriculture.
Bill S. 438/ H. 873 would:
a) Create a Healthy Soils Program within the Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water and Related Resources, which shall, subject to the availability of funds, seek to optimize climate benefits while supporting the economic viability of agriculture in the commonwealth by providing incentives, including loans, grants, research, technical assistance, educational material on healthy soils practices.
b) Add an expert on Healthy Soils Practices to the Mass. Food Policy Council
Learn more about the bill and see what you can do.