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. Read the primer on carbon farming from NOFA, the Northeast Organic Farming Association: Soil Carbon Restoration: Can Biology Do the Job? (December 2020).
For Drawdown’s primer, read the report with lead author Eric Toensmeier: FARMING OUR WAY OUT OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS (December 2020). This is a 48-page pdf of the team’s research findings on regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration.
Regenerative agricultural practices
- 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.
Holistic planned grazing
- Planned livestock grazing is another holistic method which can restore ecosystems Biodiversity for a Livable Planet
- Watch “A Regenerative Secret” (right) produced by Kiss the Ground, which shows how to move from CAFOs* and degraded fields to healthy cattle making rich soils able to hold nutrients, water, and carbon.
Profiles Allen Williams, PhD., and his regenerative ranching in Alabama.
*Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
- Videos: View this playlist of regenerative farming research and practice from the “greats” in the field, including Drs. Christine Jones, Elaine Ingham, Walter Jehne, Suzanne Simard, Paul Stamets, Gabe Brown, and more.,
- Facebook posts: Soil4Climate (Thetford, VT) provides an excellent overview of soil health principles in a series of lessons (you must log in to Facebook to view the posts on their page.
- Print: Visit this Annotated Bibliography from Regeneration International.
- Local: Read this article about local silvopasture initiatives, written by one of our members, Rema Boscov.
- Read about what’s wrong in traditional farming from “Industrial Agriculture, an Extraction Industry Like Fossil Fuels, a Growing Driver of Climate Change” (1/25/19) by Georgina Gustin, InsideClimate News. Learn how some farmers are bucking agribusiness and instead taking a ‘climate-friendly’ approach.
Healthy Soils Bill
Currently, there is a bill in the MA Legislature that is relevant to regenerative agriculture.
S.2404 (combined from Bill S. 438/ H. 873) is in the House Ways and Means committee. It 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 take action through NOFA Mass.
Kiss the Ground film
Kiss the Ground is a full-length documentary (narrated by Woody Harrelson) that sheds light on regenerative agriculture which has the potential to balance our climate, replenish our water supplies and feed more people. This revolution in how we grow our food and care for the soil is the solution — right beneath our feet! — to many intractable problems threatening the very survival of civilization.
Mina Liang (AmherstINDY) reported on an October showing, “Amherst Residents See Solutions Beneath Their Feet At Outdoor Film Screenings Of ‘Kiss the Ground’” (10/16/20).