Can Regenerative Agriculture Feed The World
Worldwide, agriculture accounts for 70% of water consumption, 80% of deforestation, and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions. These numbers are not only unsustainable, but also detrimental to our environment. Many believe that regenerative agriculture is the solution to these issues. Regenerative agriculture is an advanced farming method that aims to improve soil health in a short period of time. This type of farming has been shown to reverse climate change by converting atmospheric carbon into stable soil organic matter which contributes to better water infiltration, retention and reduced runoff and erosion. But can this method actually feed the world? If so, how?
The world’s food production system is failing us
The world’s food production system is failing us. The way we grow and consume food today is responsible for over 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main cause of climate change. It has also led to massive biodiversity loss and pollution of water, soil and air.
Farming is a major contributor to climate change because it produces up to 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), mainly due to land use change – i.e., deforestation – releasing CO2 from vegetation into the atmosphere; methane from anaerobic decomposition in flooded rice fields; nitrous oxide from fertilizers, manure and agricultural soils having been stripped out by intensive cultivation practices; as well as carbon dioxide released during burning fossil fuels used in agricultural machinery such as tractors or irrigation pumps (UNEP, 2015).
What can we do to fix it?
There are two ways to feed the world. We can continue to farm in a way that is polluting, degrading and causing climate change, or we can use regenerative agriculture. And it’s clear which one will work best for the future of our planet.
Regenerative agriculture uses less pesticides and chemicals because it builds healthy soil with more nutrients, which helps plants grow faster than conventional farms do. Regeneration also decreases erosion by building soil with roots and leaves instead of tilling them away every year—which means there’s less sediment in waterways like rivers and oceans! And when people are healthier from eating healthy food grown on regenerated soils (that have not been exposed to toxins), they’re happier too!
Regenerative agriculture has been proven to produce food in a way that actually mitigates climate change
In addition to producing food in a way that actually mitigates climate change, regenerative agriculture is a way of farming that restores the health of the soil and can help restore degraded landscapes.
For example, in Australia, researchers have found that sheep farmers who switched from traditional grazing practices to regenerative methods were able to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 percent.
The UN report highlights the potential of regenerative agriculture
The report highlights the potential of regenerative agriculture, which is the use of farming practices that restore soil health and biodiversity. It shows that regenerative agriculture can help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon in the earth and restoring degraded landscapes.
The report also suggests that this form of farming could be key to feeding a growing population, as it improves crop yields while protecting biodiversity, soil fertility and water resources.
Don’t we need to increase the world’s food production?
The world’s population is expected to grow from 7.6 billion in 2019 to 8.8 billion people by 2030, and 9.8 billion by 2050. This growth will likely strain the global food system, especially if we continue to rely on industrial agriculture practices that deplete soil fertility and exacerbate climate change by releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
But some farmers are already working toward growing enough food for all of us—without damaging our ecosystems or contributing to climate change through unsustainable practices like monoculture and over-farming on non-native soils (soils that have been depleted of nutrients). By capitalizing on regenerative practices—which include composting, cover crops, no-tillage farming and more—these farmers are effectively improving soil quality while also increasing yields per acre of land farmed in some cases up to 400%.
Don’t we need to keep using pesticides in order to produce enough for everyone?
Pesticides are toxic to humans and other organisms. They kill pests, yes—but they also kill beneficial insects and other creatures who help our crops grow. That’s not all: pesticides can harm plants themselves, sometimes resulting in damage that makes them more vulnerable to disease and pests than they would be without the pesticide application.
Pesticides also don’t work very well against some of today’s biggest agriculture threats, such as pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms) or weeds that have developed resistance to herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate).
Regenerative practices allow farmers like Jonathan Blumberg at Full Moon Farm in California or Paul Kaiser at Blue Spirit Farms in Ohio to produce food without using any synthetic chemicals at all—and still get better yields than conventional farms do with their use of GMOs and chemical pesticides.”
How does regenerative agriculture work?
- How does regenerative agriculture work?
Regenerative agriculture is a suite of practices that aims to decrease soil degradation and increase biodiversity. The practices are implemented on small-scale farms or large-scale farms, much like organic farming. These include no-till farming (where the soil is not plowed), cover crops, and livestock integration. No-till farming helps preserve topsoil from erosion by leaving crop residues on the field after harvest instead of tilling them into the ground.* Cover crops are used to help prevent erosion as well as add nutrients back into the soil; they can also be used in rotation with annual crops so they do not compete with them for nutrients*. Livestock integration includes rotating cattle among different fields; this practice helps reduce overgrazing while still providing livestock with food sources close to where they live
What does this mean for me?
You can start eating more sustainably by choosing foods that have been produced with regenerative agriculture in mind. Instead of buying conventional produce, look for brands that are certified organic, or check the labels of your food products to see if they say “no GMOs” or “non-GMO project verified”. If you want to support regenerative agriculture as a whole, you can join groups like The Regeneration Project and Foodtank who are dedicated to spreading awareness about sustainable farming practices.
If we all take active roles in ensuring that our planet is healthy for future generations and its inhabitants (including humans), then we will be part of the solution instead of part of the problem!
Regenerative agriculture practices are not only effective at restoring degraded landscapes, but also at growing food and helping mitigate climate change.
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming that rebuilds the health of the soil by mimicking natural processes. By replacing the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides with techniques like crop rotation, cover crops and animal manures, regenerative farmers are not only able to restore degraded landscapes, but also grow food and help mitigate climate change.
Can regenerative agriculture feed the world? The answer is yes — if we implement it on a large scale. That’s why we need to be thinking about how to create incentives for farmers who are willing to transition from conventional methods to regenerative ones.
We’re entering a new era of agriculture, one where we don’t have to choose between the health of our ecosystem and healthy food for people. Regenerative farming practices are working to heal the environment and nourish communities in ways that traditional farming simply isn’t equipped to do. With a global push for ecological restoration, regenerative agriculture could play an instrumental role in saving the planet from climate change and rejuvenating ecosystems around the world—all while providing food security for future generations. And while there’s still work to be done in terms of scaling up these methods effectively and making sure they can support large-scale crop production, it seems like regenerative farming is well on its way toward becoming a viable solution both today and tomorrow. This is especially true when you consider how much potential regenerative farming has for helping smallholder farmers around the world grow their operations with more sustainable practices than ever before!