Regenerative agriculture has become more prevalent within farming communities, and some are even incorporating it into home gardening. Danny Granger explains what regenerative agriculture is on both large and small scale, why it has become so popular in modern agriculture, and the benefits of this type of gardening and farming practice.
Regenerative agriculture is a practice that involves working in a more natural, holistic method of mending soil than traditional methods. This means working with what is naturally in the soil, helping to restore and manage the living biodiversity within it. This in turn reduces carbon emissions, and also helps to create nutrient-rich produce that is sustainable.
Regenerative Agriculture Explained
Regenerative agriculture aims to maintain and improve the microbiome of the soil. This means that care is taken to increase the beneficial organic materials and organisms which promote plant growth without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
This then results in plants and produce that are nutrient-rich and provides a solid foundation for future crop yields in a way that doesn’t damage and strip away from the soil. For example, planting cover crops helps to break up the soil without tilling it, trapping vital nutrients within the ground and even adding to them.
Regenerative agriculture is therefore about creating a relationship between the plants and organisms growing in a space, rather than the traditional, destructive method of farming which involves focusing on getting just one crop to thrive (monoculture), such as corn or wheat.
Benefits for the Environment
One of the major ways in which regenerative agriculture works is by retaining moisture and water in the soil. This not only helps to improve water quality but also improves the land’s resistance to floods and droughts which are becoming more frequent with the effects of climate change.
Regenerative gardening also helps to trap carbon within the soil. This helps to keep it from being released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and contributing to global warming.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 estimated that around 4% of America’s carbon emissions, roughly 250 million tons worth, could be trapped underground every year if regenerative agriculture became a widespread practice.
Benefits for Gardeners
Regenerative farming is not just something that is exclusively reserved for large-scale agricultural operations. Home gardeners can also reap the benefits of it, too!
Gardeners will be able to save money as they will not need to spend as much on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Compost can also be created using household and garden waste, reducing the need to buy this and in turn increasing the nutrient richness of the soil in a natural way.
Thanks to the principles of growing different plants and crops together, gardeners can create a rich level of biodiversity which not only benefits local wildlife but can also make vegetable patches more visually appealing.
Not to mention, the things grown in the yard will have much more nutritional benefit when it comes time to harvest and eat them, with a richer flavor, too.
How to Start Incorporating This Process
For those looking to start using regenerative methods in their home or community gardens, here are a few practices that will be essential:
No Dig, No Till
Taking inspiration from the no-till practice used on large farms, no dig encourages gardeners not to disturb the soil by digging or raking it, protecting the biodiversity inside.
Cover crops are grown in between the main plants to be harvested and help to smother weeds and add to the richness of the soil. Many cover crops are perennial and can be planted year-round, meaning there is no better time to get started!
Compost and Animals
Creating a compost bin will allow households to turn their food and organic waste, such as vegetable peelings into natural compost to feed their gardens.
If the size of the garden or yard allows, utilizing animals such as chickens and ducks not only helps to manage cover crops and create nutrient-rich manure but can also provide eggs as an added bonus!
Regenerative agriculture can be practiced no matter the size of the outside space, helping to revitalize our soil and create a better world.