The world of agriculture sees many issues such as loss of biodiversity and fertile soil. The rate at which soil is destroyed is of grave concern to humanity with scientists estimating about 11 years till humans suffer a diminished quality of life due to climate change. In about 50 years as well, we are likely to no longer have arable topsoil for farming and therefore to feed the population. This is where Regenerative Agriculture comes in.
If you have not heard of Regenerative Agriculture, it is understandable as it is not well known by the general public. There is no legal or regulatory definition of Regenerative Agriculture currently but it ‘describes farming and grazing practices that among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle. Regenerative Agriculture as an alternative claimed to have a lower or even net-positive impact on the environment and society.
About 80 percent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa is produced by hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers and by 2040, farmers in Africa could experience a 30% reduction in soil erosion by adopting regenerative agriculture at just a 50% rate and an increase in water infiltration rates of up to 60%.
Growing cover crops is one of the many regenerative agricultural techniques. Typically, cover crops are either grains or legumes. Cover crops act as a barrier over the soil’s surface, protecting it from harmful high-velocity rain and severe winds. With the help of cover crops, raindrops fall more gradually into the soil, allowing for increased water infiltration and a higher proportion of soil water storage.
Leguminous cover crops provide the soil with nitrogen. Nitrogen, the ingredient that gives plants their lush, green growth, is scarce in most soils. The nitrogen in the soil is replenished by legume cover crops.
Tilling contributes to soil erosion as significant volumes of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere. Eliminating or reducing tillage results in healthy soil where plants fix carbon from the atmosphere into the soil, which lowers global warming.
Having livestock on a farm allows the manure they produce to enrich the soil with nutrients, hence lowering the demand for fertilisers. Permanent pastures may store a lot of water and carbon, lowering runoff pollution and farm emissions.
Regenerative agriculture is expected to boost local economies, benefit farmers, and boost food security by lowering costs and facilitating more access to a variety of foods with higher calorie intake. Prosperity is boosted by a more consistent food supply.