Regenerative Agriculture is the application of farming and grazing practices that rebuild soil organic matter and restore degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in increased carbon sequestration and improved water infiltration. Too much science? Basically: we grow soil! We are always looking at what we can do to build healthy soil using methods that mimic nature. A few ways that we do this include:
- avoiding synthetic fertilizers and using compost instead (we generate a LOT of that!)
- seeding in deep-rooted forage plants for our pastures - deep roots build deep soils rich in organic matter that are able to soak in and retain a lot of moisture. This helps with drought tolerance and it prevents runoff and erosion problems.
- using rotational grazing practices to avoid over-grazing and maintain healthy pastures
So, why is healthy soil so important? Soil is actually a living thing. It is teeming with millions of little micro-organisms and fungi that are all interconnected. They increase the nutrition of our food in ways that we can't even begin to understand yet. When soil is healthy and can support all of these little critters, it is able to draw vast amounts of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lock it up in the soil. This is a big deal for fighting climate change.
In the U.S. there are millions of acres of farm land right now that are NOT managed with regenerative practices. Most conventional farmers don't allow their fields a fallow (rest) period with a cover crop to protect the soil and rejuvenate it with organic matter and nutrients. They farm cash crop after cash crop, robbing the soil of nutrients without replenishing them. Left with infertile soil, they turn to cheaper synthetic fertilizers in order to grow their crops. Often these fertilizers are high in salts, which are deposited in the soil, causing further harm to soil health. Additionally, many conventional farmers use herbicide-resistant GMO crops which allow them to spray herbicide on the crop which kills weeds, but not the crop. This kills off the beneficial organisms in the soil as well, disrupting its ability to naturally keep harmful pests and diseases in check. Conventional farmers are stuck in the endless feedback loop of applying pesticides to kill off weeds, insects and disease, which also kills off the good organisms naturally found in soil. The end result: poor soil health that is unable to draw down that carbon from the atmosphere and lock it up. Additionally, most of our conventional food is loaded with glyphosate, which is a known carcinogen and just all-around not good idea to eat! I mean, have you ever considered putting RoundUp on your Cheerios?!
We all have the opportunity to vote three times a day with our fork!
Eating is a moral act. What kind of world do you want your food dollars to support? You decide how food should be raised every time you put something in your shopping cart. Shop at your local farmers market. Talk to the farmers there about how they grow their product; most are happy to engage with the public and talk to you about their work.
We are working hard to implement regenerative farming techniques here at Where Pigs Fly Farm! We think our food tastes great, and our pastures look beautiful! They are teeming with foxes, birds, insects, frogs, lizards and snakes! We love watching it all at work!
Brian & Jennifer