Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative Agriculture:  a system of farming principles and practices aimed at increasing the health of soils, including its ability to sequester carbon.  While these practices help to reverse the course of climate change they also:    

      

  • increase the fertility of the soil and the nutrients of the food grown in it    

  • increase the water-holding capacity of the soil, thus increasing the efficiency of water use and so also resilience to both drought and flood      

  • greatly reduce or eliminate the need for fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides

5 Principals of Soil Health

as per Gabe Brown, with a nod to Jon Sitka, Jay Fuhrer and Ray Archuleta

1

Minimize Disturbance to the Soil.  Widespread tillage destroys soil structure & function and releases carbon into the atmosphere as CO2. Application of copious amounts of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides can be just as devastating. All of these disturbances destroy or interfere with the biology that gives soil its structure and enables it to function well.

2

Armor the Soil Surface.  Leaving crop residue in place rather than tilling it in leaves an armor on the soil that protects against water and wind erosion, inhibits weed growth, helps moderate soil surface temperatures, reduces evaporation rates, supplies organic matter to the soil and provides home for a myriad of microorganisms.  In our temperate climate, establishing overwintering cash or cover crops can play this role as well.

4

Keep Living Roots in the Soil.  As long as there are living roots in the soil, solar energy continues to transform to biological energy -- feeding microorganisms, enhancing mycorrhizal fungi and adding organic matter to the soil.  The soil stays alive.  On cropland, this means that as soon as one crop is harvested, another cash crop or a cover crop is sown in its place.  Trees and perennials, of course, need no help keeping living roots in the soil. 

5

Integrate Livestock.  Managed grazing of ruminants, with fields resting between grazing sessions, helps build the soil.  Hooves break up surface crusts, grazed plants photosynthesize more than ungrazed plants, and manure adds nitrogen and organic matter to the soil.  Typically, pastures are separated into paddocks and animals graze the field one paddock at a time.  

Gabe Brown, a pioneer in Regenerative Agriculture, describes his journey in a video on his website and also in his book "Dirt to Soil".

Cover Cropping

Cover cropping is the practice of...

Amendments

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How Can the Olympic Carbon Fund Help?

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3

Build Diversity.  Synergies are compounded with plant diversity: plant health, function and biomass all improve.  Diversity of vegetation naturally leads to diversity of microorganisms, insects and wildlife.  Diversity in general naturally leads to increased resilience.  In a healthy natural ecosystem, every element plays multiple roles and every role is played by multiple elements.