What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture practices restore landscape function, increase nutrient and water cycling and sequester carbon in the soil. These practices increase biodiversity, productivity and are profitable and low risk while being personally sustainable for farmers and their communities. 

Practises include:

Credit: Graeme Hand, Hand for the Land

Recovery Based Grazing management maintains 100% ground cover and has decomposing litter, while allowing the perennial grasses to fully recover before grazing.  These practices build, rather that erode soil, by effectively composting in situ which enables water to infiltrate the soil and will increase nutrient cycling.  Increased water and nutrient cycling alone will significantly reduce water, feed, animal health and fertiliser costs.  Recovery Based Grazing allows enough recovery time for the perennial grasses look like an ungrazed plant and contain fresh yellow litter. 

Regenerative Cropping   A combination of the 4 practices no-till, multi species cover crops, diverse crop rotations, and integrated animal impact is the proven method of profitably cropping while regenerating the land.  Once again the goal is for 100% ground cover with decomposing litter.

Peer reviewed research (reference coming) has shown that when these 4 practices are combined, there is an increase in water infiltration, nutrient cycling and availability, provides a break in pest and disease cycles and sequesters carbon.

These combined practices are in contrast to conventional cropping where tillage breaks up (pulverizes) soil aggregation and fungal communities, and burns carbon from the soil.  Combining herbicides and tillage leaves the ground bare, resulting in soil capping and slaking (soil aggregate collapse) that can block soil spaces for air and water infiltration resulting in excessive water runoff, soil loss and nutrient lock up. Conversely, regenerative cropping enhances soil aggregation, water infiltration and retention, and carbon sequestration.

Integrating livestock into cropping systems rapidly improves soil health.  A working example is in the following link.

Grazing Cover Crops and Benefits for Livestock Operations – Gabe Brown