The regenerative agriculture movement is reviving an Indigenous approach to agriculture and flipping the narrative to show how agriculture can help restore ecologies, fight climate change, rebuild relationships, spark economic development, and bring people—consumers AND farmers and ranchers—joy. The idea of regenerative agriculture is to generate life and wealth across the connective tissues of processing, infrastructure, distribution, and supply of food.
Many of the farmers and ranchers interviewed are motivated to make the regenerative journey or become first-time farmers or ranchers because they want to be part of the solution for climate change.
Many farmers and ranchers interviewed witnessed amazing transformations on their land and they saw improvements in soil health and fertility, evidenced by healthier crops and improved yields. Soil tests revealed vibrant microbial communities in the soil, the foundation of healthy water, nutrient, and carbon cycling. Biodiversity on land, air, and water followed improved biodiversity in the soil. Regenerative farming also benefits water quality and quantity. Improved water efficiency from better soil health leads to better soil water holding capacity and groundwater recharge.
Also cost-savings from reduced use of chemicals, including fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and antibiotics, had a positive impact on farm and ranch profitability. For many farmers and ranchers, the outcome of their careful financial practices was reduced debt and risk, and overall benefits for financial security and bottom line.
On the macro-level, regenerative agriculture has the power to drive rural economic development as there is a concept of regenerative economies that goes beyond the farm and includes the larger food supply web.
Stronger relationships with customers and a community of other growers were just a handful of the community-oriented benefits our interviewees mentioned. Hosting on-farm/on-ranch visits helped farmers and ranchers build stronger relationships with, families, kids, and other customers, and in turn, those visitors learned about regenerative agriculture. Overall, cultivating a new generation of farmers and ranchers, growing existing networks of farmers and ranchers, and inspiring children to come back to the family business all point to a movement that is investing in a stronger rural workforce and reinvigorating local economies.
On a deeply personal note, regenerative agriculture brought farmers joy and happiness, as more free time from working with nature instead of against her. The diversified revenue streams afforded by regenerative agriculture provided also a strong financial security.
Climate change is an intersectional challenge and regenerative agriculture gives growers, communities, advocates, and legislators the chance to simultaneously repair, restore, and rebuild.
For further information visit: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/arohi-sharma/regenerative-agriculture-part-4-benefits