Regenerative Agriculture Offers a Way to Feed the World and Reverse Global Warming

Want to save the world and feed it at the same time? And help the agricultural economy we’re at it?

Regenerative farming does all of that. It’s not a new concept; it’s been around since 1942. It’s similar to organic farming and some use the term regenerative organic farming. It’s widely available, inexpensive, and can help turn around climate change. At the same time, it can help end hunger in the world.

Regenerative agriculture is all about a mutually beneficial relationship between plants and soil.  Plants grow by pulling carbon out of the air through the process of photosynthesis. When plants photosynthesize, they produce carbons, some of which they use for themselves to grow and some of which they leak back into the soil.  These sugary carbon compounds help feed the bacteria, fungi, algae, and other creatures that are found in soil, which helps plants grow.  

In short, plants and the soil that nourishes them take care of each other. Plants release nutrients and other elements into the soil that these microorganisms love, and they, in turn, enrich the soil that nurtures the plants. Soil scientists keep making more discoveries about these virtuous cycles of soil biochemistry and how plants, by releasing these carbon exudates, can influence what grows around them.

Plants’ relationship with micro-organisms in the soil enables them to influence their local environment—altering the physical and chemical properties of the soil. That helps inhibit the growth of plants that compete with them (weeds, for short).  Crop diversity discourages pests so farmers don’t have to use toxic pesticides that are harmful to the environment.

Regenerative agricultural practices like cover cropping, crop rotation and conservation tillage do more than enriching the soil and promote biodiversity. They also bring benefits to our environment. These practices pull carbon out of the atmosphere into the soil. This is important today because reducing the fossil-fuel carbon emissions we release into the air is only half the battle. Pulling carbon out of the air is the other half.  Regeneratively managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset.

Not only does regenerative farming fight global warming, but it’s also good for the economy.

A Rodale Institute white paper about how organic farming can reverse climate change said that studies show that regenerative farming yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30% higher.

This is not a theoretical exercise. New York farmers from the northern-most areas of the state to Long Island are doing their part to use regenerative organic agricultural practices run sustainable farming businesses that keep food on our tables and pull carbon out of the air.

NYLCV will continue to advocate for sustainable farming practices including regenerative agriculture.