Regenerative Agriculture: The Right Way Forward for Humanity

Grass on farm with bright sun setting.
A philosophy of regenerative agriculture is to first feed the soil to nourish the plants. (Image: via Unsplash)

Like most industries, agriculture has reached a fork in the road. Farmers and supply chains are left with the option to continue marching forward into oblivion with the high input doctrine of agriculture, or instead move toward a not-so-new method of farming called regenerative agriculture.

This agricultural system is a methodology and styles of agriculture that have been once again revived and practiced on a large scale across the world.

Regenerative agriculture: awakening the soil

The once considered crazy, lunatic farmer and his techniques are becoming widely popularized as people are starting to wake up to the crucial importance of soil health and nutrition once more. I live and work on a farm with my family, which has been farming organically for 23 years.

Johnny Whitsed and grandson Zac Whitsed marvel at the grass growth for the upcoming harvest acheived from organic, regenerative farming.
Johnny Whitsed and his grandson Zac Whitsed marvel at the grass growth for the upcoming harvest achieved through organic, regenerative agriculture. (Image: Keenan Whitsed)

The soil is the key to a healthy food chain. If the soil has sufficient and balanced nutrients and minerals in it, then our food has the proper nutrients and minerals. If our soil is lacking in these essential elements for a healthy crop, then so is our food.

Modern agriculture takes and takes from the soil until it is depleted of essential nutrients, and what it gives back is usually synthetic fertilizers that typically are not long-lasting or good quality nutrients and minerals. This approach is detrimental to soil health. While this provides a quick fix and a temporary boost in plant growth and productivity, the depleted soil becomes dependent on these synthetic fertilizers, the same as a person who is addicted to drugs. 

Feed the soil first to nourish the grass and plants

The philosophy of regenerative agriculture begins with feeding the soil first, so as to feed the plants. This way gives more to the soil than is being taken from it, thus creating a regenerative effect. 

 The left paddock uses new soil regenerative technology, SoilKee Renevator where the right paddock doesn't.
The left paddock uses new soil regenerative technology, SoilKee Renevator, whereas the right paddock does not. (Image: Keenan Whitsed)

A great deception of modern agriculture is the use of soil sampling tests that do not give the total unavailable nutrients locked up in the soil in their results. Keeping farmers from this crucial soil analysis information affects their ability to successfully manage their properties and businesses. A side effect of synthetic fertilizers is that they lock up the nutrients and minerals in the soil.

By using an independent laboratory to analyze your soil and requesting the total unavailable nutrients and minerals, you are able to make more effective decisions. In managing your land and soil instead of focusing on wasteful input farming, you can look at and work toward unlocking and making the unavailable nutrients and minerals in your soil available to nourish your crops.

Regenerative agriculture: saving money and improving health

By incorporating these techniques, you are not only saving money, but you are also strengthening your business profitability, as your grasses have more nutrients and minerals in them. The results from this approach are that your cattle require less grass to fill themselves and to a cattle farmer, grass is money.

Cows indulge in grass that is up past their stomachs in the Whitsed's paddock.
Cows indulge themselves on grass that is up past the height of their stomachs in the Whitsed’s paddock. (Image: Keenan Whitsed)

The regenerative agriculture style of farming is quickly becoming recognized for its benefits among farmers in Australia. With the launching of the soil carbon industry, farmers are in the process of looking at and working out how to better manage their soils, increase their soil carbon levels, and increase their profitability.

One of the many benefits of regenerative agriculture is that the process creates more carbon in the soil, which brings many benefits, one being that it increases the soil’s water holding capacity. For every 1percent increase in soil carbon, farmers can store 31 gallons (136 liters) of extra water in their soil. This allows for greater growth, stability, and productivity through biological pathways. 

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