Article

Regenerative Agriculture


Published: 12 March 2021
Authored by: Emmanuella Alevrofas

What is regenerative agriculture?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, « agriculture » is « the science or practise of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products ».
Considering that the adjective « regenerative » is used « relating to something growing or being grown again », it could seem like a bit of a pleonasm to use them both in the same expression.

Indeed, the terms « regenerative agriculture » sound redundant since agriculture is supposed to regenerate nature/soil/agri-culture by definition. So, why is the tendency calling for that specific enhanced term in the agricultural field?

We should also observe here that there have been various other similar approaches praised before, such as « biodynamic, sustainable intensification, sustainable agriculture, and agroecology », while the conservation agriculture movement has been advocating reducing tillage and improving soil health since the 1980s.

The one that seems to have survived and outnumbered all of the approaches mentioned above is « regenerative agriculture ». It arose from the need to restore degraded soils for agriculture and increase soil carbon storage to help mitigate climate change (cf. John Holland, Head of Farmland Ecology at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, www.agricology.co.uk ).

One could argue that it intends to cover in a way for the mistakes, exaggerations and aberrations seen and done in the past, that have lead to a shortage of raw materials, over-production, over-consumption, environmental catastrophes, the disappearance of animal and vegetal species etc. Or even, to highlight the necessity of performing farming tasks in a different, more sustainable way.

Overexploitation and use of the soil, processes, tools and chemicals by huge corporations with considerable means, have notoriously led to both draining and saturating nature, and what it has to give.

Practically, Regenerative Agriculture is a sustainable farming concept including principles and practices that naturally gather and store CO2 in the soil and in produced biomass.

This methodology, which contributes to the fight against global warming, increases biodiversity, optimizes water and soil requirements, usage, and exploitation, enhancing local ecosystems, whilst improving soil and atmosphere quality.

Environmental, social and economic factors are also key contributors to a regenerative agriculture. When it is well managed, regenerative agriculture can offer high yields, resilience to climate instability and improved health, vitality and incomes for participating communities on a scale of many generations to come.

Regenerative agriculture implementation is guided by four principles:

  1. Progressive improvement of the whole agro-ecosystem (soil, water and biodiversity).
  2. Creation of context-specific designs and the enactment of holistic decisions that embrace the inherent potential of the farm and stakeholders’ objectives.
  3. Development of a fair andequitable relationship amongst all stakeholders.
  4. Continuous and progressive growth and evolvement of individuals, farms, and communities towards their innate potential.

Regenerative agriculture is also reflecting and impacting positively from a societal point of view on those who practice it though. The benefits of following these principles lead to:

  • More visibility in terms of innovative processes/tools for the professionals who defend it (i.e. the possibility of participating to a fair or exhibition such as the Frankfurt Fashion week coming in July 2021, highlighting the importance of researching and developing other sorts of fabrics and textiles and multiplying their use in the Couture, Haute Couture, prêt-à-porter and even Hair Fashion industries).
  • An overall enhanced reputation in terms of ethics and corporate social responsibility.
  • An eligibility and shortlisting in specific programs and various financial/political aid initiatives (subsidies, political support, land access etc.)
  • An assured and real impact in terms of environmental conscience and contribution.

Applications

We believe that the concept of “regenerative” agriculture does not only refer to the process and the methods of cultivating soil and producing agricultural goods (in a sustainable and responsible way) exclusively for the food industry anymore; it also includes the actual broadened and diversified applications of agriculture.

Meaning that agriculture can be practised (keeping in mind) and aiming at creating products dedicated to other fields of industry -where traditional sources of raw materials, energy etc. might have come close to extinction- such as fashion, energy, pharmaceutics etc. Therefore adapting all agricultural processes, methodology as well as tools so as to be equally effective establishing cross-sectoral innovation, and fostering growth. We should try to highlight the link between higher profitability and higher organic matter so as to encourage more actors to use such methods and convert them to those.



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