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What Regenerative Farming Is and Why It’s Beneficial

Regenerative Farming Digging Up Carrots

What Regenerative Farming Is and Why It’s Beneficial

As climate change and modern agricultural practices contribute to the decline of essential ecosystems, we need to focus on creating a better, environmentally-friendly system to feed the world’s growing population. Through regenerative farming, we can restore our waterways, improve human health, promote animal well-being and ensure we have long-lasting, stable food sources. This article explores the benefits of regenerative farming techniques and how you can create a more sustainable system.

The Problems Associated With Industrial Agriculture

With advancements in technology and a rapidly-expanding population, the agricultural industry has turned to industrial agriculture for food production. While industrial agriculture has high food production outputs, it comes at a high cost for our planet. This kind of agriculture has been linked to several environmental and health issues, including:

  • Air, soil and water pollution
  • Unsustainable rates of agricultural water consumption
  • Increased rate of soil erosion
  • Lack of nutritional value in food products
  • Resistance to antibiotics caused by the overuse of antibiotics in the meat and animal industries
  • Reduced rates of biodiversity in animals and plants
  • Spread of foodborne pathogens, chronic diseases and cancers due to higher amounts of pesticides, production rates and animal-based foods

To reduce the extensive problems caused by industrial agriculture, some organizations have turned to regenerative practices to help create a more sustainable soil ecosystem and help protect our planet from future damage.

What Is Regenerative Farming? 

Put simply, regenerative farming focuses on sustainable agriculture rather than maximizing production, or giving back instead of only taking. While the term “regenerative agriculture” was popularized by Robert Rodale in the early 1980s, American indigenous groups have used regenerative farming techniques for hundreds of years.

Today, regenerative agricultural practices mean approaching agriculture from a holistic, rehabilitative perspective. This practice focuses on improving soil health, the water cycle and local biodiversity and ensuring the environment is cared for while growing food.

The Evolution of Farming in the United States

The origins of regenerative farming in the U.S. can be traced back to how indigenous communities used various practices to maintain soil health without sacrificing crop yields. The Iroquois practiced intercropping with the Three Sisters, a combination of squash, beans and corn. The corn stalks provided sturdy trellises for the beans to climb, the beans provided the soil with nitrogen and the squash vines offered protection from weeds and maintained soil moisture.

Unfortunately, with the rise of domesticated livestock came unsustainable, harmful overgrazing practices. In the 1900s, dryland farming and overgrazing led to the destruction of grasslands. When drought came to the Midwest in 1930, no grass was present to hold the dirt and soil in place, leading to the Dust Bowl and the eventual implementation of government-established services like the National Resources Conservation Service to help protect the land.

Despite the progress made after the Dust Bowl, the invention of synthetic fertilizers and the modern emphasis on using monocultures to increase output and profit have begun to take their toll on the land. To combat the effects of today’s agriculture practices, some groups have returned to regenerative agriculture, coming almost full circle.

These practices include:

  • Permaculture: This involves designing and maintaining regenerative agricultural systems based on the natural ecosystem. These ecosystems incorporate the stability and diversity of a natural environment to make a sustainable space.
  • Cover crops: These are planted to cover the soil. Instead of harvesting, cover crops are left in the ground to help with soil erosion, weeds, pests, soil erosion and biodiversity.
  • Polyculture: This means growing more than one plant species in the same space simultaneously to recreate the natural biodiversity in our ecosystems.
  • Agroforestry: This is a system that grows trees and shrubs in or around crops or pastureland. It helps with soil health and stability, increases biodiversity and protects crop outputs.
  • Conservation farming: This approach minimizes soil disturbance — like no-till farming — and plant diversity to protect the land.

Principles of Regenerative Farming Practices

While some regenerative agriculture practices use different methods or focus on specific goals, they all work towards the following five principles:

  1. Increasing biodiversity: Creating plant biodiversity is essential to a healthy ecosystem — the more plants growing in an area, the more nutrients enter the soil, and the more bugs, bacteria, fungi and animals gather to live there. An ecosystem rife with diverse plants and animals becomes more stable and adaptive. Ultimately, biodiversity helps protect ecosystems from devastation and encourages healthy growth.
  2. Reducing soil disturbances: Limiting soil damage and disruption protects an ecosystem’s health. Overusing the soil removes its vital nutrients, harming the local plant and animal life. With less protective plant life, soil will erode quicker, reducing water conservation and preventing new crops and plants from growing. Techniques like no-till, limited tilling and pasture cropping all help protect soil so it can regenerate.
  3. Covering soil: Covering the soil with mulch and vegetation like cover crops prevents erosion, nutrient loss and water runoff. With protective cover, farmers can encourage stability for a more robust, healthier environment.
  4. Increasing water percolation: Keeping living roots in the soil holds it in place and stabilizes it. Living plant roots help keep water and nutrients in the ground, so they can continue enriching the land. Without the nutrients and water stored in the soil, crops can’t grow — roots keep the land full of water, dirt and nutrients so that crops can flourish.
  5. Integrating animals: Integrating the right amount of livestock can benefit the land. Manure adds nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for additional fertilizers and encouraging plant growth naturally. Healthy soil is better at absorbing water and carbon, reducing runoff.

Benefits of Regenerative Farming

The emphasis on careful curation and land protection makes regenerative organic farming ideal for ensuring soil health and longevity. Working directly with the land through sustainable practices helps provide communities with healthier, more reliable food sources. Thanks to holistic regenerative techniques, we can conserve water, produce nutritious food and work to protect our planet.

Some of the ecological benefits of regenerative farming include:

  • Decreased emissions: Sustainable farming practices help reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint. Avoiding nitrogen fertilizers, reducing tillage and implementing cover crops can reduce the carbon output of farms. The less healthy and watered the soil is, the more additional resources are required to grow crops. Natural, sustainable cultivation ensures soil stays healthy and nutrient dense. This reduces the need for other nitrogen-heavy fertilizers and helps prevent runoff and water loss.
  • Improved crop yields and nutrition: Focusing on a sustainable, varied polyculture allows soil to become healthier. With many plants supporting diverse life and generating various wastes and nutrients, the ground is never bare and can retain water more efficiently. More water and nutrients in your soil mean healthier and more bountiful crops. Rotating land use and growing various crops every growing season helps promote ground health, leading to fewer nutrient- and water-deprived harvests.
  • Increased biodiversity: When plants and soil are diverse and healthy, more insects, animals, fungi and bacteria will live in the surrounding ecosystem. Monocultures don’t support as many lifeforms as polycultures — limited crops lead to limited biodiversity. Regenerative farming keeps soil healthy and plants varied, which supports more lifeforms and makes for stable, diverse ecosystems.
  • Restored land: When the soil is consistently healthy and many plants flourish, biodiversity returns to an area. When land supports a variety of lifeforms, it benefits from all the nutrients and support of a complete ecosystem. Plants lead to water and nutrient retention, along with animals and insects. With the return of stable, diverse systems, the land can begin to use these resources to heal itself and regenerate.
  • Protected ecosystems: Ecosystems require biodiversity to ensure they don’t die out. A wide variety of organisms means that when one group dies or leaves, the system can still support itself without collapsing. The fewer organisms in an ecosystem, the weaker it is. With regenerative farming, the ecosystem grows food and begins to support many lifeforms, protecting it from collapse.

Climate Impact of Regenerative Agriculture

Industrial agricultural practices often require damaging, artificial cultivation to meet the high demands of food companies in the most affordable ways possible. Though these practices are convenient and safe money at first glance, they lead to extensive long-term issues for the planet.

For example, out-of-season foods are shipped across the country, driving up fossil fuel usage and making it normal for consumers to eat foods that aren’t grown locally or sustainably. To maximize output and profit, much of the industry packs animals into livestock facilities and uses excess amounts of fertilizers, antibiotics and pesticides. These practices drain the Earth of its resources and contribute to climate change.

Regenerative farming can help reduce emissions and restore the health of our land. Focusing on renewable growth and regenerating the soil can produce better, cleaner food practices. Regenerative agriculture helps decrease our climate impact through:

1. Reducing Greenhouse Gases

Mass amounts of livestock raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations lead to a high amount of methane in the atmosphere. Animals in these operations don’t have access to pastures, where dung beetles break down their waste, turning it into fertilizer. When livestock is allowed to graze on open grassland, the CO2 is absorbed by plants for photosynthesis instead of collecting in the atmosphere, and waste is turned into beneficial fertilizer.

2. Limiting Pesticides

To protect crops, industrial agriculture uses vast amounts of synthetic pesticides. These pesticides and fungicides kill weeds, fungi and other living organisms. Pesticide runoff harms water systems, aquatic life and people who consume contaminated water.

A regenerative site relies on biodiversity to grow various healthy plants. Bugs will ruin some plants, but in a diverse ecosystem, other organisms will eat the bugs, keeping them in check and preventing them from devastating crops.

3. Composting

Excess amounts of additional fertilizers lead to too much nitrogen, which turns into nitrous oxide and becomes trapped in the atmosphere. Composting uses natural food waste to create diverse microbiomes and nourish the soil. This fertilizes the ground without adding too much of one thing, making a flourishing nutrient generator for the plants and soil. The more nutrients going back into the soil, the better crops can grow.

4. Planting Cover Crops

When the ground is picked clean of crops and there’s no plant protection for the soil, crops are more susceptible to heat generation. This is known as the heat island effect in urban areas. Without forests and greenery, heat isn’t absorbed as easily, making bare spots much hotter than they should be.

More heat leads to water evaporation, dead crops and dried soil, and you have to use more water, fertilizers and resources to grow crops, increasing waste and emissions. Cover crops keep the area cooler, retaining healthy, moist soil and encouraging crop growth.

How to Start Regenerative Farming

Starting regenerative farming is easier than you think. You don’t have to immediately dive into integrating animals, multi-species cover crops and trees in the beginning. Begin by limiting your use of herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, focusing on improving the soil health with rotating crops, reduced tilling, composting and cover crops. These steps will help bring your soil back to life and encourage biodiversity.

Soil health is key to a more sustainable farm. Regenerative farming soil should be nutrient-dense and supportive of many organisms. To help restore your topsoil and protect it from erosion and nutrient loss, you want a soil amendment like Black Wonder 5000. Our unique blend of polymers, enzymes, root fungi, amino acids and more provide the building blocks your soil needs to support a healthy, diverse harvest.

The rich, natural composition of Black Wonder 5000 products helps:

  • Reduce the need for outside fertilizers
  • Restore soil health and balance
  • Limit the use of pesticides and chemicals
  • Cultivate healthier, more vibrant plants

The restorative qualities of our products help increase the organic matter in your soil, making it a lush and nourishing environment for plants to grow. With the right enzymes, polymers and nutrition, you can begin to produce sustainable, varied plant life.

Plant life boosted by high-quality soil helps attract other natural organisms, increasing biodiversity and leading to a sustainable, stable ecosystem. Plants firmly rooted in good dirt will protect against erosion and water loss, making your land the perfect foundation for a thriving system to grow.

Start Growing Sustainably With Black Wonder 5000

True agricultural sustainability starts with the soil. At Black Wonder 5000, we’ve used soil science to develop a product with all the nutrients soil needs to support strong, natural plant life. Our Soil Activator helps you build high-quality topsoil to support regenerating, environmentally-conscious growing practices. To maintain soil quality, use our Foliar & Soil Liquid Enzymes to boost growth and ensure a thriving plant environment.

We’re committed to providing customers with superior, natural soil. Working toward sustainable soil protection and cultivation helps us create a healthier planet. If you have any questions about our products, contact us at any time. Check out our full line of soil-boosting products and grow your garden better today!

Seeding Schedules

April 21 – August 14

  • Tall Fescue 200#/acre
  • German Millet 3#/acre as summer cover crop

NOTE: Above is out of season for cool season grasses.

Better Summer Option #2

April 21 – August 14

  • Bermuda Grass 20# acre
  • Centipede 4#/acre
  • German Millet as cover crop #3/acre

August 15 – April 20

  • Tall Fescue 150#/acre
  • Hard Fescue 50#/acre
  • Heat Tolerant Bluegrass 15#/acre
  • Rye Grain as cover crop 10#/acre

NOTE: From November 1 – March 1, add additional 25# Rye Grain as winter cover crop.

NOTE: Mountain counties change dates by 2 weeks plus or minus and include Tall Fescue year round.

Slopes, Silt Ponds, Natural Low Maintenance areas

April 21 – August 14

  • Tall Fescue 50#/acre
  • Serica Lespediza Inoculated 8#/acre
  • Bermuda 10#/acre
  • Bahia 10#/acre
  • Korean Lespediza 15#/acre
  • Weeping Love Grass 4#/acre
  • German Millet as cover crop 13#/acre

August 15 – April 20

  • Tall Fescue 100#/acre
  • Winter Peas inoculated 12#/acre
  • Serica Lespediza Inoculated 8#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Inoculated 13#/acre
  • Clover Inoculated 10#/acre
  • Bahia 5#/acre
  • Rye Grain 75#/acre

From November 1 – March 1: Add 50# of additional Rye Grain as winter cover crop

NOTE: Mountain counties change dates by 2 weeks plus or minus and add more tall fescue.

NOTE: Incorporating Black Wonder 5000 into soil will inoculate all legumes.

April 6 – September 6

  • Bermuda 20#/acre
  • Centipede 6#/acre
  • German Millet 3#/acre as summer cover crop

September 7 – April 5

  • Tall Fescue 150#/acre
  • Unhulled Bermuda 25#/acre
  • Centipede 8#/acre
  • Rye Grain as cover crop 15#/acre

Slopes, Silt Ponds, Natural Low Maintenance areas

April 6 – September 6

  • Centipede 3#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Incoulated 15#/acre
  • Bermuda 15#/acre
  • Bahia 15#/acre
  • Weeping Love Grass 5#/acre
  • German Millet 13#/acre as cover crop

September 7 – April 5

  • Tall Fescue 50#/acre
  • Winter Peas Inoculated 15#/acre
  • Red/White Clover Incoulated 10#/acre
  • Kobe/Korean Lespediza Incoulated 15#/acre
  • Centipede Grass 3#/acre
  • Bahia 15#/acre
  • Unhulled Bermuda 15#/acre
  • Rye Grain 75#/acre as cover crop

NOTE: On steep slopes add 10# Serica Lespediza to above mixes

NOTE: Incorporating Black Wonder 5000 into soil will inoculate all legumes

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