Regenerative agriculture can make farmers stewards of the land again

phys.org | 2/11/2019 | Staff
KimmyPoo (Posted by) Level 3
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For years, "sustainable" has been the buzzword in conversations about agriculture. If farmers and ranchers could slow or stop further damage to land and water, the thinking went, that was good enough. I thought that way too, until I started writing my new book, "One Size Fits None: A Farm Girl's Search for the Promise of Regenerative Agriculture."

I grew up on a cattle ranch in western South Dakota and once worked as an agricultural journalist. For me, agriculture is more than a topic – it is who I am. When I began working on my book, I thought I would be writing about sustainability as a response to the environmental damage caused by conventional agriculture – farming that is industrial and heavily reliant on oil and agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers.

Research - Interviews - Farmers - Ranchers - United

But through research and interviews with farmers and ranchers around the United States, I discovered that sustainability's "give back what you take" approach, which usually just maintains or marginally improves resources already degraded by generations of conventional agriculture, does not adequately address the biggest long-term challenge farmers face: climate change.

But there is an alternative. A method called regenerative agriculture promises to create new resources, restoring them to preindustrial levels or better. This is good for farmers as well as the environment, since it lets them reduce their use of agrochemicals while making their land more productive.

Food - Production - Community - Farmers - Ranchers

Modern American food production remains predominantly conventional. Growing up in a rural community of farmers and ranchers, I saw firsthand why.

As food markets globalized in the early 1900s, farmers began specializing in select commodity crops and animals to increase profits. But specialization made farms less resilient: If a key crop failed or prices tumbled, they had no other income source. Most farmers stopped growing their own food, which made them dependent on agribusiness retailers.

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(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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