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Many of you are probably aware that we are facing a climate crisis, but did you know that there’s also a global soil crisis?
 

Common place agricultural practices remain one of the biggest culprits attributing to the world's soil crisis. These techniques rely heavily on chemicals and physical degradation that further compromises soil health. And as such, the soil loss rate is gradually beginning to exceed the soil’s natural replenishment rate — a widespread concern spanning the world. 

 

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) this could mean that current soil degradation rates could result in a loss of the world’s topsoil within 60 years — this soil contains invaluable nutrients that plants need in order to survive.
 

 

Why should we care?

 

Well, our food system relies heavily on our soil health. Approximately 95% of the world’s food is sourced from our soil. That’s a lot!
 

The basis of life depends on soil, and if soil health is poor, agriculture yields greatly decline, making it difficult to feed the growing population.

 

While it seems like this issue is a never-ending and irreversible one in today's agriculture sector, there's a simple solution called regenerative agriculture. 
 

 

So what is regenerative agriculture

 

This sustainable farming methodology is implemented as a way to ensure soil’s organic matter and biodiversity are restored and preserved to retain the robust-nature of soil for agricultural practices as well as promoting these ecosystems.
 

 

     Harvesting in a field that uses cover crops to maintain soil health between main crops  

Photo credit: Heartwood Farm & Cidery

 

 

There are a variety of regenerative agriculture practices, some of which include:

 

  1. Increasing soil fertility and restoration of the microbiome through the implementation of cover crops, compost, animal manure and crop rotations. You can think of this similarly to your gut microbiota. Everyone has a unique group of commensal bacteria that help supply nutrients to your body while also acting as a defense system against pathogenic bacteria. Like the soil microbiome, having a diverse abundance of “good” bacteria maintains the health of the organism they inhabit.
  1. Reduction or elimination of tillage. Tillage disturbs soil aggregates and incorporates oxygen while releasing carbon dioxide. Increasing tillage causes significant soil erosion and carbon emissions into the atmosphere. 
  1. Strategically managed grazing practices can improve plant growth and promote the accumulation of soil carbon deposits. Carbon improves the soil’s water retention abilities, fertility and structure that reduces erosion, ultimately leading to better ground and surface water quality to help advance food security.

 

By working in conjunction with nature through regenerative agriculture practices, soil biodiversity thrives and enhances agricultural yields to further increase food security globally.

 

 

Looking for more resources on regenerative agriculture?

 

Watch the Kiss the Ground, a documentary on Netflix

 

Check out this short film by Farmer’s Footprint

 

 

World Soil Day is on December 5, 2020, and this year's campaign is “Keep soil alive. Protect soil biodiversity.” Participate in the discussion with your friends and family to raise awareness of the importance of preserving soil ecosystems and how this can have further ripple effects on the world’s food systems. 

 

 

Supporting Articles:

 

  1. Ontl, T. A. & Schulte, L. A. (2012) Soil Carbon Storage. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):35. https://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/soil-carbon-storage-84223790/

  2. The Carbon Underground & Regenerative Agriculture Initiative. (2017, February 16). What is Regenerative Agriculture? Regeneration International. https://regenerationinternational.org/2017/02/24/what-is-regenerative-agriculture/
  3. Arsenault, C. (2014, December 5). Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/only-60-years-of-farming-left-if-soil-degradation-continues/
  4. Joy, E. (2020, September 24). What Is Regenerative Agriculture And How Can It Reverse Climate Change? Conscious Life & Style. https://www.consciouslifeandstyle.com/regenerative-agriculture/

 

 

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