Climate change threatens the health of our planet and jeopardizes our ability to grow food. At Wolfe’s Neck Center, we are committed to creating solutions to these problems to build a healthier planet for our future generations. A Deeper Dig aims to highlight terminology, practices, and ideas, both in our backyard and globally, through monthly topics.
You have likely heard the term regenerative agriculture and while it may seem new like a new buzzword, regenerative farming practices have been around for thousands of years. In many ways, it is a return to the way farming used to be, and is focused on restoring soils that have been degraded by the industrial agricultural system. Its methods promote healthier ecosystems by rebuilding soil organic matter.
In short, regenerative agriculture lets nature do the work.
Some principles of regenerative agriculture include:
- Managed Grazing: As animals move, they break up the soil, allowing nutrients and sunlight to reach new plants — essentially speeding up the building of soil organic matter. Their manure adds nutrients to the ground, further improving water retention.
- Cover Crops: Keeping the soil covered at all times protects it from wind and water erosion, lowers its temperature, and feeds the microorganisms within it.
- No-Till: One teaspoon of healthy soil has more living organisms than there are people on Earth – vitally important for building structure and overall soil health. Limiting the disturbance of the soil maintains the soil structure and prevents erosion.
- Crop Diversity: Diverse ecosystems, whether it’s through plant or animal species, mean healthier and more resilient soil.
Why is regenerative agriculture so important now? Finding solutions to the growing climate crisis relies on both limiting greenhouse gas emissions AND capturing carbon in the soil. The world’s soils store several times the amount carbon as does the atmosphere, acting as a natural “carbon sink.” Healthy soil captures more carbon. By building soil health through regenerative practices, we can farm in a way that solves the problems we face now and makes our farmland more resilient for the future of food and our planet.
Farming can and must play a role in the fight against climate change.
At Wolfe’s Neck Center, we promote regenerative agriculture in three main ways:
- Research programs right here on the farm in collaboration with local, regional, and global partners including Bigelow Labs
- Farmer training programs for both dairy and fruit/vegetable apprentices where trainees learn regenerative practices
- Demonstration of year-round farming practices