Regenerative Agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. By capturing carbon in soil and above ground biomass. The system draws from decades of scientific and applied research by the global communities of organic farming, agroecology, holistic grazing, and agroforestry.
There is a growing interest from farmers in regenerative agriculture. Conventional agriculture practices, such as: soil tillage, monoculture, leaving the soil bare, and the overuse of chemicals;depletes soil productivity and is not sustainable in the long-run due to diminishing yields and the need for increased chemical inputs (which are also increasing in price). Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services).
The movement towards more regenerative practices has been predominantly driven by farmers and the business case is being increasingly understood. An example of regenerative agriculture in South Africa (SA) include fruit and vegetable giant ZZ2 who reported an increase in soil carbon, decreasing water and nitrogen (85%) application, and increasing yields after moving towards more regenerative practices. This movement is further evident further in major acquisitions that has occurred through traditionally chemical suppliers; for example, Omnia recently acquired a majority share in biological input supplier OroAgri.
Cover crops has become an important component of regenerative agriculture. Cover crops improves soil health and productivity through:
- Physical stability: It limits loss of soils and nutrients and it retains the soil floor
- Nutrient cycling and retention: It improves nutrient recycling (which reduces the need for input nutrients like nitrogen) and limits water loss.
- Improved hydrology: It improves water infiltration and water holding capacity, cools soil temperature and decreases evaporation.
- Increases biodiversity (above and below the soil): This improves biological control and balances soil biology.
The presentations from SA's first regenerative agriculture conference can be viewed at this link (click). These include presentations by both local and global experts, as well as, practical experiences from top farmers.