Regenerative agriculture: Old idea rehashed in modern clothing

We have cycled 536 km over the last 3 weeks. The slow cycling gave us the opportunity to spend enough of time on the farms and to reflect on what we have learned from the farmers, but also to reflect on our mission. To start things off we reflected that we need to introduce our narrative of regenerative agriculture.

The concept of regenerative agriculture has more recently become a buzzword. As we did our research we discovered that regenerative agriculture is not a new form of agricultural practice but has been around for a long time. Indigenous peoples have practised what is now called regenerative agriculture for millennia. Indigenous people have always had a different view of the agricultural system, because land, water, air and the health of people and animals are all seen as collective commodities. While contemporary agriculture, goods such as land and water are not seen as collective and can be bought. The concept became trending because it has recently been seen as one of the solutions to combat climate change, making the word increasingly popular.

While there have been several different definitions all the definitions converge in regenerative agriculture focussing on soil health and biodiversity. A synthesis of various reports indicated a general agreement around a set of principles which include:
1) activities that encourage infiltration and percolation of water and prevent soil erosion such as minimising tillage and maintaining soil cover;
2) practices that build soil carbon (C) and greater reliance on biological nutrient cycling;
3) practices that foster plant diversity, such as diverse rotations;
4) integration of livestock;
5) reduced reliance on external inputs (Giller, 2022).

In order to create more uniformity, a strict definition is preferred by some institutions, but a huge difference in farming practices around the world due to different starting and farming conditions makes the broad concept more favourable.

With Cycle to Farms project, we aim to discover in a broader sense how regenerative agriculture is practised by different farmers around the world as they deal with different social, economic and environmental conditions.

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Lukas & Aisha

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