Regenerative Agriculture Practices to Promote Soil Health and Sequester Carbon
The foundation of sustainable and productive agriculture is directly related to soil health. Some benefits of maintaining healthy soil include reducing erosion, maximizing water infiltration, improving nutrient cycling, and saving money on inputs. With one-third of the world’s soils already degraded, agriculture experts recognize the need to develop and implement soil health management systems across the globe.
One of the main purposes of these regenerative practices is to sequester carbon. Carbon removal consists of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order to reduce the effects of climate change and increase productivity in the industry. While regenerative practices are often specific to each environment, let’s discuss some of the common techniques being implemented today.
Eliminating tillage practices improves soil health by disturbing the soil less, which in turn lessens the amount of runoff and erosion. Tilling is a practice that has been around for centuries, but its negative effects are being recognized more than ever.
Other benefits of no-till agriculture include increasing the amount of water in the soil, organic matter retention, and cycling nutrients. This practice will ultimately increase soil health and productivity, and protect the soil for future generations.
Using cover crops is another strategy to keep the soil undisturbed. Based on the environment, growers can use specific cover crops to increase soil health. While keeping the soil protected, cover crops also assist in carbon sequestering, which allows carbon to build up in the soil and provide nutrients to the crops.
Additionally, cover crops also protect the soil from erosion by shielding the soil from the sun thus controlling the temperature of the soil. Soil that becomes too hot can demolish soil microbial life which is necessary for optimal soil health.
As growers continue to implement farming practices such as cover crops and no-tillage, the nutrients provided to the soil must be considered and adjusted. As a result of these practices, fertilizers, and pesticides can be reduced. This allows for less pollution and increased profits for farmers as their cost of inputs is reduced.
One major goal of these regenerative practices is to reduce the need for synthetic fertilizer. Knowing the health of the soil through testing will give growers the knowledge they need on what nutrients their soil might require. Adjusting to the needs of the soil will promote optimal soil health.
Soil health, directly and indirectly, impacts many aspects of our existence by sustaining plants, animals, and humans. Practicing no-tillage, using cover crops, and adjusting nutrients are just some of the ways farmers and ranchers are working to combat rising challenges. As soil health improves, more carbon is sequestered, which means less carbon is in the atmosphere.
The agriculture industry is supporting initiatives to develop new technologies that will help farmers improve soil health and educate them on the importance of regenerative practices. The impact of these efforts will be felt for generations to come.