A new term is creeping into agricultural lingo, in everything from the scientific literature to farm media. “Regenerative agriculture” is loosely defined as an approach to agricultural management that improves the state of natural resources, such as soil, water and biodiversity, rather than just sustaining it.
The practices associated with regenerative agriculture cut across traditional divides between organic and conventional production systems. Regenerative farmers of all stripes are redesigning their farms and implementing practices that aim to improve soil health, sequester carbon, promote biodiversity and generally enhance ecological function and health in agricultural systems. Reducing or eliminating tillage, diversifying crops, using ecologically sound livestock grazing systems, and providing habitat for beneficial organisms are some key elements of regenerative systems.
The emergence of this term and the associated approach to farming raises all sorts of questions: How well do these practices achieve the stated goals? Are regenerative farming systems financially viable? Will this create yet another product label in the marketplace? And—of particular interest to the organic community—how is regenerative agriculture different from organic?
In this issue, we bring you a wide range of perspectives on regenerative agriculture—some from within the organic community and some from outside. Various writers outline the principles and practices at the core of regenerative agriculture, in different contexts. Others describe the impact this approach has had on farms, based on experience and research. Still others explore possibilities around certifying, labeling and marketing regenerative products. We hope these diverse voices will stimulate discussion on how our farming systems can be designed to improve our farms, support our farmers, and safeguard our planet.
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