What’s Stopping Regenerative Agriculture Solving the Climate Crisis?

Man planting seeds n a regenerative agriculture farm.
Planting seeds by hand.

Prior to Pandemic, I was lucky enough to volunteer on a regenerative organic startup farm in the heart of Byron Bay, Australia. I lived within a community of environmentalists which taught me a lot about what’s possible with agriculture.

But it also raised a lot of questions…

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Before we jump into it, what even is Regenerative Agriculture?

The secret way of farming that makes sense. According to the Climate Reality Project, it takes a holistic view of the whole ecosystem and enhances it by taking into account things like soil health, water management, and other resources to work with the environment.

The result?

“Regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change by sequestering carbon from the atmosphere” — The Rodale Institute.

Yes, you heard it, combating climate change by storing carbon!

How amazing is that? Considering the IPCC reports agriculture to be responsible for just short of 25% of human-created greenhouse gasses.

However, as perfect as it sounds, I think the pressure we create for cheap food is hindering change, and it’s not the farmer’s fault!

Lack of Awareness

The stand out thing for me is the lack of awareness we have on our food source. Food all looks the same at the grocery store, forcing a race to the bottom on price.

But who’s to know if this secret farming technique is implemented in the food we buy? There is no current certification, I think if people knew they’d pay for it.

After seeing a regenerative organic farm first hand, the level of detail takes to work with the ecosystem is huge. This isn’t something that can be learned overnight, you really have to learn the chemistry and biology of farming to implement the techniques. This should be rewarded.

Knowledge Is Key

The secret weapon in running a successful regenerative farm is knowledge. Without knowledge of natural cycles, how are you ever going to know where to start?

This seemed a huge barrier to entry to me.

This knowledge isn’t mainstream farmer know-how. Many farmers are taught generational techniques like single cropping, pesticide, and fertilizer use. Who can blame them, it’s a safe bet in their mind.

The issue is, these practices completely disregard the local ecosystem.

My initial thoughts were, where can these farmers gain the missing knowledge and use it with confidence? What’s in it for them? In their eyes, their existing techniques have worked for years. How can we even persuade them to want to learn?

Is It Feasible?

You can’t blame the farmer for bad practice! Discussions with other volunteers on the farm often went along the lines of…

“How is regenerative agriculture feasible globally?”

After all, it’s us that want the cheapest product possible.

Why would a farmer risk changing farming practices if they work? Those practices have been handed down generationally.

We discussed that changing a farmer’s business is a huge risk for them without the foresight of financial stability.

Education Is the Future

An apparent takeaway from this experience that we see across climate issues is that global education is key.

Consumers need to understand the footprint of the products we choose and encourage better practice.

In addition, farmers need education and support to aid them to transition to regenerative techniques.

This switch can’t happen overnight, it’s far too complex. With education, I hope agriculture has the potential to improve dramatically.

The farm I volunteered at is a non-for-profit that aims to become a blueprint from its own mistakes in years to come, acting as an education center for aspiring farmers. I thought this was a fantastic solution.

Things Are Looking Up

I came across this today which inspired me to share my experience…

Exploding topics reports searches for the term “regenerative agriculture” are up 942% in the past 5 years, currently at a search volume of 6.6K per month at the time of writing. Are we finally seeing a rise in awareness and education? I hope so.

If you’re reading this you likely understand the importance of global education on where our food comes from. This experience has definitely fueled a passion for following and sharing this movement!

With the growth of interest shown above, let’s hope change is coming!

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Harry Graham

Harry Graham

Copywriter for marketing products (SaaS and education)