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Planet Earth: Our Loving Home

Regenerative Farming: Restoring the Soil and Saving the Planet, Part 1 of 2

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Soil is one of the foundations of life on Earth, and a key part of our global food system. Healthy soil produces nutritious food, absorbs rainwater, minimizes flooding, and reduces erosion. Soil also holds and filters water, purifying rivers and streams. In addition, healthy soil can sequester vast amounts of CO2. Healthy soil teems with life forms, including bacteria, fungi, protozoa, algae, nematodes, earthworm-people, and many others.

However, today this precious commodity is at risk. The most prevalent method, known as “conventional farming,” is highly industrialized. Fields are repeatedly plowed, cultivated, and tilled, destroying soil structure and causing widespread erosion. In addition to conventional crop-growing methods, another major cause of soil degradation is the raising of billions of animal-people for so-called “food.” Livestock raising causes massive deforestation and widespread soil erosion, leaving the heavily trampled land on which livestock graze no longer viable for growing crops.

An alternative approach to farming called “regenerative agriculture” is on the rise. This method not only maintains the quality of topsoil but also improves and rebuilds it. Regenerative agriculture is also known as vegan organic, biodynamic, holistic, permaculture, and agro-forestry.

First and foremost, because chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides damage soil, regenerative farming is organic, using no chemicals. Only natural fertilizers made of plant compost or “green manure” crops are used. Second, because frequent tilling destroys the living organisms and the highly complex structure of topsoil, disturbances are kept to a minimum. For this reason, some regenerative farmers use only “no-till” methods. Third, because the continuous cultivation of monoculture crops depletes the soil, regenerative farmers grow a wide range of crops and frequently rotate them to build nutrient-dense soils. Finally, leaving soil bare breaks down stored nutrients. Thus, regenerative farmers keep their ground covered as much as possible, incorporating cover crops that boost soil health, prevent erosion, suppress weeds, and improve fertility.
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