Mar 01 2022 · 5 months ago

SOIL REGENERATION: BOOSTING SOIL HEALTH THROUGH REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Around 33 per cent of the world’s soil is moderately to severely degraded, and the process has been recently accelerated by intensive conventional farming practices that cause deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution. These activities put global food supplies at risk and lead to an increase in carbon emissions. Furthermore, they negatively affect the soil beneath our feet as they expose it to wind and water erosion, causing severe harm to the thousands of animals, plants and other vital organisms that soil supports. 

 

Although soil is often overlooked, it represents a valuable, non-renewable resource that sustains numerous ecosystems. Soil serves as an anchor for roots, a reservoir for water and nutrients, and a large carbon sink, so it is crucial to the survival of all life on Earth. Soil health and the search for more holistic, dynamic farming practices that actually build matter and life in the soil should be therefore prioritized. Recognizing soil’s indispensable role can help us change the way we care for it and lead us to solutions like regenerative agricultural practices that boost soil health through a variety of techniques.  

 Soil is our life support system because it performs critical functions within the ecosystem. For instance, soil shields seeds and plants, allowing them to germinate, providing them with a foothold for their roots and holding the necessary nutrients for them to grow to their full potential. It also contains organisms that are capable of killing harmful bacteria and can be used to create a variety of medicines. Organisms that live in the soil aid in the breakdown of manure,  pesticides and plant remains, preventing them from entering and polluting the water supply. In addition, soil has a vital role in cleaning water as it holds and releases water, which aids in flood control and water filtering. All of this can only be achieved through healthy soil.   

 Soil health is defined by its ability to continuously provide various functions to maintain the lives of plants, animals, and humans. Because of its complex biological, physical, and chemical interdependence, healthy soil can lead to a landscape that is more resistant to the effects of drought, flood, or fire. Soil that is healthy is extremely significant because of its role in mitigating climate change. Since it is the second-largest carbon sink, soil has the ability to store large amounts of organic carbon, regulating atmospheric CO2, and, subsequently, greenhouse gasses.   

 The main threat to soil health is soil degradation. This term refers to the loss of a land’s production capacity. It happens when the quality of soil deteriorates and loses its physical, chemical and biological properties, reducing its ability to support life. While soil degradation occurs naturally, it is also caused by human activity. Landslides and floods, increased pollution, and a decline in global food production can all result from soil degradation. In short, soil degradation can pose serious threats to our future. So, what can be done to prevent it?  

 Regenerative agriculture is an expanding, evolving movement with enormous climate reversal potential. This approach aims to restore degraded soil structure and encourage healthier ecosystems by regenerating organic matter in the soil through holistic farming practices such as cover crops, conservation tillage or no-till, new crops or rotations, diversified production systems, reduction or elimination of synthetic chemicals and planned grazing.   

 According to science, widespread acceptance of validated regenerative agricultural methods can repair soils, conserve water, increase biodiversity, and store carbon in large quantities. For 1 % humus soil restored 92 tons CO2 per hectare can be stored. Regenerative agriculture recognizes the importance of soil in maintaining the earth’s carbon system in balance. Regenerative farming techniques have the ability to recover soil health, enhance watersheds, and improve soil carbon-capture capacity, as well as the potential to aid in the restoration of ecological balance and mitigation of climate change. “Farms that used regenerative agriculture practices such as no-till farming, cover crops and diverse crop rotations produced crops with higher levels of certain vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals than farms using conventional practices, according to results in a study from the University of Washington. 

The study appeared Jan. 27 in PeerJ.  When compared to crops from conventional farms, crops from regenerative agriculture farms had 34% more vitamin K, 15% more vitamin E, 14% more vitamin B1 and 17% more vitamin B2. The regenerative agriculture crops also had 11% more calcium, 16% more phosphorus and 27% more copper.” [article in world-grain.com 02.28.2022 by Jeff Gelski,] 

Whether we accept it or not, a solution to climate change may be right under our feet. The popularity of regenerative agriculture is slowly increasing, and its potential can no longer be denied. The importance of soil health brings attention to the need for a balance that will improve the quality of life for all involved creatures and will ensure a completely new level of possibilities and realities.

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Iskra Talevska

BEL in English Language and Literature