Using natural farming methods, to grow food, has been around since man first ‘mingled’ with nature and required food to sustain himself, his family, and his community. Nature and man coexist, intrinsically.
After innovations occured in plant nutrition, around the 19th century, an agricultural industry developed around synthetically created fertilisers. Since then, we have taken a deep dive into chemical, synthetic, and what is now known as, conventional farming.
In response, however, to concerns about the environmental impacts of modern agricultural practices, natural farming movements and ‘regenerative’ mindsets have begun to re-emerge.
ABOUT Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach to farming and land management that focusses on soil biodiversity and increasing natural resilience, often through mimicking nature.
Furthermore, regenerative agricultural practices aim to restore and enhance the health of living ecosystems. It goes beyond sustainable practices by actively replenishing and regenerating the soil, water, and biodiversity.
There are several core principles that guide regenerative agriculture:
1. Soil Health
Regenerative agriculture focuses on building healthy soils.
It uses practices such as cover cropping, crop rotation, minimal tillage, and the use of compost, or organic matter, and natural inputs such as fish hydrolysate and seaweed biological fertiliser. These practices help improve soil structure, increase nutrient availability, and promote beneficial microbial activity.
Encouraging biodiversity is another key principle of regenerative agriculture.
By promoting diverse plant species and habitats on farms, it supports a wide range of beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife that contribute to pest control and pollination.
3. Water Management
Efficient water management is crucial in regenerative agriculture.
Practices like contour plowing or terracing help reduce erosion and retain water in the soil for longer periods. Additionally, implementing irrigation systems that minimise water waste can further conserve this precious resource.
4. Carbon Sequestration
Regenerative agriculture plays a significant role in mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the soil.
By increasing organic matter content through practices like cover cropping or agroforestry, farmers can enhance carbon storage capacity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Community Engagement
Regenerative agriculture emphasises community involvement by fostering relationships between farmers, consumers, local businesses, and organisations.
This collaborative approach helps create resilient food systems that support local economies while providing healthier food choices for communities.
By adhering to these core principles of regenerative agriculture, farmers can not only improve their own livelihoods but also contribute to environmental sustainability for future generations.
One of the counterparts of regenerative agriculture is Korean Natural Farming (KNF). Originating from South Korea, KNF emphasises the use of indigenous microorganisms and natural inputs to enhance soil fertility and plant health. This method promotes self-sufficiency in farming by utilising locally available resources.
Korean Natural Farming
Created on the need for low cost, self-sufficient farming, Korean Natural Farming utilises a process of collecting indigenous beneficial soil microorganisms and uses them to produce effective inputs that enhance natural soil fertility.
Korean Natural Farming began around 1960 with a goal of using what is available on the land to give back to the soil, and in doing so, strengthening plant growth without the use of chemicals, fungicides or synthetic fertilisers.
Biodynamics is another approach closely related to regenerative agriculture. Developed by Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th century, biodynamics incorporates spiritual and esoteric principles into farming practices. It involves working with lunar cycles, compost preparations, and integrating livestock into agricultural systems.
Biodynamics is often cited as being the first modern method for a farming system that works with, not against, nature, and was one of the first organic farming movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks.
External Links: Biodynamic Farming – Videos
Syntropic farming, also known as agroforestry or analog forestry, is a regenerative approach that mimics natural forest ecosystems. It involves planting diverse crops in layers or guilds to create a balanced ecosystem that supports mutualistic relationships among plants, animals, and microorganisms.
Growing a diversity of vegetation that requires strategic planning, Syntropic Farming is based on natural ecological succession and synchronised pruning practices. Syntropic farming also mimics nature by way of assisting healthy soil biology through plant diversity and using natural mulch (chop and drop) for ground cover.
What are the Common Themes?
There are many common themes with all natural and regenerative farming practices.
1. Advancing Beneficial Soil Microbes
One commonality is an acknowledgement of living organisms in the soil that benefit the plants growth, strength, and nutrient density.
2. Working ‘With’ Nature
Another common theme with all natural farming is the idea of working with nature, rather than against it. This means using natural processes and ecosystems to our advantage, rather than trying to control them. For example, natural farmers using regenerative agriculture would use mixed-species cover crops, and rotational grazing to improve soil health, rather than relying on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides to boost growth, at the cost of losing soil biology.Each one tends to mimic nature as much as possible in their farming systems, using natural inputs to maintain soil biology.
3. Diversity, Diversity, Diversity
Regenerative and natural farming also tends to focus on creating a diversified farm system, which includes a variety of different crops and animals. This diversification helps to create a more resilient farm system that is better able to withstand pest and disease pressures.
Overall, all natural farming practices and regenerative agriculture is about working with nature to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly way of producing nutrient dense food.
Build Soil. Diversify. Mimick Nature. No Chemicals. Regenerate.
Applying regenerative agriculture and natural farming principals on your land is about knowing your land. But, more importantly, it’s about knowing your soil.
By focusing on soil fertility, we can enable the most incredible biological networks to develop. And, those networks do all the work that a lab scientist is trying to do, but for free. Beneficial microorganisms are primed to know which minerals to deliver, when, and how much. Just as nature intended. They facilitate nutrient acquisition. They set the foundation for the growth of nutrient dense, strong and resilient plants.
“Regenerative agriculture management systems have so much more to offer than contemporary systems: higher yields, improved nutritional integrity, disease resistance, insect resistance, reduced input costs, increased profitability, reduced climactic risk, regenerating ecosystems, improved public health outcomes, and so much more.”
– John Kempf
John Kempf is a teacher and speaker of agricultural ecosystems with a wealth of knowledge on regenerative farming. A simplified list of Kempf’s approach is:
1. Treat soil as a biology lab
2. Create the needed physical environment
3. Add biology that has been lost
4. Feed it with mulch or cover crops
5. Provide balanced mineral nutrition
6. Possibly speed up the system with foliars
7. Avoid adding excess minerals
For more information on John Kempf – Simple and Comprehensive Fertility Management see video – Fertility Management – John Kempf