Regenerative Farming for Better Soil, Farms and a Climate Change Solution

Gabe Brown has super healthy soil on his farm and his farm is more productive. Tests show soil on Brown’s farm had 7 times as much nitrogen, 5 times as much phosphorus, 8 times as much potassium, and 4 times as much organic carbon and organic matter percent as the nearby farms. His soil infiltrates 30 inches of water per hour compared to half an inch per hour and less on the other farms.

187 Billion Tons of CO2 Per Year From Various Healthy Soil Plans

Over the last 90 years, modern petroleum-fueled agriculture has BEAM (Biologically Enhanced Agricultural Management), is a process developed by Dr. David Johnson of New Mexico State University, that uses compost with a high diversity of soil microorganisms. BEAM has achieved very high levels of sequestration. A 4.5 year agricultural field study promoted annual average capture and storage of 10.27 metric tons soil C per hectare per year. If BEAM was extrapolated globally across agricultural lands it would sequester 184 billion tons of CO2/yr.

If regenerative grazing practices were implemented on the world’s grazing lands they would sequester 98.5 billion tons CO2 per year.

Just transitioning 10 percent of agricultural production to best practice regenerative systems will sequester enough CO2 to reverse climate change and restore the global climate.

Regenerative Farming

Brown dropped the use of most of the herbicides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers that are a standard part of conventional agriculture. He switched to no-till planting, started planting diverse cover with a mix of 70 plants and changed his grazing practices. He transformed a degraded farm ecosystem into one full of life—starting with the soil and working his way up, one plant and one animal at a time.

Brown’s Ranch model, developed over twenty years of experimentation and refinement, focuses on regenerating resources by continuously enhancing the living biology in the soil. Using regenerative agricultural principles, Brown’s Ranch has grown several inches of new topsoil in only twenty years. Most scientists have believed it takes 1000 years to grow one inch of topsoil.

He farms by the five principles of soil health. Those principles:

* Limit disturbance: Protect soil structure by using no-till techniques and avoiding all use of pesticides, insecticides, and synthetic fertilizers.
* Armor: Keep the soil covered at all times.
* Diversity: Strive for a healthy mix of plant and animal species.
* Living Roots: Maintain living roots in the soil as long as possible throughout the year.
* Integrate Animals: Manage livestock using regenerative strategies like adaptive multi-paddock grazing.

The current farm bill supports industrial farming and does not support regenerative agriculture. It promotes monocultures. Farm insurance also only supports industrial farming with tilling, monocultures and fertilizer.

SOURCES- Brown’s Ranch, farm progress, ecofarming daily
Written By Brian Wang. Nextbigfuture.com

22 thoughts on “Regenerative Farming for Better Soil, Farms and a Climate Change Solution”

  1. I’ve got a cousin who feels a bit guilty about the part he played in genetically engineering tomatoes to turn red without ripening.

    Have you tried the “Indigo” line of tomatoes? Pretty good! We’ve been growing them for a few years.

    Sadly, in 2008’s crash I lost my job in rural Michigan, and with it my 16 acres in the country with a river, fishing pond, and large garden/orchard. Now I live on a third of an acre in a suburb, down South. I’ve snuck some edible landscaping in, but our garden is tiny now. A few pepper plants, tomatoes, and that’s about it.

  2. Tell people that nearly all organic food is over 90% inorganic(H2O), and observe the puzzlement.

  3. It’s a government regulated marketing ploy, these days. I grow vegetables as a hobby, with no pesticides, a bit of commercial fertilizer, once there is a plant growing, and lots of plant materials. As a result, I have a vigorous, and complex ecosystem, that most people regard as dirt. I suppose you could call it in situ vermiculture.
    I can tell you, that the plants are exceptionally vigorous, the produce is much tastier, and insect pests are a minor problem. I mulch most everything except peppers, and okra, both of which like dry soils.

  4. We till because it increases Oxygen which improves root efficiency. No one wants the organic matter to get digested faster, that is a byproduct.

    Also, simply tilling isn’t what results in such accelerated carbon loss…it is when it is combined with NPK supplements.

  5. Isn’t it funny the solution to CO2 is redistribution of money in a way that the rich can profit from?

  6. Organic in farming has no legitimate meaning in scientific terms. It is more like a secularized kind of kosherism.

  7. What will you do when New York is under a mile of ice and Agriculture is 50% of today due to less precipitation and colder temperatures? This will be the truth in 5,000 years

  8. There’s no such thing as a free climate – if you aren’t paying for your generally prevailing weather patterns, YOU are the climate.

  9. It’s true that Earth lost its climate back in the counter-reformation and has been operating climate-free since then.

  10. Brian’s usual sloppy copy/paste. I don’t come here for the quality of the writing, there isn’t any. I come for the links.

  11. I’ve always told people that I prefer eating ceramic. Of course, those without chemistry backgrounds don’t get the joke.

  12. “Over the last 90 years, modern petroleum-fueled agriculture has BEAM”

    Something missing there, the first half of the sentence doesn’t really connect to the rest of it.

  13. Organic farming should be called “complex soil community agriculture”. The optimum results are a combination of both styles of farming, the complex soil community, and “chemical” fertilizers, once there is a green plant available to quickly absorb them. If that does not happen, the fixed nitrogen is used by soil microbes to metabolize the humus in the soil, and the community collapses. This is why I always have a plant asking for nitrogen fertilizers(I can tell) before I apply them.

  14. Conventional no-till planting is highly dependent on herbicides to kill weeds surviving from the previous crop cycle, at least here in the southeast. Here, it’s commonly used in late spring, to plant maize in the stubble from a previous over wintering small grain crop. I’m curious how he handles that.
    There’s a dirty secret to modern “organic” farming, that dilettantes are not aware of. It’s dependent on commodity farming.
    Large organic operations are dependent on manure from beef feed lots, dairies, hog operations, and confinement poultry production. That’s the only place they can find manure in the amounts they need. Of course, all these sources are “fed” with commodity crops like wheat, maize, and soybeans that are universally GMO, the roundup ready versions.
    If commodity farming ends, so will the source of most “organic” foods eaten. Sorry to burst bubbles(not really).
    I’ve always thought the term “organic farming” was ridiculous, since the phytomacronutrients most important for plant growth, since their availability is usually what limits plant growth, must be present in inorganic form. We’re talking ions of nitrate, ammonium, phosphate, and potassium, not a hydrogen-carbon bond in the lot, and all produced by nonbiologic processes, at least some of the time.

  15. The average US farm has a net revenue of $100/acre.

    The existing 45Q legislation is an incentive for CO2 capture and sequestration or conversion into products. It pays $50/ton for sequestration, $35/ton for conversion. It explicitly allows for air capture processes. It can be argued that soil carbon content is a valuable soil aliment product produced in-situ. It can be argued that soil carbon content will be sequestered for millenia, if managed properly.

    10 ton per hectare per year is 4 tons per acre per year.

    If this is considered a qualified pathway for sequestration or product production by the IRS, farmers could make much more from the CO2 capture payments than they do from their crops.

    The US has a long history of paying farmers to manage their land to achieve conservation goals.

    Related, there are efforts to further accelerate the deposition of soil carbon through crop breeding: https://timesofsandiego.com/tech/2019/04/17/salk-gets-35-million-for-audacious-plan-to-breed-plants-that-fight-climate-change/

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