ecofriendly homestead

Knowledge Base

A Digital Encyclopedia of Regenerative Agriculture

The Ultimate Guide to Nature-Based Climate Solutions in Farming

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic farming approach designed to renew and revitalize the Earth's ecosystems.

At its core, regenerative agriculture encompasses a set of practices that go beyond sustainability, aiming to rehabilitate soil health, increase biodiversity, and restore natural cycles.

It's not just a method; it's a movement toward a future where farming actively improves the environment.

What exactly does regenerative agriculture mean?

Farming in Harmony with Nature

Regenerative agriculture involves a series of key principles that aim to grow food while tending to the planet at the same time.

These principles include:
  • disturb the soil as little as possible
  • keep the soil planted
  • mulch with organic matter to keep soil covered
  • utilize organic farming practices
  • focus on soil health and fertility
  • rotate crops for soil and plant resilience
  • plant cover crops to build organic matter
Regenerative farmers aim to create a living ecosystem where agriculture and nature coexist in harmony.

Feed the World,
Save the Planet

The benefits of regenerative agriculture

The benefits of sustainable farming extend well beyond just growing food.

Regenerative agriculture can:

  • sequester carbon, making this farming method a nature-based solution to climate change
  • reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector
  • build resilience within the plants, so that they can survive through extreme weather conditions
  • encourage biodiversity of flora and fauna within the ecosystem
  • reduce overall inputs to create a more affordable business model for farmers
Regenerative Agriculture Glossary

Key Terms

Click each term to reveal the definition
carbon
As greenhouse gas, too much carbon in the atmosphere contributes to climate change. However, carbon is a good thing in the garden. That's because carbon belongs in the soil, not in the atmosphere. Regenerative ag builds up carbon in the soil to help keep it there. This builds soil health and cultivates resilient crops.
cover crop
A crop that is planted on otherwise fallow land in order to build soil health, provide organic matter, and capture carbon.
greenhouse gases
Commonly used to refer to one or more of the following gases:
- Carbon dioxide
- Methane
- Chlorofluorocarbons
- Nitrous Oxide
These gases accumulate in the atmosphere and result in changing weather patterns found in climate change.
low-input agriculture
A method of farming that looks to plants that are adapted to one’s specific growing conditions, and does not rely on inputs such as fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or sometimes even added water outside of rainfall.
mulch
Any kind of item that covers the soil or pathways. Common mulches are grass clippings, organic straw, organic hay, fallen leaves, leaf mold, or compost.

Each type of mulch has nuanced benefits in terms of what they provide for the soil, but over all natural materials as much break down overtime and  add matter to the soil, retain moisture, and hinder weed growth.
resiliency
In terms of plants, resilient crops can adapt to varying and often extreme weather, such as drought, heat, or wind. Many regenerative farming techniques help to grow more resilient crops, for a more secure global food system.

Sound exciting?
We think so too.

Learn more about the benefits of regenerative agriculture to fully understand the pivotal role it plays in shaping a sustainable future.

The History of Regenerative Practices

The Contributions of BIPOC Farmers

It's essential to recognize that many of the techniques behind regenerative farming aren't new.

In fact, some of the techniques have been practiced by various Indigenous American, African, and Asian farmers for centuries.

The kinship worldview, as outlined by Indigenous environmental activist Robin Wall Kimmerer, highlights this practice of living in reciprocity with nature.

Moreover, the ancestral methods discussed by Leah Penniman in her book "Farming While Black," highlight a legacy of ecological stewardship that predates the term "regenerative agriculture."

We are indebted to the contributions of Dr. Booker T. Whatley and George Washington Carver, two Black agriculturalists who shaped our current sustainable farming practices.

Dr. Whatley developed the community-supported agriculture model which now financially support thousands of farmers across the United States.

George Washington Carver promoted and popularized two core tenets of regenerative agriculture today: crop rotation and crop diversity in farming systems,

Their work and the dedication of countless others remind us of the depth and diversity of knowledge that guides us forward on the quest for a farming method that can both provide for and heal the planet.

Learn more about the rich history and cultural influences that inform sustainable agriculture with this curated book list:
  • "Farming While Black" by Leah Penniman
  • "Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States," edited by Devon A Mihesuah and Elizabeth Hoover
  • "The One-Straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka
  • "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer
For more recommendations and to dive deeper into the historic cultural scope of regenerative agriculture, explore our comprehensive book list here.

Soil Health: The Foundation of it All

Soil is the basis of the solution found in regenerative agriculture.

We may dismiss soil as mere "dirt," but it's actually a robust ecosystem full of life and activity.

Most of this soil life is microscopic, but these small beings form symbiotic relationships with plants.

Soil life also helps to transform organic matter into fertile soil, and cycles nutrients that are essential for plant health.  
FUN FACT:

→ There are more microbes in a single teaspoon of soil than the entire human population!

One of the most important ecosystem services of soil is carbon sequestration.

How do plants and soil microbes help to draw down atmospheric carbon into the soil?

Photo-synthesis

As plants gain energy from photosynthesis, they transform atmospheric carbon dioxide into sugars.

These sugars are an energy source for the plant, but some of the carbon gets utilized by the soil microbes too.

Organic Matter

According to Nature, organic matter is composed of soil microbes and decomposed organic materials.

These are very carbon-rich.

The more organic matter present in the soil, the higher the soil carbon levels are (CSU).

Soil Organisms

Soil microbiota are the unsung heroes of carbon sequestration.

In fact, they are they are the largest factor of soil carbon storage levels.

How does Regenerative Agriculture build soil health and capture carbon?

Many of the regenerative principles - such as mulching, keeping the soil planted, and cover crops - all build organic matter levels in the soil.

Other regenerative practices, such as no-dig methods, not disturbing the soil, and building up soil layers minimize damage to the soil microbiome and minimize carbon release.

The benefits of building soil health go beyond carbon sequestration.

Regenerative agriculture builds soil health to yield:
  • increased water retention
  • decreased soil erosion
  • increased resilience to extreme weather
  • decreased need for inputs
Button Text

What are the sustainable techniques that regenerative farmers use?

Here's what regenerative farmers do to minimize soil disturbance, build soil health, and maximize biodiversity:

Regenerative farmers practice no-till methods, which helps to minimize soil disturbance.

This keeps the soil structure intact, so all the sequestered carbon within the soil stays in place.

No tillage also means that the microbial communities are not disrupted, further improving soil health.

Another regenerative practice is cover cropping, which keeps the soil planted and builds organic matter..

Cover crops protect the soil during the off-season, when it would otherwise remain unplanted.

Because the cover crops use photosynthesis, they are an extra opportunity for farms to sequester carbon.

Organic mulch offers a plethora of benefits to the soil and plants.

Mulch gets broken down by soil microbes, who turn it into rich organic matter.

Mulch also protects the soil, increases soil water retention, regulates soil temperature, and reduces weed pressure.

Regenerative farmers use organic inputs, which benefits soil microbes.

Synthetic fertilizers bypass the mutual relationship between plants and microbes. Organic inputs keep this relationship alive.

Organic pesticides and herbicides are also less harmful to the ecosystem as a whole when compared to synthetics.

Crop rotation is another regenerative strategy that supports plant and soil health.

This practice alternates the types of crops grown in a section of the farm rom season to season.

This reduces pest and disease pressure and increases soil fertility. Crop rotation leads to bigger yields and requires less input overall.

FUN FACT:

→ There are more microbes in a single teaspoon of soil than the entire human population!

Biodiversity Above and Below Ground

Biodiversity is a key objective in regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture encourages a wide array of life on three different levels:
  1. microbial (soil microbiome)
  2. botanical (a variety of plants)
  3. animal (beneficial insects and creatures)
When diversity is rich, the landscape becomes a resilient ecosystem that isfull of life and productivity.
Above ground, regenerative farmers maintain a variety of habitats for pollinators, birds, and beneficial insects.

Hedgerows, wildflower meadows, and preserved natural woodland all serve to attract and support these vital creatures.

Diverse plantings not only offer refuge for wildlife but also help in the control of pests and diseases naturally.

This means less chemical interventions and less crop loss.

Below the surface, biodiversity is just as important.

A healthy soil biome is full of life, with microorganisms, fungi, and invertebrates that form a complex system.

Regenerative practices like compost, mulch, and no-till create the ideal conditions for this underground biodiversity to thrive.

When we nurture these soil inhabitants, we ensure they continue their critical work of decomposing organic matter, cycling nutrients, sequestering carbon, and building soil structure.
FUN FACT:

→ It has been proven that biodiverse ecosystems sequester more carbon in the soil.

Biodiverse ecosystems are more robust and resilient.

learn more

Sustainable Livestock

Sustainable livestock management is a cornerstone of regenerative farming.

Conventional farms raise livestock in a way that overwhelms and harms the environment.

How does regenerative agriculture find a balance, where animals can actually nourish the land and benefit the farm?

Regenerative animal husbandry consists of these principles:

Animals rotate throughout section of pasture, so the land is never depleated
Harness the inherent nature of animals to benefit the landscape - grazing, trampling organic matter, and manure all support soil health
Livestock manure is an asset to building healthy soil for growing food, and creates a closed-loop fertilization system
FUN FACT:

→ There are more microbes in a single teaspoon of soil than the entire human population!

Animals are active participants in the regenerative process

Sustainable livestock management brings balance into agricultural systems and ecosystems. When raised mindfully, animals can contribute to the health of the environment and the landscape.
Regenerative livestock practices create more ethical, ecological, and productive farms. The more farmers who get on board with this method, the more the planet as a whole will benefit.

How do different animals contribute to land regeneration?

Here's how each animal has their own unique role:

Chickens' natural appetite for bugs effectively helps with pest control on farmalnd.

As chickens scratch the ground, they incorporate their manure into the soil which provides organic fertilization.

Goats are renown for their ability toclear out invasive species from pasture. This can help keep the ecoysstem in balance.

As goat's graze, they naturally stimulate plant growth.

Moreover, thei rmanure builds fertility in the pasture, and can be composted for crop fertilization.

Pigs provide a soil preparation service for farmers that replaces the need for tilling.

When pigs are managed regeneratively, their impact on the land is in harmony with nature.

Want to learn more about raising animals sustainably?

Discover eco-friendly techniques for livestock

Learn what goes into farming with pigs sustainably

Raise sustainable chickens on your homestead

Goat basics: best practices for the environment

Can Regenerative Agriculture Feed the World?

The Potential of Regenerative Practices

Regenerative agriculture is a promising solution to not only environmental concerns, but also to gloabl hunger issues.

The amazing thing about regenerative farming is that all of the sustainable practices add up to produce high yields - without depleting the land.

Here's how ecological practices turn into higher yields:
  • more soil health and fertility = increased productivity and food diversity
  • improved soil structure = improved drought resilience, meaning less crop failures
  • low-input techniques = cost-effective farming

The Data

Proven Yield Increases

Combined data from over 60 sustainable farming projects showcase the productivity of regenerative agriculture:

  • Less pesticides, 10% bigger harvests.

    Rice farms were able to reduce pesticide applications and had a 10% increase in harvests overall.
  • 200% increases

    Sustainably farmed grain crops were able to rely on rainfall for irrigation and doubled their yield compared to conventional farms.
  • Top 25% comparison

    The top 25% of sustainable farms in the US have higher yields than the top 25% of standard farms.

Climate Change Resiliency

Regenerative practices are like a barrier that protects farms from the extreme weather that climate change brings.

This is thanks to the rich organic matter and microbial populations found in healthy soil.

Regenerative techniques help crops to resist diseases and be more water efficient.

This creates a balanced ecosystem that can withstand an unpredictable climate.
FUN FACT:

→ There are more microbes in a single teaspoon of soil than the entire human population!

Deeper Learning + Implementation

Learn More +Join the Movement

Whether you have a farm, a garden, or just want to get involved, we encourage you to join in this work for a sustainable future with regenerative practices.

Here's our comprehensive list of resources for you:

For Home Gardeners

Product Designer
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.
UX Designer
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.

For Students + Activists

Engineering Manager
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.
Frontend Developer
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.
Backend Developer
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.

For Farmers

Customer Success Manager
Australian flag
Melbourne, Australia
View job
We’re looking for someone motivated and experienced to join our team.
High Quality

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec nunc risus, consectet eu sodales elementum,  in neque. Phaselluss ut erat accumsan.

Robust Options

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec nunc risus, consectet eu sodales elementum,  in neque. Phaselluss ut erat accumsan.