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Who will define what “regenerative agriculture” is?

We can say that regenerative agriculture is a food production methodology with low, or even net positive impact on the environment and society. It is a crucial stage for the sustainable development of our population. Despite the importance of agriculture for human lives and their future, there is not a single official definition of this term. The review carried out by Peter Newton et al. (2020) shows that after studying data included in 229 journal articles and 25 organisations on regenerative agriculture, no declarative definitions of regenerative agriculture exist.

We analysed some documents and can quote several definitions of “regenerative agriculture”. Terra Genesis International (2020, as cited in Peter Newton et al., 2020) states that regenerative agriculture is ‘a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services.’ Rhodes (2017, as quoted in Peter Newton et al., 2020) defines this term as ‘a long-term, holistic design that attempts to grow as much food using as few resources as possible in a way that revitalizes the soil rather than depleting it, while offering a solution to carbon sequestration.’ According to Ravenscroft et al., regenerative agriculture is ‘a form of enterprise that incorporates a community of people engaged in civil labour to produce and consume the food (and land, landscape and amenity) that they, collectively, decide to grow’ (2013, as cited in Peter Newton et al., 2020).

The attention paid to regenerative farming has been so high over the past few years because food production is associated with approximately 15 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. And one third of global land is used for agriculture. As the global community strives to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, farming methodologies and technologies play a leading role in this program.

Source picture: The World Population Pyramid (1950-2100)

Another reason why we should focus our attention on ways of doing farming is the increase in population and per capita demand. In 1950, the world’s population was 2.5 billion people; in the 1990s it had risen to more than 5 billion; in 2022, it reached 8 billion. Such a huge increase requires an intensification of the supply chain process that negatively influences the environment. If people do not follow the sustainability goals, such consumption of natural resources may lead to irreversible consequences for the whole world population.

During the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last week, five benefits of regenerative farming were defined:

  1. Climate. It helps mitigate emissions such as through carbon sequestration and improved crop resilience for climate shocks.

  2. Soil Health. It improves soil fertility through increased biomass production, thereby preventing soil degradation.

  3. Resource use efficiency. Higher nutrient use efficiency (NUE) increases crop yield and optimizes land use efficiency, while improved water use efficiency reduces the stress on freshwater reserves.

  4. Biodiversity. More diverse rotation and reduced pesticide usage supports biodiversity on farms while, in some cases, higher crop yields mean more natural habitats can be protected rather than cleared for agriculture.

  5. Prosperity. Regenerative agriculture improves long-term farmer livelihood through reduced costs, improved crop yield and crop quality, and greater resilience to market volatility and extreme climate events. It also opens new green revenue streams for farmers, such as rewarding them for carbon capture and storage in the soil.’ (5 benefits of regenerative agriculture – and 5 ways to scale it, 2023 [World Economic Forum])

The technology we started developing more than two years ago helps farmers to pursue sustainable farming. This technology is embedded in Farmer Charlie, and it helps to optimise water and inputs by detecting the level of soil moisture, fertilisers and other agronomic values, at the same time informing on weather conditions. This data helps farmers to manage their farms more effectively, enhance their yields and reduce costs related to irrigation and inputs. This is our way to contribute to regenerative and sustainable agriculture. We do believe that all the steps we take and efforts we make at the present time will bear fruit for future generations.

-Marina Novokhatska

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