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Sustainable Systems » Ecological Agriculture & Food Security

Title: Regenerative Farms Provide More Ecosystem Functions and Profitability Than Conventional Farms
Publication date: April 23, 2018
Posting date: April 23, 2018

THIRD WORLD NETWORK INFORMATION SERVICE ON SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

 

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Regenerative Farms Provide More Ecosystem Functions and Profitability Than Conventional Farms

Regenerative farms fundamentally challenge the current food production paradigm that maximizes gross profits at the expense of net gains for the farmer. Regenerative farming principles include: (1) abandoning tillage (or actively rebuilding soil communities following a tillage event), (2) eliminating spatio-temporal events of bare soil, (3) fostering plant diversity on the farm, and (4) integrating livestock and cropping operations on the land.

A study evaluated the relative effects of regenerative and conventional corn production systems on pest management services, soil conservation, and farmer profitability and productivity throughout the Northern Plains of the United States. It found that regenerative farming systems provided greater ecosystem functions and profitability for farmers than an input-intensive model of corn production.

Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems outperform farmers that react to pests chemically. By promoting soil biology and organic matter and biodiversity on their farms, the regenerative farmers required fewer costly inputs like insecticides and fertilizers, and managed their pest populations more effectively.

Regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems. Soil organic matter was a more important driver of proximate farm profitability than yields were, in part because the regenerative farms marketed their products differently or had a diversified income stream from a single field.

These results provide the basis for dialogue on ecologically based farming systems that could be used to simultaneously produce food while conserving the natural resource base. To attain this requires a systems-level shift on the farm, as simply applying individual regenerative practices within the current production model will not likely produce the documented results.

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
Malaysia
Email: twn@twnetwork.org
Websites: http://www.twn.my/and http://www.biosafety-info.net/
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____________________________________________________________________________

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE: MERGING FARMING AND NATURAL RESOURCE CONSERVATION PROFITABLY

Claire E. LaCanne and Jonathan G. Lundgren?
Peer J

26 Feb 2018
https://peerj.com/articles/4428/?td=tw

Abstract

Most cropland in the United States is characterized by large monocultures, whose productivity is maintained through a strong reliance on costly tillage, external fertilizers, and pesticides (Schipanski et al., 2016). Despite this, farmers have developed a regenerative model of farm production that promotes soil health and biodiversity, while producing nutrient-dense farm products profitably. Little work has focused on the relative costs and benefits of novel regenerative farming operations, which necessitates studying in situ, farmer-defined best management practices. Here, we evaluate the relative effects of regenerative and conventional corn production systems on pest management services, soil conservation, and farmer profitability and productivity throughout the Northern Plains of the United States. Regenerative farming systems provided greater ecosystem services and profitability for farmers than an input-intensive model of corn production. Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems outperform farmers that react to pests chemically. Regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems. Profit was positively correlated with the particulate organic matter of the soil, not yield. These results provide the basis for dialogue on ecologically based farming systems that could be used to simultaneously produce food while conserving our natural resource base: two factors that are pitted against one another in simplified food production systems. To attain this requires a systems-level shift on the farm; simply applying individual regenerative practices within the current production model will not likely produce the documented results.

Conclusions

The farmers themselves have devised an ecologically based production system comprised of multiple practices that are woven into a profitable farm that promotes ecosystem services. Regenerative farms fundamentally challenge the current food production paradigm that maximizes gross profits at the expense of net gains for the farmer. Key elements of this successful approach to farming include

  1. By promoting soil biology and organic matter and biodiversity on their farms, regenerative farmers required fewer costly inputs like insecticides and fertilizers, and managed their pest populations more effectively.
  2. Soil organic matter was a more important driver of proximate farm profitability than yields were, in part because the regenerative farms marketed their products differently or had a diversified income stream from a single field.


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