Thursday, October 8, 2020
While there is no universally accepted standard for regenerative agriculture, companies ranging from Cargill to Patagonia are touting commitments to regenerative production. Philosophically, regenerative agriculture improves soil health, rather than just maintaining it, so can be thought of as a bar above sustainable. Regenerative agricultural practices include cover cropping, intensifying and lengthening crop rotations, and reducing tillage. These practices generally function to build up soil by 1) increasing the amount of living plant cover and photosynthesis (atmospheric carbon capture) and 2) decreasing soil disturbance which increases soil carbon loss via microbial respiration. These practices can help improve the carbon balance of row crop agriculture, relative to the prevailing systems where one-or two-crop grain systems dominate and cover crop adoption, while increasing, is still quite limited (less than 5% of cropland acres nationally). Building soil health isn't just about carbon though, ancillary benefits include improving crop resilience to drought, extreme rainfall, and mitigating pest pressure, in some cases. Together this approach to growing holds much promise for cannabis and other crop producers interested in nurturing a more resilient production system for plants, people, and the planet.
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