Soil & Regenerative Agriculture...

 

 

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Soil & Regenerative Agriculture...



There’s been a lot of talk about regenerative farming and creating a lot of interest in the agriculture sector recently. Regen Ag focus’ fundamentally on the health of the soil and the role of the soil biology and ecosystems. It’s been extraordinary that modern agriculture has been developed without the understanding of the role of soil life in providing minerals and nutrients to plants. It’s only in the last few decades that researchers have focused on these important systems. Organic and biodynamic farming has been conscious of soil health since the 1940s and soil health is really the defining difference between conventional and organic/biodynamic agriculture. Our farmers are either certified organic, or practice regenerative or farm organically.

Working with the health of the soil means a farmer can eliminate or reduce the need for chemical fertilisers. Instead soil nutrients are sourced from green manure crops, compost or animal manures. Common green manure crops used locally are oats or rye corn and legumes such as vetch, lupins, field peas are grown specifically to turn back into soil as food for the billions of living things that beaver away in the soil converting that lush green material into nutrients for plants. Green manure crops supercharge the life in the soil!

Chemical fertilizers such as urea and super phosphate are water soluble and applied too heavily can leach out of the soils and into waterways causing problems for aquatic life or even creating create algae blooms, effectively poisoning freshwater ecosystems.

 Water soluble fertilizers


Using water soluble fertilizers “force feeds” plants the key nutrients, increasing yield and growth, but the downside increases plants susceptibility to insect attack and disease. To counter the those threats, chemical pesticides are often applied to protect the plant. In regenerative/organic managed soil plants take their nutrients from the soil via the soil organisms, as opposed to the water. They are hardier, more resilient to pests and diseases, therefore require fewer additions to remain healthy but this can mean slightly lower yields.

Food produced using water soluble fertilizers can also be less nutrient dense and they can have greater exposure to pesticides. Using water to feed plants means the majority of the plant mass is water, with less nutrients. Plants which take their nutrients from the soil are less watery and have greater nutrient density.

Your body gets more bang for your buck eating organic/regenerative food!

 Soil health and improvement...

 

Another focus of the Regenerative/Organic farmers is making sure the structure of the soil is maintained or improved. Farmers are very careful not to work the soil when it is too dry or too wet or work the soil too much as this can damage the soil by making it difficult for soil ecosystems to function. Anything that interrupts the activity of the living organisms in the soil, will reduce the amount of nutrients available to the plants (tractors rotary hoes and spray tanks!!!) That’s right, our food was healthier and more nutritious when we used horses to till the fields.

But that’s not all – Organic Standards require certified farmers to adhere to a social code, and minimum standards must be met, so organic farming does not exploit people either..

This is Gabrielle Chan argues “"Why you should give a F@ck about farming, because you eat"... a witty look at regional Australia and the challenges of the food and farming system. If you are interested more information can be found here.

What does all this mean? There are no shortcuts, despite our god-like technology. Industrial farming produces high volumes, generally at a lower nutritional value. There is also the question of the cost of the impact on the environment…

Our boxes aren’t cheap, but we get what we pay for as a social enterprise, and you get what you pay for when you support us... No short cuts and no one gets short changed... 

We are consciously thinking about providing food that is nutritionally dense, is good for people and good for the planet.

 



Liz Clay & Seb Zotti