The Planet-Healing Power of Sustainable Agriculture
There are literally dozens of ways we can reduce our impact on the planet: increasing our intake of plant foods, creating a more energy-efficient home, and reducing our use of disposable items in our daily lives. But one of the most impactful things we can do as consumers is support a system of agriculture that is regenerative and healing for the planet.
To some people, soil is just dirt. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an intricate web of life that sustains the entire planet. Soil is often thought of as static matter, or just a medium for growing plants. But actually, healthy soils are living things, filled with microorganisms like bacteria, fungi and other microbes that help build a web of life that sustains all plant growth, and our planet.
Healthy soils support life on this planet in many ways, including filtering and regulating water flow into surface water; sustaining plants and animals; filtering pollutants, cycling nutrients like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus; and giving structure to the land, ensuring that the trees, topsoil and even human structures maintain their place on the land. But perhaps most importantly, when soils are healthy, they store huge amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere. But our current methods of agriculture have left us with degraded soils.
Soil-depleting chemicals, monocrop farming methods, and clear cutting of land have all contributed to degraded soils around the world. Increasing use of chemical pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides treat the symptoms of the problem, while killing off the beneficial microorganisms that live in the soil. This overuse of chemicals destroys the complex web of life in the soil, and leads to un-farmable land, as has happened in China, where more than eight million acres are too poisoned to use. This is a problem for all of us, as healthy soils are key to a livable planet.
Healthy soils are a key climate solution because they absorb excess carbon. Released carbon can be stored in the atmosphere, in the ocean, and in the soils. Since both the atmosphere and the ocean are at capacity– with resulting wild climate conditions and ocean acidification– the soils are the solution. This is what John Roulac, the CEO and founder of Nutiva, calls ‘the humus-sphere.’ He says, “Humus is the organic component of soil. The humus-sphere is made up of the stable, long-lasting remnants of decaying organic material, essential to the Earth’s soil fertility and our ability to grow nutrient-rich crops.” Rebuilding our soils is a super important– and very straightforward– solution to climate change.
Rebuilding our soils will take a rethinking of how modern agriculture is done, but the outcome is totally worth the effort. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming that incorporates growing and harvesting methods that sustain and nurture the soil, which in turn sustain and nurture our bodies and help support the healing of our planet. Regenerative agriculture includes adding compost and other healthy amendments to the soil, using low-till or no-till methods to leave green manure in the soils, growing beneficial plants that return nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil, and encouraging a healthy ecosystem. Building soils in this way ensures the health and sustainability of our food system and our world. As Roulac says, “We vote three times a day with our food choices. Every time you choose organic, you’re voting for a healthier world.”
Roulac and others have been advocating for healthy soils, and educating people about how healthy soils can save the planet, and he’s passionate about making sure his company offers organic and sustainably harvested products that support a healthy body and a healthy planet.
To learn more about regenerative agriculture, check out the animated video, The Soil Story. You can also read more about the recent Soil Not Oil conference in CA, and read up about the topic. Find out Why Are Climate Groups Only Focused on 50% of the Solution, and learn more on Eco Watch, Regeneration International, and Kiss the Ground.