Yes, regenerative agriculture is an effective practice, and can act to reverse or minimise some of the environmental impacts caused by conventional agriculture. Unfortunately, very little of the food we eat is produced through regenerative agriculture.
Traditional land management practices associated with industrial and agricultural production negatively affect the environment through activities that release carbon into the atmosphere, such as burning fossil fuels, monoculture and extensive tilling. With the adoption of regenerative practices in agriculture, the soils become healthier and can store up to four times more carbon than plants and atmospheric reservoirs. Thus, these practices improve soil biodiversity and organic matter, leading to more resilient soils that can better withstand the impacts of climate change, such as floods and droughts.
Regenerative practices include crop rotation, which reduces the intensive use of synthetic chemicals and intensive tillage *, eliminating bare soil and fallow events **, and implementing the use of rotating pasture for livestock. The result is healthy soils that generate larger and better quality crops, in addition to reducing erosion and runoff, leading to increased water quality inside and outside the farm. Therefore, regenerative systems improve the environmental conditions of the entire productive structure, including soil, water, vegetation and land productivity.
* Tillage is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. It erodes soil and releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
** Soils left exposed to the elements will erode and the nutrients necessary for successful plant growth will either dry out or quite literally wash away.
Kenne, G. J., & Kloot, R. W. (2019).The Carbon Sequestration Potential of Regenerative Farming Practices in South Carolina, USA. 8, 157-172.
LaCanne, C. E., & Lundgren, J. G. (2018). Regenerative agriculture: merging farming and natural resource conservation profitably. PeerJ. 6, e4428.
The Climate Reality Project. (2019). What is regenerative agriculture? Access: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/what-regenerative-agriculture
Rhodes, C. J. (2017). The imperative for regenerative agriculture. Science Progress. 100(1), 80-129.