Avoiding the catastrophic effects of climate change that the scientific community has been warning us about isn’t just a matter of cutting the number of emissions that humans produce. If we want to save our planet, then we must also recapture the existing emissions that hang in our atmosphere. And while some scientists are busy developing carbon capture technology, a new report indicates that the most powerful tool we have for recapturing emissions is regenerative agriculture.
The report, which was administered by the Rodale Institute, suggests that if all our grasslands or arable acreage—basically, any land capable of being farmed or ranched—was managed with soil health in mind, it could sequester all the annual CO2 emissions produced by humans and then some. Rodale is aware that this “hasn’t happened fast enough,” but they hope the bold statement that their new report is making will motivate an expedited transition towards regenerative farming.
So, what’s keeping farmers back from adopting regenerative strategies? The problem is that implementing regenerative strategies like cover cropping, diversifying crops, and using natural fertilizers and pesticides requires time and money—two things that a lot of farmers don’t have. Additionally, some of America’s agriculture policies also stand in the way of progress. The government doesn’t actively subsidize regenerative practices, and farmers typically stand to earn more money doing things the old-fashioned way: Growing massive fields of corn and soybeans, wheat, and rice, as quickly as possible.
Especially if you’re a city dweller that is far removed from the farms, it may seem like there’s little you can do to help motivate a shift towards regenerative agriculture in America. The people over at MindBodyGreen, however, beg to differ. Here are 4 things you can do to help support regenerative agriculture.
Ask your local farmers about their growing practices: Demand creates supply, so if more people start asking for it, then it’s more likely to be adopted. One way to ask for it might be asking the farm stand you frequent at the farmers market about their growing practices, or DM-ing a favorite brand to ask them whether and how they support the regenerative movement.
Support companies and farms that have already made the shift: Kiss The Ground, a regenerative agriculture nonprofit, created a Regenerative Farm Map to help you find farms in your area that are utilizing growing practices that capture carbon and boost soil. And when food shopping, look out for the Regenerative Organic Certification (for food that is USDA-certified organic and grown with soil health in mind) and the Land to Market Verification and the Soil Carbon Initiative seal (for food that contributes to carbon sequestration).
Contact policymakers: As the elections inch closer, research which candidates support agriculture reform and consider giving them your vote. Another thing you can do is write into your local policymakers encouraging them to support regenerative reform using Rodale’s template letter.
Donate to the cause: Kiss The Grounds’ Farmland Program supports farmers through the regenerative transition with technical training, mentorship, and soil testing with the help of donor funds.