To attain the regenerative farm Award, farmers must increase their soil organic carbon percentage from one year to the next. Each AgWe farm get's a yearly soil test to assess their soil organic carbon levels. Therefore, this Award can only be unlocked by farmers who have been with AgWe for more than 2 years so we can see the increase in their farm's soil organic carbon.
Regenerative farming or regenerative agriculture is not a new term for farmers. For a farm to be considered “regenerative” they must focus on building back their farms soil health and ecological diversity whilst still producing food for the mass market. Regenerative farming is very visual and sometimes you can see a regenerative farm by comparing neighbouring properties and assessing their farm’s grass cover, species diversity and health of their local waterway. If one farm is barren with lots of exposed soil and the other is flourishing with knee high grasses, you have just found a regenerative farmer.
Regenerative farming in Australia was born out of farmers battling longer and longer droughts and deteriorating soil. This forced farmers to rethink their old farming practices and look for new solutions to improve their situation. Credit must be given to the older generation of farmers as it was mainly through personal observation and trial and error that they found out how to improve their land. This process took decades and now we look to these pioneers to pass down their knowledge so a new generation can continue their legacy.
With regenerative farming now becoming more mainstream, academics have found that measuring a farms soil organic carbon and soil organic matter are the key indicators in determining if a farm is regenerative or not.
Currently there are a few different farming practices that are proven to help farmers increase their soil organic carbon and ecological diversity. Practices like cell-grazing, no-till farming and being pesticide free are the most well-known but are not the only paths to becoming a regenerative farmer.
Each farm is unique because of their different livestock and crop mix, soil texture and local climate. Since each farm is different, there isn’t one solution that every farm can do to become regenerative. Instead it is a mixture of different farming techniques that work together to make are regenerative farmer. There are hundreds of different farming practices that can be implemented to help improve our farmland like having beehives on the property, using different manures, inoculating plants with bacteria, using native perennial grasses, strategic fencing, mustering and many more. Farmers creativity, ingenuity and continuously trialing of new ideas over time will be the key to finding even more farming practices that help others become regenerative.
It’s all about learning from the success of others and listening to their story about how they regenerated their land and made it more productive and profitable. Here are some easy steps you can do to get started
Step 1: Look to your local farming community and see if anyone is having success with regenerating their land. Ask them for tips.
Step 2: Go to your local farmers market to meet other likeminded individuals.
Step 3: Start reading and listening to podcasts about regenerative agriculture. Here are a few to get you started;
- Holistic Management: By Allan Savory
- Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture a New Earth By Charlies Massy
- Natural Sequence Farming: By Peter Andrews
- Dirt to Soil: One Family's Journey Into Regenerative Agriculture by Gabe Brown
- Podcast: The Regenerative Journey with Charlie Arnott
Step 4: Join the AgWe community and we will keep you updated.
Decrease costs: By building your soil health you can reduce the amount you spend on pH neutralisers, fertilisers, and water.
Increase Profits: "6 out of 10 customers are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce their environmental impact", according to IBM's 2020 survey. As regenerative agriculture becomes more mainstream consumers purchases are influenced by your farms sustainable farming practices.
Reverse Climate Change: Since regenerative agriculture is based around increasing the farms soil organic carbon, this helps reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and stores it in the soil.
Mental Health: Farmers often talk about the effect regenerative farming has on their mental health because they can see their farm progressing and becoming more productive each year. Regenerative farming is extremely rewarding because passing on the land in a better condition to future generations is the best legacy.