'Win-win-win': How regenerative farming can help the planet, farmers and you
A growing number of Canadian farms are starting to employ regenerative agriculture, or methods that keep the soil healthy by promoting biodiversity. It's a way of doing farming that's good for the planet, produces healthier food and helps farmers save money.
Gabrielle Bastien is the founder of Regeneration Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting regenerative agriculture.
“The key principles guiding regenerative practices (are that) basically, they all seek to mimic nature,” Bastien told CTV’s Your Morning.
These practices include keeping soil covered and reducing or eliminating tillage, as well as avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favour of compost and manure.
Farmers can also improve soil quality by increasing the biodiversity in and around their farms. Bastien says these methods include “integrating perennial plants such as trees, which have deeper roots, and also integrating livestock on pasture in denser herds that rotate frequently, since animals are key to all ecosystems.”
With a third of the world's soil already degraded according to a 2017 UN study, regenerative farming is becoming increasingly critical for agricultural sustainability.
“The ecological benefits of regenerative agriculture include ensuring that our waterways are cleaner. Healthy soil filters water better. Healthy soil also has better capacity to absorb water, which means being more resilient to droughts, to floods and to wildfires,” said Bastien.
Having healthier soil also often results in more nutritious food for consumers. On top of that, these practices can also better absorb atmospheric carbon into the soil, which helps mitigate climate change.
Farmers also stand to economically benefit from regenerative agriculture.
“It helps them be more profitable, through reducing their reliance on expensive inputs like fertilizers and pesticides,” said Bastien.
“This is really a win-win-win situation that benefits all Canadians. It’s good for the farmers, for the people since it’s healthier for us and it’s good for the planet.”