At Regen Farmer we work with regenerative agroforestry. It is an important distinction which we will elaborate more on below.
“Regenerative” is a paradigm where the goal is to regenerate the soil, improve water cycles, increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem services and sequester carbon.
“Agroforestry” is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. The output can be food, fiber and timber.
Types of agroforestry
This type of agroforestry mimics nature in that it combines several types of trees and shrubs in different layers. The goal is to create a system that has a large output and very little work involved. Food forests are often not optimized for mechanized harvest.
Also referred to as silvoarable or tree intercropping, alley cropping combines rows of trees such as orchards with annual or perennial crops in the alleys between rows.
Silvopasture is the intentional grazing of animals on pastures with tree cover. This can either be established by adding trees to existing pastures or thinning out wooded areas to make room for pastures.
This type of agroforestry is characterized by the cultivation of crops and integration of animals under full tree cover. This often involves shade tolerant species such as wild ramps, mushrooms and ginseng. It also involves integration of ducks or the production of tree syrups.
Riparian buffers can help to reduce soil erosion, counter floods and washout of nutrients to waterways. Furthermore it can help to increase biodiversity.
Wind- and firebreaks
Windbreaks and hedgerows are proven to increase yields in crop fields. Firebreaks can help to reduce losses due to wildfires. With more extreme weather these benefits become even more favorable for farmers.
Soil is a system of complex organic and inorganic components that provide invaluable services to farmers and human society. In regenerative agriculture the goal is to support these systems often referred to as the soil food web.
Water is the single most important nutrient to life as we know it. Without water, life cannot exist. So enhancing water cycles really is about supporting life. Water quality is about building systems that produce clean water for humans and nature. This also means that regeneration is about removing substances that pollute waterways and cause eutrophication.
The silent crisis of our time is loss of biodiversity. Increased biodiveristy is a big part of regenerative agrilculture. Biodiversity is really about robustness. Evolution have resulted in diverse biological life because it is more robust in a changing environment. So improving biodiversity is about building systems that can withstand the extreme future to come.
Through photosynthesis agriculture can sequester and store large amounts of carbon in soil and biomass. This can help to dramatically slow down climate change. On project drawdowns list of solutions to reverse climate, agroforestry practices rank high. The rank of regenerative farming practices are: #9 Silvopasture, #17 Alley Cropping and #28 Food Forests.
Farm enterprise benefits
By implementing regenerative practices the farmer can enjoy a range of enterprise benefits.
Building soil helps to reduce the need for expensive inputs and the integration of regenerative practices diversifies the output from the land. This makes the system more robust to market fluctuations. By implementing Regenerative Agriculture you can reduce input costs and diversify your outputs to increase overall profits.
Healthy soil and watersheds increases the resilience of farming systems which helps to reduce the impact extreme weather like droughts and floods have on your yield. Adapt your farm to more extreme climate through Regenerative Agriculture and reduce your risks.
Do you some times feel like external factors have a grip on you and that you don’t really have the room to make the changes and projects that you want? Decreased inputs and a more resilient enterprise makes you more independent. This means that regenerative agriculture can help to make you more free to do what you want to.