What is it?
Regenerative organic agriculture (it’s a mouthful I know) is a vision of future agriculture that combines indigenous knowledge with western science and technology to re-establish the relationship between humans and the natural eco system. In other words, ROA is any practice, process or management approach that enhances the functioning of the system on which it relies upon. ROA is not about ‘sustaining’ our current natural world but is the process of enhancing and nourishing the planet to yield the highest quality crops earth can produce, while at the same time creating a world in the picture of the ‘garden of Eden’.
The 3 key pillars of ROA
- 1) Soil Health – As any good farmer will tell you “It all starts with the soil”. The soil is the foundation of life and is what directly feeds all plants, developing their nutrients, enzymes, antioxidants and minerals, we humans are no exception, the microbiome of our soil reflects the microbiome in our own digestive systems. Soil packed fill with chemical-based fertilisers and pesticides effects plants similar to a human living off nothing but fast food and fizzy drink, they may appear larger & rounder, but on the inside they are filled with nothing but crap (okay this may be a little exaggeration but you get the picture).
- 2) Animal Welfare – As most today are now aware in many instances Animals are treated like objects rather than living creatures. ROA stretches well beyond plants to also include the welfare of Animals, animal welfare has been defined through five freedoms: Freedom from discomfort, freedom from fear and distress, freedom from hunger, freedom from pain, injury, or disease, and freedom to express normal behaviour.
- 3) Social Farness – ROA doesn’t stop with the land and natural ecosystem but also includers the farmers and workers, those who labour to produce the food you see on your table. Agriculture workers are no stranger to human right abuse, whether that takes the form of: being forced to work in toxic laden environments or receiving unfair wages, the farmer is often thrown to the side in the chase of productivity and profits. ROA ensures that the rights and dignity of all workers are respected, it addresses compliance with labour laws, no forced labour, no child labour, fair contract negotiation, safe and healthy work conditions and hours, and fair wages.
Biodiversity - What's That?
In short biodiversity means having multiple forms of life living together in a supportive system, this stretches all forms of life from mineral to plant to animal to human.
The soil cycle of death...
In conventional farming it is most common to see farms that grow only one type of crop, as it is currently believed this is the most productive and profitable method of farming, although it is now coming to light this belief is entirely wrong. One key problem with this single crop farming method is that for a large portion of the year the land is left barren and exposed, instead of producing nutrients to feed the soil the land is simply putting all its resources into surviving, by the next harvest the soil is half dead and farmers are forced to substitute with chemical fertiliser to grow their crops, the cycle continues, the soils health gets worse year on year. ROA embraces the ideas of biodiversity and the use of cover crops.
What are cover crops?
Unlike crops that are meant to grow produce for human consumption, cover crops such as your standard non-fruit bearing tree exist to preserve soil health, and ensure the land has a healthy supply of living plants throughout all cycles. ROA practices integrate cover crops extensively to ensure the soil is not only sustaining its nutrients year on year but is growing and enhancing life. Further, through the process of photosynthesis cover crops filter carbon from the air to store in the soil below, effectively fighting climate change caused by the excessive expulsion of carbon due to us Humans current way of life.
This is what our future looks like...
Through science and observation it is becoming more and more apparent that plants were always meant to be grown along side multiple species, and that when arranged with proper planning it is possible to create a high yielding farm that basically runs and supports itself. The only job for the human is to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their creation!