What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture focuses strongly on building soils and restoring ecosystems as the foundation to regenerating production, and communities.  The importance of restoring watercourses – and the water cycle as a whole – is recognised, along with mineral cycles and biodiversity, as foundations for a sustainable permanent agro-ecological production base.  At the same time dependency on external inputs is minimised, and we look to improve livestock health and quality of produce, and increase farm profitability - with the most efficient use of the manpower available

RegenAG UK (RAUK) is a network/training organisation which promotes Regenerative Agriculture by connecting the world's leading pioneers with farmers and smallholders in the UK via short courses, seminars and workshops, and by facilitating peer-peer learning and practitioner lead experimentation and exploration.  We work with international and UK trainers, valuing expertise and experience wherever we find it and drawing on our trainers' skills and knowledge to help develop local practice.

RAUK was initiated by Eliza Pearson, who after attending one of Darren Doherty's Regenerative Agriculture courses in Australia, convened the first courses in the UK, with Aranya's support. At an international level Darren convened further courses with Kirk Gadzia, and Joel Salatin, whilst Aranya and Natasha took on the UK co-ordination, and when Darren then moved on to focus on his Regrarian® platform they continued with a course with Eugenio Gras, another member of the original RegenAG (International) hub training team.
Since then Aranya has stepped back to focus on his Permaculture teaching and mentoring, with Natasha taking the lead, this fitting very well with her background and main goals.  During this time we have been developing stronger connections within the UK, and also making use of trainers who are based closer to home - whilst still tapping into the international network.

 

Why Regenerative Agriculture?

In many ways we've become a very successful species. Our numbers now approach seven billion and agriculture has played a key part in making that possible, but our success has come at a price - the serious degradation of the natural environment and in particular the soil and water which produces our crops. We've been using ever-increasing volumes of artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but these strategies only function symptomatically, are increasingly expensive, and cause further problems down the line, including in terms of land degradation. Regenerative agriculture describes a wide range of practices, which instead address the root causes - and quickly.

Keyline tree planting

Conventional thinking suggests that it takes a thousand years to build a few centimetres of soil. If that were true than we really would be in trouble; the quantity of topsoil lost as a result of modern agricultural practices is terrifying. Thankfully we can build soils just as quickly as we can erode them - but only under the right circumstances. And that's what Regenerative agriculture is all about. While many producers have been caught up in the chemical approach, some farming pioneers around the world have been developing remarkably successful techniques that build soils and their fertility, clean water, and do it all while increasing farm yields and profit margins.

These pioneers have been sharing the secrets of their successes - some very simple principles - so the rest of us can benefit. From DIY recipes for biofertilisers to grazing management modelled on the behaviour of wild herds, and from the effective and minimal use of machinery, such as sub-soil ploughing, to developing local markets for farm produce regenerative agriculture encompasses a diverse portfolio of techniques, which individually or together can rapidly build soils, communities and profits, and the natural environment benefits too.

Finally there's the additional benefit of the role it can play in both mitigation and adaptation to climate change - or 'climate disruption' which would seem to communicate the problems more clearly. Regenerative agriculture techniques focus on the importance of carbon sequestration as well as retention in the soil; fertility and resilience in the face of adverse weather conditions depend on soil carbon. Not only does converting to regenerative practices reduce and eliminate carbon release due to unfavourable tillage methods, etc., but it also holds the potential to return a significant amount of carbon where it belongs; back in the ground. Not making things any worse just isn't enough.

Polyface pigs

Regrarians® Director Darren Doherty describes the five essential things for rapid soil building as follows (after Dr. Christine Jones www.amazingcarbon.com):

  1. Sun, air, water.
  2. Biologically available minerals.
  3. Living things IN the soil (plants and animals) and their by products.
  4. Living things ON the soil (plants and animals) and their by products.
  5. Intermittent and patchy disturbance regimes.

Latest course datesThat's it. Nothing we don't already have on most farms. And even when it comes to using machinery like subsoil ploughing, most of what we need can be found in our barns or adapted from what we already have. None of this involves buying expensive equipment. We just need to be willing to believe that there may be a better way of doing what we do, and be prepared to give a little time to learning about it. 

We hope you'll start your journey here...

We are currently compiling our schedule for 2016; please do sign up to our e-mailing list to be first to hear about the new schedule.

Introduction to Holistic Management®

Sheep pasture

Planning and Decision-making for Whole-Farm Success (20 BASIS points; 4LP, 3BM, 6E, 4GM, 1HW, 1PD)

with Owen Hablutzel and Rob Havard

Date and venue tbc (please email to register your interest)

Join us for a fun-filled three-day workshop where we will learn together optimal, highly-effective and proven ways to plan for and achieve the full power of the Holistic Management approach for your land, your animals, your profits and your quality of life. The workshop will include classroom as well as outdoor exercises and pasture walks for a full learning experience!

Farmers and Landowners who have learned Holistic Management as a planning framework experience a wide variety of positive results:

· 80% report increased profits,
· 91% report improved quality of life, and
· 100% increase in management for bio-diversity

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Soil Health; A Living Perspective

Soil nutrient managementOptimising Soil Management for Productivity (6 BASIS points; 2E, 1GM, 3N)

with Joel Williams

5th March (9 am - 5 pm)

Froebel College, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, SW15 5PJ 

Joel was recommended to us by one of our farmers in the south-west and we ran a one-day workshop similar to this one in Devon back in February.  It sold out and participants went away wanting more, so we are repeating this 'foundation' material in other venues with a mind to then following this up with more in depth days which focus on specifics such as microscope work, disease management and compost teas.

Joel's cv is impressive and extensive (see his profile for greater detail), but in short, after focussing more strongly on the soil chemistry and nutrient balancing in Australia, he worked with Elaine Ingham at Laverstoke in the UK, inverting this and focussing more strongly on optimising the soil biology with a smaller focus on mineral management. Now he tends to take a middle road but is happy to deliver on whichever side the audience requires. He is particularly interested in the links between nutrition and pest and disease pressure and how nutrient corrections when supplemented with biological protection can be used to manage insect and disease problems, and after some time back in Australia, we are fortunate that he has now returned to England again.

Here are some of the things people said about the initial day we ran in February:
"Superb course, would love to learn more"
"A well structured, interesting and inspiring day"
"It was a really interesting, informatibe and inspiring course... I'll definitely be putting some of what I have learned into practice both at home and at..."
"Really interesting and understandable talk on soil that actually helped me understand what to look for practically and get enthused about fungi!"
"A big subject nicely broken down into nicely digestible chunks"
"Very intersting/exciting - even for the amateur (I thought it may well go over my head, but I took in a lot)"
"Quality, trustworthy information delivered in a very understandable way.  Clarified a lot of the mysteries of soil biology"
"Excellent overview of soil biology and how to achieve better microbial health.  Relevant for all audiences interesting in farming."
"Absolutely fantastic day! Well worth the trip from Aberdeen" (and that was to South Devon...)
"Highly informative... Well structured... Applied knowledge..."

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What you've said...

"The money I spent on that course has paid for itself ten times over in the knowledge I've gained and how that has made my own business profitable and sustainable."

"It was full of sound scientific and practical advice on how to improve my farm business."

"RegenAg UK courses are an unprecedented opportunity for learning from some of the world's leading pioneers in agriculture."

For more testimonials click here!

Joel Salatin DVD new