Joel Williams seminar

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

RegenAG UK is committed to bringing some of the world's leading pioneers of Regenerative Agriculture to share their ideas with farmers and smallholders in the UK, through a series of short courses and workshops. The focus of Regenerative Agriculture is on building soils, restoring watercourses, and encouraging biodiversity, while reducing dependency on outside inputs, improving livestock health and increasing farm yields and profitability. Kirk Gadzia sums it up as: “leaving it better than we found it”.

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 grows our crops. To compensate for this we've been driven to using ever-increasing volumes of artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but these strategies only attempt to counter the symptoms. 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 most of us have been caught up in the chemical approach, a few 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 are now sharing their 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. 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.

And then there's the additional benefit in the battle against climate change. Many regenerative agriculture techniques focus on the importance of carbon management in the wider farm system and estimates suggest that almost 40% or more of worldwide carbon emissions could be sequestered through agriculture, if regenerative practices were adopted. Not making things any worse just isn't enough.

Polyface pigs

So what are the five essential things needed for rapid soil building? RegenAG International Founder Darren Doherty describes them as such (after Dr. Christine Jones

  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...