The Impact of Regenerative Agriculture on Food Supply

by | Oct 12, 2022 | Agriculture

Field of sheep with wind turbines generating power in the distance of the farm that practices regenerative agricultural

“We have to create new solutions… keeping in mind that there are no healthy foods without a healthy environment.” – Dr. Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization

How society farms, distributes and consumes food has various harmful impacts on the planet. It affects everything, especially food security. Regenerative agriculture practices are one solution that has gained a lot of traction in recent years. Many of the world’s most popular brands are revamping their business models to incorporate regenerative agriculture to improve their environmental impact. 

One well-known flour producer, King Arthur Flour, asserts that by 2030, it will source only regeneratively grown wheat. Many larger brands follow suit, including Wal-Mart, Target, General Mills, and Unilever – a British-based multinational consumer goods company. These efforts also strengthen supply chains and drive the 138% increase in the business interest in these sustainable methods. Its adoption is a vision of the future of food production and manufacturing.  

Key Takeaways:

  • Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach designed to create net beneficial impacts on ecosystems, including improving wash beds and soil health.
  • Regenerative agriculture is vital to securing sustainable food supplies while building a better economy and increasing biodiversity.
  • Protect the world’s water supply and tackle climate change by integrating regenerative agriculture methods into your food production.
  • The oceans account for 17% of the world’s edible meat supply. Regenerative agriculture includes responsible fishing practices and reducing ocean pollution.
  • Regenerative agriculture practices include cover cropping, holistic grazing, no-till farming, and composting, to name a few.

The Vision for Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach designed to produce net beneficial effects on ecosystems. It includes improving net carbon sequestration and watershed while promoting soil health and a biodiversity-rich habitat. The results should provide a net beneficial social and economic impact for farmers and local communities to remain long-term sustainable. Whether you are involved in the agriculture process or source regeneratively grown ingredients for your products, you can help build the future vision and reduce the environmental impact of sustaining the world’s food supply. 

Why Regenerative Agriculture Is So Vital to Sustaining Food Supplies 

A regenerative agriculture system seeks to renew, restore, and enhance national food resources to feed humanity while repairing damaged ecosystems. Sustainable food practices must create resiliency by sequestering carbon and localizing economies while building greater food security. These are a few ways it does that: 

Builds a Better Economy   

Worldwide, food production accounts for approximately 10% of the global economy. Food not only sustains life by providing nourishment. It also sustains the economy as roughly one-third of the Earth’s population earns their livelihood from agriculture and food production. From the farmers in the fields to food processing plants and even the grocers themselves, regenerative agriculture impacts the incomes of those managing the world’s food supplies and their surrounding communities. 

Protects the World’s Water  

Approximately 70% of the Earth’s surface consists of water. Yet, only about 2.5% of that is freshwater. With more than half trapped frozen in glaciers, that leaves around only 1% suitable for human consumption. Agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater usage. Regenerative agriculture focuses efforts on reducing water waste to ensure the preservation of this rapidly depleting natural resource. 

 Infograph of the amount of water in the world.

Image Courtesy of SolSarin

Increases Biodiversity   

Regenerative agriculture strives to benefit the entire ecosystem, including other animals, plants, and insects, along with the main crops grown. With the diverse use of plants, shrubs, and the integration of trees, regenerative farming increases biodiversity in the air, on the land, and over the soil. The ancient indigenous practice encourages the symbiotic relationship between certain living organisms. 

Tackles Climate Change  

Regenerative agriculture protects the Earth’s atmosphere using a two-pronged approach. One is to reduce CO2 emissions, as agriculture accounts for 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The second is to eliminate soil degradation after each harvest. That’s why you should invest in regenerative agriculture practices as the world moves to implement more climate change initiatives to improve the ecological impact of agriculture.

Ensures Healthy Oceans    

Regenerative agriculture and farming offer rehabilitation for land and sea by reversing global warming and improving food security. A focus on soil richness while including acts of stewardship to restore ocean health by feeding carbon to plants builds nutritious food, revitalizes local economies, and reverses global warming.

Regenerative Agriculture Practices 

Infograph of targeted impacts and benefits of regenerative agriculture

Image Courtesy of Pur Projet

It isn’t likely that any one farm can engage in every regenerative agriculture practice. However, the more sustainable your operation is, the less adverse impact your farm or food processing plant has. Begin slow but with the practice with the most impact on your operation and the environment. Here are a few regenerative agriculture practices to consider: 

  • Cover cropping: Cover cropping enables you to use this bare soil for another crop grow after you grow and harvest a cash crop. Keep the living roots in the soil to reduce erosion, improve soil health, and increase water retention.
  • Holistic grazing: Also known as intensive rational grazing, this regenerative practice mimics how wild herds moved across grasslands before colonization. It improves soil fertility and allows the regrowth of pasture grasses.
  • No-till farming: An alternative to plowing, this practice encourages farmers no leave the soil intact when planting rather than tilling the land.
  • Composting: Turn waste into fertilizer with the practice of composting. You can use animal manure, biological food waste, and human excrement if you use an eco-friendly composting toilet in your home.
  • Little to no fossil fuel-based input: Build healthy soil by leveraging natural methods for managing pests and excluding pesticides and other chemicals from your operations, regardless of your organic certification status.
  • Agroforestry: Deriving from an indigenous practice, farmers integrate shrubs and trees into their animal and crop systems. You can also grow hedgerows and other riparian buffers to create windbreaks and habitats for beneficial organisms.

Discover Sustainable Food Products at the Next SIAL America Show  

It’s amazing how regenerative agriculture impacts the food supply and how innovations make food healthier for consumers and the planet. Join us at our next SIAL America food and beverage event this March and see how sustainable agriculture and food production innovations of the future are in the food we eat today. See firsthand how brands are using the regenerative agriculture methodology in the products they develop. 

Attend as a guest and check out the latest brands integrating regenerative agriculture practices. Or be an exhibitor and showcase your brand’s sustainable methods.