WHAT IS REGENERATIVE ORGANIC AGRICULTURE?
Belle Terre Farm, home of Triple Crown Organics, is a Regenerative Agricultural farm that is Certified Organic. To help you understand exactly what that is, we offer you the following insights:
Regenerative agriculture describes holistic farming systems that, among other benefits, improve water and air quality, enhance ecosystem biodiversity, produce nutrient-dense food, and store carbon to help mitigate the effects of climate change.
These farm systems are designed to work in harmony with nature, while also maintaining and improving economic viability.
Organic Certification means that no inorganic, chemical-based fertilizers, amendments, pesticides, insecticides, or other unnatural substances have been used on top of the soil, worked into the soil, or applied to any crops.
Benefit: The benefits of organic are health - health of the living soil, health of the animals that feed off of plants growing from the living soil, and health of people who eat both the plant and animals. It is a full circle of life that works.
TOP 5 PRINCIPLES OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
- Minimize the physical, biological, and chemical disturbance of the soil. For example, regenerative farmers often minimize tilling their land, or forgo tilling all together. They also seek to reduce or eliminate the use of chemicals, such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
- Keep the soil covered with vegetation or natural material. Instead of tilling the land, regenerative practices include mulching, planting cover crops (crops that are not sold, but provide other benefits, such as soil improvement, water retention, weed suppression, and erosion prevention), and keeping the land as permanent pasture.
- Increase plant diversity. Diversity helps build healthy soils to better trap water and nutrients, can provide other sources of revenue for the farm, and can benefit pollinators and wildlife. Regenerative farms may vary crop rotations, plant multiple species of cover crops together, grow diverse forage in pastures, and maintain permanent vegetation (conservation cover) in some areas of the farm.
- Keep living roots in the soil as much as possible. Roots stabilize the soil and continually cycle water and nutrients, so these valuable resources don’t wash away. Regenerative farms can do this by planting cover crop seeds in the same fields as their primary crops, prior to harvest, to ensure the fields are never bare (a technique called overseeding); planting their primary crops directly into fields where cover crops are already growing (called planting “green” into cover crops); or converting cropland to pastures.
- Integrate animals into the farm as much as possible. Livestock manure can add valuable nutrients to the soil, reducing the need for fertilizers, and permanent pastures can trap large amounts of carbon and water, reducing farm emissions and polluted runoff. Practices include rotational grazing—moving livestock frequently between grass pastures to allow plants time to regenerate—or grazing cover crops.
WHAT ARE THE ECOLOGICAL AND SOCIETAL BENEFITS OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE
1. Improve soil health and fertility, which leads to increased farm productivity.
2. Produce nutrient-dense foods that are free from chemical contaminants.
3. Increase the land’s ability to filter and retain water, making farms and communities more resilient to drought and floods, while also reducing erosion and polluted runoff.
4. Improve wildlife habitat and ecosystem biodiversity and resilience.
5. Increase the nutrients available to plants and naturally protect against pests, reducing the need for costly fertilizers and pesticides; and
6. Capture substantial amounts of carbon from the air and store it in the soil, helping mitigate the effects of climate change.
WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS
While many farmers who practice regenerative agriculture are motivated by the ecological and societal benefits highlighted above, economic benefits are also a major factor. Improved soil health can lead to higher crop yields, better forage quality for animals, and reduced risk due to increased resiliency to pests, drought, or floods. Cost savings from reduced use of livestock feed, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and antibiotics can also have a positive impact on farm profitability.
CAN REGENERATIVE ORGANIC AGRICULTURE HELP CLIMATE CHANGE
Regenerative Organic Ag (ROC) helps our climate in several important ways:
Reduces water use greatly.
Reduces nitrogen runoff into streams and aquifers.
Reduces emissions from farm equipment: Nitrous Oxide, CO2
Increases quality of Living Soil
Increases nutrient density in food
Increases health of livestock
Increases nutrition in fruits and vegetables, and all plants.
Increases the flavor in all foods.
Increases the quality, texture, and taste of meat.
Provides for natural habitat for birds, butterflies, and bees.
Sequesters great amounts of carbon dioxide.
Our chickens, all organically raised, are free range during the day and absolutely love being outside in the fields and pastures. They are well regarded, locally, for their tremendous flavorful eggs.
ARE REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE AND HEALTHY SOIL THE SAME THING
Healthy soils are the foundation of regenerative agriculture. Regenerative agricultural systems not only help increase the diversity and health of life in the soil, but also increase biodiversity above ground. There is a symbiotic relationship between plants and the tiny organisms that live in the soil, called soil microbes. Plants, through photosynthesis, provide liquid carbon that feeds the soil microbes. In turn, microbes provide plants with nutrients like potassium, iron, calcium, and others that help them grow and stay healthy, ultimately providing nutrient-dense food for animals and humans. By increasing plant diversity on farms, regenerative agriculture helps create greater diversity in the underground food web that processes nutrients and carbon. Above the ground, chickens, cattle and other animals self-fertilize the soil.
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.” –Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
All animals LOVE living in a nice, clean, outdoors environment that is vibrant and rich in a great variety of plant species. Our organic pastures feature many varieties of grasses, legumes, and forbs. No matter the season, whether warm or cold, there is something really nutritious growing for them to eat. These guys and gals are literally our lawn mowers. They move from pasture to pasture at the right times. Because of the high microbe activity in the soil (healthy soil has over 1Billion microbes per teaspoon, an incredibly diverse amount of life. It consists of mycorrhizal fungi, bacteria, algaes, protozoa, and more. It's a complete circle of life where each piece is critically important to the rest.