Diversity makes life interesting. Imagine seeing the same old species of plants, animals, birds, fish and other living organisms all year round, world over. Boring right? Correct. Biodiversity is coined from biological diversity which refers to various varieties of living organisms within the same ecosystems and from different ecosystems: terrestrial ecosystem, forest ecosystem, grassland ecosystem, desert ecosystem, tundra ecosystem, freshwater ecosystem, marine ecosystem. Biodiversity changes constantly to either increase by genetic changes and evolutionary processes or decrease by habitat degradation, population reduction and extinction. To avoid this decrease and possible extinction of organisms, we need to regenerate the natural systems that support all life on this planet.
Regenerative agriculture comes with many solutions that not only protects biodiversity but expands it. This type of agriculture embodies comprehensive farming practices targeted towards boosting soil health and altering climate change by expanding biodiversity, enhancing water cycle, increasing organic matter in soil structure and transferring carbon from the atmosphere to the soil. Regenerative Agriculture is about farm management that works with nature rather than against nature, incorporating beneficial insects, birds, and other animals into the whole, leaving roles for them to be beneficial.
There are no rigid rules in the application of the regenerative agriculture. Each farmer is at liberty to combine different regenerative farming practices based on available resources. The farming practices include no-till farming and pasture cropping, organic annual cropping, compost and compost tea, biochar and terra preta, holistically managed grazing, animal integration, ecological aquaculture, perennial crops, silvopasture and agroforestry. Whichever practice of choice applied by the farmer; it is regenerative if it is guided by these principles:
→ it does not disturb the soil by heavy tillage but rather drill seeding into the soil with specialized drillers or disc planters. This principle aims to protect the complex network of worm-holes, fungal hyphae, a maze of tiny air pockets and microscopic organisms in the soil.
→ it keeps the soil surface covered from harsh weather conditions by growing cover crops all year round or applying stubble residues. This prevents bare soils and erosion. It also provides forage for livestock and poultry.
→ it grows a diverse range of crops. If its just one type of crop, then its not regenerative. Two or more varieties of the same crop or different crops reduces diseases and plant-specific pests.
→ it keeps living roots in the soil. This principle is vital for soil fertility. The roots ensure feeding the creatures at the base of the soil food web; the bacteria and fungi that provide food for the protozoa, arthropods and higher creatures further up the chain. They also keep mycorrhizal fungi alive and thriving and these symbionts are vital for nourishing most plants and will thus provide a free fertilizing and watering service for crops.
→ reintroduces grazing animals to the farm. The manure generated fertilizes the soil naturally.
Supporting biodiversity through regenerative farming can be cost effective in the long run and really sustainable, ensuring the health of all living organisms involved. Ikore works to ensure that climate smart farming knowledge and techniques are cascaded through our consultancy, training and e-extension services.