From Netflix’s ‘Kiss the Ground’ documentary to continued global talks on the climate crisis, regenerative agriculture appears to be gaining traction across the globe for its promising results and innovative effect. In this article, we explore exactly what regenerative agriculture is, and how bison ranches are proving to be a big game changer.
Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming techniques and practices that seek to rehabilitate and replenish the quality of and nutrients in the soil. This is done by placing priority on soil health, with special attention paid to water management and fertilizer use. The aim of the game is essentially to create better quality soil with more organic matter, and reduce the amount of carbon released into the environment via plowing and tillage.
The main benefit of better-quality soil is the resilience that comes with it, allowing it to better withstand the effects of climate change, such as flooding and drought. The more organic matter you have in the soil, the more water-holding capacity it has.
Regenerative agriculture aims to tackle climate change by creating healthier soil environments for plants to thrive in. More plants = more photosynthesizing. When plants photosynthesize, they take carbon dioxide from the air and then use the sun's energy, nutrients from the soil, and water to transform it into carbon used to grow leaves, stems, and roots, etc. Any excess carbon created through this process is transported down into the surrounding soil where it feeds microbes and fungi, which in turn provide nutrients for plants.
Carbon can remain stored in soil for thousands of years, as opposed to being very quickly released back into the atmosphere by plowing and tillage. Therefore, not only does regenerative agriculture assist farmers in dealing with the current climate change impacts by giving them more resilient soil, but it also enables them to be part of a larger solution to the problem through carbon sequestration.
Now officially trademarked as ‘regenerative by nature’, North America’s largest land mammal once roamed the continent freely, sustaining plains and prairie ecosystems as a keystone species. The bison did this through grazing, fertilization, trampling, and other natural behavior that they still exhibit today, thanks to never being domesticated.
Among many other positive things, bison are naturally hardy and don’t need any artificial shelter. They live long, productive lives, the females calf independently without any human intervention, and they tend to have low vet bills and medical costs. They aren’t poked or prodded with any antibiotics, which have been linked to increased methane emissions in cattle, and they thrive in most American landscapes.
What this all means is that bison are the perfect species for regenerative farming. They will fertilize and cover any bare soil with their dung, enriching the land and encouraging diversity in the soil.
It’s also why Straight Up Bison only work with ranches that use regenerative farming methods and have it at the heart of what they do.
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