environmental conservation

Regenerative Agriculture: Returning to Our Roots

By Karen DuVall

Whenever friends visit my hometown, one of my favorite spots to show off is the bison ranch across the road from my parents’ woods. Carl Van Meter dreamed of looking out his window to see bison roaming as they once had two hundred years ago, so he purchased a pair in 1976. The herd grew to about 100 head, and they were a source of fascination to me as I grew up along with them.

Van Meter Buffalo Ranch in Buffalo, Indiana

Van Meter Buffalo Ranch in Buffalo, Indiana

Regenerative Agriculture holds a similar philosophy to return agricultural acreage to its natural state. What exactly is regenerative agriculture? It’s a practice that’s steadily gaining in notoriety and popularity.

  • Conventional Agriculture focuses on efficiency, high yields, and monoculture (large fields of one type of crop.)

  • Sustainable Agriculture focuses on doing no harm to the land and local food production.

  • Regenerative Agriculture goes a step further by using farming and grazing practices to rebuild topsoil and restore soil biodiversity. This draws down carbon dioxide from the air and improves the water cycle, which in turn helps to reverse climate change.

Healthy topsoil, healthy worms, healthy crops, healthy humans, healthy planet

Healthy topsoil, healthy worms, healthy crops, healthy humans, healthy planet

Due to its very nature, there’s no one right way to practice regenerative agriculture. It heavily depends on the specific needs of the location and local community. It looks to indigenous knowledge and skills from that area. Some examples are conservation tillage, cover crops, composting, and pasture cropping. Here’s a sample of a range of regenerative ag organizations leading the way around the world, while economically benefiting the ag producers.

In fact, bison are a key component of a regenerative agriculture effort at Kankakee Sands in northern Indiana. The Nature Conservancy has been converting 700 acres of row-crop land back into prairie. Bison provide a necessary service to the prairie by grazing down dominant plants, which encourage other plants to thrive and increase biodiversity. This broader range of food encourages more indigenous wildlife to return. Even their large hoofprints are regenerative because they enhance seed dispersal and planting.

Small farmers are facing enormous pressures. Prices are volatile, especially for soybeans and dairy. Extreme heat, droughts, flooding, and shifts in growing seasons are undeniable. Often it seems that the only option is to consolidate with large farms. As ag producers are imagining different paths using sustainable and regenerative practices.

Prosperity Ag is here to help. Whether you’re a conventional, sustainable, or regenerative farmer, there are funding opportunities out there as you weather the storm. Contact us today to learn more.