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6 Principles of Regenerative Agriculture

Discover the 6 principles of regenerative agriculture.

The cultivation of wine grapes is fraught with difficulties. Extremes in climate, such as heat and diminishing water resources, are already placing strain on the business. Consumer concerns about the grape cultivation process are putting producers under pressure.

1. Balancing Soil Nutrition Limitations

Input Balancers are important where “in a system that is trying to mimic a natural ecosystem, all nutritional inputs into that system should be organic (non-synthetic) and biological (Smith et al., 2018, p.20).

Furthermore, Plant Balancers make use of “a diverse group of plants from as many plant families as possible was the best way to balance out any nutritional issues” (p.20).

2. Keeping the Soil Covered

Cover crops increase water penetration in the soil by opening pores and tiny channels. They contribute by producing organic matter.

“In most undisturbed natural ecosystems, the soil has some sort of cover. This could be living plants, or it could be decaying plant material. Either way, the soil’s default mechanism is to have some sort of cover” (p. 21).

3. Minimizing Soil Disturbance (Cultivation)

Preserving native topsoil and natural flora can help reduce hazards.
“Excessive cultivation destroys soil aggregates, significantly decreases water infiltration rates, and accelerates the breakdown of SOM (soil organic matter)” (p. 22).

4. Increasing Plant and Microbial Diversity

Plants and microbes create a holobiont that must be viewed as co-evolved species assemblages.
“To help build resilience in soil a diverse range of plant species is needed above the ground to cultivate a diverse microbial ecosystem below the ground.” (p. 25)

5. Incorporating Living Roots into the Farming System all Year Round

Roots support bacteria by supplying a food supply or by releasing nutritional substances into the soil.
“Living plants are the key to building up the diverse soil microbial community and building soil capacity through soil organic carbon storage” (p. 26)

6. Integrating and Managing Livestock

An “integrated crop-livestock system” is a type of mixed production in which crops and livestock are used in a way that complements one another in space and time. The herd of ruminants (animals like sheep, goats, or cattle) that graze a pasture to build up the soil is the backbone of an integrated system.
“There is great potential with animals to accelerate soil health and regeneration through planned strategic grazing management” (pg26)

For further reading, visit:

© Leask, R. (2020). Is Being Sustainable Enough for Australian Wine? Regenerative agriculture can redefine what is best practice viticulture.
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Sustainability in the New Zealand Wine Industry

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