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Frequently asked questions

In this article, you will find answers to frequently asked questions on the topic of regenerative agriculture.

In this article, you will find answers to frequently asked questions on the topic addressed in the first week of the course.

1. With regards to the environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture – are crop yields really maximised?

Crop yields really depend on many factors. It cannot be said with total certainty that one type of agriculture is more productive than another. In any case, from my own experience with woody crops, I have observed a tendency for yields to increase after a few years of conversion to regenerative agriculture. What is clear is that the practice of “regenerative” agriculture improves soil conditions, especially in terms of physical and biological parameters, which has a positive impact on crop development.

2. With regard to the social benefits of regenerative agriculture – do we really want a labour-intensive harvest? For instance, many countries have left crops to rot in the fields because of the lack of human resources to harvest them.

I understand that we want it, precisely in order to fix the population in rural areas. There is less and less labour available, and people do not want to work in the field, so it’s more and more common to resort to machines. The solution will undoubtedly involve better remuneration for fieldwork, which will increase the cost of cultivation and will be reflected in the cost of the end product, which will be less accessible to the end consumer. However, there’s also a need for consumer education, so that consumers are aware that nowadays (certainly much more so in developed countries) the percentage of household income spent on food is much lower than it was a few years ago, as priorities have changed. Perhaps we should prioritise conscious eating, rather than certain consumption habits that lead to the opposite. In any case, regenerative agriculture is not at odds with mechanical harvesting, far from it. In fact, there are more and more sophisticated machines that make it possible to maintain the integrity of the harvest without causing qualitative damage.

3. If animals are included in regenerative agriculture, more methane will be produced, which I believe is a ‘greenhouse’ gas. Is this correct?

The rational use of animals in agriculture contributes to improving the biological and organic fertility of the soil. It should not be forgotten that soil is a major carbon reservoir, which allows carbon to be sequestered in part from greenhouse gases. Moreover, agriculture generates 10% of the total greenhouse gases in Europe, of which about 60% come from livestock farming (especially intensive livestock farming) (Eurostat, 2020). Therefore, and this is a personal opinion, I consider that the benefits that the use of animals in agriculture can bring at a global level outweigh the little relevance they may have on the production of greenhouse gases.

4. I find it difficult to come to terms with the harmful effects of pesticides and other harmful methods that have been used for decades. Why did it take so long to realise the dangers and how successful is regenerative agriculture now please?

The green revolution from the 1960s onwards brought industrialisation in agriculture, adopting a series of cultivation techniques and the use of products that made it possible to significantly increase crop productivity. At the time, this increase in productivity was highly beneficial in meeting the needs of many people in the post-war era, and later in meeting the growing demand for food by the baby-boom generation. Fortunately, all the “solutions” provided end up generating new problems, otherwise, we would never evolve. The problems of this industrialisation have become apparent over the years, and little by little progress is being made to solve them as far as possible, but for sure new challenges will arise.

The practice of regenerative agriculture is still in its infancy, except in less developed countries where purchasing power and means of production do not allow them to manage crops in the same way as in developed countries. It is common to reuse and recover “waste” for use in cultivation, and to make the best use of available local resources. Practicing regenerative agriculture does not mean going back to the past, it means understanding the functioning of the agro-ecosystem, and adapting cultivation techniques to maintain the balance and favour its maintenance, logically without economic damage to the farmer, as it is an economic activity. Fortunately, cultivation techniques will have to be adapted day by day, as science allows us to learn more and more about the functioning of the agro-ecosystem.

5. Is there room for genetically modified crops in this regenerative farming?

There’s no legislation regulating the cultivation of regenerative agriculture. However, the use of GMOs is totally against the principles of regenerative agriculture, so it makes little sense to use them.

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The Regenerative Agriculture Revolution

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