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The Regenerative Agriculture Revolution

The Regenerative Agriculture Revolution

Regenerative agriculture offers one of the greatest opportunities to help Europe address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.

The Regenerative Agriculture Revolution is a series of activities whose overall aim is to help farmers and agrifood businesses adopt more regenerative farming practices and raise public awareness about the important health, environmental and economic benefits of eating regeneratively produced food.

Reports from leading organisations, such as FAO, IPCC, and EAT Forum, state the fundamental importance of transitioning to more regenerative agriculture methods if Europe is to meet its climate change targets, food security needs, protect our farmland and build a healthier food system. Current mainstream farming methods are resulting in the loss of fertile soil and biodiversity. According to Maria-Helena Semedo of the FAO, the world could run out of topsoil in about 60 years if we continue at current rates of soil destruction. This affects the earth’s ability of food production, water filtering and carbon absorption. We will not only suffer serious damage to public health due to a qualitatively degraded food supply characterized by diminished nutrition, but we will literally no longer have enough arable topsoil to feed ourselves.

In fact, our present agricultural system is a major contributor to the emissions of greenhouse gases. The IPCC states in its latest report on climate change that 24% of the total global GHG emissions are directly related to agricultural production. However, regenerative agriculture sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and has the potential to reverse climate change instead of contributing to it. Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our 4 billion acres of cultivated farmland, 8 billion acres of pastureland, and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius or halt the loss of biodiversity.

But there is a solution and its lays right beneath our feet. Regenerative Agriculture restores the natural rhythm of our ecosystems, reviving landscapes for generations to come. The secret lies in the soil. Unlike depleted soils, healthy, organic topsoil retains water, recycles nutrients, and stores carbon. By working with nature, we can produce more nutritious food, more resilient crops, and less wasted water. What is more, we could stop or even reverse climate change. If the world’s soils stored just 0.4% more carbon every year, it could offset all human C02 emissions.

Regenerative Agriculture gives us the chance to improve food quality, protect farmers’ livelihoods, and safeguard the land we depend on. It is a profitable, sustainable system that makes sense for farmers and food-lovers alike.

Find out more and join the regenerative agriculture revolution.

I am a farmer. How can I get involved?

For farmers interested in making their farms more profitable, whilst also making the food system better for the planet and people’s health, EIT Food is offering comprehensive support to help farmers transition to regenerative agriculture. The support includes two key parts:

1.   A 2.5 day training session held on a regenerative farm and delivered by experienced regenerative farmers. The session will combine theory, interactive workshops, and farm visits. Importantly, participating farmers will learn how to apply regenerative agriculture techniques on their own farm. Key topics include:

  • Minimal soil disturbance - no till farming
  • Cover crops and crop rotation
  • Reduction or elimination of agrochemical inputs
  • Keyline design
  • Composting and biofertilizers
  • Integration of livestock and plants
  • Cycle management: carbon, water, nitrogen and minerals
  • Holistic management of a farm
  • Developing a strong business model and alternative sales channels

In 2021 we will organise face-to-face courses in Spain, Italy, Poland and Portugal. EIT Food will charge a symbolic sign-up fee of 50€ to attend the courses. The exact locations and dates are below.

2.   After the training, a small number of participating farmers will receive one-year of advice from an experienced regenerative agriculture agronomist. Through regular visits, the agronomists will work with participating farmers to design and implement an action plan to transition to regenerative agriculture and meet the farmer’s environmental, economic and personal goals.

Workshop dates and locations:

  • Lalín (Pontevedra) Spain: June 3-5
    • Dairy cows in wet climate of northern Iberia
  • Priego de Córdoba, Spain: June 15-17
    • Olive
  • Mertola (Alentejo) Portugal: Autumn
    • Animal husbandry Agroforestry
  • Binéfar (Huesca) Spain: Autumn
    • Fruit trees and irrigated grains
  • Poland: October
    • Introduction to regenerative agriculture
  • Llombai (Valencia) Spain: October
    • Fruit trees
  • Aracena (Huelva) Spain: October
    • Holistic grazing in Mediterranean 'dehesa' ecosystem
  • Alava, Spain: November
    • Vineyards and holistic management
  • Ragusa (Sicily) Italy: November
    • Fruit trees and horticulture

Selection criteria

The Regenerative Agriculture Farm Transition program is open to farmers who:

  • Currently own or manage a farm that generates the majority of their income.
  • Commit to transition at least 30% of their farm to regenerative methods in the year following the training session.
  • Show passion for regenerating the health of our soils, rural communities, and ecosystems.
  • Are based in an eligible regions in Spain and Italy.

If you still have questions about the courses or the eligibility requirements after reading this section, please contact formacionregenerativa@eitfood.eu

Apply now

Deep dive courses

We also will be organising one day deep dive courses where topic experts will explain specific regenerative solutions to some of the most significant challenges faced by European farmers. These course will be filmed and made available on our website. Some of the key topics covered this year will be:

  • Soil fertility and crop management
  • Keyline design and water management
  • The grain crisis in Southern Europe and regenerative solutions
  • Holistic grazing and livestock genetics
  • No till, some till and direct drill: finding the right balance

The dates, locations and application process for these deep dive courses will be announced shortly.

I run an agrifood company. How can I get involved?

For agrifood companies and farmer cooperatives interested in improving the resiliency of their supply networks and meeting the UN’s sustainable development goals related to climate change, responsible production and human health and well-being, EIT Food offers a series of services to help your suppliers adopt regenerative agriculture practices. We are already working with some of the largest agrifood companies worldwide and would be delighted to help your company transform to regenerative practices too.

Farmer training and technical assistance. EIT Food works with interested agrifood cooperatives and businesses to help their supply chain transition to regenerative agriculture. Through our farmer-to-farmer training program, we teach farmers how to apply the 5 core principles of regenerative agriculture on their farms:

  • Minimum soil disturbance – no-till farming
  • Crop rotation and diversity
  • Reduction or elimination of chemical inputs
  • The integration of livestock and plants
  • Understand your local environmental context

Following the training course, the company’s suppliers will receive 3 years of advisory services provided by experienced agronomists. In periodic visits the agronomist will work with the participating producers to design and implement an action plan to transition to regenerative agriculture and meet the farmer’s environmental, economic and personal goals.

Procurement strategy consulting. EIT Food helps farmer cooperatives and agrifood businesses design regional procurement strategies that share the benefits and the initial costs of the transition to regenerative agriculture among all actors in a supply network.

EIT Food advises agrifood businesses on how to adopt regional and holistic approaches to procurement instead of managing each crop as an independent supply line. Suppliers in the same regions may be able to share ecosystems services, know-how and logistics. All these factors must be taken into account to regenerate the land and the economies of farming communities and in the process ensure their resilience and long-term viability for the clients that depend on them.

Businesses also can receive advise on how to create long term incentives to help their suppliers mitigate the risks and offset the initial costs of the transition to regenerative agriculture. This assistance will ensure the long term profitability of regenerative farming businesses so that everyone in the supply network can benefit from ecosystem services that they are providing.

Ecosystem measurement services: To achieve successful outcomes it is essential that companies be able to measure the impact of the regenerative practices that their suppliers are  implementing. In order to evaluate the progress of farmers and ranchers in adopting regenerative production methods EIT Food measures:

  • Soil health – biodiversity and carbon content
  • Water infiltration
  • Above ground biodiversity
  • Farmer resiliency and profitability
  • Benefits to farming communities

Access to knowledge and innovation communities of regenerative farmers: Farmers learn best from other farmers. For this reason EIT Food is in the process of creating a forum for regenerative farmers interested in sharing their experiences and successful practices with others who aspire to follow their path.

If you are interested in helping your supply chain transition to more regenerative agriculture methods, please contact us using the details below.

What is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services. Resulting in increased yields, increased resilience to extreme weather events and climate change, and higher health and vitality for the rural communities.

Regenerative agriculture works according to a whole ecosystem approach, meaning aiming to work with nature instead of against it. For farm management decisions the whole farming ecosystem is considered. All the stakeholders that are affected are also taken into consideration and mutually beneficial relationships are established between them.The farm is a dynamic environment and continuous improvement and growth is pursued to utilise the full potential of the farm, community and individuals.

The most important aspect of regenerative agriculture is soil health in a holistic agro-ecosystem. In the end your soil is the most valuable asset of the farm. If you take care of your soil, it will take care of you. Minimizing soil disturbance by adopting conservation tillage and minimizing chemicals and biological activities are fundamental practices of regenerative agriculture. Large amounts of CO2 are released during ploughing activities and at the same time the soil is exposed to erosion.

Some of the key techniques that are being used in regenerative agriculture to increase soil health are no tillage, cover crops, increasing biodiversity, rotation cropping, attracting natural predators of pests and integrating livestock.

News

Can regenerative agriculture replace conventional farming?

Can regenerative agriculture replace conventional farming?

Read our blog on whether regenerative agriculture can replace conventional farming. Some great insights from leading thinkers and doers in the space.

Read article here
Kiss The Ground

Kiss The Ground

Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis.
Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film artfully illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle.

This movie is positioned to catalyze a movement to accomplish the impossible – to solve humanity’s greatest challenge, to balance the climate and secure our species future.

Watch it on Netflix

Apply for upcoming courses

Application questionnaire

Overview

To help bring about the Regenerative Agriculture Revolution in Europe, we are focussing our efforts in three key areas:

Supporting European farmers to transition to regenerative agriculture

EIT Food offers innovative farmers in Southern and Eastern Europe a comprehensive training program that helps them learn about and then apply the principles of regenerative agriculture on their farms. 

If you are a farmer and want to get involved, please click on the "I am a farmer" section on the top right of this page for information on our training courses.

Helping the public see the benefits for their health and planet of regenerative agriculture

For farmers to adopt regenerative agriculture it is essential that the European public understand and appreciate what they are doing and how it benefits the environment and our health. Through powerful storytelling, compelling research and beautiful videos, we will explain the connection between healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy people and healthy planet.

To see our latest work in this area, please check our blog.

Working with agrifood companies to transition their supply to regenerative agriculture 

The full potential of regenerative agriculture will be achieved when agrifood companies change their food sourcing strategies. EIT Food is working closely with its partners and other agrifood business to help train producers in their supply networks and design procurement strategies that encourage the adoption of regenerative farming practices. 

If your company is interested in transitioning to regenerative agriculture, please get in touch.

Impact

In 2020:

  • We taught 90 farmers in Spain and Italy how to transition their farms to regenerative agriculture
  • We produced a series of videos that explain what is regenerative agriculture and its benefits
  • We worked with large agrifood businesses to encourage their tranistion to regenerative agriculture
  • We designed a study to prove the health benefits of eating a diet from regeneratively farmed produce
  • We produced a manual on how to farm regeneratively in Southern Europe, with a focus on almonds, olives and cereals
  • We welcomed 35 farms onto a 3-year regenerative agriculture tranistion programme, guided by our regenerative agronomists

Partners

The following partners are involved in the project

University of Hohenheim
Neiker

Project Lead

Philip Fernandez
Institution

EIT Food, CLC South

Contact details

philip.fernandez@eitfood.eu

Mateusz Ciasnocha
Institution

EIT Food, CLC North-East

Contact details

mateusz.ciasnocha@eitfood.eu

Related projects

EIT Cross-KIC contributes to New European Bauhaus (NEB) Initiative from the European Commission

EIT Cross-KIC contributes to New European Bauhaus (NEB) Initiative from the European Commission

EIT Food Community will be part of projects that address urban food challenges and include local governance

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