With the term “regenerative” becoming more well-known, the article explores its meaning. It highlights some commitments that have been made recently by large companies, including:
- General Mills committing to regenerating one million acres of farmland
- Cargill recently intends to regenerate 10 million acres
- Seven farms and brands including Nature's Path and Patagonia recently received Regenerative Organic Certification
- Walmart announced plan to become a regenerative company
Robert Rodale was first to use the term, according to Jeff Moyer executive director of the Rodale Institute.
“Bob Rodale was really philosophically in tune with the idea that, if you focus on the biology of the system, you can improve it. He then extrapolated that to say that if we can regenerate soil health, we can regenerate the health of the farmers and their customers. We can regenerate the spirit of the community in which farmers live,” Moyer says.
The Rodale Institute developed the Regenerative Organic Certification program, which has a bronze, silver and gold level that farmers can obtain by implementing practices such as no- till, cover crops, crop rotations, minimal soil disturbance and grazing of livestock.
“Regenerative agriculture as practiced broadly around the world, is about ecosystem health. Its focus is on reviving, restoring, regenerating the health of damaged and diminished ecosystems,” says Tom Newmark, founder and chair of the Carbon Underground.
The Soil Carbon Index has four key criteria: increasing soil organic matter, continuous improvement in biological diversity above and below ground, improvements in soil structure and increase water use efficiency or infiltration.
Some people believe that to be certified regenerative you must also be certified organic. There is some argument over this, but Newmark says that the vision is the same.
“We clearly salute those who practice organic. But we don’t want to impose on two billion smallholder farmers an expensive, complicated organic certification requirement in order for them to be deemed regenerative,” says Newmark.