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Everything about regenerative agriculture

April 5, 2024
, by
Amandine Cherdel
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We are now used to seeing wheat and corn fields that span hectares, regularly sprayed with synthetics and left bare until the land is ready for sowing the next crop. These are farming practices which are typical of conventional agriculture (also known as traditional or industrial agriculture) which encompasses the use of agrochemicals, intensive tillage, heavy irrigation and monoculture production. 

While it may look blemish-free on the outside, conventional agriculture has been taking its toll on people and the planet. With the depletion of farmland, high contribution to global warming, insecure supply chains or soaring input costs, conventional agriculture’s unintended consequences have become increasingly apparent. Although our supermarkets may now seem full, growing food on degraded land will become harder: agricultural yield worldwide could fall by 35% by 21001

Our food & agriculture system is broken, regenerative agriculture is how we can fix it. It shifts agriculture’s focus back onto soil health and holistic management, without losing sight of yield and profitability. Rooted in agronomy and century-old farming methods, it integrates nature’s principles to modern farming. 

Here are all of your questions answered on this soil-enhancing approach to farming, its techniques and how it works.

What do you mean by regenerative agriculture?

Some view regenerative agriculture as an esoteric concept. Others, as another name for organic farming. Others still, as a way of farming which concentrates solely on carbon at the expense of yields.

While there is no single definition of the term, regenerative agriculture refers to an alternative means of farming which works with nature in order to maximise soil performance. It is a set of practical agronomic methods which can be customised and adapted to the agroecosystem where they are implemented, whether it be in conventional or organic farms. 

💡 Regenerative agriculture (also known as ’regen ag’) refers to a way of farming that revitalizes soil health and restores agroecosystems’s natural fertility. It seeks to manage the land in harmony with nature, simultaneously creating ecosystemic and economic value.

As its name implies, the main goal of regenerative agriculture is to ‘regenerate’ soil health and its ability to perform ecosystem services. Attention is given to increasing the soil’s level of organic matter and carbon storage capacity. 

Considered the farming model of the future, it is based on the principle that farmers can grow our food while bringing back ecological balance to our land. 

What are the practices of regenerative agriculture?

Regen ag promotes five core soil-enhancing and nature-inspired methods:

  • Maximise the use of organic inputs

The use of synthetic inputs (i.e. fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides), should be minimised and gradually replaced by organic fertilisers and biopesticides. In the long-term, artificial inputs lead to soil nutrient depletion, crop dependency and reduce the populations of beneficial insects, bacteria and fungi. They are also a major source of GHG emissions and groundwater pollution.

Organic fertilisers, such as manure or compost provide organic matter in a natural way, boosting soil fertility and crop development. This helps soil life thrive as well as restore water filtering ability.

  • Reduce land disturbance 

Deep tillage and ploughing generate heavy soil disturbance and turn soil life upside down, lowering stable organic matter by exposing it to air. It leads to problems like soil compaction, erosion, and loss of water retention. Minimum (shallow) tillage and no-till practices avoids soil turnover and disturbance, which helps store soil organic carbon in topsoils. As a result, soil life (especially earthworms) can thrive.

  • Increase cover crops

In nature, soils are permanently covered by living plants. This is the intrinsic function of a healthy soil, whose development and performance are enabled by the natural symbiosis between soil, microorganisms, and plants. Agricultural practices that leave soils bare for several months go against these natural principles.

Cover crops (directly sown between seasonal cash crops) help maintain and improve the soil structure with their root system. The additional roots and above ground biomass increase soil carbon levels. Moreover, cover crops accumulate organic matter and enhance nutrient cycling which will gradually be released for the following cash crops.

  • Increase diversity in the rotation

Crop rotation, or growing different kinds of crops in the same area across growing seasons, is one of the most ancient farming strategies and at the very foundation of resilient agro-ecosystems. Conversely, monoculture practised in conventional agriculture makes the land more fragile overtime, increasing the need to compensate through chemical inputs.

We emphasise both crop diversity in space: cultivating associated crops with different rooting depth and above-ground biomass; and diversity in time: alternating sequentially between cultivating cash crops, cover crops, and temporary pastures. Diversifying rotation increases plants' resistance to pests and diseases, overall reduces the need of mineral inputs at the scale of the rotation, such as integrating legumes.

  • Integrate agroforestry

Trees play an essential role in agricultural ecosystems. In addition to their production function (fruit, timber, etc.), trees, through their deep root system, cycle nutrients and store carbon. Above ground, trees protect crops and animals from the elements. Agroforestry is therefore a particularly useful way to increase the stability and resilience of a farm.

Importantly, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for implementing regenerative agriculture. Farmers do not need to fulfil a fixed checklist to be considered regenerative (although there are clearly-identifiable practices which follow, or go against regen ag’s core principle). They will implement different methods at different rates according to their unique agroecosystem (varying soil composition, weather, equipment and machinery), embarking on an ever-improving and ever-learning process toward healthy soil. 

Through one-to-one exchanges with our expert agronomists, farmers are oriented and given tailored advice on the right regenerative farming plan for them.

How does agriculture relate to climate change?

Agriculture is:

  • One of the main drivers of climate change:

Today, the agri-food sector is responsible for one-third of the world’s emissions2. Conventional agriculture methods such as the use of agrichemicals, monoculture and machine-intensive farming, are a major source of GHG in the atmosphere and deplete the soil’s capacity to sequester carbon.

In addition to its direct impact on climate change, agriculture is a big consumer of our planet’s resources, accounting for 70% of freshwater withdrawals globally3 and covering 38% of our world’s land surface4. It is also the prime cause of biodiversity loss5.

  • One of its main victims:

At the same time, agricultural systems are extremely vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Rising temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and shifts in pests and disease pressures affect the phenology of crops and reduce yields. Impoverished farmland due to intensive conventional agriculture practices increase crops’ susceptibilities to these environmental factors.

In other words, we are sawing off the branch we are sitting on.

  • and one of its main solutions:

Thankfully, transforming agriculture is also one of the world’s biggest assets to addressing the climate crisis. By tapping into our soil’s immense carbon storage capacity, regenerative farming can capture more carbon than it emits - in other words, become a carbon sink. In fact, the most recent studies on soil carbon storage demonstrate that switching to widely accessible and inexpensive regenerative agriculture practices could capture more than 100% of our annual CO2e emissions6

Increasing carbon in the soil also makes it more resilient to climate shocks such as floods or droughts - just the opposite of conventional agriculture. As such, regen ag has the unique capacity to both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

What is the difference between regenerative and organic agriculture?

Organic agriculture focuses essentially on farming without the use of synthetic inputs. It is governed by strict regulation and certification processes. For a product to carry an organic label, it means that no chemical or industrially manufactured substance was applied to grow the crops. 

As such, organic agriculture does not explicitly seek to restore the soil. Regenerative farming goes a step further by advancing soil management practices that improve overall soil health, with replacing synthetic inputs only being one of them.

What are the co-benefits of regenerative agriculture?

Often brought up in climate mitigation conversations, regenerative agriculture can often be misunderstood as a farming method which focuses exclusively on carbon storage. 

This is erroneous, however. Contrary to other carbon removal technology, regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach that has positive impacts across multiple areas, with carbon storage only being one of them. Indeed, it is as much a strategy for climate mitigation as it is for long-term farmer productivity, reducing land erosion or enhancing natural ecosystems for instance. 

Regenerative agriculture has multiple co-benefits 

With more than 10 years of experience in regenerative agriculture and low-carbon transition of farms, we have witnessed first-hand the many benefits of regenerative agriculture for people, biodiversity and planet:

Environmental benefits

  • Soil systems and soil health: regen ag increases soil fertility and prevents land degradation.

  • Water retention and filtering: improves the soil’s ability to retain water, reducing risks related to droughts and erosion. It also helps to replenish and filter local watersheds. 

  • Biodiversity: protects and supports ecosystems diversity and activity below and above ground.

  • Air quality: it lowers the GHGs and pollutants coming from fossil fuel and chemical input-heavy farming activities.


  • Plant resilience: increases plant immunity to drought, increased temperatures, pests and diseases.

  • Climate mitigation: regen ag reduces emissions related to farming activities and draws down carbon in the ground.

Economic benefits

  • Farmer profitability: increases agricultural productivity in the long term through higher yields.


  • Reduced costs: reduces costs involved in the use of synthetic inputs, such as fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or fungicides, and fuels.

  • Reduced risk: lowers risks related to extreme weather events through greater climate resilience.

Social benefits

  • Health: it enhances the nutritional density, shelf life and quality of grown crops. 

  • Farmer livelihoods: places farmers first and prioritises sustainable supplier sourced materials. Farmers gain new skills and knowledge on their environment and farming practices.

  • Community ties: builds a strong network of regenerative practitioners through which farmers can share best practices and learn from one another.

  • Renewed interest in agriculture: regenerative farm visits with corporate clients and other partners fosters stronger client-supplier relations and renews interest in the farming world.

Regenerative agriculture has a global impact

As such, regenerative agriculture unlocks the potential to produce healthier food, restore ecosystems, filter our watersheds and increase farmer profitability, all while capturing more carbon than it emits. Illustratively, this satisfies four of the seventeen SDGs advanced by the UN.


1: How Climate Change Will Alter Our Food

2: Greenhouse gas emissions from agrifood systems

3: Water in Agriculture

4: Land use in agriculture by the numbers

5: Our global food system is the primary driver of biodiversity loss

6: Regenerative ag could sequester 100 percent of annual carbon emissions

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