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Drought and a Better Way Forward? Regenerative farming playbook


Regenerative farming is a system of agriculture that aims to rebuild soil health, promote biodiversity, and increase crop yields. This farming method not only helps farmers grow crops sustainably but also benefits the environment. In the western USA, where drought conditions are prevalent, regenerative farming practices can be particularly effective.


One key regenerative farming method is the use of biochar. Biochar is a form of charcoal that is created by burning organic material in the absence of oxygen. This process creates a porous substance that can hold moisture, nutrients, and carbon in the soil. By adding biochar to soil, farmers can improve its fertility, water-holding capacity, and carbon sequestration.


Bob Waun, Dirt Realty President, says, "Regenerative farming practices like biochar application can not only help farmers grow crops with less water but also sequester carbon and promote soil health. It's a win-win for farmers and the environment."

Many farmers in the western USA have already adopted regenerative farming practices like biochar application to combat drought conditions. For example, in Colorado, a group of farmers has formed the Colorado Biochar Project to produce and use biochar in their farming operations. The project has helped these farmers improve soil health, retain moisture, and reduce the need for irrigation.


Another farmer who has successfully used regenerative farming practices to grow crops with less water is John Kempf, founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture. Kempf uses a combination of cover crops, compost, and biological inputs to improve soil health and promote plant growth. By focusing on building soil health, Kempf has been able to reduce his water usage by 50% while still achieving high crop yields.


The USDA also offers resources and support for farmers looking to adopt regenerative farming practices. The agency's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides financial assistance and technical support to farmers looking to implement practices like cover cropping, conservation tillage, and nutrient management.


In summary, regenerative farming practices like the use of biochar and cover cropping can help farmers grow crops with less water and promote soil health. Farmers like those in the Colorado Biochar Project and John Kempf have already seen success using these methods. With the support of organizations like the NRCS, more farmers can adopt regenerative farming practices and reduce the impact of drought in the western USA.

Sources:

  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/national/home/

  • Colorado Biochar Project: https://coloradobiochar.org/

  • Advancing Eco Agriculture: https://www.advancingecoag.com/

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