Farmers are fulfilling an important role in protecting our environment. It’s been commonly known that waste products from farming such as manure and decomposing crops are used to produce renewable natural gas. This production process not only prevents waste products from seeping into the water system and emitting methane fumes into the atmosphere, but it also provides a useful source of renewable energy that can heat our home and power vehicles on the road. However, farmers are also contributing to environmental health through a process called Regenerative Agriculture.
What is regenerative agriculture?
Regenerative agriculture acknowledges that carbon is a vital component of every living organism. Our challenge is not to eliminate carbon, but rather to control excess levels of carbon in the atmosphere that lead to global warming by creating greater balance. Just as burning fossil fuels emits carbon into the atmosphere, traditional farming practices that disrupt the soil have released another 880 billion tons of carbon into our air.
While farming has contributed to higher carbon dioxide levels in the past, the plants they are harvesting also hold the solution to better balance. Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen. The carbon dioxide the plants take in is transformed into sugars that feed the microorganisms in the surrounding soil. Healthier soil produces better plant life and retains more water–making crops much more resilient to droughts.
With this process, the carbon particles remain in the soil. In fact, millions of years of this process combined with decomposition are what created carbon-rich fossil fuels in the first place.
Farmers are learning techniques that enhance this natural process and help plants store more carbon in the soil–known as “carbon sequestration.” Regenerative agriculture techniques include:
- Avoiding tilling the soil–a process that releases carbon into the air.
- Apply a layer of organic compost to keep plants healthy and absorbing carbon well.
- Adding trees and cover crops to prevent disruption to the soil and help carbon settle in the soil.
- Control plant growth with grazing animals rather than heavy-duty machinery that disrupts the soil and often runs on fossil fuels.
Are you interested in learning more about ways we can keep our air and water clean?
Visit us at www.roguevalleycleancities.org. Together, we can keep our communities clean for generations to come! The Rogue Valley Clean Cities’ mission is to promote and educate on alternate fuels, decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!