Blue Diamond Almond Facts July-August 2022



Regenerative Agriculture and Blue Diamond Growers I’ve mentioned to readers previously that the concept of regenerative agriculture is rapidly gaining favor with customers and even government agencies. I know that the idea of yet another sustainability trend in agriculture makes some growers nervous. There are some aspects of this trend which make many leaders in almonds nervous, for good reason. That said, I’ve been researching this trend for several years now, and I think there is good reason to think that Blue Diamond is well-suited to address customer requests for a regenerative agriculture approach through things many of our growers are already doing as part of the Blue Diamond OSIP (Orchard Stewardship Incentive Program). I’ll explain why this is the case, even in dealing with those things that seem to be barriers.

So, what is regenerative agriculture, and how is it different from sustainable agriculture ? First, there is no legal definition, nor even one generally agreed upon in the industry. How regenerative is defined depends on who you ask. To further complicate matters, there are two competing schools of thought on the definition. One school advocates for regenerative organic agriculture. To these folks, regenerative agriculture is certified organic production plus additional practices and principles to make it regenerative. This is sometimes called the “beyond organic” approach. There is even a “Regenerative Organic” certification. The second school tends to resist the certification route or the organic-plus route and says there is a spectrum of regenerative agriculture principles. To these folks, one can be a conventional farm (not organic certified) and still be pursuing regenerative agriculture on your farm. I favor this second approach. I have heard critics say that regenerative agriculture is just a rebranding of sustainable agriculture. Some people act as if this were true. Certainly, for some idealist sustainable agriculture advocates, regenerative agriculture is what they always had in mind for sustainability on farms. Thus, in that sense, the term “regenerative” does rebrand the ideal of sustainability. But most advocates of regenerative agriculture likely would say that their definition goes beyond what they see in typical sustainable agriculture efforts. A commonly

expressed sentiment is that sustainable agriculture programs have tended to focus on “doing less harm” to people and planet, but what we need are farming systems that make things better for people and planet. That is, they regenerate the earth and make it better than it was before. So, what are the practices and principles of regenerative agriculture ? The Chesapeake Bay Foundation put out a summary of five principles which occur in many definitions of the term: 1. Minimizing soil disturbances Regenerative agriculture uses farming practices such as limited or no-tilling that minimize physical, biological, and chemical soil disturbances. 2. Soil coverage Instead of relying on tilling, regenerative farming practices focus on keeping the soil covered with vegetation and natural materials through mulching, cover crops, and pastures. 3. Increased plant diversity Diversity is an essential component in building healthy soils that retain excess water and nutrients. It can help farmers obtain revenue from other sources and it's beneficial to other wildlife and pollinators.



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