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WHAT IS REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE?
Patrons of social and environmental responsibility, welcome back to episode 8 of the impact blog. Last month we released a special edition blog feature covering Martin’s CEO trip to Peru with partners Not For Sale. If you missed it, be sure to give it a read here. This month we’re discussing ‘regenerative farming’. Regenerative farming is a hot topic in the word of sustainability right now, and though not yet defined and certified, it’s widely recognised to hold many answers to how we reduce carbon emissions from agricultural practices. So, let’s get stuck in…
WHAT IS REGENERATIVE FARMING?
In a nutshell, regenerative farming introduces a different way of farming, that drastically improves soil health and its ability to capture and store carbon (known as sequestration). It’s not necessarily a new concept, but it does require a significant change in the way of mass production to lower carbon yields, with greater attention paid to the relationship between crops, animals, soils, ecosystems and us (the messy humans).
There are no set metrics to really monitor a farms regenerative agriculture – the idea is that different land in different areas will not react the same way to the same processes. Therefore, each piece of farmland needs to be looked at individually to understand its specific needs when deciding what practices to implement. This is what separates regenerative farming from other types of farming, such as organic where there are set expectations, metrics and KPIs.
THE BENEFITS OF CARBON SEQUESTRATION
Simply put, carbon sequestration refers to the removal of carbon dioxide molecules from the air, storing them in plants and trees – otherwise referred to as carbon sinks. In nature this is known as photosynthesis, which we all remember from school right? No? Okay, quick revision time: photosynthesis is when plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and use energy from the sun to turn it into sugars (or food). Forests, jungles and woodland areas are so important to us for this reason, but they need good healthy soils to grow, which is why maintaining the fertility of land is so important. Also vital for carbon sequestration are water bodies as they can also act as carbon sinks with microscopic plankton taking in carbon and storing it.
The technology is there to mimic this effect artificially too; Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is used in industrial processes to stop emissions from ever reaching the atmosphere. Once captured the CO2 undergoes a process to turn it into liquid and then piped deep underground where it can be stored for years.
So, by improving soil health and increasing the right kind of plants and crops on agricultural land, the ability of a system to capture carbon dioxide will improve greatly and this will go a significant way in the journey to lower emissions in agricultural systems.
SO, WHAT ARE WE DOING?
At Gaucho and M Restaurants we continue to explore new avenues of sustainable farming – regenerative farming being one of them.
A conversation with industry friend Honest Burger who have worked to overhaul their entire beef supply chain to be regeneratively farmed products, led us to their supplier ‘Ethical Butcher’. Changing their supply to regenerative practices was done with the intention of reducing their carbon footprint and improve the environmental impacts of eating beef.
Some new cuts (farmed regeneratively) will now be available in selected M and Gaucho restaurants, sitting nicely alongside our premium Argentine beef, where we have already done our own work to calculate the carbon footprint and invest in offsetting through our charity partners ‘Not For Sale’.
These examples of collaboration are the future for sustainable food production and the work being done around regenerative agriculture is an exciting step forward for sustainable farming. Gaucho and M are proud to be members of the Zero Carbon Forum’s working group on regenerative agriculture, to discover what advances we can make within the hospitality industry, and how scaling up this type of production system could be possible.