Soil health is one of the main focuses that Regenerative Agriculture principles aim to enhance. Why soil health? Regenerative approaches create diverse microbiological communities within the soil, which are supported by the ideal subterranean environment the farming system provides. These soil microbes in turn, are able to improve the overall soil function, deliver essential nutrients to plants and potentially improve the nutritional value of the produce. The following identifies the underlying principles of a Regenerative Agriculture system.
Minimising soil disturbance has been proven to provide a plethora of benefits for ecosystem services, soil health and biodiversity. This includes minimising disturbance through heavy chemical and fertiliser as well as tillage. Please note; this is not recommending to sell up all tillage equipment and purchase a direct drill, or completely stop chemical and fertiliser applications, as it is likely you’ll end up disappointed (even though an organic no-till system is widely considered as the holy grail!).
Soil supports a large diversity of organisms, which interact together and with chemical and physical properties in order to enhance soil function. Compared to soil biology, the chemical and physical properties are easy to influence through cultivations and spray applications. However, soil biology often gets forgotten about, maybe as it is less easy to influence. Through over tillage and chemical/fertiliser applications, soil biology is depleting, leaving soils lifeless reducing soil function. It is important to understand that soil biology has the ability to improve both chemical and physical properties of soil, through processes like nutrient cycling, aggregation, increasing organic matter and so on, and is therefore essential enhance this property. Having said this, it is equally as important not to forget about the chemical and physical attributes of our soil, as they all work collaboratively in balance, so soil husbandry must work to enhance all of these together.