Our panel of international experts explores how Regenerative Agriculture builds healthy soils, reduces air and water pollution, maximizes efficiencies, and increases biodiversity while promoting equity and public health.
Our panel of international experts explores how Regenerative Agriculture builds healthy soils, reduces air and water pollution, maximizes efficiencies, and increases biodiversity while promoting equity and public health.
Regenerative agriculture looks at all parts of an agricultural system and how actors are connected throughout the supply chain – from the land to those who grow, harvest, distribute, sell, purchase, and consume food.
What does soil health mean? Soil health is the ability of soil to function as a living ecosystem containing billions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that sustain plants, animals, and humans.
“DDT” (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) was developed as the first of the modern synthetic insecticides in the 1940s. In 1972, the EPA issued a cancellation order for DDT based on its adverse environmental effects, such as those to wildlife, as well as its potential human health risks.
I define “regenerative” in the same way that I define restoration of land: it’s putting back in the land what’s been lost. It’s bringing back the vitality of the land’s biodiversity, structure, plant and animal communities, to whatever level one can. With regard to agriculture, it’s basically emulating and following nature’s lead in building systems that can support the generation of benefits that we might harvest. Regenerative agriculture is neither focused on yield nor on the crop. It’s focused on creating healthy systems.
Regenerative agriculture is doing the work of restoring soil health. Drawing down carbon also brings more life into soil, increases climate resilience, and makes food more nutritious. Because we [at Zero Foodprint] organize restaurateurs, we talk about things being restorative because it makes an emotional connection: “restaurant” and “restoration” share the same root word. People eat at restaurants to be restored, so we can imagine that restaurants can also be part of restoring the carbon and the climate.
As long as there are people using the word ‘regenerative,’ they’re still using herbicides. It would be like there were people happily using the word “organic,” who are still spraying DDT. Regenerative doesn’t have a hard basis of meaning and understanding. It’s a word to suck in farmers who don’t want to admit that the old organic hippies were right.
Regenerative agriculture focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and strengthening the health and vitality of farm soil.
In recent years, many major food companies have begun putting resources toward implementing regenerative agriculture. The differences from one commitment to another show how complex the transition to regenerative agriculture will be.
The practices of regenerative agriculture have Indigenous origins. For example, Indigenous people throughout the Americas have been intercropping for many generations. “Intercropping is based on synergy in which the physical aspects of each plant complement one another and improve each other’s health and growth.”
I saw [regenerative] as a path towards a real organic farming practice for Midwestern farmers who found the word ‘organic’ embarrassing. I supported the people who were saying that we don’t have time to convince them that they should be organic, so let’s just call it “regenerative.” I think there were a few new ideas that came of it, although they were pretty much based on traditional organic ideals. More recently two things have happened. One is that some regenerative farmers have become contemptuous of the word organic, which seems ungrateful. The other thing that’s happened–which is much more dangerous–is that large corporations have embraced the term regenerative, so regenerative means whatever you want it to mean. For some people it means something wonderful. For other people, it’s really just a marketing brand.
This discord and tension in terminology exists because people are thinking of regenerative as a concept that too many want to fit their current practices into. When you start looking at regenerative agriculture from the opposite perspective–from an indigenous way of seeing the world–there is no conflict between land practices, outputs and the overall system. The indigenous approach seeks not to respond to market demands but to nature’s design, and it is by working with natural systems that the full vocation of a specific ecology can be most fully engaged to deliver the regenerative outcomes we seek. Regenerative should not be reduced to a concept, a set of specific practices, or a label.
Organic certification is expensive, hindering accessibility to certification for growers who may actually meet requirements. For a small farm, it costs around $750 to get certified the first year and between $375 and $575 to get certified every year after.
An outcome-based definition of regenerative agriculture focuses on one or more outcomes, such as soil health or carbon sequestration, rather than the specific practices used to achieve these outcomes.
Labeling is not at all the way to go because it is burdensome and too generic. For instance, if we look at organic, there’s a huge difference among organic farms: is it an organic farm that’s truly focusing on soil health, or do they just qualify as organic because they don’t use any synthetic inputs? The label reads the same, but there’s a big difference between the two products. The “regenerative” label will be just like that because who is going to determine regenerative? Rather than labels, this understanding of the food we eat needs to be a personal relationship between the consumer and the farmer or rancher.
Certifications and verifications have their place within a globalized economy and a commodified marketplace, but they detract from the potential of regenerative agriculture in a regionalized foodshed marketplace. Certifications state that you either have or have not done something while verifications confirm the intended outcome of the practice that you implemented. Ultimately, we want to move toward an outcomes-based model of ecosystem verification through the principles and practices of regenerative agriculture. Currently, there exists this need for farmers to invest time and resources to acquire verifications and certifications to differentiate themselves in a marketplace that doesn’t have a lot of identity preservation–it’s about the crop, commodity, or product, and not about the producer, farm, or land.
Healthy soil is loose, friable, and well-drained, approximately 45% minerals, 25% water, 25% air and 5% organic matter, has good structure and texture, plenty of nutrients and a pH between 5.5 and 7.5, and has large numbers and types of organism.
How can remote sensing be used in agriculture? ”Remote sensed imagery can be used for mapping soil properties, classification of crop species, detection of crop water stress, monitoring of weeds and crop diseases, and mapping of crop yield.”
There are a few principles to address the high cost of in-field data collection. In general the approaches have in common that measurement/monitoring should be a byproduct of agricultural management and is itself made into a best management practice.
The quality of being measurable. In regenerative agriculture the term refers to the possibility of measuring outcomes through indicators like Soil Nutrient Balance, Agricultural Biodiversity, Social-Economic Impact, etc.
The average age of a farmer in the United States is rising and there was a projected 8% decrease in farmers and ranchers from 2008-2018. The 2018 Farm Bill provided funds that support education, mentoring, and technical assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers.
What are the greatest challenges to a more widespread application of regenerative techniques and practices?
The financial aspect as it relates to both loan markets and insurance markets is hugely important to converting carbon sequestration potential to capital. For example, if farmers want to try something new and risky, they may see a shift in yield for the first three years. Once their system has equilibrated, their yields start to pick up again. With loan markets, if the farmer’s yield goes down in year one of that transition, then the farmer cannot pay back their loan. Loan markets do not take the long, multi-year view or farm-centric outcomes; rather they focus just on the yield of a crop. These financial structures are aligned against regenerative practices and approaches.
We need more people on the ground. People who aren’t born into farming and ranching need to find their way to regeneration and they need educational opportunities to do that. Another barrier is that regenerative agriculture is very specific to locale. Building up a knowledge base that’s place-based is really important to the success of regenerative agriculture.
The 2017 National Young Farmer Survey found land access was the number one challenge for young farmers and rangers. This challenge is amplified for BIPOC communities, who have been marginalized by an ongoing legacy of policies, laws, and violence that have dispossessed them of land.
Access to land is one of the primary barriers new farmers face as they try to enter into farming or want to scale up after the initial start-up years. In general, existing farm operations are either too large in extent and/or capital intensive for many new farmers. The scenario where they can start small and scale up as they gain experience and develop their farm enterprise is almost non-existent, especially for those from outside of the farm sector. Land parcels are more often than not expensive and out of reach financially for many new farmers. This is because the market value of land does not reflect the agricultural value. Leasing land might be a better option but long term leases are hard to come by as landowners prefer leases that are below five years. The farm system needs to look beyond ownership to other forms of land access to help new farmers.
Over more than 40 years, the Rodale Institute has run the Farming Systems Trial to compare the differences between conventional and regenerative organic practices. Long-term ownership and land access make it worthwhile for farmers and ranchers to invest in improvements toward soil health that take a longer time to show results.
Landowners and communities are caught in a system that rewards amassing financial value, which results in transactional relationships where land is held for ransom. Regenerative agriculture is a system that rewards amassing social, environmental and financial value, which results in reciprocal relationships where land is a living participant in our global resilience. Regenerative agriculture ties to a community’s ability to nurture the land and the land’s ability to nurture a community. When communities are unable to access land, both suffer.
What are TSPs? “Technical service providers (TSPs) offer planning, design, and implementation services to agricultural producers such as farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners.”
I believe the roles TAPs/TSPs play on an everyday basis are the same roles we have in promoting anything that aids our producers in continuing to feed their families and others around the world, continuing to play integral roles in environmental solutions, and continuing to promote carbon storage on the land which they manage. TAPs/TSPs most often wear many hats, including but not limited to:
A rapidly advancing approach to managing pests that combines biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools to reduce costs and minimize health and environmental risks.
Soil health benefits people in many ways, including safe and nutritious food, better water quality, improved air quality, and climate resilience – all things that directly impact people on a daily basis.
Consumers care about their personal health, and they may not be as concerned with the climate. What consistently proves true is that when soil biology works robustly, the planet gets healthier. As for the food, it becomes more nutrient dense, and humans get better food. We need consumers to demand that their grocery providers supply food coming from regenerative sources with healthy soil biology, which produces healthy plants, which become healthier food for them and their kids. We need people to make that linkage and hopefully inspire consumers to ask, or lobby, to help change our agricultural systems.
Soil fertility refers to the ability of soil to sustain agricultural plant growth, i.e. to provide plant habitat and result in sustained and consistent yields of high quality.
The concept of food sovereignty was developed by La Via Campesina, an international smallholder farmers’ organization. Later the concept was adopted by international organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations.
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. Growers inhabit a place. That is, as David Orr says in his essay, Place and Pedagogy, inhabitants, “bear the marks of their place…” He goes on to say that, “A place has a human history and a geologic past; it is part of an ecosystem with a variety of microsystems…Its inhabitants are part of a social, economic, and political order.” In this context, we can view growers as stewards of a place; of the land they cultivate, in deep relationship with natural, social, political and economic systems. Food sovereignty is expressed through these relationships. As an inhabitant the grower participates in a local food system where they work in relationship with the land, their local community, and local governing organizations to produce food that reflects the values, culture, and traditions of the community, and is an expression of the ecology of the place where it is grown.
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
Soil health affects human health through nutrition. A study examined soil-to-human mineral transmission through rice and found that better soil health led to increased availability of essential nutrients.
In our quest to create vast and cheap caloric quantities of commoditized crops we neglected to consider the unintended consequences of bigger for its own sake. With recent leaps forward in genetic-level mapping of food and soil systems the depth of the links between soil health and nutritional outcomes have become abundantly clear. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization proclaimed quite firmly in their 2015 Year of the Soils documentation that nutrient-depleted soils = nutrient-depleted humans.
How does one go about adding nutrients back into the soil in ways that avoid the reductionist thinking that got us here? Simply by putting nature and soil first. Restoring nature’s cycles in the proportion and balance is necessary to recreate, as best we can, the interconnected systems which evolved in tandem to create shared microbiomes from microbe to plant to animal to human.
Regenerative Agriculture may have many ‘definitions’ but they all tend to share the same core principles: keeping the soil covered at all times with living roots (cover crops), adding as many diverse crop species as possible based on specific soil needs, reducing tillage and synthetic inputs wherever possible – both of which destroy the soil microbiome – and adding manure or animal integration to restart the cycles of microbe feeding microbe as existed on all lands prior to human cultivation.
The process of restoring the natural cycles does result in more nutrient dense food. Studies show that the impacts tend to start in places we don’t consider to be “nutrition side panel” material, but for which we do have plentiful research to know is meaningful for human health, including positive impacts on: polyphenols, anti-oxidants, omega 3/6 fatty acid ratios, and more. Why does this matter? Let’s focus on polyphenols, where studies have shown that, “consumption of diets rich in plant polyphenols offer protection against development of cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoporosis and neurodegenerative diseases.”
Considering the fact that the diseases listed above are noncommunicable and are also responsible for 71% of all deaths globally, there is much to be gained in repairing our food system and restoring the proportions of nutrients within our food system as a means of reducing both human suffering and hunger. To do so we must consider all of the factors that created the current system focused on quantity over quality including plant breeding, harvest and storage practices, and above all else those practiced in the fields by everyday land stewards.
The nutrient density of a food is the ratio of beneficial ingredients to the food’s energy content for the amount that is commonly consumed. Conventional agricultural practices focus primarily on pursuit of higher yields, and can therefore strip soil of their nutrients. Recent recognition of the role of soil life in influencing the nutrient density of crops raises questions around whether adoption of now-conventional practices inadvertently shortchanged crops on micronutrients and phytochemicals important for human health .
Providing best water quality conditions to ensure optimal living condition for growth, breeding and other physiological needs
Water quality is sourced from natural seawater with dependency on the tidal system. Water is treated to adjust pH and alkalinity before stocking.
Producers that own and manages the farm operating under small-scale farming model with limited input, investment which leads to low to medium production yield
All 1,149 of our farmers in both regencies are smallholder farmers who operate with low stocking density, traditional ponds, and no use of any other intensification technology.
Safe working conditions — cleanliness, lighting, equipment, paid overtime, hazard safety, etc. — happen when businesses conduct workplace safety audits and invest in the wellbeing of their employees
Company ensure implementation of safe working conditions by applying representative of workers to health and safety and conduct regular health and safety training. The practices are proven by ASIC standards’ implementation
Implementation of farming operations, management and trading that impact positively to community wellbeing and sustainable better way of living
The company works with local stakeholders and local governments to create support for farmers and the farming community in increasing resilience. Our farming community is empowered by local stakeholders continuously to maintain a long generation of farmers.
Freezing seafood rapidly when it is at peak freshness to ensure a higher quality and longer lasting product
Our harvests are immediately frozen with ice flakes in layers in cool boxes. Boxes are equipped with paper records and coding for traceability. We ensure that our harvests are processed with the utmost care at <-18 degrees Celsius.
Sourcing plant based ingredients, like soy, from producers that do not destroy forests to increase their growing area and produce fish feed ingredients
With adjacent locations to mangroves and coastal areas, our farmers and company are committed to no deforestation at any scale. Mangrove rehabilitation and replantation are conducted every year in collaboration with local authorities. Our farms are not established in protected habitats and have not resulted from deforestation activity since the beginning of our establishment.
Implement only natural feeds grown in water for aquatic animal’s feed without use of commercial feed
Our black tiger shrimps are not fed using commercial feed. The system is zero input and depends fully on natural feed grown in the pond. Our farmers use organic fertilizer and probiotics to enhance the water quality.
Enhance biodiversity through integration of nature conservation and food production without negative impact to surrounding ecosysytem
As our practices are natural, organic, and zero input, farms coexist with surrounding biodiversity which increases the volume of polyculture and mangrove coverage area. Farmers’ groups, along with the company, conduct regular benthic assessments, river cleaning, and mangrove planting.
THE TERM “MOONSHOT” IS OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE an initiative that goes beyond the confines of the present by transforming our greatest aspirations into reality, but the story of a moonshot isn’t that of a single rocket. In fact, the Apollo program that put Neil Armstrong on the moon was actually preceded by the Gemini program, which in a two-year span rapidly put ten rockets into space. This “accelerated” process — with a new mission nearly every 2-3 months — allowed NASA to rapidly iterate, validate their findings and learn from their mistakes. Telemetry. Propulsion. Re-entry. Each mission helped NASA build and test a new piece of the puzzle.
The program also had its fair share of creative challenges, especially at the outset, as the urgency of the task at hand required that the roadmap for getting to the moon be written in parallel with the rapid pace of Gemini missions. Through it all, the NASA teams never lost sight of their ultimate goal, and the teams finally aligned on their shared responsibilities. Within three years of Gemini’s conclusion, a man did walk on the moon.
FACT is a food systems solutions activator that assesses the current food landscape, engages with key influencers, identifies trends, surveys innovative work and creates greater visibility for ideas and practices with the potential to shift key food and agricultural paradigms.
Each activator focuses on a single moonshot; instead of producing white papers, policy briefs or peer-reviewed articles, these teams design and implement blueprints for action. At the end of each activator, their work is released to the public and open-sourced.
As with any rapid iteration process, many of our activators re-assess their initial plans and pivot to address new challenges along the way. Still, one thing has remained constant: their conviction that by working together and pooling their knowledge and resources, they can create a multiplier effect to more rapidly activate change.
Who can enter and how selections are made.
A Greener Blue is a global call to action that is open to individuals and teams from all over the world. Below is a non-exhaustive list of subjects the initiative targets.
To apply, prospective participants will need to fill out the form on the website, by filling out each part of it. Applications left incomplete or containing information that is not complete enough will receive a low score and have less chance of being admitted to the storytelling lab.
Nonprofit organizations, communities of fishers and fish farmers and companies that are seeking a closer partnership or special support can also apply by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org and interacting with the members of our team.
Special attention will be given to the section of the form regarding the stories that the applicants want to tell and the reasons for participating. All proposals for stories regarding small-scale or artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, communities of artisanal fishers or aquaculturists, and workers in different steps of the seafood value chain will be considered.
Stories should show the important role that these figures play in building a more sustainable seafood system. To help with this narrative, the initiative has identified 10 principles that define a more sustainable seafood system. These can be viewed on the initiative’s website and they state:
Seafood is sustainable when:
Proposed stories should show one or more of these principles in practice.
Applications are open from the 28th of June to the 15th of August 2022. There will be 50 selected applicants who will be granted access to The Lexicon’s Total Storytelling Lab. These 50 applicants will be asked to accept and sign a learning agreement and acceptance of participation document with which they agree to respect The Lexicon’s code of conduct.
The first part of the lab will take place online between August the 22nd and August the 26th and focus on training participants on the foundation of storytelling, supporting them to create a production plan, and aligning all of them around a shared vision.
Based on their motivation, quality of the story, geography, and participation in the online Lab, a selected group of participants will be gifted a GoPro camera offered to the program by GoPro For A Change. Participants who are selected to receive the GoPro camera will need to sign an acceptance and usage agreement.
The second part of the Storytelling Lab will consist of a production period in which each participant will be supported in the production of their own story. This period goes from August 26th to October 13th. Each participant will have the opportunity to access special mentorship from an international network of storytellers and seafood experts who will help them build their story. The Lexicon also provides editors, animators, and graphic designers to support participants with more technical skills.
The final deadline to submit the stories is the 14th of October. Participants will be able to both submit complete edited stories, or footage accompanied by a storyboard to be assembled by The Lexicon’s team.
All applicants who will exhibit conduct and behavior that is contrary to The Lexicon’s code of conduct will be automatically disqualified. This includes applicants proposing stories that openly discriminate against a social or ethnic group, advocate for a political group, incite violence against any group, or incite to commit crimes of any kind.
All submissions must be the entrant’s original work. Submissions must not infringe upon the trademark, copyright, moral rights, intellectual rights, or rights of privacy of any entity or person.
Participants will retain the copyrights to their work while also granting access to The Lexicon and the other partners of the initiative to share their contributions as part of A Greener Blue Global Storytelling Initiative.
If a potential selected applicant cannot be reached by the team of the Initiative within three (3) working days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the communication is returned as undeliverable, that potential participant shall forfeit.
Selected applicants will be granted access to an advanced Storytelling Lab taught and facilitated by Douglas Gayeton, award-winning storyteller and information architect, co-founder of The Lexicon. In this course, participants will learn new techniques that will improve their storytelling skills and be able to better communicate their work with a global audience. This skill includes (but is not limited to) how to build a production plan for a documentary, how to find and interact with subjects, and how to shoot a short documentary.
The Lexicon provides video editors, graphic designers, and animators to support the participants to complete their stories.
The submitted stories will be showcased during international and local events, starting from the closing event of the International Year of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022 in Rome, in January 2023. The authors of the stories will be credited and may be invited to join.
Storytelling lab participation:
Applicants that will be granted access to the storytelling Lab will be evaluated based on the entries they provided in the online form, and in particular:
Applications will be evaluated by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
When selecting applications, the call promoters may request additional documentation or interviews both for the purpose of verifying compliance with eligibility requirements and to facilitate proposal evaluation.
Participants to the Storytelling Lab who will be given a GoPro camera will be selected based on:
The evaluation will be carried out by a team of 4 judges from The Lexicon, GSSI and the team of IYAFA (Selection committee).
Incidental expenses and all other costs and expenses which are not specifically listed in these Official Rules but which may be associated with the acceptance, receipt and use of the Storytelling Lab and the camera are solely the responsibility of the respective participants and are not covered by The Lexicon or any of the A Greener Blue partners.
All participants who receive a Camera are required to sign an agreement allowing GoPro for a Cause, The Lexicon and GSSI to utilize the films for A Greener Blue and their promotional purposes. All participants will be required to an agreement to upload their footage into the shared drive of The Lexicon and make the stories, films and images available for The Lexicon and the promoting partners of A Greener Blue.
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