09 Jun What You Need To Know Before Investing In Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture is more than a label. Organic or conventional, investing in regenerative agriculture practices are helping to redefine on-farm sustainability from both conservation and profitability perspectives.
As you know, soil is the greatest asset of any farm, and that recognition is the cornerstone of regenerative agriculture. The principle teachings of regenerative practices are to build, foster, and strengthen, within agricultural soils, the above-below ground symbiosis that exists in native, unfarmed soils. Parallel to those teachings, sustainable farming is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as the ability to “meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
While sustainable farming encompasses all facets of production agriculture, regenerative agriculture focuses on regenerating and restoring agricultural soils to function self-sustainably, as they do in nature.
The value of employing regenerative agriculture practices comes not only from the improvement and productivity of the soil profile but also from the effects and implications of the regenerative agricultural practices.
Four basic principles govern regenerative agriculture:
- Eliminate or significantly reduce soil disturbance
- Maximize biodiversity
- Keep soils covered
- Maintain a living root system at all times
With the successful implementation of each practice, soil microbial, fungi, and bacterial populations strengthen the symbiotic relationship with one another, nutrients and minerals, water, and, most importantly, the roots of a developing crop. These relationships form the nexus of soil health, untapped yield potential, nutrient cycling, porosity, water infiltration, and organic matter development.
Improved soil health reduces the need for excessive fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide inputs by creating an optimal environment of nutrient cycling and plant vigor; this allows plants to compete better and face growing-season challenges. By progressing through these practices, allowing each principle to build on the next, a sustainable production model is created.
Throughout the remainder of this article, our team will delve deeper into the holistic approach Heliae® Agriculture helps farmers to leverage through the flagship products, PhycoTerra® and PhycoTerra® Organic while exploring the costs, benefits, and contexts of making regenerative agriculture work.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
What is Regenerative Agriculture?
In 2014, a senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official addressed a forum marking World Soil Day. It was announced that if current topsoil degradation rates continue unchecked, all topsoils would be depleted in 60 years. As it takes 1,000 years to generate 3 centimeters of topsoil naturally, action needs to be taken now to avoid this from occurring. This announcement also pointed out that sustaining topsoil is not enough. We need to adopt practices that can regenerate soils to meet the food needs of an ever-growing world population. Regenerative agricultural practices are instrumental in helping us meet these challenges.
At its core, regenerative agriculture is a holistic approach designed not just to sustain soils but also to regenerate them, improving soil health as the central foundation.
Relation to Soil Health
Our recommended practices center around soil health. Soil health starts with adopting regenerative practices that encourage abundance and diversity of soil microbes. It is these soil microbes that drive processes resulting in a rich cascade of beneficial soil health and structure effects including; improved soil aggregation, water penetration, increased water retention, improved nutrient retention, and availability to plants, decreased soil erosion, reduce agricultural run-off, increased CO2 capture from air and sequestration to soil. All these together promote more vigorous and productive crops, while also regenerating rapidly depleted soils. These are not just ideals.
The principles behind regenerative agriculture are sound, and the results are surprisingly strong as outlined in a series of peer-reviewed agriculture journals described by Washington State University’s Natural Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The Real Cost of Regenerative Agriculture
The most valuable tools on a regenerative farm are a perceptive eye for progress and a shovel. Spending some time in your fields, assessing the smell, feel and look of your soils, is the first step—you can’t find progress if you don’t have a clear vision of where you started. Beyond that initial appraisal, there is no shortage of options to begin exploring the benefits of regenerative agriculture. From merely reducing or eliminating tillage to maintaining soil cover, small changes make a big difference when you keep your sights fixed on building and strengthening microbial, bacterial, and fungal populations and relationships.
Both PhycoTerra® and PhycoTerra® Organic offer a high return-on-investment, convenient solution to fostering microbial health. As soil amendments, both products provide proprietary technology that delivers results on more than 20 soil-grown crops by increasing soil aggregation that leads to a sought after black-cottage-cheese structure. Both solutions to improving soil health take some of the guesswork out of what is happening below your feet, helping soil’s living ecosystem keep nutrients, water, and carbon where you want them— in your soil and accessible to your plant’s roots.
The bottom-line: investing in regenerative agriculture by deploying best practices pays dividends today, tomorrow, and for the next generation. It’s an investment that never depreciates.
Building Soil Wealth After Transitioning
Soil is the greatest asset of any farm: leached nutrients and readily available nutrients, and a farm succession or a farm sale. Regenerative agriculture offers a two-fold opportunity for farmers, landowners, investors, and stakeholders—investing in regenerative agriculture will help you capitalize on soil health in the arenas of environmental and economic value.
- Shifting a production model’s topsoil retention and carbon-storing capacity provides both economic and social value. Both value propositions, intrinsic of regenerative practices, can be seen in the first season of implementation through the reduction of runoff, erosion, and nutrient leaching. Satellite imagery confirms the value of keeping soil armored by verifying large-scale and comparative carbon sequestration between regenerative and conventional fields. By increasing and maximizing carbon to nitrogen ratios, both valuable organic matter is created, and carbon is sequestered, effectively creating a year-round carbon sink.
- Maintaining a social responsibility to neighbors, both near and far, regenerative agriculture keeps nutrients in-cycle at all times to eliminate water pollution and contributions to eutrophication.
- Finally, with more than 47.5 billion dollars of managed assets, the number of regenerative agriculture-focused US investment firms continues to climb, creating opportunities for both those who wish to invest in a responsible agriculture model and those regenerative farms seeking capital for expanded operations and innovation.
In summary, highly efficient, grossly self-sustaining soils carry an inherent value within the marketplace for both investors and farmers. The reduced agronomic inputs, socially responsible environmental contributions, and the value-added benefits of producing a crop or protein will build your soil wealth.
Partner with Heliae Development to start your investment in regenerative agriculture and to deploy practices into your farm. Our sustainable and regenerative products will build your soil wealth and return on investment and help you maintain social responsibility.
Leveraging Social Fairness to Rapidly Develop a Regenerative Environment
In a 2019 study by the Croatian Institute, fair farm working conditions were cited as a significant criterion within the regenerative agriculture investment space. When paired with the fact that almost 175 acres of US farmland is lost to development every hour, 365 days a year, it’s easy to make a case for a production model that can economically sustain a farm-family livelihood through the creation of a uniquely marketable product.
While barriers to regenerative agriculture production do exist, the model is not as capital and land-intensive as a traditional production agriculture model. Regenerative agriculture producers are not reliant on a commodity market and can thus make and set their prices based on fair trade rather than yield.
With more farmers able to enter regenerative agriculture, set and negotiate fair product prices and sustain the jobs that lead to community development and a return of wealth to rural areas, the rg a movement is making positive strides in community development. We encourage investors, farmers, growers, and even backyard gardeners to begin their investment in regenerative agriculture with Heliae to continue the positive growth in community development.
Since 2008, the team at Heliae® Agriculture has been fulfilling our mission of creating sustainable microalgae products and solutions that enhance soil, plant, animal, and human health. Investing in regenerative agriculture—and the soil wealth that it creates—is a core piece of our mission.
Making Your Investment in Regenerative Agriculture
Heliae® Agriculture is proud to support regenerative agriculture through the integration of our microalgae products, PhycoTerra® and PhycoTerra® Organic.
Through demonstrated field-trial efficacy, across more than 40 crops, both products have been proven to help farmers kick-start the regenerative agriculture process to building soil health and quality to improve marketable yields, shelf life, product taste as measured by Brix, active carbon, increased water efficiency, and resilience to crop stressors.
Our team is only a phone call or email away to get started in regenerative agriculture. We know what it takes to transition to regenerative agriculture; we are here to answer your questions and help your operation navigate some of the transition challenges.