Seeking to elevate sustainable forms of agriculture such as agroecology, holistic grazing, cover cropping, permaculture, and agroforestry over industrial practices that degrade soil, introduce toxins to the food supply—and exacerbate climate change—a group of farmers, scientists, and activists are convening for the Regenerative International Conference in Costa Rica this week.
The conference, the first of a planned series of similar gatherings around the world, will focus on uniting movements, developing campaigns, and creating a global media plan to communicate specifically how restoring soil health can reverse damage to ecosystems around the world.
"This is new science that’s connecting the food issues with the climate issue, making it more and more clear that by fixing the soil, and fixing the way we produce food, we can fix the climate as well," said Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association, in a press release on Monday.
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Reports have shown how regenerative farming and ranching techniques—such as "holistic grazing," which makes use of the movement and behavior of the grazing animals to break up and fertilize dry soil—can restore farmland and produce yields similar to industrial techniques, leading to far greater food security. In addition, the groups behind the conference point out that healthy soil can reduce the amount of water necessary to grow crops by as much as 60 percent.
"Bringing soil to the center of our consciousness and our planning is vital not only for the life of the soil, but also for the future of our society," said Vandana Shiva, global activist and author of Soil Not Oil.
Shiva, a co-founder of the Regeneration International Working Group, added: "Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy."