Regenerative Annual Cropping
Reduced / Sequestered
(To Implement Solution)
Conventional wisdom has long held that the world cannot be fed without chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Evidence points to a new wisdom: The world cannot be fed unless the soil is fed. Regenerative agriculture enhances and sustains the health of the soil by restoring its carbon content, which in turn improves productivity—just the opposite of conventional agriculture.
Regenerative agricultural practices include:
- no tillage
- diverse cover crops
- in-farm fertility (no external nutrients)
- no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
- multiple crop rotations.
Together, these practices increase carbon-rich soil organic matter. The result: vital microbes proliferate, roots go deeper, nutrient uptake improves, water retention increases, plants are more pest resistant, and soil fertility compounds. Farms are seeing soil carbon levels rise from a baseline of 1 to 2 percent up to 5 to 8 percent over 10 or more years, which can add up to 25–60 tons of carbon per acre.
It is estimated that at least 50 percent of the carbon in the Earth’s soils has been released into the atmosphere over the past centuries. Bringing that carbon back home through regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to address human and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers.
From an estimated 11.84 million hectares of current adoption, we estimate regenerative annual cropping to increase to a total of 221–322 million hectares by 2050. This rapid adoption is based in part on the historic growth rate of organic agriculture, as well as the projected conversion of conservation agriculture to regenerative annual cropping over time. This increase could result in a total reduction of 14.5–22.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, from both sequestration and reduced emissions. Regenerative annual cropping could provide a US$2.3–3.5 trillion lifetime operational cost savings and lifetime net profit gain of US$135–206 billion on an investment of US$79–116 billion.