Why Communities Should Invest in Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Sponge.

Here’s an example of the “Flour vs. Bread” demo (followed by a talk by Walter Jehne) at Paicines Ranch during our “Can We Rehydrate California?” speaking tour.
  1. Plants, fungi, bacteria, worms, insects, and other underground workers bind together mineral particles with biological threads, slimes, and glues, giving soil its structural integrity.
  2. These same workers move through the aggregated clumps, creating passageways where air and water can flow.
  • more space for roots to grow
  • more water available at the root zone for a longer period of time
  • more nutrients available at the root zone
These five trays of soil are all the same type of soil, but managed differently. On the far left, where soil health principles are being followed, all the water soaks in and is filtered. On the far right, the soil is tilled, growing a monocrop with fertilizer and pesticides, and has no cover crop or plant material to protect the soil. With four inches of simulated rainfall, not a drop soaks in to the 3 inches of soil. It all runs off, taking a lot of soil with it.
  1. We can help increase the uptake of atmospheric CO2 through photosynthesis by increasing the:
  • land area that supports green growth (by planting cover crops and regenerating forests and grasslands)
  • leaf area that captures sunlight (by diversifying the canopy of plants)
  • length of the green growing season, especially in semi-arid areas that currently have a long dry period (by restoring the in soil reservoir provided by the soil sponge).
  • Reduce flooding, flood damage, and associated costs
  • Reduce wildfires
  • Improve drought resilience
  • Provide human and natural communities with abundant clean water and reduce the need for irrigation, water treatment plants, bottled water, and desalination plants
  • Reduce or eliminate toxic algae blooms
  • Increase net profitability of farms by reducing input and irrigation costs
  • Reduce silting of dams and reservoirs and the cost of dredging
  • Dramatically improve air quality and reduce the incidence of asthma, COPD, and other respiratory illnesses
  • Increase soil fertility and the nutrient density of local foods
  • Improve the health and resilience of crops, animals, and humans
  • Restore habitat for diverse animals and pollinators
  1. Create lending and insurance options that recognize and reward farmers following the soil health principles rather than punishing them for being unconventional.
  2. Invest in independent research that recognizes and measures actual change over time in land function. Choose projects that:

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Didi Pershouse

Didi Pershouse

Author of the Ecology of Care: Medicine, Agriculture, Money, and the Quiet Power of Human and Microbial Communities. Founder of Land and Leadership Initiative.