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El reto hercúleo de frenar al desierto

El avance del desierto es silencioso. Sin apenas testigos, la erosión del suelo en España se come cada año más cultivos y bosques. En las zonas más castigadas, la población huye del campo a la ciudad en busca de futuro y oportunidades. Sin embargo, en uno de los extremos más áridos de Europa —el sudeste interior que comparten Almería, Granada y Murcia— ha surgido un movimiento para revertir esta creciente devastación de la biodiversidad. El territorio es inmenso y abarca un millón de hectáreas (equivalente a la superficie de Asturias) repartidas en cinco comarcas.
Esta titánica tarea de agricultores y emprendedores del altiplano nació hace un lustro y tiene por delante al menos otros 15 años. Se trata de impedir ser deglutidos por el desierto, caer víctimas de la despoblación y tornar su paisaje al verde.

SEGUIR LEYENDO EN “EL PAÍS”

A Call for Governments to Save Soil

Soil creates life from death. The production of more than 95% of the food we eat relies on soil, a heady mix of rock particles, decaying organic matter, roots, fungi and microorganisms. Yet this precious resource is eroding at a global average of 13.5 tonnes per hectare per year. Instead of nourishing crops, fertile topsoil is ending up in inconvenient places such as ditches, reservoirs and the ocean.

Microbiologist Jo Handelsman takes on the challenge of making readers care in A World Without Soil, aided by environmental researcher Kayla Cohen. Their prologue takes the form of a letter about soil erosion that Handelsman wishes she had sent to US president Barack Obama while working in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy in the mid-2010s. Alas, she did not understand the true gravity of the problem until the waning days of the administration. Her biggest regret? That she wasn’t able to make soil management the federal priority she thinks it should be.

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Agroecology Can Be Our New Food System

Corporations fear losing profits but going chemical-free in farming will be unavoidable to save our living planet.

We are under constant pressure today to optimise – our bodies, the way we work and how we produce food. Uniformity is the rule, instead of diversity. But this industrial way of intensive food production is killing our living planet and locks people up in poverty. It’s time for a radical sustainable agricultural turnround.

So what is the worry about being fully sustainable in our farming? It is the lack of political consensus on what sustainable farming really means. This ambiguity creates room for greenwashing of intensive farming while suppressing and co-opting alternative approaches such as agroecology.

Low productivity is a common argument used against agroecology – but growing evidence in research proves its potential to increase yields – without any chemical inputs.

“KEEP READING ON THE ECOLOGIST”

A Return to Native Agriculture

Indigenous farming and ranching practices are once again being embraced in an American West stressed by drought, diminishing resources, and climate change

Three Native Americans, living in different landscapes and nurtured by different tribal cultures, all share the same goal: to ensure that the traditional Indigenous ways of gathering, growing, husbanding, and serving food are preserved. They are part of a movement, small enough to be barely noticeable in the world of industrial agriculture, but strong enough to be growing steadily, powered by enduring links to Native history and culture.

Herman Fillmore, the culture and language director for the Washoe Tribe in California and Nevada, has grown squash, corn, and beans in the Washoe community garden since it was first planted in the spring of 2014. These crops, often called “Three Sisters,” are plants that Indigenous people of North America learned to grow together because they are mutually supportive. The corn stalks provide support for the bean vines to climb; the beans send fertilizing nitrogen back into the soil for the corn and squash; and the squash’s large, prickly leaves protect all three plants from predators.

“KEEP READING ON CIVIL EATS”

 

Why Regenerative Agriculture Will Reverse Climate Change

The trees and plants on our planet sequester carbon in the soil, absorbing it from the air and releasing oxygen in its place. If you stir the dirt, it releases that carbon back into the atmosphere. Even though this is how it’s been done for generations, at its core, this basic concept explains why industrialized farming is a primary contributor to carbon release and the resulting climate change.

Creating a solution for this problem is in direct contrast to traditional tilling of the land as a means to prepare the soil when growing crops. But there is a solution and it comes in the form of truly traditional, small-scale farming practices. Recently dubbed regenerative agriculture, the concept is simple.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture describes farming practices that create a cycle of caring for the soil through responsible grazing and land management. It’s a general term that encompasses a range of practices from composting to pasture cropping. The primary goal of regenerative agriculture is to enhance and retain the biodiversity in soil that has been continuously stripped for generations.

 

KEEP READING ON “INHABITAT”

André Leu: Regenerative Farming Is the Next Stage of Agricultural Evolution

“Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandry is the next and higher stage of organic food and farming, not only free from toxic pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farm production, and therefore good for human health; but also regenerative in terms of the health of the soil.” — Ronnie Cummins

Hardly anyone had heard of regenerative agriculture before 2014. Now it is in the news every day all around the world. A small group of leaders of the organic, agroecology, holistic management, environment and natural health movements started Regeneration International as a truly inclusive and representative umbrella organization.

The concept was initially formed at the United Nations Climate Change Meeting in New York in October 2014. The aim was to set up a global network of like-minded agricultural, environmental and social organizations.

The initial steering committee meetings included Dr. Vandana Shiva from Navdanya, Ronnie Cummins from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Hans Herren from The Millennium Institute, Steve Rye from Mercola, and myself, André Leu from IFOAM-Organics International. It was soon expanded to include Precious Phiri from the Africa Savory Hub, Ercilia Sahores from Via Organica in Mexico, Renate Künaste from the German Green Party, John Liu, the China based filmmaker, and Tom Newmark and Larry Kopald from the Carbon Underground.

Our founding meeting was held on a biodynamic farm in Costa Rica in 2015. We deliberately chose to hold it in the global south rather than in North America or Europe and include women and men from every continent to send a message that regeneration was about equity, fairness and inclusiveness. Ronnie Cummins raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the travel, accommodation, food and other expenses for all the representatives from the global south.

The meeting agreed to form Regeneration International to promote a holistic concept of regeneration. The following mission and vision statements came out of this consultative and inclusive event.

Our missionTo promote, facilitate and accelerate the global transition to regenerative food, farming and land management for the purpose of restoring climate stability, ending world hunger and rebuilding deteriorated social, ecological and economic systems.

Our vision: A healthy global ecosystem in which practitioners of regenerative agriculture and land use, in concert with consumers, educators, business leaders and policymakers, cool the planet, nourish the world and restore public health, prosperity and peace on a global scale.

In six years Regeneration International has grown to more than 360 partner organizations in 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Oceania, North America and Europe.

The Third Phase

The need to form an international regeneration movement was inspired in part by the development of Organic 3.0 by IFOAM – Organics International. Organic 3.0 was conceived as an ongoing process of enabling organic agriculture to actively engage with social and environmental issues and been seen as a positive agent of change.

Organic 3.0 has six main features. The fourth feature was the “inclusiveness of wider sustainability interests, through alliances with the many movements and organizations that have complementary approaches to truly sustainable food and farming.”

One aim of Organic 3.0 was to work with like-minded organizations, movements and similar farming systems with the aim of making all of agriculture more sustainable. The concept was to have organic agriculture as a positive lighthouse of change to improve the sustainability of mainstream agriculture systems.

Beyond Sustainable

Many people in the organic, agroecology and environmental movements were not happy with the term sustainable for a number of reasons, not the least that it has been completely greenwashed and was seen as meaningless: “Sustainable means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Unfortunately, this definition of sustainable has led to concept of sustainable intensification, where more inputs are used in the same area of land to increase productivity and proportionately lower negative environmental footprints. This concept has been used in sustainable agriculture to justify GMOs, synthetic toxic pesticides and water-soluble chemical fertilizers to produce more commodities per hectare/acre. This was presented as better for the environment than “low yielding” organic agriculture and agroecological systems that need more land to produce the same level of commodities. Sustainable intensification is used to justify the destruction of tropical forests for the industrial scale farming of commodities such as GMO corn and soy that are shipped to large scale animal feedlots in Europe and China. The rationale for this is that less land is needed to produce animal products compared to extensive rangeland systems or organic systems. These sustainable intensification systems meet the above definition of sustainable compared to organic, agroecological and holistically managed, pasture-based systems. Companies like Bayer/Monsanto were branding themselves as the largest sustainable agriculture companies in the world. Many of us believed it was time to move past sustainable.

In this era of the Anthropocene, in which human activities are the dominant forces that negatively affect the environment, the world is facing multiple crises. These include the climate crisis, food insecurity, an epidemic of non-contagious chronic diseases, new pandemics of contagious diseases, wars, migration crises, ocean acidification, the collapse of whole ecosystems, the continuous extraction of resources and the greatest extinction event in geological history.

Do we want to sustain the current status quo or do we want to improve and rejuvenate it? Simply being sustainable is not enough. Regeneration, by definition, improves systems.

Hijacking Standards

Another driver towards regeneration were the widespread concerns about the hijacking of organic standards and production systems by corporate agribusiness. The neglect of the primacy of soil health and soil organic matter, as well as allowing inappropriate plowing methods, were raised as major criticisms.

Jerome Rodale, who popularized the term organic farming in the 1940s, used the term specifically in relation to farming systems that improved soil health by recycling and increasing soil organic matter. Consequently, most organic standards start with this; however certifiers rarely, if ever, check this these days. The introduction of certified organic hydroponics as soilless organic systems was been seen by many as the ultimate sell-out and loss of credibility.

Major concerns and criticisms about the hijacking of certified organic by industrial agriculture were raised by allies in the agroecology and holistic management movements. These included large scale, industrial, organic monocultures and organic Confined Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs). These CAFOS go against the important principles of no cruelty and the need to allow animals to naturally express their behaviors, which are found in most organic standards. The use of synthetic supplements in certified organic CAFOs was seen as undermining the very basis of the credibility of certified organic systems. The lack of enforcement was seen as a major issue. These issues were and still are areas of major dispute and contention within global and national organic sectors.

Many people wanted a way forward and saw the concept of “Regenerative Organic Agriculture,” put forward by Robert Rodale, son of the organic pioneer Jerome Rodale, as a way to resolve this. Bob Rodale used the term regenerative organic agriculture to promote farming practices that go beyond sustainable.

Greenwashing

The term regenerative agriculture is now being widely used, to the point that in some cases it can be seen as greenwashing and as a buzzword used by industrial agricultural systems to increase profits.

Those of us who formed Regeneration International were very aware of the way the large agribusiness corporations hijacked the term sustainable to the point is was meaningless. We were also aware of how they are trying to hijack the term of agroecology, especially through the United Nations systems and in some parts of Europe, Africa and Latin America where a little biodiversity is sprinkled as greenwash over agricultural systems that still use toxic synthetic pesticides and water-soluble chemical fertilizers.

Similarly we have been concerned about the way organic agriculture standards and systems have been hijacked by industrial agribusiness as previously stated in the above section.

The critical issue is, how do we engage with agribusiness in a way that can change their systems in a positive way as proposed in Organic 3.0? Many of the corporations that are adopting regenerative systems are improving their soil organic matter levels using systems such as cover crops. They are also implementing programs that reduce toxic chemical inputs and improving environmental outcomes. These actions should be seen as positive changes in the right direction. They are a start — not an end point. Remember that there are also corporations that are rebranding their herbicide sprayed GMO no-till systems as regenerative.

The opposite of regenerative is degenerative. By definition, agricultural systems that are using degenerative practices and inputs that damage the environment, soil and health — such as synthetic toxic pesticides, synthetic water soluble fertilizers and destructive tillage systems, cannot be considered regenerative — and should not use the term. They must be called out as degenerative.

The Path Forward

From the perspective of Regeneration International, all agricultural systems should be regenerative and organic using the science of agroecology.

Bob Rodale observed that an ecosystem will naturally regenerate once the disturbance stops. Consequently, regenerative agriculture, working with nature, not only maintains resources, it improves them.

Regeneration should be seen as a way to determine how to improve systems and to determine what practices are acceptable and what are degenerative and therefore unacceptable. The criteria to analyze this must be based on the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture. These principles are clear and effective ways to decide what practices are regenerative and what are degenerative.

Consequently, the four principles of organic agriculture are seen as consistent and applicable to regenerative agriculture.

Health: Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

Ecology: Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

Fairness: Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.

Care: Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

Why Regenerative Agriculture?

The majority of the world’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture. Agricultural producers are amongst the most exploited, food and health insecure, least educated and poorest people on our planet, despite producing most of the food we eat.

Agriculture in its various forms has the most significant effect on land use on the planet. Industrial agriculture is responsible for most of the environmental degradation, forest destruction, toxic chemicals in our food and environment and a significant contributor, up to 50 percent, to the climate crisis. The degenerative forms of agriculture are an existential threat to us and most other species on our planet. We have to regenerate agriculture for social, environmental, economic and cultural reasons.

Soil Focus

The soil is fundamental to all terrestrial life of this planet. Our food and biodiversity start with the soil. The soil is not dirt — it is living, breathing and teeming with life. The soil microbiome is the most complex and richest area of biodiversity on our planet. The area with the greatest biodiversity is the rhizosphere, the region around roots of plants.

Plants feed the soil microbiome with the molecules of life that they create through photosynthesis. These molecules are the basis of organic matter — carbon-based molecules — that all life on earth depends on. Organic matter is fundamental to all life and soil organic matter is fundamental to life in the soil.

Farming practices that increase soil organic matter (SOM) increase fertility, water holding capacity, pest and disease resilience and, thus, the productivity of agricultural systems. Because SOM comes from carbon dioxide fixed through photosynthesis, increasing SOM can have a significant impact in reversing the climate crisis by drawing down this greenhouse gas.

The fact is our health and wealth comes from the soil.

Regenerative agriculture is now being used as an umbrella term for the many farming systems that use techniques such as longer rotations, cover crops, green manures, legumes, compost and organic fertilizers to increase SOM. These include: organic agriculture, agroforestry, agroecology, permaculture, holistic grazing, sylvopasture, syntropic farming and many other agricultural systems that can increase SOM. SOM is an important proxy for soil health — as soils with low levels are not healthy.

However, our global regeneration movement is far more than this.

Regeneration Revolution

We have a lot of work to do. We are currently living well beyond our planetary boundaries and extracting far more than our planet can provide. As Dr. Vandana Shiva puts it: “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.”

According to Bob Rodale, regenerative organic agriculture systems are those that improve the resources they use, rather than destroying or depleting them. It is a holistic systems approach to farming that encourages continual innovation for environmental, social, economic and spiritual wellbeing.

The vast majority of the destruction of biodiversity, the greenhouse gases, pesticides, endocrine disrupters, plastics, poverty, hunger and poor nutrition are directly caused by the billionaire corporate cartels and their obscene greed aided by their morally corrupt cronies. We need to continue to call them out for their degenerative practices.

More importantly, we need to build the new regenerative system that will replace the current degenerate system.

We have more than enough resources for everyone to live a life of wellbeing. The world produces around 3 times more food than we need. We have unfair, exploitative and wasteful systems that need to be transformed and regenerated.

We need to regenerate our societies so we must be proactive in ensuring that others have access to land, education, healthcare, income, the commons and empowerment. This must include women, men and youths across all ethnic and racial groups.

We must take care of each other and regenerate our planet. We must take control and empower ourselves to be the agents of change. We need to regenerate a world based on the Four Principles of Organic Agriculture: Health, Ecology Fairness and Care.

Ronnie Cummins, one of our founders, wrote: “Never underestimate the power of one individual: yourself. But please understand, at the same time, that what we do as individuals will never be enough. We’ve got to get organized and we’ve got to help others, in our region, in our nation, and everywhere build a mighty Green Regeneration Movement. The time to begin is now.”

André Leu is the author of The Myths of Safe Pesticides and Poisoning Our Children. He previously served as president of IFOAM — Organics International and is currently the international director of Regeneration International. 

Regenerative Ag Has to Prove Itself

Regenerative agriculture has a key role to play in pulling carbon into the world’s soils and helping fight climate change, says a U.S. soil scientist who is studying the practice.

However, it will need to both carefully manage the agricultural role of carbon and be able to prove its value to the wider world.

“In the midst of all these challenges … soils are really central,” said Francesca Cotrufo, a soil specialist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University.

“We really need to do something to restore carbon.”

Cotrufo told farmers at Manitoba Forage and Grasslands Association’s annual regenerative ag conference that enormous amounts of soil carbon have been lost over decades of tillage, disturbance agriculture, simple rotations and indifference. Erosion and stripped soil have emitted more carbon than they have stored, he said.

Soil organic matter proportions have collapsed, allowing significant amounts of stored carbon to escape. That has led to agriculture being one of the biggest contributors to carbon escape among industries.

KEEP READING ON “THE WESTERN PRODUCER”

How Would You Use Your Time If You Had Only 3 Minutes to Live? – An Interview with Por Kham Deuang Pasee

Por Kham Deuang is a farmer elder of Buriram, Thailand who has practiced regeneration in his own way for over 40 years and inspired many with his wisdom and ways.
This however I originally thought was more or less apparent. And while I do hope to share more about his methods,  I felt what was most important was this way he understands our role, purpose, and potential as humans.

Photo credit: Por Kham Deuang Pasee

Interview, translation and write up by Michael B. Commons, Earth Net Foundation, Thailand

Por Kham Deuang-  “We have been using our lives incorrectly until they are used up, exchanging them for what we do not know… If I only had 3 minutes of life to live in this world what would I do?  What would I exchange my life for?

             If I only had 3 minutes to live, I would exchange this life for planting trees.  Why?  Because in 3 minutes, I cannot do anything.  But  if I plant a tree, boop, that tree will live on and grow.  It can continue to live for 100 years.  So I have been able to extend 3 minutes into 100 years. If we used the 3 minutes for something else, it would just disappear.  But now we have exchanged our 3 minutes of life for the life of a tree.  That tree can grow and provide for the whole world and reduce its suffering. Trees purify the air, hold down the soil and increase its fertility, make the clouds grow, support mushrooms to grow, and they then can spread seeds far and wide that will bring new generations of trees and their benefits.

            What can I do in just 3 minutes?  Most uses would just be lost, but exchanging my time for a tree, I really have something of value.  Now consider exchanging 1 hour, this is even more interesting to exchange. Or what if we exchanged the rest of our lives, even more interesting.  For trees there is no stopwatch ticking, three minutes of our lives has passed but for the trees they may live on and on.  We have exchanged 3 minutes of our lives for 100 years of life and then our grandchildren can go on to care the trees, their seeds and seedlings which may go on and on from there.  Then we haven’t died wasting our lives, we have exchanged the time in our lives for something of greater value.

            If one understands this, one will not be confused as to how we are to live on this planet and use its resources, it will be clear.  This is the way to live correctly.  If we live correctly we are one with our world, and our world will be beautiful and flourish. We will pass this on to the generations that come after us who will not suffer troubles as their ancestors took good care of this inheritance.  But now all of the ancestors have just created problems for their offspring.  None of the children and grandchildren appreciate ancestors like this.  But if we are ancestors doing like I practice, then our children and grandchildren will click “like” for us.”

Michael Commons:  When we were together in Hat Yai you talked about how to live in balance with nature,  how to find happiness.  Please share more about your thoughts?

P K D: “To talk about this I have to go back to the past to understand the roots and reasons.  The Earth must be born before humanity.  Our Earth is just right in many ways for us.  It was in the right place and distance from the sun and with good light and atmosphere, and then so many years passed before there were trees, parasites, or mobile phone signals.  Much had to develop such as minerals, water, fish and more before humans could live here.  We must understand that everything came before humans and everything that humans would need was ready for their needs without us (humanity) having done anything.  When humanity was born, boop- we had all of this without need to build or create anything, whether it’s the air we breathe, the rain that falls, food to feed us; we could just use this.  But once we started using these resources that our planet created for us, we hadn’t learnt that these resources were created by our Earth and how we could steward and care for these resources so there would be more and more and they would be better and better as for certain the number of humans had to increase.  Back then there were not many humans, but our numbers had to increase and increase.  If we considered this, we would know that we needed to steward and build upon this inherited abundance so it could provide for us into the future.

            We did not go on that path but we have taken everything and put it into a big pile in front of us and said we are rich. We take and exploit without returning or restoring anything. This was our failing since the beginning.  Once we started off with our first steps in the wrong direction, however far we keep going it is still in the wrong direction, and the farther we go the farther we are from the truth.  Thus people cannot live with other people if they are all fighting for the same resources which are not sufficient. The more they fight for resources, the more problems and troubles follow.  What we seek to solve is not these problems, the ways we try to solve our problems create yet other problems, thus they keep unfolding and unfolding.  As all that provides for our lives was not created by us, thus we cannot build and restore this in a short period; we will not make it in time…  Just like with our planetary resources, when we want to regenerate them we cannot do this fast enough.  Once the glaciers have melted away we cannot just make enough ice to put there and replace them.  At this point I don’t really know if we will be able to act fast enough, but we need to start.  This is our great mistake. Going back to what I recounted of my own life, this is how it is at the planetary level but also for our families.  This is not the failing of one person. 7 billion people are all doing this, the same mistake.  So to go back we need to each do this ourselves.   We cannot go back through a government policy, a project, or a UN policy, because the way this came to be was not by these ways.  We need to start to do this each on a human level, we need to reprogram our minds.  A new way of thinking and all new information.  We have to completely change our structures and thinking.  A completely new program.  It needs to be correct and written by ourselves to reach the objectives we have set for all humanity, our planet and environment.

            From this I came to trees.  Looking at what we can do to restore this, I have found trees to be the key answer and tool for regeneration.  Trees are a tool and a way that, when you share and explain, few will fight with you, and in practice it doesn’t cause problems for others. Then for those who understand this, they will help us.  So it (planting trees) has a strong energy.  Every path to regeneration is good, but I have chosen trees as my principal path.”

M C:  Why do you think we as humans have come to where we are now destroying our planet and ourselves?

P K D:  “If we look at this from the view of religion, the core of all religions, whether Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam, is good and beautiful, but we have gone astray due to our greed and desires, and this has built up as we have not managed or controlled this greed.  Even from birth we enter the world already with desire, wanting this and that. But we haven’t asked the question of why and to what purpose we are born from the beginning.  When we are born these tendencies are still weak, but then they are reinforced and effectively programmed into us like AI programming.  When we cry we are fed or given candy or snacks, we are bathed, we are clothed.  We remember all of this. We learn- This is what studying is, this is what teaching is.  Work and by working we receive money.  Then we use money to buy what we need in our lives. – This is all programmed into us.  We never escape from our shell, our cocoon.   We become thickly wrapped in all of this programming.  We never have time to learn what is real and what is fake.  From our first minute of life we are programmed and pushed. Then soon we find ourselves so thickly covered in this while we are still an immature worm inside that we cannot free ourselves from this bind.  From here we start to destroy everything.  We cut down trees without any thought that this wrong.  Policies and laws provide concessions to convert forests into timber. The rules we write ourselves, by those who cut the trees, use the timber, and sell the concessions.  The forestry department provides license to cut the trees down even though they didn’t plant any of the trees.  All of this is legal.  The laws are the regulations of the world.   This is not correct in the true sense, but it is correct in line with development plans and such.  We start to measure in terms of development plans and objectives and there we have strayed.

            We need to act on our own level such as Michael you plant and grow trees and others can see what happens and the benefits 5 years, 10 years, 20 years later and come to understand and this spreads, teaching by example.  People can see what will happen.

            What is most frightening now is so many people do not see the future.  Our political leadership does not see the future.  4, 5 years 10 years into the future no one knows what it will be like.  But for me, I see clearly.  If I plant trees, if I grow rice, if I grow a diversity of crops, I know what this will bring.  I know if I plant 20 forest trees what they will be like in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years.  If I grow Hopea odorata, Dipterocarpus alatus, what they will be like.  I know about the soil fertility that will be built, the frogs, crabs, fish and other creatures that will come, the mushrooms that will grow.

            Why don’t we do what we know?  Why do we go where we only can guess?  The world is so large and we cannot easily manage and support at this level, but we can create small worlds where we can restore and regenerate on the size and scale we can manage.   If this can happen in a small place such as one person’s or family’s land, then this is an example and has the seeds and seedlings to spread. I don’t believe this can change from policy or funding, but from more and more people who create small worlds of abundance and are examples of this in practice.  COVID has actually made this much more clear for many here, forcing people to think and see differently.   From this it can change, but not in just one lifetime, it may take 2 or more lifetimes to fully manifest.  In Buriram we have set a policy that in 300 years we will be the most pleasant community to live in in this world.  8 years have passed and we have 292 years left to realize this.  “Fertile and abundant, secure, wealthy and sustainable”…

            This was also proposed in the 12th national development plan, but then they removed “อุดมสมบูรณ์” (fertile and abundant), …. and this is the heart and basis for all the rest, so it is likely we will end up with corruption that is secure, wealthy and sustainable.”

M.C: Is there a name you use to call your system of practice and or philosophy?

P K D:  “The name that is closest and which I am most famous for is as the person who first developed Natural Farming here in Thailand. …. There are these words that Masanobu Fukuoka said to me which I hold closely, “Natural Farming is not the planting or harvesting of crops, but rather it is a tool to plant our spirit of humanity to be more perfect.”  When humans are as perfect as they can be they will understand the world, understand nature, and understand the environment, and they will live with nature and the environment without any problems; nor will they have problems with other humans or all that is valuable in this world.”

M C:  It sounds like Fukuoka connected with you and your way of thinking?

P K D:   “Yes we talked together and stayed together many days, traveling some days together with an interpreter and they took videos of us 2 talking together…  I took a lot away from that trip….  We traveled together during his whole visit to Thailand going to Yasothorn, to Tung Kula, and all the other places chosen for that trip. We lodged together, and conversed together. It touched me as he was the only person that understood what I was saying, which I could see and feel in his response. We spoke the same language.  But when I would try to explain things elsewhere, I didn’t know if I was wasting my time.”

Photo credit: Por Kham Deuang Pasee

Epilogue

            While I had long heard of Por Kham Deuang, being one of the early leaders and movers in the then developing sustainable farming movement in Thailand, it was only last December that I had the chance to get to meet and exchange with him over a couple of days together in Hat Yai.  His wisdom and clarity was good medicine that helped to draw me in deeper.   While at that time I had no recorder beyond my attentive brain, key messages sank in and took root.

            A key phrase of his was “Don’t practice a profession, but do your role in life.”   And for him, which was common to my own thought process and ideas, the human role on this planet is to garden.   To help select and move seeds around to create more abundance for the benefit of humans and all beings, and when we just do our simple role to help in a small way to care for nature we don’t have to work hard (as nature’s abundance cares for us).

            Then he also explained how we think far too short-sightedly.   Many do not want to plant trees as it may be 30 years or more for them to mature.  But he sees that we inherit that which the generations before have passed on and we are here very temporarily and if we live good and well we will pass on a richer land and inheritance to our children, grandchildren and so forth.   So in this timeline even if we plant trees at 90 years of age, we are connected to them and the air they may help fill with oxygen centuries later, as we inherit the topsoil, the biodiversity, the foods and medicines from our planet and ancestors.

            This helped me see life more clearly; how I am connected to many generations back in time and many generations forward in time and within this scope during the limited short time of my existence I have a chance to do my role and if I do it well I help pass on more to the future while I can thank all those who came before.

            In Thailand we are blessed to have a number of farmers, traditional doctors, and community activists who have been leading in vision, wisdom and practice to heal our land, our planet and ourselves.  I am even more fortunate be close to some of these wise elders and youngers and to be able to carry on with my wife and family from such lineage.   While I think this must be true everywhere where there remains culture and relationship to the land, when we look at “regeneration” we do not need to look far.  Elders such a Por Kham Deaung have seen and see the whole picture from how we erred, where this started, and how we can go back to heal our planet and ourselves.  They see and know this from the land, culture and traditions of their ancestors from many generations back and they live seeing forward to many generations into the future.   Por Kham Deuang said that the seed of change and restoration is within ourselves.  He said we need to completely change our way of thinking even our structure of thinking to take us to the objectives we seek.   I am happy to share a bit of Por Kham Deuang’s medicine.  Por Kham Deuang invited me to share and translate his learnings so these seeds may find fertile soil far and wide.  While Por Kham Deuang has planted 1000’s of trees and from these trees many 1000’s more seedlings have been distributed and planted far and wide, perhaps the greatest gift he has planted are these seeds of truth and clarity about our role and potential in this world during our short lives.

Caminos de Regeneración: la agrosilvicultura trabaja con la naturaleza y usa los árboles para cultivar alimentos

BRUSELAS, BÉLGICA – En nuestro último episodio de “Caminos de Regeneración”, exploramos las raíces de la agrosilvicultura y cómo la agricultura industrial ha dejado de lado las antiguas prácticas agrícolas que producen alimentos saludables al mismo tiempo que cuidan el medio ambiente.

Cuando se trata de agricultura, el viejo dicho “la naturaleza es sabia” es totalmente cierto. Trabajar con la naturaleza en lugar de contra ella es una mentalidad que se remonta a principios de la historia de la humanidad, cuando los campesinos dependían del conocimiento y las tradiciones ancestrales para cultivar alimentos.

Nuestro nuevo episodio, “La agrosilvicultura en la actualidad, parte 1: Una breve historia de la agrosilvicultura”, presenta a Patrick Worms, asesor de política científica del Centro Mundial de Agrosilvicultura con sede en Nairobi y presidente de la Federación Agroforestal Europea.

La agrosilvicultura es una forma de agricultura que combina árboles y arbustos con cultivos alimentarios. Da prioridad a la naturaleza y es una de las formas más antiguas de agricultura. La agrosilvicultura considera que el paisaje natural y la integración de los árboles crean un sistema alimentario con beneficios ambientales, sociales y económicos.

Worms ha pasado décadas investigando y desarrollando sistemas agroforestales en todo el mundo. Es uno de los pocos cabilderos políticos y científicos en temas agroforestales en Bruselas y en otras partes de Europa, donde aporta su experiencia en políticas agrícolas.

Agrosilvicultura: el arte de leer un paisaje para mejorar la productividad agrícola

En una entrevista de Zoom con Regeneration International, Worms explicó cómo la introducción de tecnología moderna en el sector agrícola (pesticidas, fertilizantes sintéticos y equipos agrícolas como tractores, arados y cosechadoras) ha hecho que miles de años de evolución agrícola utilizando árboles hayan llegado a un camino sin salida.

El lado positivo es que a medida que las limitaciones de la agricultura industrializada se vuelven más obvias, estamos redescubriendo la sabiduría del antiguo conocimiento agroforestal, dijo Worms.

En el Centro Mundial de Agrosilvicultura, Worms está trabajando en nuevas formas de implementar sistemas agroforestales en todo el mundo y en regiones que se enfrentan a la escasez de alimentos y a los impactos del cambio climático y la desertificación.

“Si observas esos paisajes, son paisajes agroforestales típicos con jardines de múltiples estratos, plantas anuales en el suelo, enredaderas que trepan por los árboles, arbustos de tamaño medio y árboles más altos con animales y cultivos en el medio”.

La agrosilvicultura, una práctica tan antigua como la historia humana.

Los ejemplos de sistemas agroforestales se encuentran en todo el mundo y han estado presentes a  lo largo de la historia de la humanidad. Desde la domesticación del árbol del cacao en América Central y del Sur, hasta la higuera, que se originó en el suroeste de Asia y es una de las frutas más antiguas consumidas por los humanos, los sistemas agroforestales han producido algunos de los alimentos más populares de la actualidad.

Los primeros humanos que practicaban la agrosilvicultura desarrollaron sistemas agrícolas exitosos no porque tuvieran científicos con batas blancas de laboratorio, sino porque tenían un proceso constante de prueba y error. Las prácticas que eran exitosas eran adoptadas y transmitidas, y las que salían mal eran abandonadas, dijo Worms, y agregó:

“Pero la modernidad ha acabado todo eso. El conocimiento que nuestros antepasados adquirieron minuciosamente por milenios ​​ha desaparecido por completo”.

Reemplazar las prácticas agrícolas basadas en miles de años de conocimiento ancestral por una agricultura industrial dependiente de productos químicos ha degradado el suelo, eliminado la biodiversidad, despojado los alimentos de los nutrientes esenciales y esclavizado y endeudado a los campesinos con las principales corporaciones agrícolas.

La buena noticia es que el retorno a la agrosilvicultura y la ampliación de los sistemas de agricultura orgánica y regenerativa pueden revertir el daño causado por la agricultura industrial.

Los sistemas alimentarios y agrícolas que trabajan en armonía con en el medio ambiente absorben y almacenan carbono en el suelo y gracias a eso pueden mejorar el sustento social y económico de los campesinos, reconstruir la salud del suelo, promover la biodiversidad y las cuencas hidrográficas limpias, producir alimentos saludables y mitigar el cambio climático.

 Esto es precisamente lo que describió Food Tank: The Think Tank For Food de manera tan elocuente en octubre de este año:

“Si queremos proteger nuestro planeta y tener alimentos saludables en nuestra mesa, la agroecología es el camino a seguir”.

Para obtener más información sobre la agrosilvicultura y algunas de las mejores prácticas que se implementan en la actualidad, permanezca atento al próximo episodio, “La agrosilvicultura en la actualidad, parte 2: Las buenas prácticas de hoy”, en esta serie de dos partes.

 

Oliver Gardiner representa a Regeneration International en Europa y Asia. Julie Wilson, asociada de comunicaciones de la Asociación de Consumidores Orgánicos (OCA), contribuyó a este artículo. Para mantenerse al día con noticias y eventos, regístrese aquí para recibir el boletín de Regeneración Internacional.

 

How Regenerative Farming Cut Fixed Costs by 40% in First Year

It is safe to say Nick Padwick isn’t looking for a long transition to farming using regenerative agricultural principles at Ken Hill Farms and Estate, near Snettisham.

With an immediate cost saving of £40,000 on diesel and a reduction in fixed costs from £562/ha to £330/ha in just one year, there are already some positive reasons why a virtually complete change in philosophy has been implemented so quickly.

Mr Padwick arrived as estate manager two years ago with a blank slate to transform the 1,400ha estate to farm in a more environmentally friendly way.

What is regenerative agriculture?

Typically, most regenerative farmers follow these four core principles

  1. Minimising soil disturbance
  2. Keeping the soil covered
  3. Maximising plant or crop diversity
  4. Integrating livestock

Countryside Stewardship payments

It was a focus that led to radical changes across the estate, with about 200ha of low-performing arable land entered into the creation of wood pasture (WD6) higher-tier Countryside Stewardship, alongside a further 200ha of woodland attracting restoration of wood pasture (WD5) payments.

 

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