Advancing from Sustainable to Regenerative Agriculture

Brian German General, Industry

A new program focused on regenerative agriculture has been developed through the Institute for Sustainable Development at California State University, Chico. The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (RAI) is aimed at restoring topsoil and enhancing biodiversity through carbon reclamation.

Regenerative AgricultureCo-founder of RAI Tim LaSalle noted how important these types of programs are to the future of agricultural production.  “There’s a really positive reinvestment in soil and soil fertility, and health, which can increase farmers’ yields and profits and improve water cycles,” said LaSalle.

Some of the research on regenerative practices has already shown some significant results in soils, particularly as it relates to water cycles.  “We can find percolation rates move from half an inch an hour, to eight or ten inches an hour when we start to change that soil structure,” LaSalle noted.

RAI is a collaborative effort on behalf of multiple faculty members from a variety of disciplines, working to develop research and different teaching approaches to food and farming systems.  The goal is to provide experiential learning opportunities that promote the advancement of food systems that will sequester carbon and reduce overall emissions.

LaSalle describes the two biggest challenges that farmers are facing are the loss of soils and how changes in weather patterns are affecting yields.  Through new educational approaches provided by RAI, LaSalle noted that “once we dig into that, we learn that we can support that living system, that living soil, at a much more robust level than we’ve been doing based upon old teaching.”

RAI is designed to provide working knowledge about comprehensive and regenerative agriculture practices that will restore as well as enhance the resiliency of living systems.  The concept of regenerative agriculture has already received interest from over 150 organizations and companies, including some from outside of the United States.