Regenerative Practices / Grass-Fed Livestock / Organic Grain
Regenerative Agriculture is not a new concept, however it has rapidly gained popularity with farmers and ranchers the world over in the last 10 to 20 years. This approach to agriculture and farming begins with the acknowledgement that our soils are seriously degraded to the point where they are no longer functioning as they should be. In their current state, our soils are dirt. They are almost entirely mineral, with little to no biological component. This state of poor soil health, as it is referred to by experts such as Gabe Brown and Jonathan Lundgren, is the reason why current farming methods require so much synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides. Regenerative Agriculture aims to restore soil health to a functioning ecosystem, a living entity, as it would have functioned prior to extensive and large scale agriculture. The poor state of our soils currently is certainly the fault of no one, but rather another example of science catching up to modern human practices. However, now that there is science and farmer based research to support these practices and the degree to which Regenerative Agriculture improves soil health, it is important that farmers embrace these practices. Theoretically, this should be an easy sell to all farmers, as Regenerative Agriculture has been proven on many farms, including Blue Dasher Farms run by Dr. Jonathan Lundgren, to improve the profitability of farming operations when practices are implemented appropriately.
Upon being exposed to Regenerative Agriculture in 2017, Zack immediately realized the benefits to their own operation, specifically regarding agroecosystem health and farm profitability. The main principles of Regenerative Agriculture that Green Beach Farm & Food adheres to are as follows:
Reduce or eliminate tillage or soil disturbance
By reducing soil disturbance, Green Beach Farm & Food is able to promote the growth of soil fungi that assist plants in retrieving nutrients and water from the soil while releasing glues that hold the soil together. Reduced disturbance also creates a favourable habitat for other soil organisms such as earthworms that are important for nutrient cycling
Eliminate bare soils
Maintaining soil coverage with plant matter or living plants helps to keep the soil temperature at a level that is conducive to the growth of microorganisms in the soil.When left bare, soils become too hot for these microorganisms to persist, resulting in their death and the breakdown of soil structure
Maintain a living root in the soil as much as possible
Although maintaining soil coverage of any kind is beneficial to soil health, doing so with living plants (or cover crops) is most beneficial.This is for a couple of reasons.First, whenever there is a living plant in the soil, carbon (a greenhouse gas) is always being removed from the atmosphere and pumped into the soil, which adds organic matter to the soil, improving soil structure and water retention.Second, many soil microorganism require living plant roots in order to persist themselves so maintaining a living root in the soil allows Green Beach Farm & Food to promote the growth of soil biodiversity
Increase biodiversity of plants, above ground livestock & below ground livestock
Considerable research indicates that the current conventional cropping system in which only one crop is grown in the field at one time (monocropping) is harmful to soil health.Green Beach Farm & Food never grows a single crop in the field at any one time, but rather uses mixes of two or more crops at one time.This enhances soil health while also suppressing undesirable weed populations by creating high competition environments.
Integrate livestock & crops
Prairie soils were developed under the pressure of vast herds of grazing animals, such as bison.As such, recent research indicates that having livestock on the land promotes nutrient cycling and soil fertility without adding synthetic fertilizers, which are harmful to water quality and soil biology.Green Beach Farm & Food aims to have livestock on every acre of their farm at least once per calendar year.