One of the most important topics that have been repeatedly covered over the course of the last decade has been sustainability. This can be loosely defined as the maintenance of natural systems and making sure they remain diverse and viable over long periods of time. It’s a particularly interesting topic to cover because it ensures the resources we have at hand are used as sparsely as possible while maximizing quality and production.
When it comes to cannabis growing, regenerative farming is the most viable way to achieve sustainability.
Regenerative Farming Explained
What it is?
Regenerative farming, as its name suggests, is a method of farming that focuses on either maintaining or improving the quality of the soil. This is done by increasing the biodiversity of the soil, improving its permeability to enhance air and water flow and providing better resilience to changes in climate.
It’s a practice that has been around for thousands of years but has gotten a revamped boost in recent times thanks to a dramatic increase in environmental awareness.
Why do it?
Aside from the more conspicuous benefits of adopting regenerative farming methods, regenerative farming holds a host of other bonuses. It offers farmers an opportunity to build farms with high levels of diversity while still being able to meet consumers’ needs. The better the land that’s used to produce the plant, the better the end product.
Principles of Regenerative Farming
Conscious cultivation is the first core principle of regenerative farming and is in many ways similar to the same kind of growth usually attributed to Conscious Parenting as done in children. It involves giving the plant what it needs as soon as possible, and anticipating what it might need and providing it with the same as well.
This usually involves considering the plant as more than a single entity. Rather, consider the overall impact it will have on the surrounding ecosystem as large. This is especially true when growing lots of plants together.
Seed-to-seed cultivation refers to the unique phenomenon where you will grow your plants and have them go through the full lifecycle right in your garden. You will start the cultivation process with seeds early in the season, provide them with an adequate amount of light and grow them to harvest. Once they are fully grown and budding, they will produce seeds that you can then again use to grow more plants.
Since different strains of cannabis have different requirements, it helps to start with just a few and expand your collection slowly. Do note that some strains are more beginner friendly than others, and others do better indoors than outdoors.
Biodiversity refers to how variable the species of different plants and animals in a certain ecosystem are. Generally, better biodiversity is desired because this leads to higher availability and better circulation of nutrients in the soil.
Biodiversity is usually improved by using farming methods that do not harm the soil or the creatures that live within it. For instance, crop rotation, cover crops and mulching rather than burning the crops. The key is to help sustain a large number of plants and animals. For instance, pollinators are the backbone of keeping any environment going.
Closed-Loop Carbon Sequestration
This principle of regenerative farming works hand in hand with improving and maintaining the biodiversity of an ecosystem. One of the most interesting methods of possibly reversing the effects of reversing global warming that has been proposed thus far is carbon sequestration or more informally, carbon capture.
Carbon capture is a greenhouse gas prevention method that involves capturing carbon dioxide from the source as it’s being produced in order to prevent it from getting into the atmosphere. While we don’t have technology that could help this method work a scale, closed-loop carbon capture in plants is a method that has gained increasing traction.
The final and possibly most important part of regenerative farming is sharing effective methods of increasing sustainability. All methods that we’ve been able to come up with so far are as a result of individual efforts whose results have been shared and improved upon. Sharing is a way of ensuring the community continues to thrive, as new methods are continually invented to be able to scale the production methods.
Topsoil is the most important part of the soil, at least for plants. This constitutes the first five inches of the soil where most plant roots are located. Making sure this part of the soil is maintained is thus essential.
By improving the biodiversity of the soil, nutrients are allowed to move more freely, as is air, leading to healthier top soil for better quality plants.
Protects and Conserves Water
Regenerative farming also benefits the soil by preserving moisture. Farming methods that are usually involved in the process usually serve to minimize the amount of water that is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation. In environments where water isn’t always readily available, this can be extremely crucial.
Promotes Plant Nutrition and Health
Better nutrition of plants is an emergent property of the kind of methods that are proposed by regenerative farming methods. With better topsoil quality, plants will inevitably grow healthier thanks to better nutrition.
Minimizes Illness and Disease
Pests are very specialized organisms, and will usually only infect a certain species of plants. Through crop rotation with unrelated plants, diseases and pests have little to no chance to continually attack your plants.
Reduces Environmental Impact
The most noticeable impact of adopting regenerative farming methods is reducing the harm caused to the environment. This is thanks to fewer pesticides and improved biodiversity of areas where the farming practice is adopted.
Builds Sustainable Economies
Ultimately, sustainability is the name of the game. Regenerative farming enables growers to create environments where harvesting does not harm the environment, rather leaves it even better than it was before.