Amy-Lynn Albertson: What is regenerative agriculture?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2024

By Amy-Lynn Albertson
N.C. Cooperative Extension

I’ve been noticing the term “regenerative agriculture” a lot lately, in my social media feeds, class discussions, and even on one of my favorite TV shows, “Clarkson’s Farm.” But what exactly is “regenerative agriculture”? According to the Noble Research Institute, it’s about restoring degraded soils using practices like adaptive grazing, no-till planting and minimal use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizer, based on ecological principles.

Regenerative agriculture doesn’t have a specific recipe, but there are common practices among regenerative farmers and ranchers, such as planting crops using no-till, incorporating cover crops and diverse mixtures of forage species, reducing the use of fertilizers and pesticides and using adaptive multi-paddock grazing.

The primary goal of regenerative agriculture is to improve soil health, leading to positive benefits for the land and the farmer or rancher’s profitability. While this approach may not have always been called “regenerative agriculture,” it has been practiced for centuries. In fact, I would say that almost all the farms in Rowan County are practicing some form of regenerative agriculture, even if they don’t call it that.

Regenerative agriculture encourages agricultural producers to manage the land in a way that mimics nature, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. A paper from Yale about bridging the Regenerative Agriculture Financing Gap emphasizes the importance of financial investors being confident that their investments yield the changes they seek to support. As consumers, it’s important for us to understand the value of our soils and the impact of agriculture on our climate.

Overall, regenerative farming is a new buzzword for an age-old practice of caring for the land that supports us, nurturing our soil and putting back what we take out. For more information about regenerative farming or other agricultural-related topics, you can contact the Rowan County Extension Center at 704-216-8970 or visit their website at

Amy-Lynn Albertson is director of the Rowan County Extension.

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