Reversing the degradation of the world’s soil is a little-recognised – but hugely important – way in which we can help slow down the progress of global warming. The good news is this damage doesn’t need to be permanent.
Recently, we’ve started working with Soil Heroes – an organisation that helps farmers around the world convert to regenerative agricultural practices by providing them with the expertise and financial support needed to overhaul their methods.
Since 1950, the world’s population has increased from 5.2 billion to 7.7 billion people. With increasingly more mouths to feed and a demand for lower food prices, farmers have become more dependent on chemicals and destructive practices to increase their yields.
The downside to this is that our topsoil is deteriorating and disappearing across the globe, and if we continue in this manner, scientists believe that our soils will no longer be able to grow food in 50-60 years.
Regenerative farming is all about naturally restoring soil health. It’s a method of farming that works to improve the entire ecosystem of a farm by rebuilding organic matter and restoring soil biodiversity.
Fertile soils stores more carbon, so if we have an abundance of healthy soils, more carbon can be taken from the atmosphere and put back into the earth itself.
Healthy soils are good news for everyone because they:
Agriculture and land-use changes are responsible for a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions, primarily from deforestation, land-use change, intensive livestock rearing, soil degradation, and agrochemical application. Regenerative farming is an important way to help fix one of the primary causes of global warming, restore the productivity of our agricultural lands, and secure the livelihoods of our farmers.
A shift in how we farm, coupled with global dietary shifts and reductions in food waste, can easily provide enough food for both present and future generations.
Meet Fred and Carl!
We're working with Soil Heroes alongside our friends at allplants to help Fred and Carl convert 15 hectares (think of that as, roughly, 15 international rugby pitches) of their farmland to regenerative farming practices.
This may not sound like much in the grand scheme of things – and it’s not – but this land, and other areas on their farm, will be used as a showcase model for other farmers as proof of the benefits of regenerative agriculture.
In time, Huel would love to use a supply chain that uses entirely regenerative practices, but the world isn’t there yet. It can take a single farm 3-5 years to transition to regenerative practices so it can’t be done overnight.
It’s important that we support and learn from organisations like Soil Heroes, and raise awareness. We need to be part of this because we strongly believe it's the right approach even if we can't achieve this in our own supply chain at the moment.
It’s easy to think that soil degradation is something that can only be solved by farmers, but there are loads of ways that you can get involved and help out:
You don’t have to become a vegan to help slow down climate change – try buying meat from regenerative sources.
Pasture-raised animals enjoy a substantially better quality of life, cause significantly less environmental impact, and their meat is both more nutritious and tastes better. Primal Meats, Green Pastures Farms, and the Ethical Butcher are just a few UK-based regenerative meat farmers that you might want to check out.
Eating seasonally means eating foods (mostly fruit and veg) that are harvested at the time of year you’re eating them. In many cases, they are grown more locally and with less artificial inputs so they’ll be better for your wallet and the environment.
Every piece of food you eat has a carbon footprint, so throwing away that slightly-browned banana is worse for the environment than you might think. More on that here.
Want to learn more about regenerative agriculture? Kiss the Ground (now streaming on Netflix) is a powerful, positive, and scientifically accurate starting point – think of it as a David Attenborough documentary… but with soil instead of animals, and Woody Harrelson instead of David Attenborough.
Also, head over to Soil Heroes to discover what they’re all about, and see first-hand just how much their work helps farmers and our environment.
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