Anthropocene Magazine – In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers found that greener farming methods don’t compromise yields.
Advocates of regenerative agriculture frequently meet opposition from those who believe the “new” practices they are promoting will reduce a farm’s agricultural yields. However, a recent team of international researchers reviewed 5,000 studies of nearly 42,000 farming systems around the world and came to a different conclusion.
In the 2020 study titled: “Agricultural Diversification Promotes Multiple Ecosystem Services without Compromising Yield,” researchers examined the impact of six ecologically-friendly agricultural practices on-farm yields. They found that practices like diversification of crop species, adding wildlife habitat to farmland, reducing soil tillage, and enriching soil with organic matter improved biodiversity and ecosystem function without impacting agricultural yields in 63% of cases. Additionally, in several cases, crop yields actually increased with the implementation of these practices – presumably because of improvements to soil health.
These findings are an exciting affirmation of the benefits of regenerative agriculture. That said, through our work as land managers at TomKat Ranch, we know there are no silver bullets in managing ecosystems whether they be natural or working systems. Results differ across different ecotypes, crop types, and geographic areas. With this in mind, it is critical that we remember the importance of planning and monitoring to help empower producers and consumers to weigh the costs and benefits of management choices and agricultural practices in different contexts.
The full article can be found here.