What is Regenerative Agriculture?

RegenAG UK (RAUK)is a network come training organisation which promotes Regenerative Agriculture in the UK by connecting leading pioneers and trainers with farmers and smallholders via short courses, seminars and workshops, and by facilitating collaboration and peer-peer learning and practitioner lead exploration.  So far events have been concentrated in the south/Midlands of England, but we hope this will expand further this year, including reaching out to Ireland.

We recognise the importance of a healthy water cycle – along with mineral cycles and biodiversity, as foundations for a sustainable permanent agro-ecological production base.  So we focuses strongly on building soils and restoring ecosystems as the foundation to regenerating production, and developing resilience, promoting methods and approaches which work synergistically with natural processes to optimise production.

At the same time dependency on external inputs is minimised, and we look to improve livestock health and quality of produce, and increase farm profitability - with the most efficient use of the manpower available.


Why Regenerative Agriculture?

In many ways we've become a very successful species. Our numbers now approach seven billion and agriculture has played a key part in making that possible, but our success has come at a price - the serious degradation of the natural environment and in particular the soil and water which produces our crops. We've been using ever-increasing volumes of artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, but these strategies only function symptomatically, are increasingly expensive, and cause further problems down the line, including in terms of land degradation. Regenerative agriculture describes a wide range of practices, which instead address the root causes - and quickly.

Keyline tree planting

Conventional thinking suggests that it takes a thousand years to build a few centimetres of soil. If that were true than we really would be in trouble; the quantity of topsoil lost as a result of modern agricultural practices is terrifying. Thankfully we can build soils just as quickly as we can erode them - but only under the right circumstances. And that's what regenerative agriculture is all about. While many producers have been caught up in the chemical approach, some farming pioneers around the world (often those who have been unable to afford modern technology), have been developing remarkably successful techniques that build soils and their fertility, clean water, and do it all while increasing farm yields and profit margins.

These pioneers have been sharing the secrets of their successes - some very simple principles - so the rest of us can benefit. From DIY recipes for biofertilisers to grazing management modelled on the behaviour of wild herds, and from the effective and minimal use of machinery, such as sub-soil ploughing, to developing local markets for farm produce regenerative agriculture encompasses a diverse portfolio of techniques, which individually or together can rapidly build soils, communities and profits, and the natural environment benefits too.

Finally there's the additional benefit of the role it can play in both mitigation and adaptation to climate change - or 'climate disruption' which would seem to communicate the problems more clearly. Regenerative agriculture techniques focus on the importance of carbon sequestration as well as retention in the soil; fertility and resilience in the face of adverse weather conditions depend on soil carbon. Not only does converting to regenerative practices reduce and eliminate carbon release due to unfavourable tillage methods, etc., but it also holds the potential to return a significant amount of carbon where it belongs; back in the ground. Not making things any worse just isn't enough.

Polyface pigs

Regrarians® Director Darren Doherty describes the five essential things for rapid soil building as follows (after Dr. Christine Jones www.amazingcarbon.com):

  1. Sun, air, water.
  2. Biologically available minerals.
  3. Living things IN the soil (plants and animals) and their by products.
  4. Living things ON the soil (plants and animals) and their by products.
  5. Intermittent and patchy disturbance regimes.

Latest course datesThat's it. Nothing we don't already have on most farms. And even when it comes to using machinery like subsoil ploughing, most of what we need can be found in our barns or adapted from what we already have. None of this involves buying expensive equipment. We just need to be willing to believe that there may be a better way of doing what we do, and be prepared to give a little time to learning about it. 

We hope you'll start your journey here...

We are still adding events for Autumn 2016; please do sign up to our e-mailing list to be first to hear about the new schedule.

Holistic Management® Introduction, Financial and Grazing Planning

Holistic Management grazing

An Introduction to Holistic Management with specific focus on Financial and Grazing Planning

with Tony McQuail, and Rob Havard

Co-sponsored by Holistic Management International (HMI)Holistic management international

Three Parishes Hall, Grafton Flyford, Worcestershire, WR7 4PG - plus various holdings in the area

21st-23rd November, 2016

Would you like to increase the health and productivity of your land and animals?

As a farmer or land manager you know that one of your greatest assets is the land you work with, and managing that land can be tough due to weather conditions, environmental pressures and high input costs, and farming is still a business.  This course was designed to help you regenerate your land for better soil health, bio-diversity, productivity and profitability through the practice of Holistic Planned Grazing and Holistic Financial Planning.  We know that to create a sustainable, healthy agricultural enterprise, you need to run it like a business and we've created this course to give both new and experienced farmers and land managers the knowledge and tools they need to do just that.

Holistic Management is a farm planning and decision making process developed to help farmers and land managers achieve a triple bottom line of healthy land, people and profits. It has a full toolbox of planning resources to help farmers reach this goal. In this three day workshop we will be focusing on the Financial Planning and Planned Grazing systems and will highlight the key features of each which make them so effective.  This is an active hands-on course and by the end of the three days you will have completed a draft financial plan and grazing plan.

This is a participatory workshop. Registrants will be encouraged to bring questions and information about their own operation which they can use during the workshop to develop resources they can use when they return to their farm.

Tony McQuailTony McQuail is the workshop leader. He and his wife, Fran, have operated a mixed livestock farm since 1973 in the rolling hills of Huron County, Ontario, Canada inland from Lake Huron (https://meetingplaceorganicfarm.ca/). They are in the process of transitioning their farm to their younger daughter, Katrina.

McQuail credits the Holistic Management Course they took in 1995 as being transformative for their farm family and a major reason their daughter wants to return to the farm.

“The course helped us develop a farm that was profitable, enjoyable and improving ecologically. We were able to manage the farm so that it felt like the farm was working for us – not us slaving for the farm.”

McQuail is a founding member of the Ecological Farmer’s Association of Ontario which has been providing farmer to farmer education, farm tours and courses for over 35 years.

HMI will be issuing certificates to those who demonstrate competence in the material covered

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What you've said...

"The money I spent on that course has paid for itself ten times over in the knowledge I've gained and how that has made my own business profitable and sustainable."

"It was full of sound scientific and practical advice on how to improve my farm business."

"RegenAg UK courses are an unprecedented opportunity for learning from some of the world's leading pioneers in agriculture."

For more testimonials click here!

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