What is regenerative agriculture? How do we find out if it works?
In this series of five webinars, we hear from the lead authors of new reports on evidence gaps and research pathways for regenerative agriculture in Aotearoa.
Overview of Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa
New Zealand farmers, industry, processors and marketers have an increasing interest in the role of regenerative agriculture for our food production systems. This highlights the need to better understand what regenerative agriculture means in the context of our country – and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.
In this webinar, the Our Land and Water regenerative agriculture project leads discuss the series of reports being released over the coming month and how they went about defining what research is most needed in Aotearoa.
This webinar also provides an overview of some of the regenerative principles applied in New Zealand, and thoughts on how regenerative agriculture emerged from the many ‘alternative agricultures’. The webinar also provides broad insights on questions asked about regenerative agriculture by four key New Zealand agricultural sectors, and the different considerations and opportunities for Māori farming entities.
Regenerative Agriculture: Climate Change and Soil Health
People are increasingly aware of the current food system’s role in the planet’s climate change crisis. Regenerative agriculture has been proposed as an opportunity to slow and adapt to climate change.
This webinar examines nature-based solutions to climate change, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, increasing soil carbon stocks, and increasing the resilience of farmland to flood and drought conditions.
Presenters provide an overview of the science gaps still to be closed and possible approaches to test whether regenerative agriculture indeed offers viable climate change solutions for New Zealand. All these possible environmental benefits ultimately stem from the nurturing of healthy soils, and this webinar also presents a framework for assessing the impact of regenerative agriculture on soil health in New Zealand farming systems.
Regenerative Agriculture: Biodiversity and Animal Welfare
How can native biodiversity be included within the context of a regenerative agriculture farming system – and what role does biodiversity have as indicator of improved outcomes? These two questions are explored in this webinar, along with principles for implementing biodiversity conservation on regenerative farms in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Speakers also take a look at how terrestrial macrofauna invertebrates can be used as indicators of agricultural land management practices. It has been found that terrestrial invertebrate community assessments can provide valuable evidence of how land management practices impact biodiversity, and ecosystem function and services. The focus on macrofauna includes insects, spiders, earthworms and millipedes – all of which are sensitive to environmental disturbances.
Animal welfare is a complicated and emotive subject – tune in to hear about various ways in which animal welfare can be assessed in New Zealand pastoral farms and the key animal welfare questions raised in the context of regenerative agriculture.
Regenerative Agriculture: Productivity, Profit and Food Quality
The impact of regenerative agriculture on farm profitability cannot be looked at in isolation from the wider agrifood system, including domestic and overseas demand for regeneratively farmed food. In this webinar, we provide an overview of market studies and data applicable to regenerative agriculture.
Presenters explore the multiple lenses through which farm business performance can be assessed. How should we measure the impact on farm businesses when they adopt regenerative agriculture principles? How can costs and benefits from environmental impacts be accounted for? And what about farm productivity? What are the relevant approaches and metrics to determine whether the adoption of regenerative agriculture can increase the quality or quantity of farm produce? Is the much-debated concept of ‘food nutrient density’ relevant?
These are some of the questions addressed in the reports released a few days prior to this webinar, and explored in a broad way by the presenters.
Regenerative Agriculture: Measuring What Works, Where It Matters
The adoption of regenerative agriculture principles might yield greater benefits in some areas of New Zealand – for example, in places that are already experiencing intense climatic challenges, or where communities are already working together and uphold strong land-stewardship principles. From mountains to sea, land managers and scientists could work together to understand whether such benefits are real – and assess how substantial any benefits might be, now and in the future.
In this webinar, various ways of working together will be explored in multiple contexts, from vegetable production in Pukekohe, to improving farm systems for better nurturing of our precious freshwater.