What is regenerative agriculture? How do we find out if it works?
Increasing numbers of farmers are transitioning to regenerative agriculture in New Zealand, and multinational food companies are promoting its uptake globally.
The fast pace of adoption has created an urgent need to better understand what regenerative agriculture means in the New Zealand context, and for scientific testing of its claimed benefits.
Twenty short reports outlining what we need to know about regenerative agriculture in New Zealand will be released in five ‘bundles' from late October through November 2021, with each release accompanied by a webinar.
This series of reports is complementary to the white paper released in February 2021 and will provide details about how the information contained in the white paper was acquired.
Research leader Dr Gwen Grelet, senior researcher at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, says regenerative agriculture is not a magic bullet, but its grass-roots popularity with farmers is increasing. Incentives for adoption from some of the world's largest food companies mean it also has potential for driving the transformation of New Zealand’s agri-food system to help move our country closer to its goals.
“Incentives for adoption from some of the world's largest food companies mean [regen ag] has potential for driving the transformation of New Zealand’s agri-food system to help move our country closer to its goals.”— Dr Gwen Grelet, Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research
Webinar: Tuesday 26 October, 12–1pm
Confirmed speakers: Dr Gwen Grelet (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research), Hugh Good (Beef + Lamb NZ), Dr Charles Merfield (Future Farming Centre), Dr Selai Letica (Our Land and Water), Sam Lang (independent social researcher)
Reports to be released on Friday 22 October:
- Project overview and statement of purpose
- A short guide to the ‘alternative agricultures'
- Regenerative principles applied in New Zealand
- Tangata ahu whenua: nurturing our landscapes
- Insights from four key New Zealand ag sectors
2. Regenerative Agriculture: Soil and Climate Change
Webinar: Wednesday 3 November, 12–1pm
Confirmed speakers: Clare Buchanan (Align Farms), Dr Nicole Schon (AgResearch), Dr Mitchell Donovan (AgResearch), Dr Paul Mudge (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research)
Reports to be released on 29 October:
- Soil health research in the context of regenerative agriculture
- Determining the greenhouse gas reduction potential of regenerative agricultural practices
- Quantifying resilience to drought and flooding in agricultural systems
- Climate change adaptation and ecosystem-based solutions
3. Regenerative Agriculture: Biodiversity and Animal Welfare
Webinar: Tuesday 9 November, 12–1pm
Confirmed speakers: Geoff Ross (Lake Hawea Station), Professor David Norton (University of Canterbury), Professor Pablo Gregorini (Lincoln University), Dr Melanie Davidson (Plant & Food Research)
Reports to be released on 5 November:
- Terrestrial macrofauna invertebrates as indicators of agricultural land management practices
- Native biodiversity and regenerative agriculture in New Zealand
- Tracking animal welfare in New Zealand pastoral farms
4. Regenerative Agriculture: Productivity, Profit and Food Quality
Webinar: Wednesday 17 November, 12–1pm
Confirmed speakers: Dr Robyn Dynes (AgResearch), Dr Carolyn Lister (Plant & Food Research)
Reports to be released on 12 November (pending review):
- Assessing the economic impact of regenerative agriculture
- Quantifying productivity of regenerative farming systems
- Determining food quality in the context of regenerative agriculture
5. Regenerative Agriculture: Measuring What Works, Where It Matters
Webinar: Tuesday 23 November, 12–1pm
Confirmed speakers: Dr Ina Pinxterhuis (Dairy NZ), Dr Fiona Curran-Cournane (Ministry for the Environment), Dr Gwen Grelet (Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research)
Reports to be released on 19 November (pending review):
- Place-based approaches for regenerative agriculture research
- Research strategies relevant to regenerative agriculture
- New Zealand’s monitoring frameworks for agricultural sustainability and assurance
- Assessing the impact of regenerative farming on New Zealand freshwaters
- One Health, One Whenua
Register for Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa
Webinars will be recorded and links emailed to those registered for each webinar.
- The white paper Regenerative Agriculture in Aotearoa New Zealand – Research Pathways to Build Science-Based Evidence and National Narratives set out 17 priority research topics identified by 200+ representatives of New Zealand’s major agricultural sectors, farmers, and professionals in the wider agri-food system.
- Regenerative Agriculture project information.
- The project was funded by the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, the NEXT Foundation and Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research.