Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change

We are at the most critical moment in the history of our species, as man-made changes to the climate threaten humanity's security on Earth. But there is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now. It costs little and is adaptable to local contexts the world over. It can be rolled out tomorrow providing multiple benefits beyond climate stabilization.

The solution is farming.

Simply put, we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term "regenerative organic agriculture."




The New York Times: Iowa's Climate-Change Wisdom

Wall Street Journal: Can Organic Farming Counteract Carbon Emissions?


Reversing Climate Change Achievable by Farming Organically


Tom Newmark, co-founder of the new non-profit the Carbon Underground as well as the co-owner of organic farm Finca Luena Nueva and co-founder of Sacred Seeds, talks to Thom Hartmann about the white paper.


Regenerative organic agriculture for soil-carbon sequestration is tried and true: Humans have long farmed in that fashion, and there is nothing experimental about it. What is new is the scientific verification of regenerative agricultural practices. Excess carbon in the atmosphere is surely toxic to life, but we are, after all, carbon-based life forms, and returning stable carbon to the soil is a tonic that can support ecological abundance.

Taken together, the wealth of scientific support for regenerative agriculture has demonstrated that these practices can comfortably feed the growing human population while repairing our damaged ecosystem:

If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model as practiced at the research sites included in the white paper, we could potentially sequester more than 40% of annual emissions.

If all global pasture was managed using a regenerative model, an additional 71% could be sequestered.

Even if modest assumptions about soil's carbon sequestration potential are made, regenerative agriculture can easily keep annual emissions to within a desirable range.

Today there are farmers and agricultural scientists in every corner of the world committed to and excited about the results of regenerative organic agriculture‘s potential in mitigating both climate issues and food insecurity, and the specific research needs have been well documented. Now is the time to harness cutting-edge technological understanding, human ingenuity and the rich history of farmers working in tandem with the wisdom of natural ecosystems.

Now is the time to arrive at a stable climate by way of healing our land and ourselves—through regenerative organic agriculture.

55 Responses to “Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change”

  1. Frank McQuoid

    We have a small two hectare farm or perhaps a large garden in the south of Chile. We are practicing organic farming having reduced our chemicals to chloro for the pool and poison blocks kept in plastic tubes to control the rat population. Our fertilizer comes from compost enhanced with cow dung prevalent in our sector. We are trying various other natural remedies to control the insects such as beer in small yoghurt containers to control slugs and ash from our wood stove for some flying insects but have been looking without success for an essay on natural bug control. If you can advise an area that could help us it would be most appreciated.

    Muchas gracias.

    Frank McQuoid

    • Todd

      Check out carrots love tomatoes. It is a book about companion planting, and has a section on pest controll. Also Introduction to permaculture by bill mollison gives a list of helpfull plants, and design techniques to help you deal with pests.

      • Morgan

        Todd, I did not care for this book. I am a long time gardener and it seemed pretty light weight, more lore than fact.

    • Angela

      Diatomaceous Earth: FOOD GRADE. Look it up on the net. It will be most effective on the softer bodied insects, but takes care of ticks and fleas. Also good for worming humans and animals. great as a light dust on chickens for mites. Also Borax: laundry additive. A little borax and sugar is great for taking care of roaches and ants.

    • Bee Winfield

      Hi Frank,
      Your life sounds great . From 30 years experience in permaculture : don’t muck around with beer traps, get ducks. If you can fence in your garden and have its borders patrolled by various poultry you will have no slugs or snails and lots of omelettes . I let my ducks in to my garden in mid winter when nothing much is growing. Just a week, and they clean up and do no damage.

  2. ed kemper

    I am retired and bought land I plan on farming on. How can I design an eco-friendly farming practice for my particular area? I have over 100 acres. I need to start small and let it grow into something I can leave for my autistic son.

    Thank you for your wonderful lifesaving research.

    • Howard

      I can’t generalize, Ed. Every farm, field, forest, garden, stream, ocean and lake is different. Rather than attempt such an answer, well researched or off the cuff, I’ll ask you – How much land do you need to farm? I ask because I can’t tell you; that’s something you’ll have to decide.

      Often the best regenerative practice is to do nothing, let the land recover. If there’s enough cover to halt the more obvious erosions, what wants to grow there likely will eventually colonize and thrive

      I’ll offer three brief scenarios:

      Several years ago I was looking at farmland to buy. One place I looked at was quite bare in late spring, with gullies, serious rocky gullies, running through it more than 3 feet deep. To begin regeneration of such a place I might throw down a mix of perennials and annuals along with a good compost both before and after the seeding.

      Scenario 2- I have an acquaintance who just bought some land, also 100 acres. Her 100 acres is mountainside with less than 5% tillable. Her options to raise crops are limited.

      Scenario 3- Here on my small stead in NY we have Honeysuckle, which I’ve recently learned is an invasive. No critter here keeps it in check but me, though it’s an understory woods edge plant. Should I launch on a campaign to uproot all the shrubs?

      I’ll bet that none of these describe your 100 acres, so let the land speak to you, let it tell you what it wants. Ya might want to tweak the ecosystem you have there, maybe introduce some mycorrhizal fungi, maybe pull a few invasives

      As to the autism of your son; I happen to be somewhat autistic myself and know better than to speak for such a person. There’s a broad range of people of the spectrum, broad, wide, and dare I say with depths, too. A long story made short is that I can’t answer to your concerns for your son but can advise generally to allow him to express.

      Ya, Rodale has done some good work here, and it’s important work. We should spread it, pass it ‘round, and make it understood as best we can.

  3. Donna Napoli

    Thanks for sharing this hooeful information. I am so glad that calm intelligent minds are working on solutions to what for a ling timed may have seemed hopeless situation. Much gratitude and appreciation.

  4. Lisa Scott

    Hi, I like where you’re going with this but can you dumb it down for me? I.e. Plant xyz, abc, in winter, compost it back into the soil, plant crops lkj, iyt, in Summer, compost it back into the soil. Add eggshells and coffee grounds, something like that that I ( and others) can follow easily…

    • V.T.Sundaramurthy

      Dear Sir
      It is interesting one under the present situation.In this context I wish to bring to your kind notice that the cow manure has reported to be a carrier of several antibiotic resistant Genes which may get into our system through HGT processes .I think that your institute should help us on how to get rid off such genes.Will Bio Char help in this
      Dr.V.T. Sundaramurthy(India)

  5. Karen Stark

    This just strenghth my belief that the farms in Commonwealth of PA can be the leaders in this movement and become the thriving breadbasket of the East. Transistioning to organic would make The Commonwealth one of the stongest farming economy in the United State and preserve our land for the future generation to thrive.

  6. camarosspr

    Using animal manure from big agro chickens and cattle makes organic products senseless. Their manure is as toxic as the food and drugs being used on them. I use organic produce but Im not sure if its really any diferent from big agro.

  7. camarosspr

    Also most non-gmo produce is not really the original food. Like wheat it has been hybridized.

  8. Lon Erickson

    Answer to Frank McQuoid. In the mid 70’s I happened to read a magazine published by Rodale called Organic Gardening. One article was on controlling insect pests. It called for onions and garlic to be put in a blender, chopped and then water added, as I recall. I never did use that recipe, but now that I live in a jungle I have serious problems with pests, especially ants. That recipe, to which I have added chili peppers, works wonders. Give it a try, use a spray bottle, but, of course, filter the chunks out first and bury the chunks in the worst insect spot (or compost it).

    • Arturo Vélez

      @Lon: add a small branch of fresh tomato and some detergent as fixer and it’ll work better and longer

  9. Eva

    Google could not find the Carbon Underground non-profit. Do you have a link to it?

  10. Iris

    bountiful gardens and ecology actions are doing great things around the planet. “Ecology Action teaches people worldwide to better feed themselves while building and preserving the soil and conserving resources.”
    check them out!

  11. Brandon

    It is time to do this! And I was talking to someone who believes in climate change, but not organic practices…

  12. Erich J. Knight

    Soil Carbon is the asset from which all else we do are the dividends! There are many ways & best Ag practices to skin this Carbon Cat.

    For a complete review of the current science & industry applications of Biochar please see my 2014 Soil Science Society of America Biochar presentation. How thermal conversion technologies can integrate and optimize the recycling of valuable nutrients while providing energy and building soil carbon, I believe it brings together both sides of climate beliefs.
    A reconciling of both Gods’ and mans’ controlling hands.

    Agricultural Geo – Engineering; Past, Present & Future
    Across scientific disciplines carbons are finding new utility to solve our most vexing problems

    2014 SSSA Presentation;
    Agricultural Geo-Engineering; Past, Present & Future.

  13. Jerome F. Smith

    An important question to consider; Have we already passed the tipping point? The root of the problem is twofold; the bottom line greed of Corporate farming and overpopulation. University level Ag education needs to be completely reorientated as well so that future farmers have the tools they need.

    These challenges must be met on a worldwide level, beginning at home is only a good start. It would be nice if America could be a good example to the world once again.


  14. Anne Meloy

    I’ve read the paper on Regenerative Organic Agriculture and agree that it has the potential it suggests. It seems to me it is lacking a very important concept that may keep it from reaching that potential. That concept is the soil microbiological importance to the process. The photosynthesis process will not happen without a balanced soil microbiology. We must stop the things we did in the past to remove the soil microbiology and stopped the natural processes, such as photosynthesis. Major removal of aerobic (beneficial) microbes are caused by fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, etc.

    The common factor in sustainable agriculture practices, such as No-till, cover cropping, multiple cropping etc. is that they put the microbiology back into the soil. The first thing these poor microbes have to do is remove the toxins we have put into the soil before they can do their own job of providing the nutrients the plants need, control pests, prevent disease and manage weeds.

    When we understand the role of the soil microbiology, we will not continue to contaminate our soil, water and air.

  15. based business

    Hi everybody, here every one is sharing these experience,
    therefore it’s good to read this web site, and I
    used to visit this website everyday.

  16. Floy

    Hello! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your
    posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

  17. Fink Markus

    Was ist regenerative Landwirtschaft auf Deutsch beschrieben?


    There is a technology for massive planetary geo-engineering that is tried and tested and available for widespread dissemination right now.

  19. Mary

    Our government is nothing more than a dysfunctional corporation. American citizens deserve a future that is healthy and livable, as does the world. A class action lawsuit is needed, to redirect resources to proven biorational approaches. We don’t need to create hell on earth!


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