Curated top stories in Regenerative Agriculture, Business, and Investing • ethansoloviev.com
The Future of Carbon Measurement, Regenerative Meat, Australia Rising
Want to hear the audio highlights of this month’s news? Check out a new joint venture between Koen van Seijen and Ethan Soloviev, the Regeneration Newsroom Podcast!
Epic: First product with ecologically regenerative meat hits the market. As I covered last month, Savory Institute has been hard at work for 2 years prototyping it’s Land-to-Market™ verification program in close collaboration with hand-selected brands. Now you can taste the results. Link
“Turning around 4 disastrous years with regenerative agriculture” – Dakota Farmer. Have I mentioned how important it is that folks are reading this in the Dakota Farmer? Link
Gabe Brown’s book Dirt to Soil released! Koen and I discuss it at the end of our Regeneration Newsroom Podcast if you want a sneak preview. Link
As I discussed last month, one strain of regenerative agriculture is quickly spreading in mainstream US farming circles. Want more evidence? Just head on over to the Beef Daily column in Beef Magazine, “Did grandpa have a better way?” Link
Trio of stories on regenerative agriculture in Australia:
1. The Guardian continues its excellent coverage on regenerative agriculture, this time focusing on the potential for Australia. Interesting focus on education and removing vested interests from the industry. “If we don’t go to regenerative agriculture, we will continue to mine soils, particularly of carbon. This is the great loss and it is not being admitted. If you continue to mine carbon, you are shot” Link
2. Restore the Soil, Prosper the Nation. Big-thinking policy paper from the former governor general of Australia. Link
3. Soils for Life Case Study: “Returns in excess of 8% on capital invested per year” on 8900 hectares. Very interesting investment & land acquisition model with a real focus on profit & impact. Link
To round these out, see the recent review paper “Conservation and Regenerative versus Intensive Agriculture” from Future Directions International. While overall the positive and research-directed tone is welcome, the author confuses regenerative and conservation agriculture, citing the paper I covered in August with terrible methodology for defining “regenerative”. Worth a quick skim, though nothing revolutionary here. Link
Very Important: This is the future of carbon measurement. Instead of expensive & slow soil testing, simple reflectometers measure soil carbon based on how dark a soil is. Eventually these will embedded in IoT sensors for real-time data streams. Several outfits are working on this, I like the tone and open source hardware approach of Quick Carbon. Link.
Supermarkets, microorganism trade systems, and super-high-phenolic olive oil. All from… Cyprus? Link and here’s the farm itself Link
This young australian farmer won an award for no-till grain growing, inspired by regen ag principles. Link
Australia: The State of Global Food Security and Implications for Rural Communities. Nice tight summary of the global food security landscape with good references. Link
Apparently, the big General Mills / Gunsmoke project will train young farmers and… robots? Link
Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees every time you search, shares its thinking on regenerative agriculture. Basic, but good. Link
From Andre Leu and the good folks at Regeneration International: “Reversing Climate Change through Regenerative Agriculture.” Good general article, summarizes climate change logic and makes some rather remarkable claims of what soil carbon sequestration can achieve. Main tools listed are composting and grazing; I think de-emphasizing agroforestry like this is a mistake. Link [photo available]
Candidate running with regenerative agriculture as part of their platform. Small-scale politics, but expect to see more of this. Link
Cute little Forbes/Quora mashup: how regenerative agriculture can improve meat. Link
Great in-depth article on the first new perennial starch crop – Kernza. High Plains Journal article highlights some of the real challenges with scaling up supply, especially in the face of skyrocketing demand (which I discuss at length on this podcast). Link
Soil and Seaweed: Farming Our Wayto a Climate Solution on Scientific American. I wish I could post more about regenerative oceans – the potential is HUGE, but so few folks are working on it. Good intro here. More context over at OceanCollectiv, and amazing work on 3D ocean farming at GreenWave.
“I began questioning if I was a farmer, or a mere pawn for Big Agriculture” – Part of a great article on farmer Luke Peterson of Minnesota. He offers up my favorite quote of the month:
“So what is regenerative agriculture? Though he can easily illustrate the practices and goals, Peterson is reticent “to try to define regenerative agriculture because it’s a way of thinking that is creative, expansive, holistic, open and alive,” he says. “I’m afraid that once we think we have it defined, it will be limited or compartmentalized.”
In contrast, from Alberta, here’s an article on a 2,000-acre farmer who gives a (common) mis-definition of Regen Ag that does not actually describe regeneration: “We’re trying to practise what we would call regenerative agriculture — trying to build a profitable, resilient system that’s maintaining a good level of production while reducing the amount of inputs we’re relying on.” Reducing inputs does not equal regenerative. That said, there are some tactical intercropping gems in here. Link
I love the fiery political commentary coming out of Australia. “The froth and bubble buffoonery of political opportunity… suggests that the National Drought Summit will be largely a waste of time and result in…” Regenerative agriculture?!? Link
Third General Assembly of Regeneration International happened in India. Doesn’t sound like a lot happened? And the organization’s newly clarified mission is to promote organic agriculture? Link
I think the nascent inclusion of regeneratively produced ingredients into health & beauty products is incredibly important. See short interview with the folks at Kaibae over at Beauty Independent – Link
Videos & Podcasts
“A Regenerative Secret” – New mini-film by Kiss the Ground, focused on the science and practice of regenerative grazing on Joyce Farms. Awesome drone shots of rotating cattle, those alone make this excellent 8 minutes worth watching. [screenshot]
What do Baobab, Seaweed, and Cacay have in common? Check out Lost Crops – The Documentary. In just 14 minutes you can see beautiful and important footage from Ghana to Colombia touching the community economic empowerment potential of regenerative agriculture and mariculture. Link
Cute but strange video from Patagonia Provisions. I find it a bit heavy-handed and fear-driven despite the regenerative agriculture message and digitized watercolor. This video is not going to get any large-scale farmers I know to change their practices. What do you think? Link
This farmer’s got 23 more inches of topsoil than his neighbor. From John Kempf, an interview with Gabe Brown. Link
“The Next Frontier in Regenerative Agriculture & the Power of Stories” – Poultry-centric pioneer and Ashoka Fellow Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin offers great insights on his Regenerative Agriculture work. Link
(Top podcast this month) Investing in Regenerative Agriculture – Koen van Seijen covers a new $30 million fund creator Victor Friedberg of FoodShots Global. Their first focus? Soil. – Link
AFR100: The African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative aims to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030. Excellent project. Link
California indigenous groups’ revive their fire and agroforestry traditions, upending years of ill-conceived management practices. Yurok and Karuk peoples are collaborating with California and US Forest Service to restore 5,700 square kilometers. Great article. Link
Sweet little Forbes interview with Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, 2018 Ashoka Fellow and creator of the “Tree-Range™” regenerative farming model. Link
Agroforestry gaining traction among mainstream timberland investors. First of its kind Report from leading forest products advisor RISI. Link
Free book from the World Agroforestry Centre on Climate Smart Landscapes. 445 Pages of multifunctional agroforestry in practice. Great academic resource with some fascinating practical details from around the world. Link
Business & Policy
First in the US Carbon Fee – $15 per metric ton of carbon emitted, increasing by $2 per year. Could raise $2.3 billion for clean energy investment and other carbon-reduction measures. – Link
Corporate Carbon: This Australian organization has developed over 100 projects focusing on building soil organic matter. Though it looks like a journal article, this is an interview with the founder – fascinating. Link
This Bangalore-based business just won a Goldman Sachs and Fortune Global Women Leaders Award for making a turning a farming video game into real life. Link
Important Event: The Regenerative Earth Summit is in less than 3 weeks. Leading businesses like Patagonia, North Face, Danone, Epic, Kashi, Lotus Foods come together with the the worlds 5th-largest commodities trader (Bunge), indigenous leader Winona LaDuke, regenerative ag pioneers (Fibershed, Savory Institute, Rodale Institute) and many more! I’ll be speaking on the panel “Growing Traceability and Transparency”. I look forward to seeing you there! Link
Ethan Soloviev’s big-picture interpretation of this month’s news:
As Koen van Seijen and I discuss in our audio highlights, the key trend to watch this month is the role of media in shaping public perception of regenerative agriculture.
With the quickly-growing number of consumer products making “regenerative” claims (see Epic’s product this month, North Face’s last month), more and more people will be looking or bite-sized information in the form of Youtube videos and Text/Image Memes.
Kiss the Ground is at the forefront of this media wave, consistently releasing high-quality and easy-to-digest documentary- and explainer-type videos.
But expect to see larger players with their own particular interests getting into the media game as well. See for example this meme produced (apparently) by General Mills earlier this year… look familiar?
The vast majority of General Mills’ products still come from farms that look like the one on the left. And “protect soil” comes from the Conservative agriculture paradigm, but is masquerading here as regenerative (I’ll write more about the distinctions in an upcoming paper).
Don’t get me wrong – I am overjoyed that General Mills (and soon, I predict) other large agriculture players are beginning to shift their paradigm towards regeneration. I just hope they can help uphold and evolve the integrity of a truly regenerative agriculture, instead of degrading it in their bid to profit from this year’s regenerative hype.
– Ethan Soloviev
Questions? Comments? Leave it below or send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. Two books I’m excited to read: Gary Paul Nabhan’s Mesquite: An Arboreal Love Affair and Leah Penniman’s Farming While Black. Have you read them?
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