In my last article, I discussed the health and environmental impact of soil nutrition depletion and the problems with industrial agriculture and modern farming practices. There are certainly a lot of big issues with industrial agriculture, so it’s time to talk about solutions! Regenerative agriculture is designed to support soil regeneration, food quality, biodiversity, and our environment. Today I want to discuss the importance of regenerative agriculture and some of its main principles. Let’s get into it.


Soil Regeneration Agriculture

What Is Regenerative Agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture has a holistic, system-based, and natural approach to land stewardship and farming. The goal is to create high-quality soil that helps to improve the productivity and biodiversity of our crops. Regenerative agriculture appreciates that a critical component of healthy soil is organic matter, which is made up of anything alive or was once alive in the soil, including earthworms, microbes, and roots of our plants (1).

By improving soil organic matter quality, regenerative agriculture may help to reduce or end soil erosion. It helps to improve soil nutrient content, water infiltration, water retention, crop yield, plant health, crop resilience, the nutrition content of plants, and more. It helps to deposit carbon into our soil instead of releasing it into our atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gasses and climate change.


Natural rural agricultural organic farm

Regenerative Farming vs Conventional Farming

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), conventional agriculture is defined as “the use of seeds that have been genetically altered using a variety of traditional breeding methods, excluding biotechnology, and are not certified as organic” (2).

They described organic farming as “the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity” (3). The USDA Organic Certification has increased the need for organic food and widened organic sales in all food categories.

Regenerative farming practices go a step beyond simply organic farming. Their focus is not only on decreasing pesticide and chemical use and creating more nutritious food. Restoring our soils and reducing climate change are among their goals. Though there is currently no certification for regenerative farming practices, there is a Regenerative Organic Certification™ in progress, which you may read more about here.


Soil Regeneration Organic vegetables

The Positive Impact of Regenerative Agriculture

In my last article, I discussed the problems with industrial agriculture and soil nutrient depletion.  Industrial agriculture and modern farming practices have stripped our soil from organic matter, leading to soil erosion, soil nutrient depletion, loss of biodiversity of our crops, less nutrients in our food, more carbon in our atmosphere, loss of grasslands, more flooding, more droughts, and other issues. These are long-term consequences that are highly troubling.

The goal of regenerative agriculture is to reduce these problems and create better soil and better food. This has a positive impact on our farmers, the environment, and, of course, our health.


The Impact of Regenerative Agriculture on Our Farmers

Most of our farms in the United States face drought, flooding, and other weather extremes related to climate change every year, leading to crop loss. Conventional farmers try to mitigate these issues and improve their yield by buying expensive and strong synthetic fertilizers and other chemicals. As you know, in the long run, these chemical-filled, unnatural systems fail our soil and our health (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Embracing regenerative agriculture practices could support our farms and farmers in the long run. These practices may help to reduce soil erosion, improve and build topsoil, improve yield, and improve yield quality (10, 11). By not having to spend on expensive synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals, they could save money. Reducing tillage and other practices could also save money on expensive equipment.

By embracing biodiversity, they could grow different types of foods. A healthier soil could infiltrate and store more water, supporting crops during droughts. And by growing more nutritious plants, farmers could feel good about providing healthy options to their families and community (12, 13).


The Impact of Regenerative Agriculture on Our Environment

In my other article, I discussed the detrimental effects of industrial agriculture on our ecosystem and environment. Contrarily to modern farming practices, regenerative agriculture aims to support nature’s natural processes using both indigenous wisdom and science to ensure healthy, nutrient-rich soil and decrease greenhouse gasses (14, 15).


The Impact of Regenerative Agriculture on Our Food and Health

The main aim of regenerative agriculture is healthy soil. Nutrient-rich soil is the ideal base for growing nutrient-dense food (10, 11). Increasing biodiversity and rotating crops allows farmers to grow a variety of foods. Accessing and eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods means better health.

Regenerative agriculture also uses grazing animals. The manure from these grazing animals feed the soil and in return, nutritious grass grown in healthy soil feeds our cows and other ruminants. Well-fed and well-treated animals allow us to access nutritious, clean animal protein (16).


Soil Regeneration

Regenerative Agriculture Practices

Regenerative agriculture practices may vary by region, context, the food that’s being grown, and culture. Farmers are in touch with their land’s story and work to make the best decisions in line with nature.

Though practices may vary from farm to farm, there are some general regenerative agricultural practices that serve as a guide. Let’s look at these regenerative agricultural practices.


Compost is organic matter used as a fertilizer. In the United States and much of the Western world, we waste so much food. In the US alone, only about 4.1% of food waste is composted, and the rest goes to landfills (17). Yet, these mineral-rich food materials could be composted to improve our soil. Just a single application of compost may help to increase the net primary productivity (NPP). NPP is “the amount of biomass or carbon produced by primary producers per unit area and time, obtained by subtracting plant respiratory costs (Rp) from gross primary productivity (GPP) or total photosynthesis” (18). That’s a very complex way of saying that compost boosts how much carbon is consumed by Earth’s vegetation! Composting may support the health and nutrient content of the soil, lead to healthier crops, increase the resistance to disease and pests, improve carbon storage, and benefit our ecosystem (19).


Going without Pesticides, Herbicides, and Fungicides

Industrial agriculture heavily relies on synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to fight pathogens and diseases. Unfortunately, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides not only kill pathogens but also beneficial microbes, thus disrupting soil and plant health and making them more vulnerable to disease. Over time, crops can become resistant to these chemicals and require stronger and stronger products. Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides can also harm soil and crop health and impact your health when you are eating non-organic food (20, 21, 22, 23).

Regenerative agriculture practices aim to minimize and, ideally, completely eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. The goal is to support microbial biodiversity within the soils. If the soil and the plants are healthy, they will be more resistant to insects, fungi, and pests, significantly decreasing the risk of disease and crop loss without relying on chemicals.


Crop Rotation

Industrial agriculture uses monocropping. They plant the same crop year after year in the same area without any rotation or other changes. This can not only disrupt soil health and reduce the nutrient content of the soil, but it may make the crops more vulnerable to pests and diseases (24, 25, 26).

Regenerative agriculture uses crop rotation instead, which may help to nourish the soil. It can help to reduce soil erosion, return organic matter to the soil, and replenish nutrient levels for next year’s crops.

Besides rotating where each crop is planted each year, they also grow cover crops to nourish the soil. If you think about it, the soil is rarely bare in nature. There is usually grass flower, or other plants growing, or leaves, wood, and other dead organic material covering the area. Cover  crops help to provide vital nutrients to the soil and microorganism living within it through plant exudates. Some examples of cover crops include mustard, clovers, alfalfa, rye, cereals, buckwheat, cowpeas, brassicas, radish, peas, vetch, Sudan grass, and Austrian winter peas. Cover crops may help to protect the soil from erosion and promote a healthy soil ecosystem, improve soil fertility, enhance the food chain, and support the growth of nutritious food (27, 28).



Tillage refers to the mechanical modification of soil structure. It may include cutting, crushing, milling, breathing, rebounding, and other tillage tools to modify soil structure, flatten the land, remove crop residue, control weeds, and mix up the topsoil. Industrial agriculture heavily relies on tilling.

Tilling the soil disrupts the soil structure and organic matter. This can expose the organic matter to oxygen, causing oxidation. The carbon in the organic matter will combine with oxygen forming carbon dioxide (CO2), which is then released into the atmosphere disrupting the natural ecosystem (29, 30, 31).

In the ideal world, regenerative agriculture practices a no-till approach. However, for starting out, during a transitional phase, minimal tillage or ‘low-till’ approaches are used until a completely no-till practice is possible. Many farmers may use one-time tillage even, such as plowing only once to break up the resistant hardpan. After years of practicing minimal tilling, they may be able to transition to no-tilling (32).



Even though livestock takes up a huge portion of our agricultural land and our food production, they are not being utilized or taken care of properly. Industrial agriculture nearly eliminated grazing practices. When used, it is only used minimally and not properly. In conventional farming, grazing takes place in a fenced off area of the land. Cows, sheep, and goats can graze as they please in the same area of land. Farmlands are left with only annual plants that will impact soil biodiversity, soil nutrient content, and plant growth (33, 34, 35, 36).

Regenerative agriculture aims to replicate nature. In nature, large herds of animals moved around areas grazing without revising the same plot of land twice. Of course, this is impossible to replicate completely. Farmers only have so much land, and animals don’t move around freely anymore on our planet for the most part. Some wild herds may graze in the same areas within their herd territory. However, they naturally rotate areas. This is easier to replicate, though farmers usually have a much smaller land to work with than a wild herd’s natural territory.

Instead, regenerative farmers fence up a smaller section of the land. They allow their animals to go graze, leave manure, break up the soil crust, distribute seed, and improve soil health. Then they fence up another area of the land and have their animals graze there. They don’t allow their animals to return to the same area for a while until the grasses return to a normal length. In regenerative agriculture, farmers also don’t tend to use dewormers, antibiotics, and hormones, and animals are grass-fed outside in nature instead of being fed on grains.

This means that regeneratively grazed animals are healthier than the ones at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)  and conventional farms. They leave healthier manure to feed our soil, helping the growth of nutrient-dense plant food. They also provide healthier meat and animal products on our plates (37, 38, 39).



Agroforestry is the intentional integration of trees, shrubs, forage crops, pasture, and animal farming systems for environmental, economic, and social benefits. Pastures that incorporate trees may capture and store 5 to 10 times more carbon in both biomass and soil in comparison to treeless operations of equivalent size. Having trees may help to reduce soil erosion and water loss. Trees may help to sustain soil biodiversity and improve food quality (40, 41).

There are several agroforestry farming systems. Alley cropping means that farmers plant crops between trees to produce vegetables, fruits, herbs, grains, flowers, and more. Intercropping is similar to alley cropping, but trees and crops are not arranged in alleys and rows. Forest farming or multi-story cropping grows crops, including food, herbal, botanical, and decorative plants, under the shade of a forest canopy.



It is a form of agroforestry and it goes a few steps further than just grazing. Silvopasture practices integrate both grazing livestock and trees into their farming activity. Silvopasture systems are used both for food and forest products. They focus on rotational grazing, native pasture grasses, fertilization, and nitrogen-fixing legumes to support plant growth and maximize harvest. Silvopasture needs careful planning to support long-term tree regeneration (42).

Livestock on silvopasture farms may include a long list of animals, including chicken, turkey, quail, emu, ostriches, and even game animals, such as deer, elk, or bison. Silvopasture systems may help to decrease heat stress in animals and improve their performance and well-being (43). Silvopasture may help to increase wildlife diversity, improve water quality, decrease water and wind erosion, improve organic matter and nutrient content in the soil, and improve food quality. They are also beautiful! (42).



Permaculture and agroforestry have certain similarities but also have some main differences. It makes decisions based on environmental observations and ideas. The goal is to nurture the relationship between the land and its people. Agroforestry uses scientific practices and aims for environmental and financial goals (42, 43).

The differences in these principles can lead to somewhat different planning and management decisions and food forest design approaches. Permaculture emphasizes the relationship and interdependence of plants and their resources, including the interaction between soil and plants. It also supports soil regeneration, soil nutrition content, and nutritious food.


Woman shopping at organic store

How to Support the Regenerative Agricultural Movement

I bet you feel inspired to support soil regeneration and regenerative agriculture. You want to be part of the change. But what can you do if you are not a farmer? Here are some tips:

  • Education: Just by reading this article, you’ve taken some steps to understand regenerative agriculture. Why not help others to learn more? Send this article and my other article on soil nutrient depletion to your friends and family to help them learn more too.
  • Become a conscious customer: Visit your local farmer’s market and farm stands. Talk to them about their practices and the challenges they are facing. Support those farmers that are taking steps for better soil health and improved nutrition.
  • Start composting: Even if you are living in a city in an apartment without your own garden, you can start composting. Many cities offer compost pickups or drop-off points. If you have your own garden, composting can add value to your own little garden patch.
  • Try growing your own food: If you have the opportunity, try growing your own food. Many cities and towns offer community gardens for those that don’t have enough space. Practice regenerative agriculture principles when growing your own produce. Even if you don’t have a big garden space, you can start with just a few vegetables, such as cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce, in some containers. I recommend adding some flowers to attract pollinators.
  • Learn more about agricultural policy: Agricultural policy plays a significant role in the trajectory of farming practices. The Farm Bill, which governs much of the food and agriculture system in the US, holds the keys to the changes we need. If you understand the agricultural policy better, you can vote and support petitions or campaigns accordingly.


Woman working in her vegetable garden


To learn more about regeneration farming and soil regeneration, I recommend visiting:

I actually had the opportunity to meet and interview Regnerative farmer Shane New and my colleague, Dr Jessica Tran interviewed Dr. Allen Williams at Expo West in Anaheim, CA last year.


Buy Animal Products from the Rights Sources

I recommend getting your animal products from White Oaks Pastures. They are a multigenerational farm that practices regenerative agriculture principles. You can be sure that you will have grass-fed meat and pasture-raised poultry on your table to protect your health — and our planet.


Organic vegetables on sale at farmers market

Next Steps

If you want to improve your health, I welcome you to schedule a functional nutrition consultation with my nutritionist, Sarah. Visit our store for products.

And stay tuned for more information to help you uncover the root cause of your health issues, improve your nutrition, repair your body, and regain your health naturally.

You can schedule your consultation with Sarah here.