Perhaps the greatest joy of working in a branding agency is that every week someone or something new walks through our door. It’s the chance to discover new industries, new ideas, and new ways of thinking. In so many ways its a way to regenerate our own process and direction, reset and reframe the way we work.
So its been fascinating to turn our attention to Regenerative agriculture with a number of interesting projects in our sights.
To learn more we visited Groundswell in Hertfordshire, “a forum for farmers, growers, or anyone interested in food production and the environment to learn about the theory and practical applications of regenerative farming systems.”
Regenerative agriculture is a new way of thinking and farming, that as the name suggests aims to regenerate the soil and the environment that utilise the land to grow and harvest food.
It utilises not only new discoveries in agro biology, and our understanding of how life below the surface of the soil operates, but taps into some traditional, forgotten methods of farming.
There are some very simple guiding principles we learnt at Groundswell, that are easy to understand and feel quite obvious once they are explained.
1. Don’t disturb the soil.
Soil supports a complex network of worm-holes, fungal threads and a labyrinth of microscopic air pockets surrounded by aggregates of soil particles. Disturbing this, by ploughing or heavy doses of fertiliser or sprays will set the system back.
2. Keep the soil surface covered.
The impact of rain drops or burning rays of sun or frost can all harm the soil. A duvet of growing crops, or stubble residues, will protect it.
3. Keep living roots in the soil.
Keeping living roots in the soil are vital for feeding the creatures at the base of the soil food web; the bacteria and fungi that provide food for the protozoa, arthropods and higher creatures further up the chain. This can be done with the planting of perenial rather than annual crops.
4. Grow a diverse range of crops.
Ideally at the same time, like in a meadow. Monocultures do not happen in nature and our soil creatures thrive on variety. Companion cropping (two crops are grown at once and separated after harvest) can be successful. Cover cropping, (growing a crop which is not taken to harvest but helps protect and feed the soil) will also have the happy effect of capturing sunlight and feeding that energy to the subterranean world, at a time when traditionally the land would have been bare.