Regenerative agriculture gives poultry producers and processors the chance to decide how to approach sustainability.
“One of the key things about regenerative agriculture is that it focuses on outcomes, such as farmer profitability or the amount of water used as opposed to practices,” explained Ethan Soloviev, Chief Innovation Officer, HowGood.
“Farmers are brilliant innovators. It leaves it to them to figure out how they are going to get there.”
Advocates of regenerative agriculture define it as a set of farming and grazing practices that help to reverse climate change through the rebuilding of soil organic matter and the restorage of soil biodiversity.
Eight science-based sustainability indicators
A new framework for regenerative agriculture lays out a set of eight science-based sustainability indicators that farmers can focus on:
- Soil organic carbon content
- Blue water withdrawals
- Pesticide usage
- Fertilizer usage
- Farmer household annual income
- Key social indicators for farm community
- Percentage of natural habitats
- Number of crops per hectare per crop cycle
“Each farm is unique. Each farmer is unique. Each market and industry is unique,” Soleviev said. “So there’s a way in which each industry gets to figure out what’s best for them. I think that’s part of why regenerative agriculture is growing so quickly. It’s not prescriptive. It doesn’t say here are the things you have to do. It says: Here are the goals. How are you going to do them?”
This allows poultry farmers to determine the best goals for their farm, their management and their market. For example, members of the poultry industry could choose to focus on improving the sustainability of feed production or on creating natural environments for wildlife outside of poultry houses, without sacrificing economic livelihood
“The idea here is that you can’t have sustainability if you don’t have an economic livelihood for farmers and their families,” he added.
Led by farmers
In comparison to other production practices – like organic – where the movement is consumer led, regenerative agriculture is driven by farmers and corporations.
“We have some of the biggest food companies in the world committing to regenerative agriculture,” Soloviev said. “There are many farmers in the U.S. who have adopted regenerative agriculture principles and found it extremely useful and profitable for them because of decreased input costs and increases in popularity.”
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