The drought monitor report as of Tuesday, July 11, is essentially unchanged since last week for our area. Remember this doesn’t include anything from Tuesday on. The western third of the state has seen the greatest improvement and Northeast Kansas is backsliding a bit. The six to 10-day outlook (July 18 to 22) indicates a 50 to 60% chance of leaning above normal for temperatures and a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to above normal precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (July 20 to 26) indicates normal to a 33 to 40% chance of leaning to above normal temperatures and the same for precipitation. The above normal temperatures don’t bode well, especially if the area doesn’t receive moisture. Hopefully, most corn will be pollinated by then.
There are many hot button issues in agriculture: climate change. input and output prices, environmental concerns, GMOs, pesticides, protecting pollinators, labor shortages, organic agriculture, and so on. There are many new ideas and solutions out there. Over the last 50 or so years, the agricultural community has focused on finding ways to protect soils and the overall environment while increasing production to feed an ever-increasing world population. There have been many approaches from conservation tillage to genetic engineering. With the climate challenges agriculture faces, there is renewed focus on what can be done to mitigate the climate challenge for production. The newest of these, while also being older than we realize, is regenerative agriculture. If you are a producer the concept is being promoted everywhere. The NRDC and various companies/organizations are working to promote and implement the concept. But what is regenerative agriculture?
There are several definitions of regenerative agriculture but they all revolve around these principles:
• A holistic approach to the entire ecosystem. Land is a dynamic system and all aspects of it, from the microbes to plants and the soil from its chemical composition to organic matter levels. It recognizes that all are interconnected and vital for the overall health of the land and for food, fiber, and fuel production.
• The overall concept is to regenerate, or restore/improve, soil health and to improve the entire ecosystem. This will benefit not only agricultural land but all land and improve the quality of life for everyone.
• Another key concept is there is no one plan to achieve this goal but the practices implemented must be tailored to the specific environment.
• It is also a philosophy. One that seeks to work with and not against the environment and climate. The theory is if you do this, you can improve the land, all land whether agricultural or not while maintaining/improving productivity. • The result should be a more resilient environment better able to bounce back from severe disturbances while minimizing the reliance on synthetic inputs.
• Finally, a few key aims include improving soil physical, chemical, and biological health; decrease soil erosion, increase biodiversity; decrease surface and groundwater pollution. And at the same time improve individual and regional economies and quality of life.
Next week: how this can be done.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.