Adoption of Regenerative Agriculture increases the resilience of farms, both economic and environmental
Regenerative agriculture represents a broad set of practices that seeks to promote soil health and enhance the biological resources of the soil while minimizing outside input (like fertilizer and pesticides).
Key elements in successful regenerative agriculture practices are:
"1. By promoting soil biology and organic matter and biodiversity on their farms, regenerative farmers required fewer costly inputs like insecticides and fertilizers, and managed their pest populations more effectively.
2. Soil organic matter was a more important driver of proximate farm profitability than yields were, in part because the regenerative farms marketed their products differently or had a diversified income stream from a single field." (LaCanne, 2018)
Regenerative agriculture does come with some challenges: it typically requires diverse crops, complicating farm and crop maintenance, and usually combines crop and livestock production. Therefore, it requires a better educated and trained workforce and more extensive mechanization, which can be an obstacle for small farmers. This is why widespread adoption of regenerative agriculture requires institutional support.
A recent study investigating the resilience of Romanian rural communities and areas and the factors contributing to it highlighted the importance of CAP funding to improve the economic resilience of Romanian farms and the importance of diversification as the means to further improve their resilience (Galluzzo, 2020a):
"Romanian rural territories consist mostly of small farms grouped, due to their modest land capital endowment, predominately in the clusters of semi-subsistence and subsistence enterprises which are strongly sensitive and dependent to the payments and financial subsidies disbursed by the second pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy....
Stimulating the diversification in the path of the multifunctionality by the second pillar of the CAP towards rural areas some measures of the National Rural Development Programme (NRDP) have been a milestone in the process of transition from a productivism model to a post-productivism model. This has implied a new sense of land capital use, more integrated and holistic than before, emphasizing the role of farmers in the provision of environmental services and activities in rural areas as a whole...
The study of the resilience of Romanian rural areas has found the positive role of financial subsidies allocated by national and European authorities in strengthening the resilience in Romanian rural areas. The social capital, in terms of the generation of a cooperative environment, has had a positive impact in stimulating the resilience in rural territories which has been particularly sensitive to emigration. Different level of resilience has been correlated to adequate levels of social capital and other social aspects able to catalyze the growth in rural territories corroborating outcomes investigated during economic crises in some European countries by Anthopoulou et al. (Anthopoulou, 2017)"
Several recent studies have demonstrated the economic viability and benefits of regenerative agriculture. They compared crop yields, input costs, and net returns of regenerative and conventional farms (Alâ?Kaisi, 2020). There is relatively little difference in crop yields because regenerative farms produce 90-102% of the crop yield of conventional farms (He, 2019; Alâ?Kaisi, 2015; Alâ?Kaisi, 2016; Acar, 2017; Huang, 2011). However, the input costs of regenerative farms are around 10% lower (Alâ?Kaisi, 2015; Alâ?Kaisi, 2016), resulting in net returns of 90-105% of conventional farms (Alâ?Kaisi, 2015; Alâ?Kaisi, 2016). Crucially, these studies did not look at diversified production, but at monoculture crop production, which is typical for conventional, but not for regenerative farms. Although this created a good like-for-like comparison, it removed several important advantages of regenerative farming.
A different study suggested that regenerative fields can generate as much as double the profit as conventional monoculture fields (LaCanne, 2018). This study compared diversified regenerative farm production with conventional monoculture farming. Increased revenue of regenerative farms comes primarily from integrating livestock with agricultural production. Cost reduction was achieved by reduced tillage, fertilizer, and pesticide use, and utilization of cover crops to suppress weeds and provide soil fertilization. Corn yields on regenerative farms were around 29% lower. However, their diversified production provided around 20% higher revenue, and 78% higher profits. The added benefit of diversified production and lower outside inputs is to make regenerative farms more resilient.
Eastern European Institute for Trade