Regenerative Agriculture

On this page..

  1. Reminder – the soils are dying – a video recap.
  2. So agriculture should regenerate, not destroy.
  3. The ULTIMATE FOOD – Precision Fermentation!
  4. Next backup food tech – Seaweed can feed the world!
  5. Proven old tech – like no-till.
  6. Perennials
  7. Biochar
  8. Other protein:-
  9. Impossible burgers — yummy veggie burgers
  10. Better aquaculture
  11. ‘Chicken nuggets’ — from insects!?
  12. Food from deserts – seawater greenhouses in deserts!
  13. When you just have to have a real steak
  14. Re-wilding — overworked lands returned to nature

Now – back to the land.

1. Reminder – the soils are dying – a video recap.

2. So agriculture should regenerate, not destroy

Under “Danger ahead” we saw that yesterday’s industrial agriculture kills the soil. Deep tilling burns through it like a bushfire through the soil. But worse, we’ve created a one-way nutrient flow of NPK fertilisers from the farm to the city and down the toilet out to sea.  The world is currently losing 100,000km2 of arable land a year!  How do we stop our soils drying up and blowing away? How do we reverse that one way nutrient flow? And could we feed the human race without even using any farmland in the first place?

3. The ULTIMATE FOOD – Precision Fermentation!

This next technology is coming soon. I normally like to recommend proven technology. But this is so amazing and the developments and cost curves so unstoppable I’m fairly confident this is going to be the most important sustainble technology since solar panels and wind tubines.

Why so amazing? Because it could KILL most industrial agriculture, especially animal grazing and livestock and overfishing – and feed the world from a few comparatively small factories. It could return half the land on earth to nature!

It’s weird and different – but coming at you. Fast. But if you are not frightened of cheese, bread, beer and yoghurt – you should not be frightened of this. If you haven’t heard of Precision Fermentation it’s time to watch this primer. Just 3 minutes.)

“Embrace what may be the most important green technology ever. It could save us all” by George Monbiot.

“The developments I find most interesting use no agricultural feedstocks. The microbes they breed feed on hydrogen or methanol – which can be made with renewable electricity – combined with water, carbon dioxide and a very small amount of fertiliser. They produce a flour that contains roughly 60% protein, a much higher concentration than any major crop can achieve (soy beans contain 37%, chick peas, 20%). When they are bred to produce specific proteins and fats, they can create much better replacements than plant products for meat, fish, milk and eggs. And they have the potential to do two astonishing things.

The first is to shrink to a remarkable degree the footprint of food production. One paper estimates that precision fermentation using methanol needs 1,700 times less land than the most efficient agricultural means of producing protein: soy grown in the US. This suggests it might use, respectively, 138,000 and 157,000 times less land than the least efficient means: beef and lamb production. Depending on the electricity source and recycling rates, it can also enable radical reductions in water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Because the process is contained, it avoids the spillover of waste and chemicals into the wider world caused by farming.”

The Guardian – November 2022

Existing products: Ice cream (they’ve sold millions of tubs now), cake mix, Cake mix, and cream cheese. We are only a few years off it being cheaper than meat. Another brand is Solein.

Ravioli from Solein – 60 seconds

What is it like to cook ravioli made with Solein? Watch how we made pasta dough with Solein instead of eggs, the ravioli filling with wild mushrooms and Solein cream cheese alternative and topped it off with porcini foam made with Solein dairy alternative!

Bao buns

What is it like to cook bao buns made with Solein? Watch how we steamed milky, fluffy bao buns made with Solein dairy alternative, and filled them with some crispy teriyaki-glazed Solein imitation meat alternative strips, Solein alternative mayonnaise dressing and crunchy, pickled and julienned veg wrapped in a shiso leaf. Our top chef Sebastian Borg describes it as a perfect balance of soft and crunchy, sweet and salty, sour and umami.

It will replace all animal products – beef, lamb, pork, chicken and fish (with omega-3’s) – in the next 10 to 15 years. It’s going to be the biggest jump in human food security since we invented farming 10,000 years ago. It is safe from climate disaster droughts and floods. With grazing now uneconomic we can let nature regrow the 3 trillion trees we’ve cut down, return CO2 to under 350ppm and solve climate change. Replacing fishing with PF lets our oceans recover. The return of the larger fish will help the water column turn over, trapping more heat and bringing up nutrients from the waters below – restoring the oceans and climate as well.

Tony Seba follows the cost curve as PF becomes 100,000 times cheaper over the last 20 years. We are nearly there. Only a few more years and it will be cheaper than meat! Or other products. One protein is 1000 times sweeter than sugar cane. We can make spider-silk for building materials this way.

The Chinese are working on another route – a chemical way to cook up sugary starches used for both food and cardboard etc.

If Precision Fermentation works out – it could literally be up there with renewable energy systems as equal first winners in technology that saved the world!

4. Next backup food tech – Seaweed can feed the world!

Please read that page for how seaweed and shellfish farms are like a permaculture of the oceans, both feeding us and the ocean ecosystems so we both thrive. These kelp farms can also provide all the fertiliser we need to grow land crops.

5. Proven old tech – like no till

Now away from the vat-grown food, and back to old fashioned photosynthesis.

The wiki on “Adoption in the United States”.

No-till farming is widely used in the United States and the number of acres managed in this way continues to grow. This growth is supported by a decrease in costs. No-till management results in fewer passes with equipment, and the crop residue prevents evaporation of rainfall and increases water infiltration into the soil…

…Some studies have found that no-till farming can be more profitable in some cases… …In some cases it may reduce labour, fuel, irrigation and machinery costs. No-till can increase yield because of higher water infiltration and storage capacity, and less erosion. Another possible benefit is that because of the higher water content, instead of leaving a field fallow it can make economic sense to plant another crop instead…

…No-till farming improves aggregates and reduces erosion. Soil erosion might be reduced almost to soil production rates…

…Research from over 19 years of tillage studies at the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service found that no-till farming makes soil less erodible than ploughed soil in areas of the Great Plains. The first inch of no-till soil contains more aggregates and is two to seven times less vulnerable than that of ploughed soil. More organic matter in this layer is thought to help hold soil particles together… …No ploughing also means less airborne dust.

This is not small-scale hippie stuff, but a growing powerhouse with professional associations springing up in every country. For instance, Australia has WANTFA, the WESTERN AUSTRALIAN NO-TILLAGE FARMERS ASSOCIATION which is growing with a number of other larger multinational associations.

Formed in 1992, WANTFA was built on the ethic of grower helping growers. It is the only WA group that solely focuses on precision agriculture (no-tillage and zero-tillage). WANTFA endorses farming practices that support the following principles:

  • Limited soil disturbance,
  • Precision agriculture,
  • Permanent ground cover,
  • Diverse rotations, and
  • Reduced compaction.

WANTFA operates with the support and assistance of the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australian Government, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), corporate sponsors, events income and membership fees. WANTFA is a member of the Conservation Agriculture Alliance of Australia and New Zealand (CAAANZ).

6. Perennials are multi-year crops

Why grow crops for one season and then harvest them in a manner that kills the crop, requiring replanting? What if we could grow super-crops that survived and grew and grew? As The Land Institute wiki says

perennial grain that lives and remains productive for two or more years. Rather than growing for only one season before harvest, like most grains and annual crops, perennial grains grow year after year. As the first perennial grain crop grown across the northern United States, Kernza is expected to dramatically change agriculture, making croplands multifunctional through the production of both food and ecosystem services


Compare the size of annual wheat (left) with perennial, multi-year wheat (right).

7. Biochar is so wonderful I had to dedicate a whole page to it! Please watch the TED talks.

  • Biochar is agricultural and forestry waste that is cooked up in a low oxygen environment (and is not wood ash that you might get from slash and burn farming).
  • We can biochar seaweed.
  • Mobile trucks can travel to farms and biochar the agriwaste for the farmer/s to then spread back out over their soil.
  • When added to the soil, biochar reduces soil fertiliser requirements by actively sucking in nutrients, storing them for plants and stopping the rain washing nutrients out into rivers.
  • Biochar encourages microorganisms to grow and tiny fungi to multiply through the soil. It’s like the coral reef of the soil, providing a home and backbone for every tiny soil organism and fungi to grow. When the fungi die they release nitrogen into the soil, and then new fungi grows.
  • Normal compost degrades and evaporates the carbon back into the air, but biochar stores half of the carbon permanently in our soils (from centuries to even thousands of years).

In summary: both no-till farming and biochar can bring croplands back to life and increase carbon sequestration in the soil.

8. Other protein…

I’m not a vegetarian. But I am concerned for my kids generation growing up in a world of 10 billion, and how we’re going to feed everyone. All our crops take up about 12% of the best land on earth, but grazing livestock takes up another 30% of the land on earth! The rest of the land is not suitable. Do the math – the best farmlands are taken (or dying!) but we’re going to add another 2 billion to our population? Us carnivores are going to need to start eating meat only a few times a week. The other nights don’t have to be lentil stew – but can be delicious hamburgers and other stuff below.

9. Like… Impossible burgers

I find the texture a tiny but mushy – but the flavour is pretty much there. Heme is the secret. It’s the iron carrying molecule in red blood cells that gives meat it’s meaty flavour. They’ve isolated heme from soy beans and cultures, and found ways to introduce it to vegetable patties that actually taste like meat! This means our seaweed fertilised croplands can now give us all the ‘meat’ burgers we want.
Seaweed => crops => meat tasting burger!

the company’s stated aim is to give people the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without supposed negative health and certain environmental impacts associated with livestock products. The company researches animal products at the molecular level, then selects pecific proteins and nutrients from plants to recreate the experience and nutrition of specific meat products.
The wiki

10. Better aquaculture

We need to improve land based aquaculture and wean it off destructive ocean feedstocks like bycatch.

11. ‘Chicken nuggets’ — from insects!?

Just as we’ll probably get all kinds of seaweed and shell fish processed foods that don’t even look like seaweed or shellfish, we can enjoy eating nutritious healthy abundant insect protein – also disguised as processed food. I mean, who really knows what the heck is in their chicken nuggets anyway? The bottom line is that insects get 10 times more protein than beef from the same amount of vegetation input. While it can be a massive scaled professional industrial insect farm, there could also be smaller city block operations where significant quantities of tasty protein come from locally cycled in restaurant scraps. And we could test which seaweed the bugs liked most. Then we’d have: seaweed => insects => ‘Chicken nuggets’. Please read my page on eating insects!

12. Food from deserts – seawater greenhouses in deserts!

Let’s not forget that any desert city on the ocean can also use that ocean to have 3d seaweed and shellfish farms to be food independent, even food exporters!

13. When you just have to have a real steak

OK, so now we’ve got a sentimental birthday or anniversary coming up and someone is getting nostalgic for a good old fashioned proper cowboy grown steak from an actual cow! Vegans may object, but there are environmental ways to grow meat, even if it’s not as much as the amount of protein we can get from the seaweed and shellfish and veggies and insects described above. But there’s only one meat I can support, and that’s managed grazing where the cows and land get the best life possible, and the pig gets to express the ‘pigness of the pig’. Please see MANAGED GRAZING.

14. Re-wilding — overworked lands returned to nature

The goal for me is seeing how many people we can feed on smaller plots of land and less resources so we can restore the land we do work, and return other land we don’t need to nature. Imagine abused, dried up Badlands from some bygone dustbowl farming era being returned to parks, forests, nature reserves, and other uses. Imagine having spare land and more nature as the world heads towards 10 billion? That’s my dream. I hope the experts above can convince you it could be your dream as well.

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