Regenerative agriculture has made its way into mainstream farming practices. While regenerative farming focuses primarily on crop practices, there are plenty of ways to integrate it into animal agriculture.
The practice of regenerative farming focuses on rebuilding the health of the soil to reverse climate change or at least slow it down. Additionally, it adds biodiversity back into the ground. This both sequesters carbon and improves the water cycle.
Primary practices within regenerative agriculture include minimizing tillage, planting cover crops, adding nutrients back into the soil, and managing livestock grazing. Therefore, it seems like utilizing animals for regenerative agriculture is only one part of land stewardship.
However, multiple other practices involve animals in restoring soil health and capturing carbon. Here are regenerative practices for animal agriculture that you can implement on your farm.
1. Control the Grazing
One of the most well-known methods of regenerative agriculture is managed grazing. Before livestock was domesticated and bred on an industrial scale, wild herbivores would naturally move across land to graze. There were no fenced-in areas to keep livestock in one space. This would give prairies and grasslands time to restore before another herd of animals would pass through.
Conventional grazing practices today don’t allow the land to regenerate. Herds are confined to a certain amount of space. Over time, the ground beneath them depletes, and it can be challenging for new grasses or plants to grow again.
However, controlled grazing solves that issue. Controlled grazing mimics the wild animals that would continuously move from field to field. Livestock only stays in one area for a short time before they’re forced to the next, allowing the field to recover.
Since plants can regenerate, they’re able to fully mature again, which more effectively sequesters carbon. Plus, the soil remains healthy and is less prone to erosion.
2. Use Animal Waste for Fertilizer
While this is an apparent regenerative practice, it shouldn’t go without some explanation. Manure produced by livestock provides one of the best natural fertilizers for plants, trees, and the soil. This benefits vegetation and is a regenerative practice for animal agriculture.
Animals naturally roam fields and the farm. Rather than ordering manure or other fertilizers for your plants and trees, strategically let livestock in your fields and orchards. As they graze, they’ll leave behind a safe and natural fertilizer.
If you use this fertilization method, ensure you’re providing your animals with the right foods so when they drop manure, it’s safe for the plants and further human consumption of fruits or vegetables. Animal waste should never come in contact with produce that’s ready to harvest either.
Using animal manure that’s already on your land eliminates the need to produce chemical fertilizers, and zero carbon emissions will be released through transportation of those fertilizers or other waste. Both reach the goal of reducing and sequestering carbon in regenerative agriculture.
3. Feed Livestock the Right Food
When fed with nutrient-rich food, your livestock and the environment will benefit. Not all cattle, horses, goats, or…