Carla Cook Sakrison: Rewild your soil
I always say that my yoga practice is not a faith, but a practical tool to wellness. The same is true for regenerative farming … it is simple biology, and has been proven for millions of years. What is this awesome old/new farming practice, you ask? Put simply, it involves no-till farming, with holistic management of diverse crops, following seasons and planned grazing, using zero chemicals and lessening input costs.
I grew up going to my grandparents farm in South Dakota; easily my favorite memories of my childhood are all found on that farm with my cousins. The only negative there was that my grandpa spent my entire life struggling to keep his corn and cattle making a profit, and regular loans from the bank were his guiding lights.
With regenerative farming we can return the soil to a living part of our ecosystem within as few as three years. It truly doesn’t take much time to free ourselves from the chemicals that came into our land after World War II under the guise of pesticides and herbicides. Our waterways will be cleaner; droughts, floods and fires will lessen; more nutrient-dense foods will be produced, and the entire land biosystem will improve with each mindful year.
The same number of carbon atoms remain on the planet since the very start of time, and they move between storage systems. Carbon is stored in the soil as humus, in carbon-based life forms (i.e. plants, animals and humans), the ocean, or in the atmosphere (as CO2 and methane). According to ‘Kiss the Ground’, this carbon load, which was historically soil-based, is now in the atmosphere due to industrial farming and deforestation (plus our use of fossil fuels being pumped into the air). The solution and the plan I am advocating is to sequester carbon back into the soil by practicing regenerative farming and stopping deforestation.
This plan is not for sustainability, but rather for harnessing the regenerative power of nature itself, and returning our land to the Garden of Eden it wants to be again. No longer the manufacturers of food, but the trusted stewards of our land, of mama earth. We owe her this try; this is our time to nourish the land … and with this simple act, we will not only rewild the soil, but also our soul.
There are substantial benefits from this plan, including clearing our waterways of dangerous pesticides and herbicides. Our (no-till) crops will return to their natural nutrient dense states (our foods contain just 20% of the nutrients our grandparents ate), and production will increase, while also lessening input costs for seeds and chemicals. Soil erosion will also lessen, thereby reducing floods, droughts and fires.
A beautiful example of this practice can be found in the Loess Plateau in China, where the World Bank and the Chinese Government helped restore four million hectares of land, reportedly more than doubling the incomes of local farmers, reducing erosion by 100 million tons of sediment annually, reducing flood risk and dramatically increasing grain production.
For me, the words “I can’t breathe” represent not only the last gasps from George Floyd, but they are the words I hear echoing from the future if we carry on this path of degeneration and desertification. We can no longer separate ourselves by labels, by race, by gender, by economic standards … we can no longer separate ourselves from nature. This is where we all began, and where we must return.
Carla Cook Sakrison is a Tahoe City resident.
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