Broad-acre farmers worldwide including New Zealand are transitioning to a concept known as ‘Regenerative Farming’. This is a growing movement which aims to restore soil health, improve organic matter and soil biodiversity. This approach fits nicely alongside the philosophy of Zing Bokashi and our garden and soil products.
US farmer Gabe Brown states in his book ‘Dirt to Soil’ that there are five principles to Regenerative Farming and these are:
- Limit Disturbance
- Armour the Surface
- Build Diversity
- Keep Living Roots in the Soil
- Integrate livestock.
So, can we apply these principles to the home or small garden situation?
With the exception of principle No. 5, the answer is, ‘yes’.
Application of the remaining principles is thought to involve a major change in garden practice from what many of us have been taught. Although this may be daunting, having looked into it, it’s actually not as hard as some people would expect it to be.
Having followed the written stories from the Regenerative Farming pioneers over the last two years, I am of the firm belief that it would not take too much change to apply these principles to the home garden.
From this reading I find that I am already partway there and now, it is just a matter of fine tuning my systems to suit.
So how do we apply these principles to the home garden?
- ‘Limit Disturbance‘ by minimal tillage of the soil, so no deep or double digging. Not only is this great for the garden, it’s also good news for the gardener, saving us time and the backbreaking labour of digging.
- ’Armour the Surface’ by selective mulching or growing cover crops. This adds nutrients of your soil, while protecting it from the elements and erosion.
- ‘Build Diversity’ by alternating planting dates and species from season to season. This means not planting a particular crop at the same time each year and rotating species across your garden. A good practice for minimising disease, while promoting plant health and yield.
- ‘Keep Living Roots in the Soil’ means eliminate or minimise bare areas of ground throughout the year. This is simply achieved by the timely use of cover crops. Once again, it supports strong soil health and provides protection from extreme weather.
Integral to making this change is the need to re-mineralise your soil. My objective is to increase the quality of what I grow by attempting to increase the Nutrient Density of vegetables harvested.
In the past 50 years the Nutrient Density of produce has declined by approx. 50% and a number of authors have noted this fact.
While Regenerative Farming may at first look like we are talking about soil health, the impact is far greater. What we are actually doing is improving the soil which improves the quality of the food we produce, and thereby we improve the health of those consuming it.
Use of quality compost will form a part of the process. Food scraps from home combined with Compost Zing makes better compost, faster. (Find out about making your own compost here.) EarthZing will also help your soil quality as it contains living microorganisms that feed the soil (find out more here).
The main picture shows sweetcorn plants set into a mulch layer. Mr Bokashi’s garden, November 2018.
Neville Burt, the founder of Bokashi Compost Zing.