Regenerative Agriculture Without Animals- Is It Possible?

By Tim Hammerich, with the Ag Information Network

While some consumers are looking for alternatives to animal products, others are becoming increasingly more interested in soil health. This begs the question: can you have regenerative agriculture, which focuses on regenerating the soil, without animal agriculture?

Paige Stanley doesn’t think so. She is a Researcher and Ph.D. candidate studying regenerative practices at the University of California Berkeley.

Stanley states, “If you want to create closed nutrient loops, I don’t see a way to do that without animals. Now, the degree to which you apply animals to any one system, you know, we can argue about all day.”

“I study animal-only systems, but there’s plenty of opportunities to adopt integrated crop-livestock systems in order to make both of those systems more efficient,” Stanley added. “So I’m thinking, yeah, small ruminants, like sheep, goats for brush management, or even bringing chickens in before you plant a cover crop or behind another animal in a cropping system.”

“There’s plenty of ways to introduce fertility without bringing in off-farm inputs and to create a more diversified setup – to stack your enterprises. I think among agroecologists that’s a pretty widely accepted concept, but you know, there’s a whole slew of anti-animal ag people who would not like that answer,” explained Stanley.

Regenerative practices using crops and livestock are being explored to build healthier soils and potentially sequester carbon.