We talked to US-based New Zealander Nicol Master about regenerative agriculture. Nicole is an agricultural ecologist and the author of For the Love of Soil.
Nicole challenged the idea that plant-based farming is better for the planet.
“If you’re drinking almond milk or you’re eating soy products or eating an Impossible Burger, that’s actually far more detrimental in terms of environmental impact – or even actually in terms of the death of organisms. If you count all the creatures that die in the process of industrial agriculture or cropping, it’s much higher than someone that might be producing dairy or beef in an environment that is functioning like a natural ecosystem.
“A plant-based diet will cause more problems in the long run than a regenerative livestock operation.
“If you think about how grasslands are managed, it’s through ruminant animals and large animals that are part of the climate solution.
“I was vegetarian for seven years and vegan for one because I was really concerned about livestock management, and then it was really through educating myself that I was able to see that we can do this really, really well, we just have to get in behind farmers like yourself.”
Nicole explained that New Zealand farms lose 192 million tonnes of topsoil annually. The answer is diversity and creating healthy soils that absorb water and support the microbiome.
As Glen likes to say, “It’s not what your farm, it’s how you farm.”