Soil Food Web and Biodiversity
At the center of the regenerative farming technique is the idea of “completing the cycle.” When we refer to completing the cycle, we are referring to the cycle of the soil food web. The soil food web is composed of a multitude of organisms including fungi, bacteria, arthropods, animals, and plants. The root inputs into the system of the food web are ultimately sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air, used by plants to produce carbohydrates, which are used to build every tissue needed by a plant to survive. These tissues meet two ends: they either die and decompose into the top layer of the soil, creating “humus,” (mostly decayed plant matter) or they are eaten by animals, insects and arthropods like the common earthworm, resulting in the production of feces which when decomposed fully becomes compost, a rich source of plant nutrition. As a result, when plants thrive in a given area and are consumed in nature, the process results in the regeneration of nutrition in the soil. Nitrogen rich plant material and animal excrement are decomposed, mineralized and mobilized by bacteria and fungi in the soil, and the topsoil becomes richer and thicker with time.
Regenerative agriculture is an agricultural practice that respects and replicates these natural processes as best as possible while creating a viable, successful and productive crop. By feeding the soil health and ultimately the health of the ecosystem by stimulating biodiversity, not only do we heal the environment in which crops are grown, we also produce the highest quality product possible, with the highest nutrient density, the most color, and the most flavor.
So what is No-Till gardening/agriculture?
The No-Till method is a method of cultivation that involves disturbing the soil ecosystem as little as possible. Many people till their gardens regularly because they believe that it “aerates the soil,” which is detrimentally untrue. Why would there be air in soil in the first place? Yes, plant roots require some oxygenation: but more importantly, arthropods require oxygen! Earthworms and other detritovores burrow deeply into the soil, creating an immense network of tunnels that are shared by bacteria, fungi, and nematodes alike. This network not only acts as a sponge, absorbing and retaining water, but it acts as a nutrient and communication highway between plants that is immensely complicated and yet to be fully understood.
Tilling the soil is like taking a bulldozer to the immense society constructed underneath the soil by plants, fungi, bacteria and soil arthropods.
No-Till gardening is the process of building up soil nutrition and soil health by layering compost and carbon sources like sticks, wood and bark, as well as other amendments and cover crops. The soil is broken minimally, if at all, and the balance of the ecosystem is constantly prioritized.
Why support regenerative farmers?
Many of us believe that food is the best medicine. Many of us also believe that some of the best medicines available to mankind are simple, herbal remedies that we can grow and prepare at home. Cannabis, for instance, is one of those medicines. Most cannabis, however, is grown indoors: which can be extremely unsustainable. The use of high power lighting and bottled nutrients as well as hydroponic growing media can result in unnecessary amounts of waste and pollution as well as energy consumption. If the goal is to grow a medicine that will ultimately heal the people of Earth, and by extension, the Earth itself, why would we do so in a way that is destructive to the ecosystem? Regenerative farmers who grow herbal medicines are healing in two ways. Not only are they healing the people that consume their medicines, like THC and CBD, but they are healing the earth that the medicine is grown in; and if you believe in Karma, you might believe that this healing energy is absorbed into the medicine itself.
CBD hemp and hemp farmers are entering a new realm of possibility. Karma Pharma Cannabis promotes the regenerative, no-till method because we believe that hemp farmers can blaze the path to change in the agricultural industry. As CBD hemp becomes more legal and more popular, farmers are about to start growing it on a massive scale. Due to the sheer usefulness of hemp, it could become a new backbone of industry in the United States as well as the world.
This could be incredibly powerful, but it could also be incredibly destructive.
Hemp is beautiful, powerful plant capable of sustaining the human race in a multitude of ways. If we begin to sustain ourselves with this crop, we are absolutely responsible to begin growing it, from the very start, with responsible techniques and methods that respect the earth. The cannabis plant has been teaching human beings a number of lessons for the thousands of years that it has been co-evolving with us. As we grow with it into this new era, we must be certain to maintain and understand those lessons and apply them to our day to day lives.
From its inception, the hemp industry should be supporting regenerative techniques so that the entire industry can work to heal our planet. Now is the time for healers, as the ecosystem as well as human society is incredibly damaged. This is why we should all support regenerative farmers: to secure the future of our system of agriculture, and our way of life.