Regenerative farming is not only beneficial for soil and crops but also improves the nutritional value of food, a recent study shows. Biotechnology can facilitate the process.
“Regenerative soil-building farming practices can enhance the nutritional profile of conventionally grown plant and animal foods,” according to the research, led by David Montgomery of the University of Washington.
“Most notably, soil health appears to influence phytochemical levels in crops, indicating that regenerative farming systems can enhance dietary levels of compounds known to reduce the risk of various chronic diseases,” the research found.
Regenerative farming involves practices such as using cover crops, crop rotation, and low-till or no-till farming—essential soil conservation techniques developed by pioneering plant scientists George Washington Carver.
These techniques can regenerate “healthier soil with more carbon,” according to an article on the study published by Mongabay, which adds: “Food grown on the regenerative farms, they found, contained, on average, more magnesium, calcium, potassium and zinc; more vitamins (including B1, B12, C, E and K), and more phytochemicals. They were also lower in elements that can be detrimental to human health, including sodium, cadmium, and nickel.”
Biotech supports the process
Biotech can enhance this process. “Researchers at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies are using genetic engineering to develop plants with bigger, deeper roots that will stay in the ground after the crop is harvested,” according to Connor McKoy of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). “Over time, these roots will break down slowly, helping to replenish the soil with carbon.”
This carbon capture can benefit both the environment and farmers. Farmers may receive a new money stream if the United States establishes a carbon incentive program, which is imminent given that carbon has become one of the newest hot commodities, according to McKoy.