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University of Colorado Boulder

Publication Date

Spring 2019

Program Name

Australia: Sustainability and Environmental Action

Abstract

Conventional cattle grazing has received criticism for environmental degradation in the past. Regenerative grazing and the principles of regenerative agriculture show encouraging signs that proper livestock management and planned grazing can reverse degradation and mitigate climate change. An emphasis on soil health and increasing soil carbon and organic matter levels reveals positive feedback for environmental health, the economic security of farmers, and nutritional health of consumers.

In this study I looked to investigate the benefits of regenerative agriculture, reasons why it is being practiced, and the extent it is practiced within the grazing in comparison to traditional methods within Northern New South Wales. In times of climate unpredictability, struggling economic conditions of small farmers, and declining nutrient value in foods, regenerative grazing and agriculture is an alternative strategy to pursue in resolving all of these. In order to gather data to support the claims, I spent 145 hours sending out an electronic questionnaire (gathering 16 responses), consulting background literature, visiting 7 farmers’ properties, conducting both formal (1) and informal interviews (6), and attending one workshop.

I found that in the Northern NSW area grazers are implementing a variety of regenerative strategies within their paddocks, that have resulted in improvements in both health and productivity of their grazing enterprises, closer ties to their community, and it is a movement deserving of more converts. Yet, the extent of regenerative grazing in the area is variable, with conventional enterprises still holding dominance in numbers. I argue that with these results, regenerative grazing is a dramatically better strategy and system to employ opposed to the current state of contemporary, conventional grazing. With regenerative grazing: soil health is improved, paddocks are more resilient to climate variability, a more nutrient dense food supply is produced, water retention increases, GHGs are sequestered, livestock received a happy amount of feed, dependence on chemical inputs is reduced, beneficial microbial life is brought back to the rhizosphere, and biodiversity improves in the form of native plants and animals. Results reflect that RAg grazers also feel more in-touch with their local communities and economics. Thus, I contest that RAg grazing is a sustainable enterprise as it meets the triple-bottom lines of sustainability with the economy, environment, and social components.

Disciplines

Agricultural Science | Agriculture | Animal Sciences | Australian Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Climate | Development Studies | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Studies | Food Security | Place and Environment | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Soil Science | Sustainability

 

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