When it comes to regenerative agriculture there is a lot of press and reverence for those that seemingly began this practice. The rock stars. The gurus. The ones that pull a crowd. We could argue who, and when, and how long ago, but these people, and others, get the kudos.

Gabe Brown “the greatest roadblock to solving a problem is the human mind,” Alan Savory “If you care enough, you will do what ever you have to do, no matter what the opposition,” Robert Rodale “Sustainable confines us by not having a challenging enough goal, the word has good intentions but I favour regenerative,” Elaine Ingham “to have clean water and build soil and fertility we have to get the biology back in our soils,” Joel Salatin “a short chain between field and fork,” Nicole Masters “Everything comes back to the soil!”

Everyone will have their own story of who inspired them whether from last week or last century. Or maybe no one has flicked your switch yet? Those that personally inspired me in the early 2000s and provided lightbulb moments were Dr Arden Anderson, Frank van Steensel and Nicole Masters.

My stars, though, are those that are just beginning their journey. And there is common ground between the success stories of these early adopters. They aren’t rock stars or gurus (though some will become them),and they are committed to transforming their farming operations. They’re unconcerned about being seen to be different, they ignore skepticism from industry leaders with their attack/deny tactics towards non-conformity, and they will succeed unconventionally. Failing conventionally is not an option.

Working with farmers I am privileged to watch as they all go through their different lightbulb moments, as the pathway to regenerative outcomes opens up.  These light bulb moments may occur through observation.  A farmer looking at his pasture realizing “If I didn’t have all those bright green urine patches in my pasture, I’d have 30% more feed!” Leads to taking new steps to correct the nitrogen cycle and achieve that 30% more.

Treating the cause of the problems instead of treating the symptomsleads to major breakthroughs.  The farmer who told me “we get everything thats going on this farm – bloat, milk fever, lame cows, more than 15% empty rate,” has since increased pasture diversity and increased brix levels.  This has immediately ended bloat and milk fever as issues.  Include the shift to once a day milking and their empty rate is now less than 5%.

Transformation becomes possible often through simply ending the high input practice of putting “more on.”  When a cropper wonders why his inputs and costs keep going up and his production remains similar and asks, “What if I spent less, and spent on different inputs?” Realising that increasing profit per hectare is a healthier goal than chasing continual yield increases can be liberating.

Instead of being on a treadmill of reacting and fixing, farmers who make the time to create a new long-term goal can find a completely new pathway to follow and be “fizzing about farming again.“

Questioning is fundamental in making these shifts. When pasture isn’t growing like it used to, and a fertiliser rep suggests putting twice as much on, from asking; “What’s the source of my decreasing pasture performance?” Now a completely different future can emerge.

These are just a sample of the catalysts these newly regenerative farmers are sharing and experiencing.  No, they’re not rock stars or gurus (yet) but they’re asking leading questions and not accepting the status quo.  Wherever I go everyone has the onelong term goal, “we want to leave the farm in better condition than when we started.” The guaranteed method to achieving this is to start measuring and to start regenerating.

These stars began by thinking beyond what they already knew, and they learnt a few new steps to take. They found out what others were doing, joined social media groups, attended workshops, read, watched you-tube clips and got coaching. These stars are taking new actions, measuring and taking photographs of their progress and trials, and they aren’t stingy about sharing.

Regenerative agriculture is about understanding how systems are interconnected and improving the health and diversity of farming systems not simply exchanging one input for another. Regenerative agriculture can begin with an outcomes based approach through envisioning your measurable goals, (e.g improved animal health, plant/tree health, reduced chemical use, increased profit, diversity, differentiated produce, more holidays) and putting the steps in place and the support systems to get there.  There is no end to regenerating, it is a journey of ongoing questioning, learning and growth.   Integrity Soils has decades of experience in assisting producers to take these steps and supporting them on their journey.

Regenerative agriculture is here to stay. It will not be denied.  The results speak for themselves on the properties of regenerative rock stars across the country.

 “What we’re doing is right and we’re winning, there is a sense of inevitable victory, not in a mean or militant sense, we don’t need that – our energy will prevail. There’s no need to fight on our side or theirs. We have the momentum and are riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave”  Hunter S Thompson

By Michael Cashmore.

Michael is available for coaching to help you achieve your landscape regeneration goals ad can be contacted by phoning +64 0272751112 or emailing cashmore@integritysoils.co.nz