Published on February 11th, 2021 | by Editorial Staff0
Is Regenerative Cannabis Farming The Future?
Regenerative farming practices have been used by Indigenous communities for centuries, but as the planet has begun to change as a result of over-farming, pesticide use, and other questionable agricultural practices, regenerative farming has caught the attention of the popular zeitgeist. Today, regenerative farming has become the focus for many environmentally-minded farmers looking for ways to enrich their land and yield better, more sustainable crops.
In the cannabis industry, regenerative farming practices give growers a way to unify their beliefs in plant medicine and the restorative properties of cannabis with good, environmentally conscious growing practices. Regenerative cannabis farming could give us a glimpse into the future of agriculture, and may help farmers to preserve their lands for future generations to use. Read on to learn how cannabis farmers are using regenerative farming to secure cannabis and environmental health for the future.
What is Regenerative Farming?
Regenerative farming refers to farming practices intended to directly combat climate change and actively improve soil quality. The regenerative aspect of this type of farming refers to soil quality, which can easily be compromised after years of over-farming. Earth’s soil contains millions of nutrients, many of which are vital for the health of indigenous plants and crops. Over time, as crops are planted in the soil, the levels of nutrients can become skewed, reducing the overall quality of the soil and making it more difficult to use for agricultural purposes.
Regenerative farming uses specific practices aimed at restoring and improving soil nutrient density, closing the carbon cycle, and increasing crop resilience, yield, and quality. Here’s what Mana Botanics has to say about the topic of regenerative farming:
“Regenerative agriculture is an approach to the food and farming systems that ensures food production for future generations. It is predicated on [the] conservation and rehabilitation of the soil. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting bio-sequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, increasing the nutrition of food and strengthening the vitality of farm soil.”
What Are Regenerative Farming Best Practices?
Regenerative farming techniques were originally developed by Indigenous communities with intimate knowledge of native plants and animals, and have been adopted by commercial farming communities as environmentalism has come to the forefront of agricultural concern. Some of the techniques and practices used by regenerative farmers that differ from traditional farming include:
- Cover cropping: Cover cropping involves growing certain protective plants during the winter to protect soil nutrients and balance nitrogen levels that may have been skewed one way or the other during the growing season. Cover cropping also helps to reduce weeds and unwanted plant growth, making it easier to begin planting again in the spring.
- Crop rotation: In the past, many farmers grew only one or two crops, re-planting each year without change. Growing the same crops again and again in the same soil will lead to the degradation of its overall quality, draining it of vital nutrients and reducing its ability to sustain plant life. By rotating a diverse range of crops, regenerative farmers ensure their soil is being given a wide range of nutrients and won’t be drained of any one resource.
- No tilling: Tilling the soil makes it easier to plant seeds and plants, but ripping apart the soil structure also destroys important fungal communities developing within the soil, and adds excess oxygen to the soil. Reducing tilling helps to enhance soil aggregation and water retention while helping to sequester and close the carbon cycle.
- Planting perennials: Two basic “types” of plants exist: annuals and perennials. Annuals last a single season and do not grow back or regenerate in the spring. Perennials set deep roots and continue to grow year after year. Most commercial farmers plant only annuals, whereas regenerative farmers include a variety of perennials to enhance soil nutrient quality deeper below the surface.
Benefits of Regenerative Agriculture
In typical commercial agriculture, farmers plant a single crop, let it grow, then strip it from the earth entirely at the end of the season. Bare fields are left to sit throughout winter, losing even more nutrients, then are replenished with artificial nutrients and harsh chemicals the next season before the same crop is planted again. With regenerative farming, there is no need to artificially treat the soil, and crops produced from naturally nutrient-dense soil are of better quality, higher yield, and more resilient. Here are just some of the many benefits of regenerative agriculture:
- Increased topsoil
- Sequestered carbon
- Improved soil health
- More nutritious crops
- Improved water retention
- Improved biodiversity
- Less impact on the environment
Does Growing Cannabis Have an Impact on the Environment?
Although cannabis has earned a reputation as being favored by “hippies,” many commercial cannabis farming practices are widely criticized by environmental groups calling for farmers to focus on the environment. Among other issues, cannabis is a water-hungry crop, with each plant needing close to 22 liters of water per day during the growing season. Unfortunately, commercial agricultural techniques reduce the soil’s ability to retain water, meaning crops require more frequent waterings and farmers risk over-use and drought.
Regenerative farming practices help to restore both nutrient density and soil structure, aiding in the retention of water and creating a more comfortable growing environment for crops. For cannabis farmers, using regenerative farming practices could help them to reduce their water usage and improve overall crop yields, which is why many have begun exploring regenerative techniques and practices.
One popular regenerative agriculture technique many cannabis farmers have begun to turn to is the practice of ‘companion planting’. Companion planting involves planting multiple compatible crops at the same time, rather than planting a single solitary crop. Mimicking how plants might occur naturally in nature, companion planting helps to preserve the quality of topsoil, improve nutrient density, and increase crop yields and durability. Companion plants help to reduce the incidence of disease, protect from pests, and can even help enhance the growth of other compatible plants.
Some of the plants and herbs regenerative cannabis farmers like to grow with their crops include:
- Lemon balm
Regenerative Farming In Practice
Interested in supporting cannabis companies focused on regenerative farming and sustainable techniques? You’re in luck – tons of cannabis growers are hopping on board and beginning to explore more environmentally friendly methods of growing cannabis. Mana Botanics, the makers of fine Hawaiian CBD products is one such company focused on using regenerative farming to improve the sustainability of its practices.
Mana Botanics* uses a wide range of regenerative agriculture techniques, including companion planting, cover cropping, composting, and much more. As a result, Mana Botanics has been able to maintain the health of its 7.5-acre Honaunau Farm, on which more than 100 varieties of plants are grown annually. In addition to cannabis and hemp plants, Mana Botanics also grows a range of herbs and spices like cinnamon and turmeric, lavender, and more to be used in their premium CBD products.
*This article is supported by Mana Botanics. Photo credit Pixabay.