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Regenerative farming

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Image shows young wheat seedlings growing in a field

Food production that supplies UK diets is unsustainable. Regenerative farming (RF) seeks to address a variety of issues: the historical global decline in soil stocks and fertility; C and N sequestration to regulate the climate; terrestrial biodiversity and water quality. In addition, it offers increased agricultural productivity with social benefits. 

FixOurFood will explore what examples of RF currently exist in Yorkshire and beyond and what we can learn from them. We will also investigate what the limiting environmental, social and economic factors for RF are and what changes in practice would allow different farming systems in Yorkshire to be regenerative and financially viable. Working with key networks and alliances, our team will look at what practical steps are needed to stimulate shifts towards RF, what the potential is for the associated techniques in the region and if RF could make a contribution to combat global warming if scaled up nationally.

Over the duration of the programme, a variety of activities will take place, including: farmer-led discussions on RF practices, their benefits and challenges; farmer surveys; practice-based interventions that will be trialled at the Leeds University Farm and in partner commercial farms; demonstrations of RF practices to increase awareness of methods and training events for farmers.

In addition, activities will be integrated into other areas of our research portfolio to increase the visibility of RF and its impacts to consumers. The farming team will link with the Hybrid business models and Sustainable and healthy food for children teams by using RF to provide produce for new hybrid food models and specific schools collaborating with us.

Important outcomes in this area will include an increase in RF initiatives and production in Yorkshire including a roadmap and evidence-base developed with key networks and alliances to reduce risk to boost and scale-up RF practices.

Transforming to a regenerative farming system in Yorkshire report

To gain a deeper understanding of the actions needed to transform to a regenerative farming system, FixOurFood carried out a survey and workshops in 2022 with a diverse range of practitioners and researchers involved in the Yorkshire farming system. The Three Horizons method was used to guide the discussions, as it provides a useful framework in workshop settings to structure a deeper analysis.  We have summarised the discussions and actions raised during this process in a report: Transforming to a regenerative farming system in Yorkshire.

Key contacts: Dr Ruth Wade, Prof Steve Banwart, Prof Lisa Collins

Roundel icon representing three point one billion pounds

GHG emissions from UK agriculture are estimated to cost the UK £3.1 billion per year

source: Defra 2018
Roundel icon showing three hundred and five million pounds

The annual external cost to the UK of soil erosion and compaction from agriculture is £305 million

source: Defra 2018