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  • Writer's pictureTim Heffernan

Regenerative Agriculture

Fundamentally Regenerative Agriculture is any process that restores soils degraded by farming practices, and large scale commercial fertilizer use. Soils have been denuded through erosion related to tilling practices and the carbon in the soil has been reduced dramatically. The microbiological community of healthy soils has been altered. With the need to feed a growing global population, the demand for food will go up. But farm production is down and farm budgets are stressed. Regenerative Agriculture is not new. It has more in common with the way farms used to work before the large-scale use of synthetic fertilizers.


Healthy soils have diverse bacterial and fungal communities and plants

actively influence the microbiome of the soil through the release of root exudates. Symbiotic relationships are established in healthy soils between plants and microorganisms like mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhizal fungi take up minerals like Zinc and Phosphorus and deliver them to plants in a usable form. But long term application of chemical nitrogen fertilizers has been shown to reduce the abundance and diversity of Mycorrhizal fungi among a suite of other beneficial soil microbiota, worms and insects. Over the past century topsoil from almost one third of the US Corn Belt has been completely eroded, reducing crop yields by 6% in the region, despite the heavy use of chemical fertilizers. These degraded soils are not economically or ecologically sustainable.


Most plants acquire required minerals via two pathways. A direct pathway involves the direct uptake of dissolved minerals in water through the root system. A second more active pathway involves root exudates that work with soil fungi. For example, when Phosphorus availability is low, the plant will upregulate genes that produce exudates that cause fungi to move Phosphorus into the plant. When Phosphorus is abundant, the plant down regulates these genes. So under chemical fertilization, Phosphorus levels may be adequate or high, but not be available to the plant because the high levels cause the plant to down regulate the genes needed to acquire the needed Phosphorus.


Regenerative agriculture is really about restoring the balance of natural soils including the microbiota. By taking care of the soil, the natural result is not only improved crop production, but healthier fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.


Perhaps the best example I have seen to illustrate the problems above and the solution is this short film, which I encourage you to watch, even if you have already seen it.


How does Clean Wave support regenerative agriculture? Clean Wave’s Integrated ecoFloc system separates dairy wastewater into the following recoveries:


Long fiber;

Organic Fraction;

Inorganic Fraction;

Gray Water with Ammonium and Potassium ions;

Zeolite enhanced with Ammonium and Potassium;

Clean gray water for discharge or recycling;


Clean Wave will produce fertilizer granules from the organic fraction of dairy wastewater. The organic fraction contains most of the nutrients.


In addition, Clean Wave will include a natural Clinoptilolite Zeolite enhanced with adsorbed ammonium and potassium ions. This Zeolite has a highly porous matrix with a cation exchange capacity ranging from 180 to 250 meg/100g. It can hold up to 60% of its weight in water that remains available to the roots of plants. Further it can adsorb up to 3% of its weight in ammonium. Specifically it has a strong affinity for ammonium and potassium ions. The source of the ammonium and potassium ions is the liquid fraction of the dairy wastewater. It can also support higher populations of soil microbes and can be inoculated with mycorrhizal fungi or other beneficial soil bacteria.

Finally, Clean Wave will include a dry, water soluble Potassium Humate (Humi[K] WSG). It is important to note that this material is a soil stimulant and a transportation vehicle for carrying nutrients into plants. Once connected to the humic acid molecule, nutrients are carried into plants in available forms that help intensify the plant’s metabolism and stimulate the soil’s natural activities. Humi[K] WSG improves the efficiency with which plants utilize nutrients from the soil. In return, this enables a reduction in the amount of fertilizer historically required to maintain optimal plant growth. Obviously, this provides enormous economic and ecological value to growers wishing to reduce their fertilizer input costs and/or reduce the potential side-effects of heavy chemical fertilizers usage.


In combination, the Clean Wave Fertilizer granules provide high levels of Carbon, essential nutrients and inclusions that increase water holding capacity, cation exchange capacity and expand nutrient availability to plants while stimulating plant metabolism. The granules will feed the beneficial soil microorganisms, which should be reestablished over several years of treatment. Over time, this should significantly reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer needed, making farms more sustainable and agricultural soils more healthy and productive. The soils will become a carbon sink with expanded drought resistance, a high cation exchange capacity and foster the more efficient use of soil nutrients by crops. The migration of nutrients beyond the root zone will also be minimized.

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Guest
Jun 11

Interesting

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