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How regenerative farming can help the world's carbon problem

By now, we know life in plastic is not fantastic. The fashion industry is producing more and more synthetic clothing made from plastic polymers like polyester, then throwing it away - excess clothing is being burnt, or left to pile up in landfills and our waterways because it doesn't break down.

But there's another problem with synthetic fibres and plastic, which is kind of a big deal...

Carbon dioxide.

When conventional plastic is manufactured, it's produced by burning fossil fuels and is a product of the oil and gas industry.

Burning fossil fuels causes the release of carbon into our atmosphere. The more carbon in our atmosphere, the more heat from the sun gets trapped and our planet begins to warm. We know this as climate change.

Carbon itself, isn't the bad guy - we need carbon to create life. The issue is in the excess of it.

When our world is balanced, the natural cycle absorbs carbon within our oceans, atmosphere, fossils, plants, and soil. The issue is in the excess of it, and when carbon isn't being sequestered evenly.

So, how do we get the balance back?

Of course, nature already has this all figured out. In fact, it's right beneath our feet. Carbon can be stored in plants and soil.

This is where farming can help... Farming in a way that considers the land, animals and people as a whole, not separate parts.

Alongside reducing emissions and choosing more sustainable ways of living, one of the key ways we can reduce carbon in our atmosphere is to put it in the soil - cast your mind back to your 6th form science class and you might remember learning about photosynthesis - nature's magic ability to convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into nutrients. The more green plants we have above soil, the more these nutrients are used to grow plants and feed the microbiology that lives below ground, therefore storing carbon in both plants and the soil.

This is what we call regenerative farming. Farming in a way that reduces the dependency on outside inputs like chemicals or fertilisers, and instead concentrates on our land, our animals and people all working together.

Sunflowers grow in a field at The Point station, where Tim Rutherford and Hugh Jellie assess plant species diversity

Regenerative practices include planting native trees, using compost, reducing bare soil areas by planting cover crops. Working with the natural patterns and behaviours of animals, using their waste and grazing as a way to put nutrients back into the earth.

These are simpler ways of farming that are in fact, proving to be more productive for growers' pockets, as well as our environment. For us, working with nature and actively being part of it, is the more fantastic life.


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