We all understand that the ecology around us provides us with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. When a forest growing in sand is removed to allow for more potatoes that will be grown with heavy chemical input and center pivot irrigation, what have we done to ourselves?

The air we breathe has now been misted with carcinogens, the soil and the plants grown in it soak up toxins, and eventually the water is contaminated with chemicals. It's ironic that the organic agriculture that laid the foundations for our society has morphed to become one of the extractive forces eating away at those same foundations, using thousands of synthetic chemicals that kill the processes our health and ecology depend on.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

Many people who grew up on the farm can remember the difficult conversation between the chemical fearing older generation and the younger generation that wanted the perceived benefit of chemical use. Many of the older generation had memories of chemicals used in the two world wars and wanted no part of them. What this older generation did for sometimes forgotten reasons we now understand had some effects in promoting life processes in the soil.

As these processes continue to be studied, the farmers and ranchers taking part in regenerative agriculture are understanding how important soil health is to their livelihood and society, and how detrimental chemical use has been to the soil.

Conversely, regenerative processes can be used in steps to restart underground biology and eventually wean the land off it's "chemical addiction."

These processes, over time, reduce and can eliminate the aforementioned problems while saving money that producers would otherwise spend on chemicals. North Dakota rancher/farmer Gabe Brown writes in his book Dirt to Soil, "In the conventional farming model, plants don't work for their nutrients - they get them from us at great expense to our pocketbooks!"

Mike Tauber, Northern Water Alliance