by guest blogger Bethany Worthington, Co-Founder, Ecothes
In recent years, the increase in unsustainable farming practices has had an extremely negative effect on the biodiversity and fertility of our soils, as excessive tilling, deforestation, and overgrazing has caused an acceleration in soil degradation.
Without healthy soil, crops are unable to grow, which leads to farmers relying heavily on pesticides and fertilizers to increase their yields, which in turn damages the soil further. In addition, research has shown that already over 50% of our agricultural land is moderately or severely affected by soil erosion, pollution, or compaction.
Without healthy soil, we not only see a decline in healthy crop production, we also lose an ally in our fight against climate change. Plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and store it in their roots within the soil. When soil is damaged, carbon dioxide spills from the soil back into the atmosphere, contributing to the acceleration of global warming. One way to solve this problem is through regenerative and organic farming.
What is Regenerative Farming?
Regenerative farming dates back hundreds of years, where instead of using intensive polluting methods, it relies on biological control to replenish and protect the soil.
Regenerative organic agriculture uses methods including crop rotation, composting, no-till methods, and cover crops, instead of using synthetic fertilizers and hazardous pesticides.
At KENT, our farming partners in Peru use non-GMO seeds to grow our long-staple organic cotton, that’s also free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Regenerative Farming Techniques
Here are some of the most common farming methods used in organic farming:
- Chemical and Fertilizer-Free treatments - In regenerative organic farming, hazardous chemicals and pesticides are banned. Eliminating these chemicals helps to prevent pollution of the soil and prevents field runoff which can pollute waterways and have serious consequences to the environment and human health.
- Cover crops - cover crops are used all year round to prevent bare soil after harvesting. The cover crops prevent soil erosion, and also helps to enrich the soil
- Natural fertilizers - natural fertilizers increase the nutrients in the soil which means happier, healthier crops.
- Crop rotation - The type of crop is rotated after every harvest, to balance and replenish lost nutrients in the soil. Intensively growing one single crop repeatedly can damage the soil and strips nutrients from the soil.
Benefits of Regenerative Organic Agriculture
How can this style of farming help us to save the planet and allow us to create our super soft organic cotton underwear?
By using organic farming methods, our organic cotton underwear is free from harmful chemicals pesticides, making it suitable for those with chemical sensitivities. Plus, by eliminating pesticides we also help prevent toxic run-off around farms which can cause pollution of waterways.
In addition, organic cotton uses less water than conventional cotton which saves up to 91% water compared to conventional cotton farming methods.
Regenerative farming also has other environmental benefits including, reducing climate change, by ensuring CO2 stored in the soil is not released through damaged or eroded soil. Along with preventing soil erosion, regenerative farming promotes the biodiversity of the soil, which means healthier soil overall, with studies showing that healthy soils can absorb 250 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.
While regenerative and organic farming is still relatively small, an increase and awareness in the benefits of organic products will help to grow the industry. Unfortunately, currently less than 1% of all cotton is grown organically. At KENT we’re hoping to change that by driving awareness of the benefits organic cotton can have on both people and the environment.