Regenerative agriculture practices restore degraded land. They include no tillage, diverse cover crops, in-farm fertility (no external nutrient sources required, no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, and multiple crop rotations, all of which can be augmented by managed grazing. The purpose of regenerative agriculture is to continually improve and regenerate the health of the soil by restoring its carbon content, which in turn improves plant health, nutrition, and productivity.


One principle of regenerative agriculture is no tillage. How often do you see bare earth excerpt on a farm, or a road cut? Soil abhors a plant vacuum. Bare land, save for deserts and sand dunes, will naturally revegetate. Plants need a home, and soil needs a cover. On farms, plows expose the soil and invert it, burying topsoil underneath. When soil is tilled and exposed to the air, the life within it decays quickly and carbon is emitted. Professor Rattan Lal estimates that at least 50 percent of the carbon in the earth’s soils has been release into the atmosphere over the past centuries—approximately 80 billion tons. Bringing that carbon back into the soil is a gift to the atmosphere, to be sure, but from a practical agricultural perspective, it is an invitation to farmers to move away from agrochemical farming and bring the carbon back home, where it will help them work with the land more efficiently and productively.


There has been a conventional wisdom that the world cannot be fed without chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. However, the U.S. department of Agriculture is now running trials on farming methodologies that eschew tillage and chemicals. Evidence points to a new wisdom: The world cannot be fed unless the soil is fed. Feeding the soil reduces carbon in the atmosphere. Soil erosion and water depletion cost $37 billion in the United States annually and $400 billion globally. Ninety-six percent of that comes from food production. India and China are losing soil thirty to forty times faster that the U.S. Regenerative agriculture is not the absence of chemicals. It is the presence of observable science—a practice that aligns agriculture with natural principles. It restores, revitalizes, and reinstates healthy agricultural ecosystems. Indeed, regenerative agriculture is one of the greatest opportunities to simultaneously address human, soil and climate health, along with the financial well-being of farmers. It is about biological alignment—how to live and grow better food in ways that are more productive, safer, and more resilient.

IMPACTFrom an estimated 108 million acres of current adoption, we estimate regenerative agriculture to increase to a total of 1 billion acres by 2050. This rapid adoption is based in part on the historic growth rate of organic agriculture, as well as the projected conversion of conservation agriculture to regenerative agriculture over time. This increase could result in a total reduction of 23.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide, from both sequestration and reduced emissions. Regenerative agriculture could provide a $1.9 trillion financial return by 2050 on an investment of $57 billion.



March 2024 Update:

Introduction to Project Drawdown

Project Drawdown is a nonprofit organization that seeks to help the world reach “Drawdown” – the future point in time when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change.

Founded in 2014, Project Drawdown has emerged as a leading resource for information and insight about climate solutions. The organization has conducted rigorous research and assessment of a comprehensive set of 93 climate solutions, which it has compiled into the Drawdown framework.

The Drawdown framework covers a wide range of solutions across different sectors, including:

– Electricity generation (e.g. renewable energy, energy efficiency)
– Food, agriculture, and land use (e.g. reduced food waste, plant-rich diets, reforestation)
– Industry (e.g. alternative refrigerants, cement production improvements)
– Transportation (e.g. electric vehicles, public transit, high-speed rail)
– Buildings (e.g. energy efficiency, heat pumps, smart thermostats)
– Land and coastal/ocean sinks (e.g. forest restoration, mangrove protection)

Project Drawdown’s mission is to advance these effective, science-based climate solutions and strategies, foster bold new climate leadership, and promote new narratives and voices around climate change.  The organization aims to support a growing constellation of efforts to move climate solutions forward and reach Drawdown as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible.

Through its research, communication, and partnerships, Project Drawdown has influenced university curricula, city climate plans, business commitments, community action, and philanthropic strategy around the world. The organization continues to develop its resources and work to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions globally.