Regenerative Agriculture is Solar-Powered Food Production via Soil Biology
August 28 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Special note: Speaker is widely quoted in MAREA’s September 13 book discussion selection, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life” (2017, W. W. Norton & Company) Hope you can join us for both!
“The biggest barrier to agricultural progress is between the ears,” says Dr. Kris Nichols, and she doesn’t mean corn! Founder and principal scientist of KRIS (Knowledge for Regeneration and Innovation in Soils) Systems Education & Consultation and past Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute, Dr. Nichols is a pioneer in her work with soil biology, a new way of thinking about soil science as a complex mix of geology and biology, involving powerful give-and-take networks of living things within the soil. And, when soil health is central to agricultural practices, remarkable amounts of carbon can be stored.
Dr. Nichols explains that plants are the most efficient solar energy generators ever designed, brilliantly storing energy from the sun in bonds between carbon atoms. These carbon atoms are the building blocks for almost all life on Earth, providing the energy required for enzymatic reactions and biochemical interactions. Naturally, what we do with–and to—the land (our agricultural practices) impacts this soil biology (the flow of energy and resources below ground). Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming that recognizes this link between plants and soil and seeks to guide agriculture practices with the goal of optimizing soil biological processes. Regenerative agriculture improves the nutritive quality of food by cycling nutrients, managing water, and controlling pests and diseases. The result builds resilience against climatic uncertainty.
A 2014 report from Rodale finds that a transition to the use of regenerative agriculture practices on all global cropland and pastures could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions, resulting in a drawdown of greenhouse gases.
We are delighted to have Dr. Nichols explain all of this in person at our August 28 meeting. Dr. Nichols is widely quoted in the recent critically acclaimed book, “Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life.” After choosing this book for MAREA’s September 13 book discussion, we realized it featured a local hero! And now we’ll all have the opportunity to meet her in person. For more information on the book discussion, please see Growing a Revolution. Hope you’ll join us for both events!
Our meetings are free and open to the public. All are invited! Dr. Nichol’s presentation is Tuesday, August 28 , at 7:00 at TEKPark (9999 Hamilton Boulevard, Breinigsville, PA 18031, between Kutztown and Allentown). After the meeting, please plan to stick around and chat with friends old and new. Light snacks will be served. Hope to see you there!
Dr. Kris Nichols is the founder and principal scientist of KRIS (Knowledge for Regeneration and Innovation in Soils) Systems Education & Consultation. Her focus is to address current and future agricultural needs by building upon a soil health foundation to identify biological methods for agricultural production and tools and practices to reduce pest issues, soil erosion, fossil fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. Nichols was Rodale Institute’s Chief Scientist from 2014-18, a Research (Soil) Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in North Dakota for 11 years and a Biological Laboratory Technician with ARS in Beltsville, MD for 3 years. Kris received B.S. degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, M.S. degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003. Kris grew up on a 640-acre grain farm in SW Minnesota. Dr. Nichols has received several awards including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.