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Table of Contents

  • Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions/Carbon Cycling/Sequestration
  • Air Quality
  • Animal Performance
  • Animal Welfare
  • Arthropod/Insect
  • Biodiversity
  • Economics
  • Erosion
  • Fertilizer
  • Food Supply
  • Fungi (Mycorrhizal)
  • Fungi (Non-specific)
  • Human Public Health
  • Nutrition (Animal)
  • Nutrition (Human)
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plant Production
  • Soil Physical Qualities
  • Soil Predator/Prey
  • Water Quality
  • Weather

Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Current GHG Emissions

  • United States– In 2021, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6.34 Gt CO2e, or 5.59 Gt CO2e of carbon dioxide equivalents after accounting for sequestration from the land sector. (EPA, 2022)
  • Worldwide– 54.6 Gt CO2e. Appears to be net after land and ocean sequestration of C taken into account. (Global Carbon Project, 2021).

Current Agricultural GHG Emissions

  • United States– .5-.59 Gt CO2eq/yr based on 2021 values. (roughly 10% of total U.S. emissions) (EPA, ES19)
  • Worldwide– 13.6 Gt CO2eq/yr (roughly a 25% of global CO2eq emissions) (EPA , Our World in Data)
    • 22% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions: Greenhouse gas emissions from Ag, Forest and other land uses sector come mostly from agriculture (cultivation of crops and livestock) and deforestation. This estimate does not include the CO2 that ecosystems remove from the atmosphere by sequestering carbon in biomass, dead organic matter, and soils, which offset approximately 20% of emissions from this sector. (FAO, 2014)
    • Our assessment shows that globally, GHG emissions from domestic ruminants represent 11.6% (1.58 Gt C y–1) of total anthropogenic emissions, while cropping and soil-associated emissions contribute 13.7% (1.86 Gt C y–1). The primary source is soil erosion (1 Gt C y–1), which in the United States alone is estimated at 1.72 Gt of soil y–1. (Teague et al., 2016)

Historic Soil Carbon Levels

  • Globally, soils contain ~1500 Gt C — more carbon than in the atmosphere and plant biomass combined — meaning that some 75% of all terrestrial carbon is stored belowground at any one time (Scharlemann et al., 2014).
  • May 2023 Atmospheric CO2 levels: 420 ppm (NOAA, 2023)
  • Based on this estimate, 13.12 Gt of CO2e fixed by terrestrial plants is, at least temporarily, allocated to the underground mycelium of mycorrhizal fungi per year, equating to 36% of current annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. (Heidi-Jayne Hawkins et al., 2023)
  • Global surveys have typically focused on the 0– 30 cm topsoil layer (Bell et al., 2011), but it is now known that as much as 50% of soil carbon is stored below 30 cm (Lal, 2018; Rumpel & Kögel-Knabner, 2011). This is because the volume of subsoil is far greater than the topsoil, even though the concentration of organic carbon in the subsoil is lower than topsoil. (Antony et al., 2021)
  • In concert with soil edaphic factors, these Ecophysiologic Elements (EE’s) and pathways of SOC accumulation govern final SOC distribution into different soil organic matter fractions: Particulate Organic Matter and Mineral-Associated Organic Matter (Figure 1d). In grazinglands, SOC is distributed on average 70%–72% to MAOM and 28%–30% to POM (Lugato et al., 2021; Sokol et al., 2022). However, the proportion of SOC in MAOM may vary from 25% to 75% (Rocci et al., 2022), and extremely coarsely textured soils may have only 10%–25% SOC in MAOM (Silveira et al., 2014).

Cattle & Methane

  • Most recent estimations from data over the past decade (2008–2017) indicate a total average net methane production of 737 Tg CH4 year–1 from all sources (ranging from 594 to 881 Tg CH4 year–1) (Figure 1), whereas total terrestrial and aquatic sinks are estimated at an average of 625 Tg CH4 year–1 (ranging from 500 to 798 Tg CH4 year–1) leaving a positive net average balance of 112 Tg CH4 year–1 escaping into the atmosphere (Saunois et al., 2020). 
  • The global population of cattle decreased slightly from 1,001.72 million in 2012 to 1,000.97 million in 2021. (Shahbandeh, 2021) This global decline in ruminant populations means that they add less new methane to the atmosphere than old methane is being removed, which should lead to a reduced atmospheric methane concentration. (Lynch et al., 2020)  However, methane concentrations are increasing (see figure 1). This could either indicate a change of other emission sources, or a reduction of methane sinks, or both. (Bruce-Iri et al. 2021)
  • METHANE FACT: Within only 12 years, methane emissions are removed from atmosphere by one of several methane sinks. Reay et al. (2010) list three sinks for methane: tropospheric hydroxyl radicals (OH), stratospheric losses, and soils. (Bruce-Iri et al. 2021)


Grassland GHG/Carbon Storage

  • Soils are an important GHG sink (Rumpel et al., 2018), and grassland, which covers about 25 % of Earth’s terrestrial surface, store around 30 % of the global carbon stocks in soil (Adams et al., 1990; Bailey et al., 2010; Lal, 2004; Ojima et al., 1993).
  • Peatlands store approximately one-third of the global soil carbon pool. (Larmola et al., 2013)
  • As a result of high crop prices during 2006-2015 (USDA-NASS 2019c), an estimated 2.3 million ha of grassland were converted to cropland, with a majority of this conversion in the Northern Great Plains. (Smart et al. 2019)
  • From 2008-2016, croplands have expanded at a rate of over one million acres per year, and 69.5% of new cropland areas produced yields below the national average, with a mean yield deficit of 6.5%. Grasslands, including those used for pasture and hay, constituted 88% of the land converted to crop production across the US. (Lark et al., 2020)

Natural Carbon Cycling

  • Natural processes on land and ocean have removed roughly 55% of emitted CO2, but it may be possible to enhance both the uptake and longer-term sequestration potential of these processes. (National Academies)
  • The persistence of organic carbon in soils, sometimes for millennia, is well documented in the literature. However, the persistence of a carbon atom does not necessarily mean that the atom itself is still in the original molecule in which it was originally added to the soil. (Gleixner, 2013)
    • Plant-derived signals from cellulose and lignin are typically lost quickly—within a few years—and are only found in particulate organic matter that forms a minor carbon fraction in mineral soil (Grandy and Neff 2008; Bol et al. 2009; Miltner et al. 2009). (Gleixner, 2013)
  • When considering mechanisms of formation, persistence, and function, particulate organic matter (POM) and mineral-associated organic matter (MAOM) are fundamentally different SOM components. Generally speaking, POM is largely made up of lightweight fragments that are relatively undecomposed, while MAOM consists of single molecules or microscopic fragments of organic material that have either leached directly from plant material or been chemically transformed by the soil biota. The defining difference between them is that MAOM is protected from decomposition through association with soil minerals, while POM is not. (Lavallee et al., 2019)
    • MAOM, being longer lived, is the focus of most research on SOM accrual and sequestration. Targeting MAOM for SOM sequestration makes sense from a persistence perspective, but it may not always be feasible because MAOM can saturate (Gulde, Chung, Amelung, Chang, & Six, 2008; Hassink, Whitmore, & Kubat, 1997; Stewart, Paustian, Conant, Plante, & Six, 2007), while POM cannot. (Lavallee et al., 2019)
  • Intensively managed arable soils are strong sinks for stabilized C. Fine-textured soils have a greater capacity to stabilize C than coarse-textured soils. Mineral-associated organic matter (MAOM) is formed more efficiently from root than from shoot residues. (Kastovska et al., 2024)

Conventional Agriculture’s Influence on Carbon Cycling/GHG Emissions

  • Food security relies on nitrogen fertilizers, but its production and use account for approximately 5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. (Gao & Serrenho, 2023)
    • We found that approximately two-thirds of fertilizer emissions take place after their deployment in croplands. Increasing nitrogen-use efficiency is the single most effective strategy to reduce emissions. (Gao & Serrenho, 2023)
  • Since tillage-based farming began, most agricultural soils have lost 30% to 75% of their soil organic carbon (SOC), with industrial agriculture accelerating these losses (Delgado et al. 2011).
    • By converting land for agricultural use over recent millennia, but especially over the past 200 years, humanity has consumed large amounts of SOM by accelerating its rates of mineralization and erosion over those of organic matter inputs into the soil and soil formation, resulting in a global estimated loss of 133 Pg carbon (C) from the top 2 m of soils (Sanderman et al., 2017) (Cotrufo and Lavallee, 2022)
  • In a global analysis, Sanderman et al. (2017) found that the largest SOC losses coincide with cropping regions but grazing, especially in arid and semiarid regions that are globally more extensive, was responsible for at least half of the total SOC loss. (Teague & Kreuger, 2020)
  • Biomes that are predominantly grasslands and savannas lost more SOC than the cropland and crop/natural vegetation categories, and the regions that have lost the most SOC relative to historic levels include the rangelands of Argentina, southern Africa and Australia. (Teague & Kreuger, 2020)

Regenerative Agriculture’s Influence on Carbon Cycling/GHG Emissions

  • Of 80 ways to moderate climate change, regenerative agricultural practices—such as silvopasture, managed grazing, tree intercropping, conservation agriculture, and farmland restoration—collectively rank number one as ways to sequester GHG. (Hawken, 2017)
  • Drawdown of 4.94 ton CO2eq/acre/yr w/ AMP grazing & 1.21 ton CO2eq/acre/yr w/ Set-stock at Low Density. (Data Under Peer-Review, Peter Byck)
  • Overall, the availability of water seems to be the dominant control of carbon dioxide uptake by land vegetation. (Jung et al., 2017 , Humphrey et al., 2018 , Green et al., 2019)
  • MP grazing is the greatest sink for methane and produces the least N2O compared to moderate stock (MC) conventional and high-stock (HC) conventional grazing. (Dowhower et al., 2020)
    • AMP grazing had the highest and HC the lowest CO2 emissions, indicating higher levels of soil respiration, an index of soil microbial activity, with AMP.
  • While cumulative fluxes of N2O were independent of the grazing system, CH4 uptake was 1.5 times greater in soils from AMP-grazed than non-AMP-grazed grasslands (p < 0.001). At 5 °C, AMP soils emitted 17% more CO2 compared to non-AMP soils, while at 25 °C, AMP soils emitted 18% less CO2 than non-AMP soils. 
    • The cumulative uptake of CH4 during the incubation period was affected by the grazing system, soil temperature, and moisture (Table 1). Methane uptake was 2.6-fold greater in AMP soils in comparison to non-AMP soils. (Shrestha et al., 2020)
  • AMP grazing sites had on average 13% (i.e., 9 Mg C ha−1) more soil C and 9% (i.e., 1 Mg N ha−1) more soil N compared to the Conventional Grazing sites over a 1 m depth. In AMP, C shifted to more persistent organic matter, suggesting long-term C storage. The stocks’ difference was mostly in the mineral-associated organic matter fraction in the A-horizon, suggesting long-term persistence of soil C in AMP grazing farms. (Mosier et al., 2021)
    • Across all pairs, the increase in soil organic C stocks was most pronounced in the A-horizon depth, but was significantly higher at each depth increment down to 50 cm. (Mosier et al., 2021)
  • The transition from crop to pasture systems results in an average 19% increase in soil C stocks (Guo & Gifford, 2002). In our intensively grazed systems, we report an 75% increase in C stocks within 6 years of conversion. (Machmuller et al., 2015)
    • In our pastures, we find that peak C accumulation occurs 2–6 years after pasture establishment with a gain of 8.0±0.85 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 in the upper 30 cm of soil. Following an apparent lag in the first 2 years, the most recently established farm (converted in 2009) accumulated C at 4.6 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, the middle-established farm (converted in 2008) accumulated C at an average rate of 9.0 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, while the earliest-established farm (converted in 2006) accumulated C at 2.9 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 before an apparent decline in the accumulation rate at 6.5 years following conversion. (Machmuller et al., 2015)
  • Similar greenhouse gas emission estimates for both wildlife and pastoralism (76.2 vs 76.5 Mg CO2-eq km−2) were found in the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. (Manzano et al., 2023)
  • Comparison of eight neighboring farms across the United States found that regenerative farms had 3% to 12% soil organic matter (mean = 6.3%), whereas those on conventional farms had 2% to 5% (mean = 3.5%). (Montgomery et al., 2022)
  • No-till (NT) and cropping system intensification increase SOC (11.3% and 12.4%, respectively), MAOC (8.5% and 7.1%, respectively), and POC (19.7% and 33.3%, respectively) in topsoil (0 to 20 cm), but not in subsoil (>20 cm). No-Till synergized with integrated crop–livestock (ICL) systems greatly increase POC (38.1%) and cropping intensification synergized with ICL systems to greatly increase MAOC (33.1 to 53.6%). (Prairie et al., 2023)
    • Prairie said his analysis shows that impacts from regenerative practices don’t begin showing up in terms of soil carbon until approximately six years after implementation. (Prairie et al., 2023)
  • Across-farm SOC data showed a 4-year C sequestration rate of 3.59 Mg C ha−1 yr−1 in AMP grazed pastures. After including SOC in the GHG footprint estimates, finishing emissions from the AMP system were reduced from 9.62 to −6.65 kg CO2-e kg carcass weight (CW)−1, whereas FL emissions (grain-finished) increased slightly from 6.09 to 6.12 kg CO2-e kg CW−1 due to soil erosion. (Stanley et al., 2018)
    • Soil erosion due to feed production in the FL scenario contributed 22.76 kg CO2-e (0.03 kg CO2 kg CW−1). (Stanley et al., 2018)
  • Soil C stocks increased with species richness. More C was stored in the top layer (0–7.5 cm) than in the second soil layer (7.5–15 cm). (Cong et al., 2014)
    • Root biomass increased with species richness from 433 g m−2 on average in monoculture to 685 g m−2 on average in the mixture of the eight plant species. (Cong et al., 2014)
  • In cornfields, fine Particulate OM of the soil was strongly and positively associated with regenerative matrix scores. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • AMF increased Pn (Carbon sequestration by plants) of four species ranging from 15.3% to 33.1% and carbon storage, averaged by 17.2% compared to controls. Soil organic carbon (OC), easily extractable glomalin-relation soil protein (EE-GRSP) and total glomalin-relation soil protein (T-GRSP) were significantly increased by AMF treatment. (Wang et al., 2016)
    • The positive AMF function is through higher availability of nutrients and altered carbon allocation, thus promoting plant growth, especially increasing leaf area, chlorophyll content, and the Q10 (the temperature sensitivity of Rs (Carbon release to the atmosphere) which is derived from substrate availability) value. (Wang et al., 2016
  • Predation of nematode bacterivores exhibited indirectly positive associations with the sizes and turnover rates of SOC pools in the macroaggregates. (Jiang et al., 2018)
  • A Quantis Life Cycle Analysis found that White Oak Pastures’ regenerative grazing system averaged 3 kg CO2-eq/kg Carcass Weight (CW) compared to 16 kg CO2-eq/kg CW in the conventional model. Overall, the report found net emissions of -3.5 kg CO2-eq emissions per kg fresh meat from White Oak Pastures. (Thorbecke & Dettling, 2019)
  • On-farm analysis of soil C accrual at White Oak Pastures (WOP) revealed a sequestration rate of 2.29 Mg C ha−1 yr−1, on average, over 20 years of Multi-Species Pasture Rotation adoption. After incorporating this into our LCA boundaries, this reduced the GHG footprint of the MSPR system by 80% (from 20.8 to 4.1 kg CO2-e kg CW−1), ultimately finishing at 66% lower than comparative conventional, commodity (COM) production. (Rowntree et al., 2020)
  • Recent studies of managed grazing have reported significant (320 kg C ha−1 yr−1; Becker et al. 2022) to moderate (840 kg C ha−1 yr−1; Franzluebbers, 2010) to very high (~3,590 kg C ha–1 yr–1; Stanley et al., 2018) accumulations of soil C under well-managed grazed pastures. The value of soil C increase making Scenario B net zero was 1,630 kg C ha–1 yr–1, while the soil C change from Stanley et al., 2018 resulted in a system C balance equivalent to taking 23 coal-fired power plants offline! (Jackson, 2022)
    • Annual grain-feedlot systems did not become atmospheric C sinks until the maize soils were accumulating 3,300 kg C ha–1 yr–1, an exceedingly high and unlikely value. (Jackson, 2022)
  • Analysis of soil organic C (SOC) stocks during the first 20 years of the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial study showed that annual row crop agriculture lost 5.5 Mg C ha−1, while rotationally grazed pasture was a significant sink to 0–60 cm depth (5.1 Mg ha−1). (Sanford 2022)
  • On average, pastures in southern and central Wisconsin had 12.41 Mg ha−1 more SOC in surface soils (0–15 cm, roughly 6 inches) than their row crop counterparts, but were not different in subsurface soils (15–30 cm, roughly 6-12 inches). (Becker et al., 2022)
    • Soil organic C and Particulate OM-C increased linearly with pasture age (32 g C m−2 yr−1). (Becker et al., 2022)
  • “The soil carbon change data that I got on resampling baseline plots (on North America from 2011-2021) was noisy and variable, especially in the top layers (0-10 cm depth). There were some pockets of consistent change, such as a group of graziers in southeast Saskatchewan showing substantial increases, even down to the 40 cm depth that I often sampled to. But the majority of change data that I collected did not offer solid support to the hypothesis that holistic planned grazing or no-till, for example, in a few years would increase soil carbon in every circumstance or locale, or that soil carbon would faithfully reflect changes in forage production, soil cover, or diversity.” (Peter Donovan, Soil Carbon Coalition)
  • Crop diversity increased soil biological health in both annual and perennial systems. Rotated annuals with a cover crop increased permanganate oxidizable C (POXC) and soil organic matter relative to continuous corn (Zea mays L.). Perennial polycultures also had 88% and 23% greater mineralizable C relative to the annual and monoculture perennial systems, respectively. (Sprunger et al., 2020)
  • Three indicators of soil quality–particulate organic matter carbon, microbial biomass carbon, and potentially mineralizable nitrogen–were 22% to 51% higher in the 3-year and 4-year rotations than in the 2-year rotation. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
  • Cover cropping simultaneously increased yields and SOC in 59.7% of 434 paired observations. Increases in SOC directly increased crop yields in soils with initial SOC concentrations below 11.6 g kg−1; for example, a change from 5 g kg−1 to 6 g kg−1 increased yields by +2.4%. (Vendig et al., 2023)


Air Quality

Importance of Air Quality

  • To date, air pollution – both ambient (outdoor) and household (indoor) – is the biggest environmental risk to health, carrying responsibility for about one in every nine deaths annually. (WHO, 2016)

Confined animal feeding operations (CAFO)

  • Large farms can produce more waste than some U.S. cities—a feeding operation with 800,000 pigs could produce over 1.6 million tons of waste a year. That amount is one and a half times more than the annual sanitary waste produced by the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (GAO, 2008)
    • Annually, it is estimated that livestock animals in the U.S. produce each year somewhere between 3 and 20 times more manure than people in the U.S. produce, or as much as 1.2–1.37 billion tons of waste (EPA, 2005). Though sewage treatment plants are required for human waste, no such treatment facility exists for livestock waste. (CDC, 2010)
  • The most typical pollutants found in air surrounding CAFOs are ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, methane, and particulate matter, all of which have varying human health risks. (CDC, 2010)
  • Results from confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) of swine in North Carolina show that the average ammonia gas concentrations in hot spots for 2000 and 2010 were 2.5–3-times higher than the average concentration in the entire watershed. (Ogneva-Himmelberger et al., 2015)
  • Researchers in North Carolina found that the closer children live to a CAFO, the greater the risk of asthma symptoms. (Barrett, 2006)
  • The prevalence of occupational respiratory diseases (occupational asthma, acute and chronic bronchitis, organic dust toxic syndrome) in factory farm workers can be as high as 30%. (Choiniere & Munroe, 1993)
  • The odors that CAFOs emit are a complex mixture of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon dioxide, as well as volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds (Heederik et al., 2007). These odors are worse than smells formerly associated with smaller livestock farms. (CDC, 2010)


Conventional Cropping

  • Dust storms caused by bare soil increase airborne respiratory irritants and have led to deadly car accidents. (NBC News, 2023)
  • The impact of wind erosion of soil on ambient air quality was highest in spring; the total PM2.5 and PM10 emissions were highest from cultivated land, followed by sandy land, grassland, forest land, and bare land. (Tian et al., 2021)
  • The role of aggregate size distribution is critical in dust emission. Soil disturbance due to agricultural activity causes the disintegration of soil aggregates. This increases the fraction of aggregates large enough to cause saltation in the soil, and thus the PM10 flux by the saltation process. (Katra, 2020)


Improvements in Air Quality from Regenerative Practices

  • The mean rate of soil erosion by wind with No-Till (NT) was 18.9% to 36.2% less than that with Conventional Tillage (CT). With increasing wind velocity, the rate of soil erosion by wind increased for both CT and NT but was faster with CT than NT. Soil wind erosion occurred with a wind velocity ≥14 m s−1, and NT greatly decreased the rate of soil erosion when wind velocity exceeded 14 m s−1. (Yang et al., 2020)
  • Sensitivity results indicate that deposition and emissions changes associated with reforestation in the Southeast US impact O3 and PM2.5 concentrations as much as, and in most cases more than, changes in meteorology. Conversion of forest to cropland in the Southeast, on the other hand, tends to increase O3 and increase PM2.5 year-round. (Trail et al., 2015)


Animal Performance


Loss of Animal Performance from Regenerative Grazing

  • Furthermore, the collaborative, adaptive rangeland management (CARM) herd (composed of different animals each year) gained significantly less weight than the traditional rangeland management (TRM) herds in each of the 5 yr of the experimental treatment, regardless of the precise pattern and rate of rotation used. Reduced weight gains will decrease profits for livestock producers, as these losses are further magnified by the greater infrastructure costs (fence and water development) of CARM, which may not be offset by labor savings (Windh et al. 2019). (Augustine et al. 2020)
  • CARM consistently reduced cattle weight gains (Augustine et al. 2020) and diet quality (Plechaty, 2018) across a wide range of precipitation conditions. At the same time, we found no effect of grazing treatment on total forage production. (Augustine et al. 2023)


Improved Animal Performance from Regenerative Grazing

  • Our AMP-grazed steers finished in 150 days shorter and 99 kg heavier than the continuously grazed steers in Lupo et al. (2013). This difference can be explained by improved forage quality and utilization in the AMP grazing system versus the more conventional continuous grazing system. (Stanley et al., 2018)


Animal Welfare

Improved Animal Welfare from Regenerative Practices

  • Compared to pasture-finished animals, we observed impairments in glucose metabolism, mitochondrial metabolism, bile acid metabolism, glycerophospholipid metabolism, and increased oxidative stress in pen-finished animals. Several of these metabolic pathways are interrelated and may result from reduced physical activity and/or higher grain-feeding. (Van Vliet et al., 2023)
  • “We conclude that there is strong experimental support for replacing simple traditional agricultural pastures of reduced phytochemical diversity with multiple arrays of complementary forage species that enable ruminants to select a diet in benefit of their nutrition, health and welfare, whilst reducing the negative environmental impacts caused by livestock production systems.” (Distel et al., 2020)


Arthropods & Insects

Impact of Insecticides

  • Pests were 10-fold more abundant in insecticide-treated corn fields than on insecticide-free regenerative farms, indicating that farmers who proactively design pest-resilient food systems outperform farmers that react to pests chemically. (LaCanne & Lundgren, 2018)
  • Soybean aphids, thrips, and grasshopper populations were unaffected by the insecticidal seed treatments in the field. The laboratory trial revealed that all bioactivity of the seed treatments against soybean aphids was gone within 46 days after planting, prior to aphid populations damaging the crop. Bean leaf beetles, a sporadic pest in our area, were reduced by the seed treatments. Natural enemy communities were significantly reduced by thiamethoxam seed treatments relative to the untreated control, particularly populations of Nabis americoferus (Hemiptera: Nabidae). Chrysoperla (Neuroptera: Chrysopidae) adults were reduced in the imidacloprid- treated plots. (Seagraves & Lundgren, 2012)
  • RNAi-based insecticides likely affect non-target hosts, as well as off-target gene silencing. (Lundgen & Duan, 2013)
  • Foliar-dwelling predator populations were substantially higher in the cover crop treatment than in the chemical treatments in all years of study; population declines in the latter treatments were strongly associated with insecticide applications targeting soybean aphids. Foliar predator populations did not rebound within the growing season after insecticides were applied. Soil predator populations were largely unaffected by treatment (except in 2006, when they were more abundant in the cover crop treatment than in the chemical treatments). (Lundgren et al. 2013)
  • Across site years, foliar herbivores and key pests of sunflowers were unaffected by the seed treatment. Likewise, subterranean herbivores were unaffected. Thiamethoxam was measurable in leaf tissue through the R1 plant stage, while its metabolite clothianidin was detected throughout flowering (R6). No difference in sunflower yield was observed between treatments across site years. This research suggests that neonicotinoid seed treatments in sunflowers do not always provide economic benefits to farmers in the form of pest reductions or yield improvements. (Bredeson & Lundgren, 2015)
  • Seed-treated fields of sunflower had significantly fewer above-ground natural enemies and pollinators than untreated fields, while subterranean predators were unaffected. (Bredeson & Lundgren, 2018)
  • Our results show that increased species diversity, community evenness, and linkage strength and network centrality within a biological network all correlate with significantly reduced pest populations. This supports the assertion that reduced biological complexity on farms is associated with increased pest populations and provides a further justification for diversification of agroecosystems to improve the profitability, safety, and sustainability of food production systems. (Lundgren & Fausti, 2015)
  • Although preliminary, this study clearly shows that monarch larvae are exposed to clothianidin in the field at potentially harmful doses of the toxin. (Pecenka & Lundgren, 2015)
  • The commercial formulation of 2,4-D was highly lethal to lady beetle larvae; the LC 90 of this herbicide was 13 % of the label rate. In this case, the ‘‘inactive’’ ingredients were a key driver of the toxicity. Dicamba active ingredient significantly increased lady beetle mortality and reduced their body weight. The commercial formulations of both herbicides reduced the proportion of males in the lady beetle population. (Freydier & Lundgren, 2016)
  • Increasing concentrations of clothianidin in bee bread were correlated with decreased glycogen, lipid, and protein in workers. This study shows that small, isolated areas set aside for conservation do not provide spatial or temporal relief from neonicotinoid exposures in agricultural regions where their use is largely prophylactic. (Morgen & Lundgren, 2016)
  • In this paper, we identify how changing cropping patterns in South Dakota have affected the extensive usage of insecticides, an aspect often overlooked by producers and policy makers. Results indicate that increased corn production has contributed to an increase in the share of cropland acres treated with insecticides at the county level in eastern South Dakota. (Fausti et al., 2018)
  • Neonicotinoids entering interseeded cover crops from adjacent treated plants is a newly discovered route of exposure and potential hazard for non-target beneficial invertebrates. (Bredeson & Lundgren, 2019)
  • Rates of parasitized diamondback moth were consistently lower in the treated fields. Negative effects of using insecticides against diamondback moth were found for the density of parasitoids and generalist predatory wasps, and tended to affect spiders negatively. The observed increased leaf damages in insecticide-treated fields may be a combined consequence of insecticide resistance in the pest, and of lower predation and parasitization rates from naturally occurring predators that are suppressed by the insecticide applications. (Bommarco et al., 2011)

Dung Beetles

  • Although dung beetles only represented 1.5–3% of total arthropod abundance, they were significantly correlated to more abundant and complex total arthropod communities. A diverse community contributes to dung degradation in rangelands, and their early colonization is key to maximizing this ecosystem service. (Pecenka & Lundgren, 2018)
  • Rangelands managed with more regenerative practices (frequent rotation at high stocking densities and lack of ivermectin applications) had greater species richness, diversity, predator species abundance, and dung beetle abundance than more conventionally managed rangelands. Ivermectin quantity in cattle pats was negatively correlated with dung beetle abundance and diversity. (Pecenka & Lundgren, 2019)


General Benefits of Regenerative Agriculture on Arthropods/Insects

  • Invertebrate richness and diversity, and earthworm abundance and biomass were significantly greater in regenerative almond orchards compared to conventional almond orchards. Pest populations were similar in the two systems. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • Invertebrate biomass, diversity, and abundance in the soil, on the soil surface, and in the vegetation were positively affected by regenerative practices in all three study systems (cornfields of the Upper Midwest, almond orchards of California, and rangeland systems of the Northern Plains) (Fenster et al., 2021)

Pest Management

  • This research suggests that it is not the number or abundance of species within a community, but rather the balance of species within these communities that contributes to pest suppression in maize fields. This confirms the importance of community evenness in pest suppression (Crowder et al., 2010) and suggests that species diversity of the entire community [not just higher trophic levels (Letourneau et al, 2009)] may contribute to pest suppression within realistic arthropod communities. (Lundgren & Fausti, 2015
  • Herbivores were the most abundant pasture functional guild found in the foliar community, and predators were most abundant in the soil and dung communities. Arthropod pests constituted a small portion of the pasture arthropod communities, with 1.01%, 0.34%, and 0.46% pests found in the foliar, soil, and dung communities, respectively. (Schmid, Welch & Lundgren, 2021)
  • Soybean cyst nematodes are significantly reduced by annual ryegrass and cereal rye cover crops. (Hoorman & Sundermeier, 2017)
  • The importance of the association of biodiversity and ecological network structure with low pest populations provides goals that can be targeted with sustainable cropping systems that require minimal inputs for pest management. Our research suggests that agronomic practices that promote high levels of arthropod diversity fundamentally require fewer agronomic inputs. For example, reducing tillage (Lehman et al., 2015, Kladivko, 2001), increasing vegetation diversity on farms [for example, lengthening crop rotations, including cover crops in rotations, intercropping, managing field margins (Letourneau, 2011)], and developing minimal-till organic agriculture (Bengtsson et al., 2005) should help increase biodiversity. (Lundgren & Fausti, 2015)
  • During the period of 2006-2016, mineral N fertilizer use was 86% and 91% lower, and herbicide use was 96% and 97% lower in the 3-year and 4-year systems, respectively, than in the 2-year system. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
    • Incidence and severity of sudden death syndrome, a key disease affecting soybean in the Corn Belt, have been markedly lower in the longer rotations than in the 2-year rotation. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
  • We conclude that low-intensity cropping systems are most favorable to the abundance and function of beneficial ground-dwelling arthropod communities (insectivores and granivores) during the transition process. (Lundgren et al., 2006)
  • While plant diversity did not affect the abundance and richness of the carabid community, the turnover to a more native grassland community was accelerated by plant diversity in the first years after the land use change. In contrast, in later years plant diversity stabilized the community assemblage. Our study shows that high plant diversity can contribute to a faster transition of insect populations towards naturally occurring community assemblages and at later stages to more stabilized assemblages. (Lange et al., 2023)
  • This tendency could be clearly demonstrated amongst the carabids, spiders, butterflies, bumblebees, millipedes and harvestmen, with margins often containing double or more the number of invertebrates of similar areas cropped to the edge. (Meek et al., 2002
  • In terms of pest management, our results indicate that small-scale plant diversification (via the planting of cover crops or intercrops and reduced weed management) is likely to increase the control of specialist herbivores by generalist predators.) (Dassou & Tixier, 2016)
  • Organic fertilisation enhanced local emergence of predators increasing top-down pest suppression. In contrast, local predator communities were unable to suppress aphid populations in inorganic and no fertilisation treatments. (Aguilera et al., 2021)
  • In California, tomato fields adjacent to semimanaged, nonnative weeds had fewer parasitoid wasps, fewer lady beetles and more pests than fields adjacent to hedgerows constructed from at least five native perennial plants in strips of varying size [7 m wide and up to 550 m long (93; see Supplemental Figure 1)]. The abundance and diversity of native bees were also geater in hedgerows than in control sites (92), and this difference persisted up to 100 m into adjacent tomato fields (93). Hedgerows also increased bird diversity and abundance (51), with increased community diversity as the perennial plants matured, 10 years post-establishment (101). (Tooker et al., 2020)



Food System Biodiversity

Rates of Biodiversity Loss

  • Biodiversity loss is accelerating around the world. The global rate of species extinction today is orders of magnitude higher than the average rate over the past 10 million years. The global food system is the primary driver of this trend. (Benton et al., 2021)
  • Reports of declining soil biodiversity under intensive agriculture and the simplification of soil food webs (de Vries et al., 2013; Tsiafouli et al., 2014).
  • 3 million acres of cropland—a less-suitable habitat for grassland birds—were created during 2008–2012, 77% of which were converted from grassland and 8% from shrubland (Lark et al., 2015). Additionally, grassland and aridland birds face other ongoing threats including agricultural intensification and pesticides (Stanton et al., 2018).

Loss of Biodiversity from Fertilizer Use

  • We know from a large ecological literature that the fertilization of natural ecosystems, perhaps first noted in the eutrophication of lakes, is likely to result in a loss of species diversity…Any addition of a resource to [a natural community where that resource is  scarce] will lead to the dominance of the species that can use that resource most efficiently. Rather than having a net positive effect, inadvertent fertilization alters ecosystem composition and diminishes ecosystem function. (Soclow, 1999)
  • Fertilization disproportionally promotes the growth of taller plants with more canopy cover and better access to light, at the expense of shorter plants and seedlings in the understory, and this leads to reduced diversity. (Eskelinen et al., 2022)
  • Fertilization with urea did not significantly alter the structure of soil microbial communities compared to the control but reduced network complexity and altered hub taxa. (Heisey et al., 2022)

Loss of Biodiversity from Land Use Change

  • Herbivore exclusion decreased pasture species richness by 12.5% and Shannon diversity by 11.7%, due to limited light reaching the soil surface. (Eskelinen et al., 2022)
  • Research in the UK also showed species richness levels (as a measure of ɑ-diversity) of soil eukaryotes, soil fauna and vascular plants were consistently reduced as a result of grazing removal. The phylotype richness of fungi decreased by 19% in the grazing removal treatment and the phylotype richness of protists decreased by 17%. (Schrama et al., 2021)
    • Our results suggest that such a ‘rewilding’ approach to nature conservation might not lead to an associated increase in the diversity of belowground organisms. (Schrama et al., 2021)

Loss of Biodiversity from Water Pollution

  • A reduction of about one-third of the global biodiversity is estimated to be a consequence of the degradation of freshwater ecosystems mainly due to pollution of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. (United Nations, nd)

Loss of Biodiversity from Rotational Grazing

  • Instead, when comparing the full set of adaptively managed, rotationally grazed pastures with a paired set of traditionally managed pastures over a 5-yr period, we found that adaptive rotation did not enhance, and even decreased, the abundance and productivity of perennial graminoids. (Augustine et al., 2020)

Increase in Biodiversity from Regenerative Agriculture Principles

  • The richness of C3 grasses and forbs on burned and grazed watersheds was nearly double that on watersheds that were burned but not grazed. The richness of C4 species was also higher on grazed, burned sites compared with the control. (Collins et al. 1998)
  • Bison caused native plant species richness to increase compared to ungrazed sites during the nearly three-decade period, culminating in 103% higher species richness at the 10-m2 plot scale and 86% higher richness at the larger catchment scale (each catchment was >18 ha and sampled with 20 noncontiguous plots). At the two respective scales, cattle caused modest 41% and 30% increases in native plant species richness compared to ungrazed sites. (Ratajczak et al., 2022)
  • Warming by ~1.5 °C in a Finland tundra meadow increased total plant species richness in the presence of mammalian herbivores by 2.4 species (13%) on average, but decreased it by 2.3 species (12%) in the absence of herbivores. We show that herbivores can maintain plant diversity in warming tundra by alleviating light limitation and preventing extinctions of species characterized by short stature and slow growth. (Kaarlejärvi et al. 2017)
  • Total microbial biomass was, on average, 1.3 and 2.0 times higher in soils from multi-paddock pastures than in soils from conventionally managed pastures and hayfields, respectively. Relative fungal biomass in MP soils was 1.4 times higher than in CM soils and 1.7 times higher than in hayfield soils. (Kleppel, 2019)
  • The restored prairie had the highest F:B (13.5) and high total C (49.9 g C kg−1 soil); neighboring soil farmed to corn (cropped ~100 years) had an F:B of 0.85 and total C of 36.0 g C kg−1 soil. (Bailey et al. 2002)
  • Holistic Resource Management pastures had 1.5 times higher average abundances of obligate grassland birds than minimally rotated pastures and 4.5 times more obligate grassland birds than continuously grazed pastures. (Cassidy & Kleppel, 2017)
  • Although collaborative, adaptive rangeland management (CARM) did not enhance C3 perennial graminoid production or density, it is important to note that CARM altered vegetation structure in a manner that significantly affected densities of certain grassland bird species (Davis et al. 2020), which highlights the complexity of managing for multiple objectives. (Augustine et al., 2020)
  • High stocking densities, frequent rotational grazing and elimination of prophylactic ivermectin use resulted in greater insect species richness, diversity, predator species abundance, and dung beetle abundance than more conventionally managed rangelands. (Pecenka & Lundgren, 2019)
  • This analysis suggested the reference natural areas (RNAs) were by far more diverse with more species sharing the Importance Value. It also suggests CG ranches were the least diverse and that AMP ranches were transitioning (“diverging”) toward a higher dominance diversity condition, away from the CG plant community. (Apfelbaum et al., 2022)
  • Our study shows that high plant diversity can contribute to a faster transition of insect populations towards naturally occurring community assemblages and at later stages to more stabilized assemblages. (Lange et al., 2023)
  • Our review revealed that biodiversity, nitrogen cycling, and carbon storage in regenerative grazing systems more closely resemble wild grazing ecosystems than do conventional grazing systems. (Kleppel & Frank, 2022)
  • On average, the AMP ranch had 1.5 more species per grid than the CG ranch, with the maximum richness of six, as compared to four in the CG ranch. (Meaning that AMP encourages diversity and mixing of species in close proximity, while CG grazing encourages big clumps of homogenous species.) (Wang et al., 2021)
  • Plant diversity significantly increased shoot biomass, root biomass, the amount of root exudates, bacterial biomass, and fungal biomass. The amount of root exudates increased significantly with increasing plant diversity, while exudate diversity did not. (Eisenhauer et al., 2017)
  • There was more plant biomass, species diversity, and percent cover in regenerative almond orchards compared to conventional almond orchards. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • We found that plant species diversity was about 70% greater in AM fungal inoculated plots, although some fungal species increased diversity up to 300% more than others by the end of the second growing season. Inoculation also significantly improved the diversity of late successional species. (Koziol & Bever, 2016)
    • We found evidence that inoculation with AM fungi via nurse plant plugs can spread into the nearby plant community, as seedling recruitment was greater in inoculated plots by the end of the second growing season, indicating that the inoculation of nurse plants can increase nearby late successional seed recruitment extending beyond the growing season during which the plants were inoculated. (Koziol & Bever, 2016
  • Mature prairie plants outcompete weedy plants and do not require much maintenance. Prairie plants do not move into the crop fields, but could become valuable adjacent habitat for pollinators and other beneficial insects. Prairie strips could become a component of an integrated pest management approach. (Iowa State University, 2017)
  • We show that silvopastoral systems (SPS) harbor higher levels of biodiversity (i.e., richness, abundance, and diversity) and stability than treeless pastures, and perform comparably to nearby forests. However, variations exist across regions and taxa, with the strongest positive responses in tropical dry regions and for low-mobility taxa like invertebrates and plants. Mammals, birds, and soil microorganisms, on the other hand, showed no significant biodiversity differences between treeless pastures and SPS. (Perez-Alvarez et al., 2023)
  • Compost altered the structure of both the fungal and prokaryotic microbial communities, introduced new microorganisms that persisted in the resident soil system, and altered soil microbial correlation network structure and hub taxa. This study highlights the significant impacts that high-quality organic matter fertilization can exert on agricultural soil microbiomes and adds to the growing body of knowledge on using organic fertilizers as a way to steer the soil microbiome toward a healthier soil. (Heisey et al., 2022)
  • Our results show, for the first time in tropical conditions that agricultural systems with low-intensity farming practices and forested landscape allow the preservation of a significantly higher diversity of bees than agricultural systems with high-intensity farming practices and highly deforested landscape. (Vides-Borrell et al., 2019)
  • We found that greater numbers of plant species led to greater temporal stability of ecosystem annual aboveground plant production. In particular, the decadal temporal stability of the ecosystem, whether measured with intervals of two, five or ten years, was significantly greater at higher plant diversity and tended to increase as plots matured. (Tilman et al., 2006)
  • Meta-analysis: Cover cropping increased soil microbial abundance, activity, and diversity. (Kim et al., 2020)

Biological Hotspots

  • We found a significant differentiation in community composition related to the intensity of tillage. Richness was weakly correlated to tillage, and more influenced by whether the sample was taken in the center or the edge of the field. (Froslev et al., 2021)


Economic Consequences of Conventional Agriculture

  • Nitrogen loading in the Gulf that is attributable to agricultural losses upstream caused between $552 million and $2.4 billion (2018 dollars) in damage to Gulf fisheries and marine habitat annually from 1980 to 2017. Based on the scenarios described above, we estimate that between $34.4 million and $990 million (2018 dollars) in damage costs to Gulf fisheries and marine habitat could have been averted every year from 1980 to 2017 through shifts in agricultural practices. (UCS, 2020)
    • Damage cost estimates did not take into account the costs of impaired groundwater, surface water, and drinking water harm to waterways and the climate as it makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. (UCS, 2020)
  • On average the equivalent of 3,100 standard-sized shipping containers per year of excess nitrogen has washed off Midwest cropland into the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers, and ultimately into the Gulf of Mexico. This nitrogen has contributed up to $2.4 billion in damages to ecosystem services generated by fisheries and marine habitat every year since 1980. (UCS, 2020)
  • Estimates of potential damages from N leakage (based on median estimates) ranged from $1.94 to $2255 ha−1 yr−1 across watersheds, with a median of $252 ha−1 yr−1. Eutrophication of freshwater ecosystems and respiratory effects of atmospheric N pollution were important across HUC8s (8-digit US Geologic Survey Hydrologic Unit Codes). Nearly 75% of the damage costs were associated with agricultural N leakage and effects on aquatic systems. (Sobota et al., 2015)
  • From the USDA soil portal, the cost of soil erosion is estimated at $44.39 billion in the United States. This value includes lost productivity, along with sedimentation and eutrophication of water reservoirs. Lost farm income is estimated at $100 million per year as a result of soil erosion in the U.S. (Halopka, 2017)
  • The average cost per event by disaster types are the following (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 2022): 
    • Tropical cyclones have the highest average cost per event of $20.3 billion. 
    • Drought/heat waves have an average cost of $10.0 billion per event.
    • Wildfires have an average cost of $6.2 billion per event.
    • Flooding events have an average cost of $4.7 billion per event. 
  • In 2009, the Institute of Medicine found that some 30% of health care costs were wasted (Berwick & Hackbarth, 2012 , Cutler, 2018), 50% of which was caused by unnecessary or insufficient care mainly related to the way chronic care is managed. (Holman, 2020)
  • A recent Milken Institute analysis determined that treatment of the seven most common chronic diseases coupled with productivity losses will cost the U.S. economy more than $1 trillion dollars annually. (Waters & Graf, 2018)
  • Currently, some 50% of the US population has a chronic disease, creating an epidemic, and 86% of health care costs are attributable to chronic disease. (Holman, 2020)
  • Dependence on chemical weed control fuels a global herbicide industry that accounts for 40% of pesticide use worldwide (Trognitz et al., 2017). In the U.S. alone, the expenditure on herbicides exceeds $5 billion each year and accounts for 57% of the total pesticide use nationally (Atwood & Paisley-Jones, 2017)
    • Glyphosate applications in the U.S. exceed 1 billion kg/yr and now account for 67% of quantities used globally (Benbrook, 2016). As a result, severe outbreaks of glyphosate-resistant or tolerant weed populations have been reported in 54 plant species (Heap, 2023), resulting in an expected annual cost of over $10 billion in increased chemical costs (Varah et al, 2016)
  • The loss of A-horizon soil has removed 1.4 ± 0.5 Pg of carbon from hillslopes, reducing crop yields in the study area by 6% and resulting in $2.8 ± $0.9 billion in annual economic losses. (Thaler et al., 2021)

Input Price Fluctuation of Conventional Agriculture

  • Historical price fluctuations for phosphorus, for example, include price spikes up to 800% in 2008. (Cordell et al., 2015)
  • Over long periods of time, farm input prices are significantly correlated with general inflation.  However, farm input prices are by no means perfectly correlated with general inflation.  Each input has its own supply and demand fundamentals.  Farm input price indices for machinery and labor were more correlated with general inflation than feed, seed, fertilizer, and fuels. (Langemeier, 2022)
    • Of the input prices examined, only seed and wages had a rate of change during the last 12 months (April 2021-April 2022) that was lower than the rate of change for general inflation.  Agricultural production items, a general index for farm input prices, increased 15.6 percent or more than double the general inflation rate.  Input prices changes for energy and fertilizer products were particularly large.  During the last 12 months, diesel prices increased 47 percent.  Increases in fertilizer prices ranged from 51 percent for diammonium phosphate to 179 percent of anhydrous ammonia. (Langemeier, 2022)
  • Scott Stiles, extension economist for the Division of Agriculture in Arkansas, said rising fertilizer prices have a clear correlation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Over the past two weeks (March 11, 2022) the average price for urea at the U.S. Gulf has gone up 26 percent, or $136 a ton,” he said. Diammonium phosphate, or DAP, “has increased 32 percent or $213 per ton since Feb. 1. Potash has increased four consecutive weeks.” (McGeeney, 2022)

Monopoly & Monopsony in Conventional Agriculture

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From “CRS Report for Congress Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress Consolidation and Concentration in the U.S. Dairy Industry” (USDA, 2010)

  • Half of all U.S. cropland is on farms with at least 1,000 acres (over 1.5 square miles).   (MacDonald et al., 2013
  • The vast majority of U.S. poultry and pork products comes from facilities that each produce over 200,000 chickens or 5,000 pigs in a single year, while most egg-laying hens are confined in facilities that house over 100,000 birds at a time. (Johns Hopkins, 2014)
  • Midsize and large-scale family farms account for 8 percent of U.S. farms but 60 percent of the value of production. In contrast, small family farms make up 90 percent of the U.S. farm count but produce a more modest 26-percent share of farm output. (Hoppe, 2014)
  • Percentage of sales earned by the four largest companies in their respective industries in 2011 (Milli & Kim, 2013):
    • Cattle – 82%
    • Hog – 63%
    • Broilers – 53%
  • In the supermarket industry, four companies earn at least 42 percent of the sales. (James et al., 2013)
  • Increased dairy cow output and advances in dairy farm technology and management have led to a sharp reduction in the number of dairy farms. Annual losses averaged 96,000 operations in the late 1960s and 37,000 in the 1970s. In recent years (2010), the annual drop in dairy farm operations has slowed to about 2,000 to 5,000 farms per year. (USDA, 2010)
  • What does market concentration mean for farmers and consumers? In some cases, market concentration can lower prices for consumers and increase sales. On the other hand, with fewer competitors in a concentrated market, dominant companies may gain greater power to influence prices in their favor. They may also dictate how foods are produced, leaving farmers with little choice over how to grow crops or raise animals. Many highly concentrated corporations also have a strong presence in government agencies, where they can influence policies in their favor. (Johns Hopkins, 2014)

Profitability of Conventional Agriculture

  • 89 percent of U.S. farms are small, with gross cash farm income (GCFI) less than $350,000; the households operating these farms typically rely on off-farm sources for the majority of their household income. (USDA-ERS, 2023)
  • Maize production in the United States has been profitable (without government payments) only 7 of the last 26 yr (USDA Economic Research Service, 2018), 5 of these being the biofuel boom years of 2008 through 2012, resulting in billions of dollars in government payments to farmers (Imhoff & Badaracco, 2019).

Profitability of Regenerative Agriculture

  • Decades of scientific evidence suggests that rotational grazing does not convey ecological or production advantages over season-long continuous grazing (livestock graze the same pasture from the start to the end of the grazing season) (Briske et al. 2008, Briske et al. 2011) (Windh et al. 2019)

Profitability of Regenerative Agriculture

  • AMP managed systems provided sufficient forage biomass to support grazer stocking densities 2.38 times higher than conventional grazing systems, while also promoting development of soil food web structure, diversity and functionality and collectively making AMP systems more ecologically resilient, sustainable and profitable. (Johnson et al., 2022)
  • Regenerative fields had 29% lower grain production but 78% higher profits over traditional corn production systems. Profit was positively correlated with the particulate organic matter of the soil, not yield. (LaCanne & Lundgren, 2018)
  • Even without the premiums paid for organic crops, the organic manure system is the most profitable system over conventional and organic legume. (Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial)
  • Ranches in Western Canada using AMP management began grazing earlier in the year, with a mean initiation date of grazing of April 25, as compared with May 17 for n-AMP operations. Notably, four AMP operations reported “year-round” grazing. Not surprisingly, the total length of grazing was 54% longer (at nearly 7 mo) on ranches using AMP grazing, even after the adjustment for dormant season grazing. (Bork et al. 2021)
  • For the twenty wheat production seasons from 1980 to 1999, grain-only generated more net returns in four seasons and dual-purpose (Cool season grazed in addition to grain harvest) generated more net returns in 16 seasons. (Eppelin et al., 2001)
  • Simulations show that shorter periods of grazing increase both ecological condition (EC) and profitability while increasing recovery periods increases both EC and profitability initially but profitability decreases if recovery periods are too long. Both EC and profitability are positively related to number of paddocks used. (Teague et al., 2015)
  • MP grazing excels in that it can sustain much higher stocking density without a negative influence on the biomass and composition of grass. Consequently, MP grazing practice offers an alternative to maintaining or improving rangeland condition, at higher stocking rates than would be sustainable under continuous grazing. (Wang, Teague & Park, 2016)
  • Results show that compared to continuous grazing, MP grazing on large commercial ranches greatly increases the optimal 30-year net present value (NPV) by sustaining much higher stocking rates. (Wang et al., 2018)
  • Profit was twice as high in the regenerative almond orchards relative to their conventional counterparts. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • Differences in returns between a rye cover crop prior to cotton that was grazed and non-grazed (roller-crimped) ranged from $–26 to $355 and averaged $81 ha−1 when based on market year prices. The difference in average return increased to $110 ha−1 when based on 2012 market year prices. (Schomberg et al., 2014)
  • Management practices hypothesized to enhance yield and environmental performance were adopted by 20.9 million farmers in China in 452 counties from 2005-2015.The increased grain output and decreased nitrogen fertilizer use were equivalent to US$12.2 billion. (Cui et al., 2018)
  • During 2008-2016, increases in rotation length led to greater labor requirements and decreased gross revenue. However, production costs also dropped substantially as cropping system diversity increased. Consequently, net returns to land and management did not differ among systems (p=0.56, mean=$845 per hectare per year, $342 per acre year), though profitability tended to rise as rotation length increased. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
  • Long-term field experiments in South Africa demonstrate that, with crop rotation, better yields enable two-thirds of the present total wheat production to be grown with only half the cropped area under the main crop, and with better gross margins—dramatically better with integrated cropping and livestock. (Strauss, 2021)


Rural Revitalization

  • Presently, prices for grass-fed beef are 47% greater by weight than conventional beef (USDA, 2018) across all cuts. If demand is not perfectly inelastic (the price does not remain constant despite a change in supply), a reduction in the amount of beef produced in the US is likely to increase the price of beef domestically. Additionally, imports of grass-fed beef could be reduced, shifting demand for this premium product back to US farmers, thus making exclusively grass-fed cattle management more profitable. This outcome could benefit declining rural economies in the US. (Hayek & Garrett, 2018).
  • White Oak Pastures’ 155+ employees make a minimum of twice the county average and spend their paycheck eating, shopping, and living in the Bluffton community. They have also invested in their community, built cabins for local tourism, opened an on-farm restaurant, and re-opened a General Store in downtown Bluffton (which is the only place within a 10-mile radius for locals to buy fresh food, a coca-cola, or a roll of toilet paper). (White Oak Pastures)


Current Rates of Erosion

    • Our assessment shows that globally, GHG emissions from domestic ruminants represent 11.6% (1.58 Gt C y–1) of total anthropogenic emissions, while cropping and soil-associated emissions contribute 13.7% (1.86 Gt C y–1). The primary source is soil erosion (1 Gt C y–1), which in the United States alone is estimated at 1.72 Gt of soil y–1. (Teague et al., 2016)
      • In the United States, annual soil mass losses from crop and grazing land (1.72 Gt soil y–1; Lal 2003) is three times greater than the combined yields from corn (Zea mays L.; 0.36 Gt y–1), soybeans (Glycine max; 0.045 Gt y–1) and hay (0.146 Gt y–1; USDA 2012). (Teague et al., 2016)
    • We predict the A-horizon has been completely removed from 35 ± 11% of the cultivated area of the Corn Belt. (Thaler et al., 2021)
    • WI and MN research found that 10% of the runoff events caused 85% of the total soil loss, with 69% of soil lost in May and June. (Discovery Farms, 2016)

·        “Detailed information on soil erosion, through both modelling and measurement, is lacking for large parts of the world. This condition is particularly true for regions most susceptible to high levels of soil erosion.” (Borrelli et al., 2021)

Improvements in Erosion from Regenerative Principles

  • Autumn sowing of rye following corn silage harvest on a sandy loam soil reduced mean annual soil loss from 31 Mg ha–1 y–1, where soil was ploughed but left bare over winter, to 2.5 Mg ha–1 y–1 when rye was planted. (Kort et al., 1998)
  • The average annual surface runoff, as well as losses of sediment, Total Nitrogen and Total Phosphorus from the study ranches varied from 117.4 mm, 8.14 ton ha-1, 4.68 kg ha-1 and 1.04 kg ha-1, respectively, at the Mitchell Ranch (HC grazing) to about 43.7mm, 1.36 ton ha-1, 1.27 kg ha-1 and 0.21 kg ha-1, respectively, at the Pittman Ranch (MP grazing). (Park et al., 2017)
  • Crop species with fibrous root system (e.g. ryegrass, rye and oats) show high potential to control soil erosion while cover crops with thick roots (e.g. white mustard and fodder radish) are less effective in preventing soil erosion. (Baets et al., 2011)
  • Research shows that by converting 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennial vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce sediment movement off their field by 95 percent. (Iowa State, 2019)
  • This study demonstrated that reduced tillage in organic farming decreased sediment delivery (0.73 t ha−1 h−1) compared to intensively tilled organic plots (1.87 t ha−1 h−1) by 61%. (Seitz et al., 2018)
  • Soil erosion was 50% lower, fossil energy consumption was 60% lower in the more diverse systems than in the conventional system.(Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
  • Rainfall simulations were performed on packed columns (20 cm diam.; 56 cm length) that included triplicate combinations of cereal rye (Secale cereale L.), forage radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. longipinnatus), and bare soil and a heavy, light, and no freezing treatment. The two cover crops reduced runoff total suspended solids concentrations and nitrate leaching compared with a bare soil control, confirming many cover cropping benefits. (Muñoz-Ventura et al., 2022)
  • Use of prairie strips also reduced total water runoff from catchments by 37%, resulting in retention of 20 times more soil and 4.3 times more phosphorus.  (Schulte et al., 2017)
  • We show that just under a third of conventionally managed soils in the dataset exhibit lifespans (time it takes to erode 30cm) of <200 years, with 16% <100 years. Conservation measures substantially extend lifespan estimates, and in many cases promote soil thickening, with 39% of soils under conservation measures exhibiting lifespans exceeding 10,000 years.” (Evans et al., 2020)



Global Fertilizer Supply

  • A simple calculation of phosphate rock reserve longevity using current reserve and production figures indicates that the world has over 300 years of reserves and over 1,400 years of resources. It should again be emphasized that estimates for phosphate rock reserves are subject to change with updated information and discovery, and with changes in economics and technology. (Van Kauwenbergh, 2013)
  • Today’s prices for chemical P fertilizer can already be 2–6 times more expensive for a farmer in Africa than in Europe due to higher transport and storage costs (Cordell et al., 2009), even though Africa itself has the highest geological P deposits in the world (according to today’s estimates 80% of the global geological P deposits are located in Morocco and the Western Sarah).
  • Russia and Belarus account for 41% of the globally traded K and are the second and third largest producers. (Quinn, 2022)
  • “The world will never run out of phosphorus or potassium; there’s huge amounts out there in the oceans, and in fact that’s where the runoff from our phosphate rock and potash-based fertilizers go. But when those supplies run out, the process of recovering phosphate from agricultural waste, runoff, and sewage will be so expensive that many forms of agriculture that depend on cheap NPK fertilizers will suffer. Let’s not even get started on the step change in cost that mining it from the ocean would entail.” (Velson, 2017)
    • While many people may make the mistake of claiming that these resources will “run out” in the strict sense of being consumable, there is still a very valid point that many so-called alarmists make – that valid point being the price level that supports current practices. (Velson, 2017)

Natural Fertility Cycles

  • Free-living diazotrophs are estimated to account for at least one-third of the global total Biological Nitrogen Fixation (Davies-Barnard and Friedlingstein, 2020). (Hu et al., 2024)

Synthetic Fertilizer Use

  • The average percentage of yield attributable to fertilizer generally ranged from about 40 to 60% in the USA and England and tended to be much higher in the tropics. Recently calculated budgets for N, P, and K indicate that commercial fertilizer makes up the majority of nutrient inputs necessary to sustain current crop yields in the USA. The results of this investigation indicate that the commonly cited generalization that at least 30 to 50% of crop yield is attributable to commercial fertilizer nutrient inputs is a reasonable, if not conservative estimate. (Stewart et al., 2005)
  • 1961 Fertilizer production: 9.37 million ton K, 11.23 million ton P, 12.94 million ton N (Our World in Data, 2022 using data from FAO, 2023)
  • 2020 Fertilizer production: 44.91 million ton K, 44.87 million ton P, 123.15 million ton N (Our World in Data, 2022 using data from FAO, 2023)

Environmental Damage from Fertilizers

  • Phosphate strip mines are environment wreckers. They produce around 150 million tons of toxic spoil a year. Their massive draglines, huge slurry pipes, and mountainous spoil heaps dominate the landscape for tens of miles in key mining zones, whether in the North African desert or in Florida, a state that still provides three-quarters of American farmers’ phosphate needs. (Pearce, 2011)
  • For every ton of desirable phosphoric acid produced for fertilizer, more than five tons of phosphogypsum waste remains. (EPA, 2023)
    • Radioactive gypsum waste is piled into ponds, many of which risk breaking and leaching into aquifers used as drinking water. (Luscombe, 2021)
  • We find that the synthetic N fertiliser supply chain was responsible for estimated emissions of 1.13 GtCO2e in 2018, representing 10.6% of agricultural emissions and 2.1% of global GHG emissions. (Menegat et al., 2022)
  • Researchers from the University of Cambridge found that two thirds of emissions from fertilisers take place after they are spread on fields, with one third of emissions coming from production processes. (Gao & Serrenho, 2023)
  • CAFOs, monocultures, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, and tillage have degraded our soil and eliminated methanotrophs that digest methane. Furthermore, because synthetic nitrogen fertilizer production (through fracking) generates as much methane as CAFOs, crops grown with such fertilizers are arguably a more significant source of methane than CAFO beef. (Eskelinen et al., 2022

Inefficiency of Synthetic Fertilizers

  • The efficiency of N recovery by grain crops ranges from 35% to 75% with an average near 50% (Smil, 1999;Socolow, 1999). For example, N recovery by maize, which has a grain N content of 1.5%, is 39% for the first 100 kg (220 lb) of N fertilizer and only 13% for the second 100 kg (220 lb) (Socolow, 1999). (Vance, 2001)
  • Nitrogen-leaching losses from common grain-production systems typically range from 10% to 30% of the total N input. (Meisinger & Delgado 2002)
  • Estimates of potential damages from N leakage (based on median estimates) ranged from $1.94 to $2255 ha−1 yr−1 across watersheds, with a median of $252 ha−1 yr−1. Eutrophication of freshwater ecosystems and respiratory effects of atmospheric N pollution were important across HUC8s (8-digit US Geologic Survey Hydrologic Unit Codes). Nearly 75% of the damage costs were associated with agricultural N leakage and effects on aquatic systems. (Sobota et al., 2015)
  • Only 20 percent of the phosphorus in phosphate rock reaches the food consumed globally. Thirty to 40 percent is lost during mining and processing; 50 percent is wasted in the food chain between farm and fork; and only half of all manure is recycled back into farmland around the world. (Cho, 2013)

Negative Impacts to Plant Health From Fertilization

  • Fertilization significantly increased plant growth, but at the same time made plants more susceptible to herbivory. (Van Hee et al., 2023)

Prevention of Nutrient Loss

  • As part of a corn-soybean rotation, oats (Avena sativa L.)  reduced nitrate concentrations and loads in subsurface drainage water by 26% whereas rye (Secale cereale L.) reduced 48% nitrate concentration. (Kaspar et al., 2012)
  • Meta-analyses of research found that nitrate leaching was 40% lower in legume cover crop treatment than fallow systems and 70% lower in non-legume cover crop treatment than fallow system. (Tonitto et al., 2006)
  • Research shows that by converting 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennial vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce total phosphorous and nitrogen lost through runoff by 90 and 85 percent, respectively. (Iowa State, 2019)

Increase in Soil Nutrient Availability

  • Multi-paddock grazing management increased soil nutrient availability (water-extractable C and N) (Khatri-Chhetri et al. 2022)
  • The higher N stocks and lower 15N abundance of AMP soils also point to higher N retention in these systems. (Mosier et al., 2021)
  • On average, CG farms had 29% greater NH4+ concentrations, whereas AMP farms had 55% greater NO3− concentration. (Mosier et al., 2022)
  • Soil C stocks increased with species richness. More C was stored in the top layer (0–7.5 cm) than in the second soil layer (7.5–15 cm). Soil N stocks also increased with species richness (F = 20.5; P < 0.001). Plant species richness had a strong positive effect on potential soil net N mineralization: soil N mineralization increased on average by 48% with each doubling of species richness. (Cong et al., 2014)
  • Total soil carbon (TSC), soil organic matter (SOM), total soil nitrogen (TSN), total soil phosphorous, calcium, sulfur, and soil health test scores were all significantly greater in regenerative almond orchard soils compared to conventional almond orchards. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • Microbial cocultures can degrade lignocellulosic biomass more efficiently than the same species in monoculture, with degradation efficiencies found to increase as much as 18-fold in coculture relative to the constituent monocultures (29). (Wilpiszeski et al., 2019)
  • An overall increase in C and N cycling under integrated crop-livestock (ICL) and natural ecosystem (NE) systems has been attributed to ingested pasture being converted into urine and manure. Under these systems, livestock catalyze nutrient cycling by breakdown of complex plant molecules, greater soil incorporation and decomposition of plant residues and soil organic matter, which can maintain or even improve soil fertility. (Bansal et al., 2022)
  • Roots accelerate SOM decomposition compared to the root exclusion treatments, but also promote a different soil N economy with higher concentrations of organic soil N compared to inorganic soil N accompanied with the build-up of stable SOM-N. In contrast, root exclusion leads to an inorganic soil N economy (i.e., high level of inorganic N) with reduced stable SOM-N build-up. (Adamczyk et al., 2019)
  • During the period of 2006-2016, mineral N fertilizer use was 86% and 91% lower, and herbicide use was 96% and 97% lower in the 3-year and 4-year systems, respectively, than in the 2-year system. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
  • Overall, this data (from a 35 year study) shows that extended rotations involving forage crops reduce N inputs, increase corn grain yields, and are more agronomically sustainable than current short-term rotations. (Stranger & Lauer, 2008)

Food Supply

Food Supply

  • Daily per capita caloric supply is measured in kilocalories per person per day. This indicates the caloric availability delivered to households but does not necessarily indicate the number of calories actually consumed. (FAO, 2018)
    • United States: 3,782 kcal/person/day
    • Global: 2,947 kcal/person/day 
  • Daily production of kcal per capita
    • United States: 19,156 kcal/person
    • Global: 6,566 kcal/person
  • About 4.85 million ha of the maize grown is used to fatten beef cattle in feedlots located mostly in the Great Plains region (USDA, 2020). With slaughter rates of 21.9 million head yr–1, the amount of grain-finished beef produced in the United States is 5.4 billion kg yr–1 (Hayek & Garrett, 2018).
  • The smallest two farm size classes (0–1 ha and 1–2 ha) are the greatest contributors to global food production compared to all other classes. Farms less than 2 ha produce 28–31% of total crop production and 30–34% of the global food supply (by calories) as extrapolated from the 55 countries and 154 crops in our dataset. Their contribution is slightly higher than their areal coverage of 24% of gross harvested area, suggesting small farmers have greater cropping intensity or higher yields than larger farms. (Ricciardi et al., 2018)
    • Our findings are in line with Samberg and Herrero’s global estimates. This suggests that these three studies, using different methodologies, agree that the previous estimate of smallholders producing 70–80% of global food production needs to be revised. (Ricciardi et al., 2018)

Conventional Agriculture/Green Revolution Increase in Food Supply

  • The Haber-Bosch process will likely have enabled the lives of at least 3 to 3.5 billion people (roughly 40-48% by most estimates) today. (Erisman et al., 2008 , Smil, 2004 , Stewart et al., 2005)
  • Since 1950, global grain production per person has increased by 27 percent, while the amount of land dedicated to grain production per person has declined by 56 percent, according to the USDA. (Fitzsimmons, 2016)

Inefficiency/Waste in the Current Food System

  • What do we actually know about the global magnitude of food loss and waste? Surprisingly little, as it turns out, but the sustainable development goals (SDG) monitoring framework is expected to contribute precisely to bridging this gap through enhanced efforts to collect data that enable estimation of total food loss and waste at the highest possible disaggregated levels. (FAO, 2019)
  • Food loss is food, feed, seed and other. This is expressed as a share of all agricultural production, not just food.
    • FAO’s Food Loss Index has led to the first global estimate released in 2019 that 13.8 percent of food produced in 2016 was lost from the farm up to, but excluding, the retail stage. (FAO, 2019)
  • Food waste is consumer food waste, i.e. of final food products, not including non-food uses such as animal feed or seed.
    • Around 931 million tonnes of food waste were generated in 2019, 61 per cent of which came from households, 26 per cent from food service and 13 per cent from retail. This suggests that 17 per cent of total global food production may be wasted (11 per cent in households, 5 per cent in food service and 2 per cent in retail). (United Nations, 2021)

Conventional Agriculture Not Feeding the World

  • If crop production currently used for animal feed and other uses, such as biofuels, were instead used for human food products, supplies would be increased by 70%, thus providing sufficient resources for an additional four billion people (West et al. 2014).
  • We found smallholders (farms <2 ha) also allocate the largest percentage (55–59%) of their crop production to food compared to all other farm size classes. Generally, larger farms devote more of their production towards feed and processing. (Ricciardi et al., 2018)
    • Farms between 200 and 500 ha have the largest allocation of their production to feed (16–29%) compared to farms < 2 ha who allocate 12–16% to feed. Farms > 1000 ha allocated 12–32% of their production to processing. (Ricciardi et al., 2018)

Regenerative Agriculture Not Able to Feed the World

    • ADGgrassfed = 1.4 lbs day−1 is the average daily weight gain of cattle finishing on grass. (Hayek & Garrett, 2018)
  • In order to produce the same quantity of beef as the present-day system, we find that a nationwide shift to exclusively grass-fed beef would require increasing the national cattle herd from 77 to 100 million cattle, an increase of 30%. We also find that the current pastureland grass resource can support only 27% of the current beef supply (27 million cattle), an amount 30% smaller than prior estimates. If grass-fed systems include cropland-raised forage, a definition that conforms to typical grass-fed certifications, these supplemental feeds can support an additional 34 million cattle to produce up to 61% of the current beef supply. (Hayek & Garrett, 2018)
    • Additionally, croplands currently utilized for grains fed to farmed animals could be substituted for alfalfa, a high-yielding forage crop. Including these ‘replaced’ forages, the US land base could support up to 71% of the current US beef production exclusively grasses and forages.
  • When comparing required land between the multi-species pasture rotation (MSPR) at White Oak Pastures and conventional, commodity (COM) production systems, MSPR required 2.5 times more land when compared to COM. Thus, while our model indicates that MSPR can simultaneously produce protein while regenerating land, a considerably greater land area is needed when compared to COM. (Rowntree et al., 2020)

Regenerative Agriculture Systems Feeding the World

  • At typical forage production levels, 2.9 to 4.4 animals could be brought to finished weight on a hectare of former maize ground per year. So, the 4.85 million ha of current maize land used to supply grain-finishing feedlots could support 14 to 22 million finishing cattle per year. (Jackson, 2022)
    • With slaughter rates of 21.9 million head yr–1, the amount of grain-finished beef produced in the United States is 5.4 billion kg yr–1. (Hayek & Garrett, 2018)
  • Crop yields were increased with the regenerative (non-conventional) agricultural methods, indicating that it is possible to increase the ergothioneine (a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory amino acid that is produced in nature mainly by non-yeast fungi, cyanobacteria, and mycobacteria) content of the American food supply by using practices that can be profitable, more sustainable, and environmentally friendly. (Beelman et al., 2021)
  • Management practices hypothesized to enhance yield and environmental performance were adopted by 20.9 million farmers in China in 452 counties from 2005-2015. Average yields of maize, rice and wheat increased by 10.8-11.5%, while decreasing nitrogen application by 14.7%-18.1% and lowering GHG emissions. (Cui et al., 2018)

Fungi (Mycorrhizal-specific)

Impact of Fungicides on MF

  • The experimental tests demonstrated that spore germination and/or mycelial growth of G. mosseae are adversely affected by most of the substances tested and, in some cases, at much lower concentrations than those indicated for use (hormesis). (Giovannetti et al., 2006)
  • These results indicate that the suppressive effects of seed-applied fungicides on AMF development depend on specific fungicide-AMF interactions.(Jin et al., 2013)
  • Results showed that mycelial growth and interconnectedness of three different F. mosseae lineages were affected by the chemicals tested at concentrations lower than those indicated for agricultural use. (Barreto de Novais et al., 2019)
  • AMF communities in grassland soils were much more efficient in acquiring 33P and transferred 64% more 33P to plants compared with AMF in cropland soils. Fungicide application best explained hyphal 33P transfer in cropland soils. The use of fungicides and subsequent decline in AMF richness in croplands reduced 33P uptake by 43%. Our results suggest that land-use intensity and fungicide use are major deterrents to the functioning and natural nutrient uptake capacity of AMF in agroecosystems. (Edlinger et al., 2022)
  • Thus, Gram-positive bacteria, Gram-negative bacteria, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, and fungal PLFA biomarkers in soils without fungicide application were about 36%, 3%, 47%, and 82% higher than those soils treated with the highest doses of fungicides, respectively. (Verdenelli et al., 2023)
  • Overall, based on the presented studies, the AMF response to pesticides is clearly substance- and dose-dependent. (Hage-Ahmed et al., 2018)

Impact of Tillage on MF

  • Here we show that, despite this broad host range, the diversity of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi is strikingly low in arable sites compared with a woodland. (Helgason et al., 1998)

Impact of Glyphosate on MF

  • In a greenhouse experiment, we found that glyphosate herbicides significantly decreased root mycorrhization, soil AMF spore biomass, vesicles and propagules. (Zaller, 2014)
  • New Dr. James White glyphosate research

Soil Aggregation Benefits of MF

  • Overall, pathways creating large macroaggregates were about twice as active with AMF than without, while those degrading large macroaggregates were only half as active with AMF than without, emphasizing the stabilizing effect of AMF on large macroaggregates. (Morris et al., 2019)
    • Large macroaggregates were more abundant in the presence of AMF while microaggregates and primary particles declined. Small macroaggregates made up about 15% of the total soil mass in both treatments, and were not affected by AMF presence. (Morris et al., 2019)

Fertility Benefits of MF

  • Consequently, increased P availability could indirectly affect plant growth through the alleviation of N limitation. At our site, concentrations of soil inorganic N were nearly three times higher in plots fertilized with P than in control plots. Subsequent acetylene reduction analyses showed that soil N fixation rates were more than double for P fertilization plots. (Reed et al., 2007)
  • AMF increased Pn (Carbon sequestration by plant) of four species ranging from 15.3% to 33.1% and carbon storage, averaged by 17.2% compared to controls. Soil organic carbon (OC), easily extractable glomalin-relation soil protein (EE-GRSP) and total glomalin-relation soil protein (T-GRSP) were significantly increased by AMF treatment. (Wang et al., 2016)
    • The positive AMF function is through higher availability of nutrients and altered carbon allocation, thus promoting plant growth, especially increasing leaf area, chlorophyll content, and the Q10 (the temperature sensitivity of Rs (Carbon release to the atmosphere) which is derived from substrate availability) value. (Wang et al., 2016
  • The obtained results showed that AMF inoculation of onion and application of 120 kg P fertilizer ha−1 significantly increased the fresh and dry weights, chlorophyll content of onion as well as P concentration in the root, shoot, and bulb during two growing seasons. Moreover, AMF increased the bioavailability of P in the rhizosphere and significantly enhanced the N-utilization by the inoculated plant. The economic yield of the onion plant inoculated by AMF and fertilized by different doses of P fertilizer was much higher than that obtained by the control (without AMF). (El-Sherbeny et al., 2022)
  • Across all species and treatments [in a deciduous forest ecosystem in southern Europe], the mycorrhizal external mycelium was the dominant pathway (62%) through which carbon entered the SOM pool, exceeding the input via leaf litter and fine root turnover. The input via the mycorrhizal external mycelium was not influenced by elevated CO2, but elevated atmospheric CO2 enhanced soil C inputs via fine root turnover. The turnover of the mycorrhizal external mycelium may be a fundamental mechanism for the transfer of root-derived C to SOM. (Godbold et al., 2006)

Growth Benefits of MF

  • Perennial warm-season C-4 grasses and forbs generally benefited significantly from the mycorrhizal symbiosis, whereas biomass production of the cool-season C-3 grasses was not affected. Fourteen of the 15 perennial legumes were highly responsive to mycorrhizal inoculation. This high mycorrhizal dependency of legumes probably reflects the relatively high P demand of the N2-fixation process. (Wilson & Hartnett, 1998)
    • Unlike the native perennials, annuals were generally not responsive to mycorrhizal colonization and were lower in percentage root colonization than the perennial species. All annual grasses and annual and biennial forbs examined in this study showed low mycorrhizal responsiveness. This is not surprising, as it has been estimated that only 15% of all annual Monocotyledonae form a mycorrhizal association, as compared to 85% of perennials (Trappe, 1987). (Wilson & Hartnett, 1998)

Build-up of Soil Fungi from Regenerative Practices

  • Mean arbuscular mycorrhizal and protozoan biomasses in CM and hayfield samples were about 10% of those in MP soils. Rhizobia were undetectable in 80% of the samples from CM pastures and 57% of the samples from hayfields. (Kleppel, 2019)
  • Fungal biomass increased most with increasing plant diversity resulting in a significant shift in the fungal-to-bacterial biomass ratio at high plant diversity. Fungal biomass increased significantly with plant diversity-induced increases in root biomass and the amount of root exudates. (Eisenhauer et al., 2017)
  • We found that late-successional species were more responsive, and demonstrated greater specificity, toward individual AM fungal taxa than early-successional species. (Koziol & Bever, 2016)
    • Soil treatment was a significant predictor of plant size, with early-successional plants growing 40% smaller with AM inoculation and late-successional plants growing 383% larger with AM inoculation relative to the non-inoculated controls. (Koziol & Bever, 2016)
  • Soil treatment was a strong predictor of nurse plant survival in years 1 (40% more likely to survive with AM fungal inoculation) and 2 (about 3x more likely to survive than controls). (Koziol & Bever, 2016)
  • The root systems of the cool-season grasses were also less highly colonized by the AM fungi, as compared to the warm-season grasses or forbs. (Wilson & Hartnett, 1998)
  • Fall cover crops significantly increased the mycorrhizal inoculum potential of the soils. Forage oats (Avena sativa (L.) Hausskn.), by itself or in mixtures, was most effective at both sites where it was planted. (Lehman et al., 2012)

Fungi (Non-Specific)

Impact of Tillage on Soil Fungi

  • Within the pairs of study soils, those that were tilled had lower fungal activities and stored C than those that were managed to native or no-till systems. (Bailey et al. 2002)
  • Tillage practices had differing effects on soil microbial co-occurrence networks, with rotary and deep tillage increasing the complexity of bacterial networks but simplifying fungal networks. (Guan et al., 2022)

Impact of Disturbance on Soil Fungi Diversity

  • Conversely, we observed a lower fungal taxonomic richness in forest soils when compared to vineyard soils. In forests, the low-disturbance environment could cause competitive exclusions and induce the dominance of opportunistic organisms. In vineyard contexts, higher soil disturbance could limit the process of competitive exclusion and thus favour higher diversity, as predicted by the “humped-back” model describing the response of the diversity of a community to environmental stress (Giller et al., 1998), and also observed with regard to bacterial richness in agricultural soils (Terrat et al., 2017). This greater fungal alpha-diversity in croplands than in forests could be attributed to greater nutrient availability from fertiliser inputs in arable soils, promoting some microbial species (Szoboszlay et al., 2017). (Quiquerez et al., 2022)

Impact of Removing Grazing Animals on Soil Fungi

  • The phylotype richness of fungi decreased by 19% in the grazing removal treatment and the phylotype richness of protists decreased by 17%. (Schrama et al., 2021)

Benefits of Soil Fungi

  • In all pairs of soils, soils that had higher absolute fungal activities also had more total soil C and when two extreme cases were removed fungal activity was correlated with total soil C. Thus, in this small set of diverse soils, increased fungal activities, more than F:B ratios, were associated with increased soil C. (Bailey et al. 2002)
  • Fungal mycelia reinforce aggregate tensile strength. (Wilpiszeski et al., 2019)
  • We conclude that fungal inoculation improved plant growth and generally elicited a stronger defense response to stink bug feeding. Accordingly, plant damage was reduced by T. harzianum. (Van Hee et al., 2023)

Increased Fungal Populations from Regenerative Practices

  • Relative fungal biomass in Multi-Paddock soils was 1.4 times higher than in Conventionally Managed (low livestock density, low rotation frequency) soils and 1.7 times higher than in hayfield soils. (Kleppel, 2019)
  • MP soils exhibited higher F:B ratios than CM pastures or hayfields, in part because relative bacterial biomass was lower and relative fungal biomass was higher in MP than in CM and hayfield soils. (Kleppel, 2019)
  • AMP grazing systems outperformed CG systems by generating: (a) 92.68 g m−2 more standing crop biomass (SCB), promoting 46% higher pasture photosynthetic capacity; (b) a strong positive linear relationship of SCB with fungal biomass and fungal to bacterial (F:B) biomass ratio. (Johnson et al., 2022)
  • Moreover, where the soil was ploughed, the species were evenly distributed. There was higher spatial variability in the absence of ploughing, with fungal taxa distributed according to a small-scale pattern, corresponding to micro-niches that probably remained undisturbed and heterogeneously distributed. (Orrù et al., 2021)


Human Public Health

Land Use Change Effects on Human Health

  • Significant associations between forest cover loss and zoonotic and vector-borne disease outbreaks were observed, respectively, for 47 and 49 countries, with the majority in tropical climate (Annex 1, Supplementary Table 1). Significant associations between forest cover gain and zoonotic or vector-borne outbreaks were observed for, respectively, 27 and 29 countries, the majority situated outside the tropical environment (see Annex 1, Supplementary Table 2). (Morand & Lajaunie, 2021)
  • Specifically, we observed that lower land-use intensity and vectors were associated with lower prevalence of VBDs, whereas medium land-use intensity was linked to higher prevalence. Additionally, higher HFI values facilitate the prevalence of vector-borne diseases in both vector and host populations. These findings strengthen the reliability of the categorical classification system used, further supporting that the most pronounced effects on VBD prevalence occur during the early stages of land use degradation. (Ferraguti et al, 2023)

Nutrition (Animal)

Benefits of Diverse Forage

  • Willow (Salix spp.) leaves contain a high concentration of cobalt (6 times the requirement of lambs). Supplementary willow tree leaves can be used by producers to improve vitamin B12 status in lambs. (Walker et al., 2022)

Nutrition (Human)

Hunger Statistics

  • The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022 (FAO, 2022)
    • Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020 due to the increased cost.
    • 702-828 million people worldwide are facing hunger. 
    • World hunger rose further in 2021. After remaining relatively unchanged since 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) jumped from 8.0 to 9.3 percent from 2019 to 2020 and rose at a slower pace in 2021 to 9.8 percent. 
    • Africa- 57.9% Moderate & Severe Food Insecurity (23.4% Severe Food Insecurity)
    • Latin America & South America- 40.6% Moderate & Severe Food Insecurity (14.2% Severe)
    • Asia- 24.6% Moderate & Severe Food Insecurity (10.5% Severe Food Insecurity)


  • Around 45% of deaths among children under 5 years of age are linked to undernutrition. These mostly occur in low- and middle-income countries. At the same time, in these same countries, rates of childhood overweight and obesity are rising. (WHO, 2020)
  • Globally in 2020, 149 million children under 5 were estimated to be stunted (too short for age), 45 million were estimated to be wasted (too thin for height), and 38.9 million were overweight or obese. (WHO, 2020)
  • Micronutrient deficiencies, especially iron, vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and folate, are prevalent in the developing world, affecting an estimated 2 billion people worldwide. (FAO, 2004)
    • Global micronutrient deficiency burdens have decreased since 1990. Still, an estimated one-third of people suffer from at least one form of micronutrient deficiency. (Han et al., 2022)
  • One analysis of US national survey data (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006) found that children and adults with high intakes of added sugars (>25% of energy intake; the upper limit recommended by the National Academy of Medicine) had lower dietary intakes of several micronutrients, especially vitamins A, C, and E, as well as magnesium. An estimated 13% of the US population have added sugar intakes above this cutoff level for added sugars and may be at risk for micronutrient inadequacies. (Marriott et al., 2010)

Rise in Chronic Diseases of Abundance

  • Despite overall health progress (i.e. Global life expectancy rose from 67 years in 2000, to 73 years in 2019.), WHO said that the increasing toll of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) meant that if the trend were to continue, by around 2050, chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and respiratory illnesses – will account for 86 per cent of the 90 million deaths each year: a staggering 90 per cent increase in absolute numbers, since 2019. (WHO, 2023)
  • Currently, some 50% of the US population has a chronic disease, creating an epidemic, and 86% of health care costs are attributable to chronic disease. (Holman, 2020)
  • Cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, or 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers (9.3 million), chronic respiratory diseases (4.1 million), and diabetes (2.0 million including kidney disease deaths caused by diabetes). These four groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature NCD deaths. (WHO, 2022)
  • Until the early 20th century, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and gastroenteritis were the major causes of death worldwide, accounting for one-third of all deaths. In the early 21st century, however, the major causes of death have become heart disease, cancer, and cerebrovascular disease, accounting for two-thirds of all the deaths. Thus, not only the major causes of death but also the proportion of chronic diseases among the causes of death have changed. (Hong, 2019)

Plant-Based Meat Facts

  • Despite apparent similarities based on Nutrition Facts panels, our metabolomics analysis found that metabolite abundances between the plant-based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef differed by 90% (171 out of 190 profiled metabolites; false discovery rate adjusted p < 0.05). (Van Vliet et al., 2021)

Decrease in Nutrition in Crops from Conventional

  • Recent studies of historical nutrient content data for fruits and vegetables spanning 50 to 70 years show apparent median declines of 5% to 40% or more in minerals, vitamins, and protein in groups of foods, especially in vegetables. (Davis, 2009)


Health-Promoting Nutrients in Meat and Milk

  • Scientists at UChicago discover that trans-vaccenic acid (TVA), a fatty acid found in beef, lamb, and dairy products, improves the ability of immune cells to fight tumors. (Fan et al., 2023)


Increase in Nutrition in Crops from Regenerative/Organic

  • Averaged across all nine farm pairings the regenerative farm crops had 34% more vitamin K (10% more to 57% more), 15% more vitamin E (11% less to 70% more), 14% more vitamin B1 (17% less to 2 times more), and 17% more vitamin B2 (17% less to 3 times more) (Table 2). The crops from the regenerative farms also had 15% more total carotenoids (6% less to 48% more), 20% more total phenolics (14% less to more than twice as many), and 22% more total phytosterols (25% less to more than 2 times more). In addition, regeneratively grown crops had 11% more calcium (1% less to 43% more), 16% more phosphorus (10% less to twice as much), and 27% more copper (16% less to twice as much). (Montgomery et al., 2022)
  • The beef from the regenerative farm had 3 times more omega-3 fats, and more than 6 times more of the essential omega-3, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), than the conventional beef (Table 4). The regenerative beef also had more than half more to almost three quarters more of the trio of long-chain omega-3s (EPA, DPA, and DHA), as well as two-thirds of the omega-6 fats, making for an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio one fifth as large as for conventional beef (1.3:1 vs 6.2:1). (Montgomery et al., 2022)
  • Livestock allowed to graze diverse, nutrient rich forage accumulate higher levels of health-promoting phytonutrients, like terpenoids, phenols, tocopherols and carotenoids in their meat and milk, as well as a healthy ratio of omega 6:3 fatty acids compared to animals allowed monoculture pastures and confined animals finished on high grain diets. (Van Vliet et al., 2017)
  • Grazing livestock on plant-species diverse pastures concentrates a wider variety and higher amounts of phytochemicals in meat and milk compared to grazing monoculture pastures, while phytochemicals are further reduced or absent in meat and milk of grain-fed animals. (Van Vliet et al., 2021)
  • Pasture-finishing bison compared to finishing with meadow hay, alfalfa hay bales, and whole shell corn access prior to harvest broadly improves metabolic health pathways of bison and increases the presence of potentially health-promoting compounds in their meat. (Van Vliet et al., 2023)
  • The results of this study confirmed that aggressive tillage of agricultural soils significantly reduced ergothioneine (a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory amino acid that is produced in nature mainly by non-yeast fungi, cyanobacteria, and mycobacteria) content in three grain crops grown over three years when compared to alternative agriculture methods involving little or no disturbance of the soil. (Beelman et al., 2021)


Pesticide Use

  • Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. In 2014, farmers sprayed enough glyphosate to apply ~1.0 kg/ha (0.8 pound/acre) on every hectare of U.S.-cultivated cropland and nearly 0.53 kg/ha (0.47 pounds/acre) on all cropland worldwide. (Benbrook, 2016)
  • Global pesticide use in 2020 was 2.59 million tons (518 billion pounds). (FAO, 2020)
  • About 1 billion pounds of conventional pesticides are used each year in the United States to control weeds, insects, and other pests. (USGS, 2017)

Plant Exudate Recruitment

Herbicide-Resistant Weeds

A graph of growth in years

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

  • There are currently 522 unique cases (species x site of action) of herbicide resistant weeds globally, with 269 species (154 dicots and 115 monocots). Weeds have evolved resistance to 21 of the 31 known herbicide sites of action and to 166 different herbicides. Herbicide resistant weeds have been reported in 99 crops in 72 countries. (Heap, 2023)

Decreased Pesticide Use in Regenerative Agriculture



Pharmaceutical Use

  • Total livestock sales are now nearly double the sales for human medicine (6.19M kg vs. 3.30M kg). Sales of medically important antibiotics for pigs and cattle combined are 55% higher than sales of those medicines for human patients. (Wallinga, 2021)
  • Most antimicrobials used in US animal agriculture (54%) are medically important antibiotics — i.e., antibacterial agents from the same drug classes relied upon for use in human medicine. (USDA, 2021)
  • Sales of medically important antimicrobials for all food animal production rose 11% between 2017 and 2019, driven by a 28% rise in sales for swine production (levels declined 6% again from 2019 to 2020). This rise may stem partly from several recent outbreaks in US swine production, including porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRSV) and porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED), given the potential for antibiotics to be used before viral infection is confirmed or in cases of secondary bacterial infection. Meanwhile, the sales of non-medically important antimicrobials fell 17% between 2017 and 2020. (USDA, 2021)
  • The US chicken industry has made rapid strides to eliminate the routine use of medically important antimicrobials, and that progress is now being described in both government and industry reports. A poultry trade industry publication recently announced 60% of US broiler chickens are now raised without any antimicrobials. (Poultry Health Today, 2020 , USDA, 2021)
  • Based on a decade’s worth of FDA summary reports on antimicrobial sales, the consumption of antimicrobials by food animal production has declined by about 18% overall since 2009, with sales of non-medically important classes falling 13% and sales of medically important classes declining 22%. (USDA, 2021) While sales of sulfonamides and tetracyclines have had the most marked declines (reduced by 44% and 25%, respectively, from 2009), sales of some drug classes critically important to human medicine have risen, including cephalosporins (up 30% from 2009) and fluoroquinolones (up 60% from 2013). (Wallinga et al., 2022)

Persistence of Agricultural Pharmaceuticals

  • Composting temperatures were not any more effective than ambient temperature in increasing the rate or extent of monensin (antibiotic from streptomyces cinnamonensis) removal in either poultry litter or dairy manure. Composting was effective for lasalocid (antibiotic/coccidiostat)  removal in poultry litter, but is likely to be too slow to be useful in practice (8–12 weeks at 65 °C for >90% residue removal). Composting was effective for amprolium (anticoccidial) removal from poultry litter and salinomycin in dairy manure but both required 4–6 weeks for >90% removal. However, composting did not increase the removal rates or salinomycin (antibiotic) in poultry litter or the removal rates of lasalocid (antibiotic/coccidiostat) or amprolium (anticoccidial) in dairy manure. (Arikan et al., 2016)
  • One study recovered three tetracycline residues and sixty-three antibiotic-resistant Gram-negative bacteria that presented with percentage resistance between 33.3% and 66.7% to five well-known antibiotics employed in livestock farming, viz. tetracycline, chloramphenicol, nalidixic acid, sulphamethoxazole, and ampicillin. (Carballo et al., 2013)
  • High levels of tetracycline concentration in manure and soil samples procured from three large commercial swine farms were found from three different regions in China. (Zhu et al., 2013)
  • Most antibiotics are poorly absorbed and metabolized in animal bodies, resulting in approximately 30–90 % of them being excreted into soil and aquatic environments via manure and sewage water (Sarmah et al., 2006; Chen et al., 2016; Urra et al., 2019). (Chen et al., 2023)
  • In a metagenomics analysis of paddy soils from China, a broad spectrum profile of antibiotic resistance genes, with multidrug resistance being the most dominant at a level of 38–47.5% of all the samples collected. (Xiao et al., 2016)

Antibiotic Resistance

  • Total livestock sales are now nearly double the sales for human medicine (6.19M kg vs. 3.30M kg). Sales of medically important antibiotics for pigs and cattle combined are 55% higher than sales of those medicines for human patients. (Wallinga, 2021)
  • Superbugs already infect more than 2.8 million people each year in the United States, contributing to between 35,000 and 162,000 deaths. (Wallinga & Carr, 2020)
  • Infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria are responsible for around 700,000 deaths per year worldwide and estimated to be accountable for over 10 million deaths per year in 2050 (O’Neill, 2014 , Aslam et al, 2018).
  • Antibiotic use for essentially non-medical or non-therapeutic purposes in agricultural settings that are at subtherapeutic levels over an extended period is observed as a major route for the advent of antibiotic resistance and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and resistance genes have been reported to be transferred to humans. (Durso & Cook, 2014)

Antibiotic Use Increases GHG Fluxes

  • Unexpectedly, antibiotic treatment raised methane fluxes from dung, possibly by altering the interactions between methanogenic archaea and bacteria in rumen and dung environments. Our findings that antibiotics restructure dung beetle microbiota and modify greenhouse gas emissions from dung indicate that antibiotic treatment may have unintended, cascading ecological effects that extend beyond the target animal. (Hammer et al., 2016)

Decreased Pharmaceutical Use in Regenerative Agriculture

  • Much anecdotal evidence on the topic, but not many research findings. I will add research results as I hopefully find them.

Plant Production

Current Rates of desertification

  • We found that, between 1982 and 2015, 6% of the world’s drylands underwent desertification driven by unsustainable land use practices compounded by anthropogenic climate change. Despite an average global greening, anthropogenic climate change has degraded 12.6% (5.43 million km2) of drylands, contributing to desertification and affecting 213 million people, 93% of who live in developing economies. (Burrell et al, 2020)
  • Globally, around 1.4 billion people are affected by land degradation, of which 74% are poor people. Additionally, drought and desertification are leading to an annual loss of 12 million hectares of arable land. (FAO)
  • In America, 2000–2021 was the driest 22-yr period since at least 800 AD. (Williams, 2022)
  • The observed correlation between the trends of declining precipitation and increasing dust during the rainy season in the Sahel can now be subject to another interpretation: The higher dust frequency is not necessarily a result of the decreased rainfall, but rather its cause. (Rosenfeld, 2015)

Increased plant coverage from Regenerative Agriculture Practices

  • AMP grazing systems outperformed CG systems by generating: (a) 92.68 g m−2 more standing crop biomass (SCB), promoting 46% higher pasture photosynthetic capacity, while observing a 19.52% reduction in soil C (CO2) respiration rates. (Johnson et al., 2022)
  • Strategically managed (SGM) ranches had significantly less bare ground and significantly more riparian vegetation than adjacent lands not managed with SGM. Furthermore, we found no significant difference in bare ground between SGM pastures on Ranch 3 and adjoining pastures receiving multiyear rest. Ranch 3 had less bare ground than neighbors despite an 80% increase in stocking rate from 2003 to 2015. (Danvir et al. 2018)
    • Our work also illustrates the value of long-term data sets. Precipitation apparently caused riparian vegetative cover on both SGM and CS pastures to fluctuate significantly over time and to converge at high and low precipitation extremes. (Danvir et al. 2018)
    • The separation between SGM and CS (conventional) took 5 to 7 years to manifest after SGM began. This was followed by a period (1992-2007) in which riparian cover was consistently greater on SGM stream reaches than CS reaches. Toward the end of the recent drought, the cover values again converged. Three- to five-year studies conducted at the beginning, middle, or end of the time series would each have observed different results. (Danvir et al. 2018
  • Under adaptive rotational grazing, C3 perennial grass productivity and stocking rate both increased following above-average precipitation. But when adaptive rotational management was directly compared with continuous grazing with the same increase in stocking rate, continuous grazing achieved similar vegetation outcomes with greater cattle weight gains. (Augustine et al., 2020)
  • The vegetation in HRM pastures was 70% and 43% higher than on continuously grazed or minimally rotated pastures, respectively. (Cassidy & Kleppel, 2017)
  • Net above ground primary production (NAPP) was nearly three times higher in MP pastures than in CM pastures and seven times higher than in hayfields at the time of sampling. (Kleppel, 2019)
  • Aboveground community biomass was positively related to the number of species measured across functional groups as well as to the number of functional groups measured across different levels of species richness. Furthermore, increasing the number of species within functional groups increased aboveground community biomass, indicating that species within functional groups were not redundant with respect to biomass production. (Marquard et al., 2009)
  • There is now a considerable amount of data that shows how the initial number of producer species in an experimental unit impacts the standing biomass of producers (Fig. 2A)…. The mean value for LRnet is e0.36, indicating that the most diverse polycultures attain, on average, 1.43× more biomass than the average monoculture (95% confidence interval = 1.36 to 1.49×, Table 2). These results are consistent for both aquatic and terrestrial systems with abundant data, suggesting considerable generality (Fig. 2B). (Cardinale et al., 2011)
  • This is exactly evidenced in our results of multiple cropping (MC) farms of Design B and C, in which the overall per plant productivity of the crops is more than five times higher than that of single cropping (SC) farms. (Deb, 2021)
  • Corn yield has averaged 4% higher (p<0.0003) and soybean yield has averaged 16% higher (p<0.0001) in the more diverse systems compared with the 2-year system. (Iowa State Marsden Experiment)

Increased Crop Production from Intercropping

  • Using four long-term (10–16 years) experiments on soils of differing fertility, we found that grain yields in intercropped systems were on average 22% greater than in matched monocultures and had greater year-to-year stability. (Li et al., 2021)

Soil Physical Qualities

Importance of Soil Aggregation

Increased Bulk Density from Conventional Grazing

  • Bulk densities increased with higher animal unit densities under conventional grazing. (Apfelbaum et al., 2022)

Improved Aggregation from Regenerative Practices

  • It was noticed that the Integrated Crops and Livestock (ICL) system not only enhanced the macroaggregates [compared to a traditional corn–soybean (Glycine max. L) rotation] but accentuated the presence of microaggregates due to persistent binding agents, which are critical in SOC protection against microbial decomposition. (Bansal et al., 2022)
  • The proportion of soil macroaggregate fraction was significantly increased by 30.6–33.7% and 37.8–40.6% under the high-level manure treatments (M2 and M3) compared with that under low manure (M1) and no manure (M0) treatments. (Jiang et al., 2018)
    • Tensile strength and mean weight diameter were significantly (P < 0.05) elevated by high manure application. (Jiang et al., 2018)
  • The results showed that compared to monoculture, crop diversification significantly increased the mean weight diameter and bulk soil C by 7.5% and 3.3%, respectively. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the proportion of macroaggregates and their associated C content by 5.0% and 12.5%, while there was a significant decrease in the proportion of microaggregates as well as silt-clay fractions along with their associated C under crop diversification. (Li et al., 2024)

Decreased Bulk Density from Regenerative Practices

  • The mean (±SE) bulk density of Multi-Paddock soils (0.94 ± 0.14 g cm−3) was about half that of hayfields (1.83 ± 0.14). (Kleppel, 2019)


  • The observations indicate that specific root exudate polysaccharides, distinct from cell wall polysaccharides, are adhesive factors secreted by root axes, and that they contribute to the formation and stabilisation of cereal rhizosheaths. Periodate oxidation indicates that it is the carbohydrate components of the HMW exudates that have soil-binding properties.  (Galloway et al., 2020)


Soil Predator/Prey

Importance of Soil Predators

  • Both protozoa and nematodes are aquatic and live and move in soil water films and water-filled pores of soil aggregates. They release excess N from consumed bacteria in the form of ammonium (NH4+). This usually occurs near the root system of a plant. (Hoorman, 2011)
  • At low nematode densities, feeding by nematodes stimulates the growth rate of bacteria populations. For example, low grazing may stimulate bacteria growth and increase nutrient release. Small or low root consumption by nematodes may stimulate plant root growth like branch pruning, increasing root biomass. (Hoorman, 2011)
  • Single protozoa (paramecium) can consume as many as 5 million bacteria in one day. The protozoa help maintain an ecological balance in the soil. When they graze on bacteria, protozoa stimulate growth of the bacterial population and decomposition rates and soil aggregation. (Hoorman, 2011)

Damage to Predator Populations from Conventional Practices

  • Mean arbuscular mycorrhizal and protozoan biomasses in CM and hayfield samples were about 10% of those in MP soils. (Kleppel, 2019
  • Michigan State research shows that the nematode community structure varies among different cropping systems. The highest concentration of parasitic nematodes was found in conventional tillage systems with progressively lower concentrations in integrated fertilizer, integrated compost and the lowest in transitional organic systems. The ratio of non-parasitic to parasitic nematodes may be an indication of ecosystem soil health with organic systems having better soil health. (Hoorman, 2011)
    • Most conventional farms maximize crop yields using purchased inputs and this frequently limits biological diversity and results in extensive food supplies for parasitic nematodes with few predators and few factors to limit their population. (Hoorman, 2011)

Impact to Soil Predators with Removal of Grazing Animals

  • The phylotype richness of fungi decreased by 19% in the grazing removal treatment and the phylotype richness of protists decreased by 17%. (Schrama et al., 2021)

Improvement to Predator Populations from Regenerative Practices

  • AMP grazing systems outperformed CG systems by generating: (a) 92.68 g m−2 more standing crop biomass (SCB), promoting 46% higher pasture photosynthetic capacity. Significant predator/prey interactions with an inverse relationship with bacterial population biomass and a positive relationship with total protozoa enumeration when compared to SCB. (Johnson et al., 2022)
  • Manure treatments significantly increased the total number of nematodes and the four functional groups in soil macroaggregates. However, the elevated soil pH by lime reduced the total number of nematodes as well as bacterivores and plant parasites. (Jiang et al., 2018)
    • Changes in soil nematode assemblages corresponded largely to those in soil porosity of the macroaggregates. The porosity of soil macroaggregates with porosity >100 μm was significantly improved under the M2 (High manure) and M3 (High Manure + Lime) treatments, likely supporting the observed high densities of bacterivores. (Jiang et al., 2018)


Water Quality

U.S. Water Quality

  • About 46% of our rivers and streams have excess nutrients, and only 28% are assessed as “healthy” based on their biological communities. (EPA, 2022) For lakes, 21% have high levels of algal growth and 39% have measurable levels of a cyanotoxin—a byproduct of certain kinds of bacteria (e.g., blue-green algae). Around 21% of coastal waters have high nutrient levels. Other waters have high levels of sediment and bacteria. (EPA, 2023)
  • Using a process-based hydro-ecological model, we reveal that over 60% of the land area of the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin has experienced increasing extreme precipitation since 2000, and this area yields over 80% of N leaching loss across the region. Despite occurring in ~9 days year−1, extreme precipitation events contribute ~1/3 of annual precipitation, and ~1/3 of total N yield on average. (Lu, 2020)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-supported scientists announced that this year’s Gulf of Mexico “dead zone”— an area of low to no oxygen that can kill fish and marine life — is approximately 3,275 square miles. That’s more than 2 million acres of habitat potentially unavailable to fish and bottom species — larger than the land area of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. (NOAA, 2022)
    • The five-year average dead zone size (also known as the hypoxic zone) is now 4,280 square miles, which is over two times larger than management targets. Since records began in 1985, the largest hypoxic zone measured was 8,776 square miles in 2017. (NOAA, 2022)
  • When including all 29 forever chemicals, EPA data confirms that the drinking water of approximately 26 million Americans is contaminated, according to the Enivornmental Working Group non-profit. The data is also “consistent” with a 2020 study (Andrews & Naidenka, 2020) from the group that calculated more than 200 million Americans could have some form of PFAS in their drinking water. (EPA, 2023)

Global Water Quality

  • The World Health Organization estimates that almost 10% of the population in the world do not have access to improved drinking water sources. (WHO, 2022)
  • Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. (WHO, 2022
  • 90% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated directly into water bodies. (United Nations, nd)
  • A reduction of about one-third of the global biodiversity is estimated to be a consequence of the degradation of freshwater ecosystems mainly due to pollution of water resources and aquatic ecosystems. (United Nations, nd)

Public Health Concerns

  • Contaminated water and poor sanitation are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. (WHO, 2022)
  • Some 829 000 people are estimated to die each year from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation and hand hygiene. Yet diarrhoea is largely preventable, and the deaths of 297 000 children aged under 5 years could be avoided each year if these risk factors were addressed. (WHO, 2022)
    • In 2017, over 220 million people required preventative treatment for schistosomiasis – an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms contracted through exposure to infested water. (WHO, 2022)
  • Probably the best-known human health effects caused by Harmful Algal Bloom-related organisms are the shellfish poisonings: amnesic, azaspiracid, diarrhetic, neurotoxic, and paralytic shellfish poisoning. (Backer & McGillicuddy, 2006)
    • Specific symptoms of harmful algal bloom exposure include: gastrointestinal, generalized (e.g., headache, fever), and dermatologic issues. (CDC, 2021)
  • Nitrate levels in our water resources have increased in many areas of the world largely due to applications of inorganic fertilizer and animal manure in agricultural areas. Considering all studies, the strongest evidence for a relationship between drinking water nitrate ingestion and adverse health outcomes (besides methemoglobinemia AKA blue baby syndrome) is for colorectal cancer, thyroid disease, and neural tube defects. (Ward et al., 2018)


  • For every 1°C increase, 7% more water vapor is carried by the same air volume. As a result, increasing temperatures have created changes in the expectations of the Intensity, Duration, and Frequency (IDF) of rainfall events. Rainfall events that were thought to occur only once every hundred years are now occurring with far greater frequency. In some places, these formerly rare events are now occurring as often as every 5 or 10 years, based on the First Street Foundation Precipitation Model (FSF-PM). (First Street Foundation, 2023)
  • The results of First Street’s study show that over half the population – some 51% of Americans – live in areas that are now twice as likely to experience a severe “1-in-100 year flood” event as expected from Atlas 14. Roughly 21% of the country can now expect their “1-in-100-year flood” to happen every 25 years. And in the most extreme cases, over 20 counties in the US – home to over 1.3 million people – are expected to experience the current “1-in-100 year flood” severe event at least once every 8-10 years. (Eby, 2023)

Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) & Cropping

  • Contaminants from animal wastes can enter the environment through pathways such as through leakage from poorly constructed manure lagoons, or during major precipitation events resulting in either overflow of lagoons and runoff from recent applications of waste to farm fields, or atmospheric deposition followed by dry or wet fallout (Aneja et al., 2003)
  • Although anaerobic digestion of wastes in surface storage lagoons can effectively reduce or destroy many pathogens, substantial remaining densities of microbial pathogens in waste spills and seepage can contaminate receiving surface- and ground-waters. (Burkholder et al., 1993)
  • Compared to upstream Total P loads, those downstream from three Wisconsin dairy CAFOs increased by 91% after the expansions – over four times that of concentration increases – implying that the rate of downstream phosphorus transfer has increased due to CAFO expansion. (Waller et al., 2019)
  • About a half million tons of pesticides, 12 million tons of nitrogen, and 4 million tons of phosphorus fertilizer are applied annually to crops in the continental United States. Soil erosion, nutrient loss, bacteria from livestock manure, and pesticides constitute the primary stressors to water quality. (EPA, 2023)
  • In 69 of Minnesota’s 72 agricultural counties, nitrogen from manure combined with nitrogen in fertilizer exceeded the recommendations of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, or MPCA, and the University of Minnesota. In 13 counties, nitrogen from the two sources surpassed the recommendations by more than half. This excess nitrogen is the major cause of nitrate pollution in drinking water, which is linked to elevated rates of cancer. (Porter, 2020)
  • Most of the nitrogen that contributes to the dead zone of the Gulf of Mexico—between 60 and 80 percent—originates on farms and livestock operations in the Midwest, largely in the form of synthetic fertilizers that run off fields of corn and other crops. (Robertson & Saad, 2013 , EPA, 2015)
  • Further, we found that scenarios that decreased May nitrogen loading by 20 percent or more could reduce the average size of the dead zone to levels recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hypoxia Task Force. (UCS, 2020)
  • Since approximately half of all applied nitrogen drains from agricultural fields to contaminate surface and groundwater, nitrate concentrations in our water resources have increased. (Vitousek et al., 1997)

Cleaner Water from Regenerative Agriculture Practices

  • Prairie strips placed downslope from manured crop soil significantly reduced the cumulative abundance of manure associated antibiotic resistance genes in both runoff water and runoff sediment. (Alt et al., 2023)
  • As part of a corn-soybean rotation, oats (Avena sativa L.)  reduced nitrate concentrations and loads in subsurface drainage water by 26% whereas rye (Secale cereale L.) reduced 48% nitrate concentration. (Kaspar et al., 2012)
  • Meta-analyses of research found that nitrate leaching was 40% lower in legume cover crop treatment than fallow systems and 70% lower in non-legume cover crop treatment than fallow system. (Tonitto et al., 2006)
  • Research shows that by converting 10% of a crop-field to diverse, native perennial vegetation, farmers and landowners can reduce total phosphorous and nitrogen lost through runoff by 90 and 85 percent, respectively. (Iowa State, 2019)

Improved Water Cycling from Regenerative Agriculture Practices

  • Carbon follows water. Overall, the availability of water seems to be the dominant control of carbon dioxide uptake by land vegetation. (Jung et al., 2017 , Humphrey et al., 2018 , Green et al., 2019)
  • Water follows carbon. Higher carbon-content soils have high water holding capacity, which can extend the longevity and area of green photosynthesizing leaves, and elevated evapotranspiration of water vapor and substantial latent heat fluxes that govern 95% of the earth’s heat dynamics and hydrological cooling of earth and its climate. (Kravčík et al., 2007)
  • Comparison of eight neighboring farms across the United States found that regenerative farms had 3% to 12% soil organic matter (mean = 6.3%), whereas those on conventional farms had 2% to 5% (mean = 3.5%). (Montgomery et al., 2022)
  • At the ranch level, soil water infiltration rate ranged from 8 to 256 mm h−1 (mean of 105 mm h−1) in grasslands under adaptive grazing, and 15 to 205 mm h−1 (mean of 74 mm h−1) on neighbouring ranches. (Dobert et al., 2021)
  • AMP water infiltration rates ranged from 2.54 to 14.4 cm/h, averaging 7.2 cm/h, while CG treatment rates varied from 0.5 to 11.7 cm/h, averaging 5.0 cm/h. (Apfelbaum et al., 2022)
    • Water infiltration was positively associated with increased litter mass under adaptive grazing, whereas higher bulk density (and sandier) soils were associated with decreased infiltration rates. (Apfelbaum et al., 2022)
    • No significant relationships were evident between long-term reported animal impact (i.e. annual cattle stocking rates and animal stock densities) and soil bulk density within adaptive grazing ranches, though bulk densities increased with higher animal unit densities under conventional grazing. (Apfelbaum et al., 2022)
  • Soil temperature was lower and soil moisture higher with AMP grazing than with HC (Heavy Continuous) and MC (Moderate Continuous) grazing. (Dowhower et al., 2020)
  • When the grazing management was changed from the baseline MP to HC (High Stock Continuous) at one of the study ranches, the simulated average (1980–2013) annual surface runoff, sediment, total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) losses increased by 148%, 142%, 144% and 158%, respectively. (Park et al., 2017)
    • At the watershed-scale, changing grazing management from the baseline heavy continuous (HC) to adaptive multi-paddock (MP) reduced the average annual surface runoff, sediment, TN and TP loads at the watershed outlet by 39%, 34%, 33% and 31%, respectively. (Park et al., 2017)
    • Implementation of adaptive MP grazing reduced streamflow during the high flow conditions that have 10% exceedance probability, by about 20%, and hence reduced the chances of flooding downstream of the watershed. (Park et al., 2017)
  • At the water catchment scale, heavy continuous grazing, relative to AMP grazing, increased surface runoff by 47%, decreased infiltration by 5%, and decreased streamflow by 29.5%. (Teague, 2018)
  • In a region of extensive soil degradation in the southeastern United States, we evaluated soil C accumulation for 3 years across a 7-year chronosequence of three farms converted to management-intensive grazing. Here we show that these farms accumulated C at 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1, increasing cation exchange and water holding capacity by 95% and 34%, respectively. (Machmuller et al., 2015)
  • Water infiltrated soils on regenerative almond orchards six-fold faster than conventional almond orchard soils. (Fenster et al., 2021)
  • Spring (March-May) concentrations of nitrate in drainage water collected from corn in the more diverse systems were 57% lower (p<0.005) than from corn in the 2-year system.(Iowa State Marsden Experiment)
    • Freshwater toxicity associated with herbicide use was 93% lower in the more diverse systems than in the conventional system.(Iowa State Marsden Experiment)



  • Observations of 1976–2000 climate trends in the black, dark brown and brown soil zones of the Canadian Prairies showed that there have been substantial reductions in maximum temperature (1.7 ℃ decade-1), diurnal temperature range (1.1 ℃ decade-1) and solar radiation (1.2 MJ m2 decade-1), as well as a corresponding increase in precipitation (10.3 mm decade-1) during the mid-June to July period. These findings are in opposition to trends that would be expected from climate change from an enhanced greenhouse effect, and suggest that there is substantial correspondence between reductions in summerfallow and changes in climate in the agricultural regions of the Canadian Prairies. (Gameda et al., 2006)