The 1960s’ Green Revolution saved India from hunger, changed its ability to feed itself, and made it a significant food exporter. However, the revolution also made India the largest groundwater extractor in the world.
In accordance with the UN’s World Water Development Report, 2022, the nation draws 251 cubic km of groundwater annually, or more than 25% of the global total; 90% of this water is used for agriculture.
Gains are also slowing down; according to a 2019 study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, over 39 million hectares (ha) of land in the nation that is planted with wheat, rice, and maize have not improved over the past ten years.
Agriculture must coexist peacefully with nature rather than fighting it if it is to continue feeding the nation’s 224,5 million undernourished citizens and powering its economy, according to the UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2022.
Since crop rotation and diversification fall under the broader category of regenerative agriculture, farmers, activists, and agricultural research organisations around the world are creating chemical-free farming techniques that use natural inputs.
This farming method advances sustainable agriculture by aiming to not only develop but also maintain resources like soil and water.
There has been a growing body of research on regenerative agriculture in recent years, as more and more people have become interested in the potential benefits of this approach to farming. Some of the key findings from this research include:
- Regenerative agriculture can help to improve soil health: Studies have shown that regenerative agriculture practices, such as cover cropping and no-till farming, can help to improve the structure, fertility, and biological activity of soil, which can lead to increased crop yields and reduced erosion.
- Regenerative agriculture can sequester carbon: Regenerative agriculture practices, such as the use of cover crops and the implementation of no-till farming, can help to sequester carbon in soil, which can help to mitigate climate change.
- Regenerative agriculture can reduce the need for synthetic inputs: Studies have shown that regenerative agriculture practices can help to reduce the need for synthetic inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, which can help to reduce costs and the environmental impact of agriculture.
- Regenerative agriculture can be economically viable: There is evidence to suggest that regenerative agriculture can be economically viable for farmers, as it can lead to increased crop yields, reduced input costs, and improved soil health, which can help to increase long-term profitability.
Overall, the research on regenerative agriculture suggests that it has the potential to be a sustainable and economically viable approach to farming that can help to improve soil health, sequester carbon, and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture.
Regenerative agriculture practices can help to save water by increasing the water-holding capacity of soil, promoting healthy plant growth, and reducing the need for irrigation. Some specific ways that regenerative agriculture can help to save water include:
- Using cover crops and mulch: Cover crops and mulch can help to retain soil moisture and reduce evaporation, which can help to reduce the need for irrigation.
- Implementing no-till or reduced-tillage practices: No-till or reduced-tillage practices can help to reduce soil erosion and water runoff, which can help to improve the water-holding capacity of soil and reduce the need for irrigation.
- Using drought-resistant plant species: Drought-resistant plant species can help to reduce the need for irrigation during dry periods.
- Implementing water-saving irrigation techniques: There are several irrigation techniques that can help to save water, such as drip irrigation and precision irrigation, which can help to deliver water directly to the root zone of plants and reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
Overall, regenerative agriculture practices can help to improve the efficiency of water use and reduce the need for irrigation, which can help to save water and reduce the impact of agriculture on the environment.