British Columbia forms regenerative ag network

The B.C. government is hosting RegenBC, a regenerative ag and agri-tech conference in September. Photo: Thinkstock

By Robert Arnason
Glacier FarmMedia staff 

British Columbia is creating a Regenerative Agriculture and Agri-tech Network in the province to “help farmers adopt the latest technology to increase profitability and environmental sustainability.”

“Establishing a network will help ensure farmers have the support to combine new agritech, such as machine-visioning … with regenerative agricultural practices,” the provincial government said in a July release.

“Agritech, in support of regenerative agriculture, will also mitigate climate change by sequestering greenhouse gases.… The (network) will facilitate the necessary collaboration with farmers, producers, industry and academia to address major challenges (in farming).”

The government will also host a regenerative ag and agri-tech conference this fall, called RegenBC.

Regenerative agriculture is a movement that has become the biggest thing in North American farming, seemingly overnight. In the last few years, major players like Cargill, General Mills and McCain Foods have committed to boost its adoption within their supply chains.

This spring, PepsiCo, a company with $70 billion in annual sales of potato chips, oatmeal, orange juice, soda and snack foods, said it aims to see seven million acres of farmland using regenerative practices to grow oats, potatoes, oranges and other crops for PepsiCo.

“By focusing on regenerative agriculture practices at the local level to improve soil health, we can build a stronger foundation for our products and help make the entire food system more sustainable,” said Jim Andrew, chief sustainability officer of PepsiCo.

Regenerative agriculture is hard to define, but it can be described as a system that reduces the need for fertilizer, pesticides and other crop inputs by employing practices that improve soil health. Those practices include the use of cover crops, reduced tillage, livestock integration and diverse crop rotations.

Through climate-smart regenerative agriculture, we have a remarkable opportunity to support farmers… – Karn Manhas

The B.C. government defines it as practices and technologies that “aim to restore soils, water and biodiversity health … and make farmland more resilient to climate change.”

As part of the Regenerative Agriculture and Agri-tech Network, the province is partnering with Terramera, a Vancouver agri-tech company that focuses on sustainable agriculture. The company intends to change how food is grown and has made the bold commitment of reducing global pesticide use by 80 percent by 2030 through adoption of ag technology.

“Through climate-smart regenerative agriculture, we have a remarkable opportunity to support farmers and bring together solutions inspired by science, technology and farming traditions to address local food security, nutrition, farm profits, resiliency and climate change,” said Karn Manhas, founder and chief executive of Terramera.

“I am excited about the opportunity the RAAN (Regenerative Agriculture and Agri-tech Network) can create for farmers, rural communities and agritech companies, like Terramera.”

The British Columbia virtual conference for regenerative ag and agri-tech, RegenBC, is scheduled for Sept. 28-30.

This article was originally published at The Western Producer.