Contemporary farmers face a dauting challenge – feeding the world’s growing population. According to the report on food security and nutrition in the world prepared by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO the problem of hunger and malnutrition affects more than 690 million people, more than 10% of the planet’s population.

One the one hand, there is a need for mass food production, and on the other, there is a need to maintain or even improve food quality. How else can we stop galloping climate change and take care of the environment? What is modern food like?

First of all, like most soils in Poland, it is “sterile”. The results of the studies in the USA, Great Britain and Canada were almost identical. The British study was published in a peer-reviewed scientific publication, the British Food Journal and according to reports in the last 40 year, fruit and vegetables lost up to 80% of their nutritional value due to soil depletion. To a large extent this also translates into their taste and smell.

Hale, not hearty

Conventional farming, which has reigned supreme on Polish soil for years, is focused on mass intensive production. This involves ploughing in monoculture with the use of large quantities of artificial fertilisers and crop protection products.

In a way this approach has worked for years – the soil was giving as much as possible. Slowly it stops doing so. Sterile, acidified soil is the bane of modern farming. According to the report on soils and climate, agricultural land in the EU loses carbon at the rate of 0.5% per year, as much as 83% of soil contains pesticide residues and 24% of soil is at the risk of water erosion. The costs associated with soil degradation in the EU exceed EUR 50 billion per year. Farmers are already feeling it, they know that it is not enough to “spread fertiliser” and “spray” in order to get a high and good quality yield. Poor soil means low yields and low quality. Therefore farmers are looking for a solution.

There are of course additional factors contributing to it: high prices of farming inputs (fertilisers, pesticides), increasingly frequent droughts and the legislation processes taking place in the European Union. We are referring mainly to the European Green Deal, but also to the withdrawal of an increasing number of active substances used in chemical crop protection.

Eco-friendly does not mean economically friendly

Some farmers see a chance in organic production. This of course involves major changes in the farm and restrictions which have to be complied with in organic production. Admittedly, in this case the effect for the environment is definitely positive, however even this solution entails many problems: maintaining cultivation without weed-infestation means the need to employ workers for manual work (and in recent years there has been a short supply of manual labour), additionally protection against pests or diseases is more difficult.

What is more, there is also the question of significantly lower yields – especially as the new varieties of cultivated plants (actually high-yielding ones) are exceptionally delicate – their cultivation is often almost impossible without chemical protection. So the choice is often between classic old varieties – tasty, hardy, but with a much lower yield.

Of course, the quality of organic products and their health and nutritional values are higher than those of conventionally produced crops (taking into consideration, for example, pesticide residues). So are their prices. And rightly so, because producing organic food is associated with significantly higher costs. This is why they are not for everybody’s budget.

The golden mean

In recent years this pendulum has swung back and forth – from those advocating and arguing for cheap food and conventional agriculture to those who categorically favour organic products. From one extreme to the other. However, neither of these systems fully satisfies the needs of the modern world.

Is it possible then to produce healthy, high quality food, obtaining high-yield while taking care of the environment? And while reducing the negative impact of agriculture on the environment, or even exerting a good influence on it? Yes, it is. And this without compromise – without sacrificing quality or the environment for quantity.

The middle ground between conventional and organic agriculture is regenerative agriculture. It can be briefly defined as agriculture which aims to improve the fertility, structure and properties of soil, while keeping biodiversity and obtaining high yield of good quality crops. Regenerative agriculture is a natural way to stop climate change or even reverse it.

- We have to take proper care of the soil, of the life in the soil. This determines its potential and crop-yielding properties– emphasises Adam Baucza, the chairman of the Terra Nostra Agricultural Development Foundation. – If we also add the reduction in the use of fertilisers and plant protection products, we will automatically lower the carbon footprint, carbon dioxide emission of such production, therefore it has a smaller negative impact on the environment and climate.– he explains.

The only good solution

- The contemporary consumers are very conscious – they want to eat tasty, healthy and safe food. According to the research carried out by American scientists, food produced in a regenerative way has a higher content of nutrients. Moreover, grazing cattle or pigs with herbage from this type of cultivation increased the taste qualities of the meat and its nutritional value in terms of the proper composition of fatty acids – notes Marzena Styczyńska, PhD, Eng, the head of the Chair of Human Nutrition at the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Science at the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences.

Moreover, the research referred to above presents unambiguous, clear conclusions: “in comparison with conventional agriculture, regenerative practices based on conserving farming produced plants with a higher content of phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals (…). Above all, it is the soil health that primarily contributes to it. This in turn indicates that regenerative agriculture may increase the quantity of compounds in the diet which reduce the risk of various chronic diseases”. [1]

Regenerative food, that is food coming from regenerative agriculture is not a compromise. It is the only right way. It combines all elements: lower costs of cultivation, for example through precise fertilisation, retention of water in the soil thanks to a smaller number of drives in a field or simplified, no -till farming and higher and better quality yields thanks to improved soil fertility.

However, one of the greatest advantages of this food is the fact that its production is minimally invasive on the environment. Therefore, not only do we have a positive impact on the soil or food quality, but also we limit the negative impact of its production on the environment. This is a result of a simple, scientifically proven fact: if we limit the use of crop protection products and fertilisers, less of them enters the ecosystem, and thus has a smaller impact on it.

Prepare the ground for the regenerative food

What is still needed is farmer education – awareness of what regenerative agriculture is and why it can be the best choice for everyone. Particularly as many farms already have the equipment necessary for such farming. They also have the possibilities. Appropriate promotion and involvement of business are also needed. Simply, the ground for regenerative food has to be prepared. Literally and metaphorically speaking.

Therefore what is needed is structuring such food production, certification, communication, a trademark. It cannot be free-for-all. Exactly the same as in case of organic food: it has to be produced in specific conditions using appropriate practice, and the farm where it is produced must receive a certificate confirming that these conditions have been met.

All this is necessary to build the credibility of products which go on the market. The consumer, but also the middle-man or the seller, must be sure that the products are really produced in this specific way. There may be no misunderstandings or even a shade of doubt. So that everyone in this chain – from farm to fork – can be sure that the food is of high quality, produced for the benefit of the environment. To build its credibility and consumer trust.

In connection with this the first solutions appeared on the market. It is the Biologisation Programme of the Terra Nostra Foundation and certificates issued within its framework. They document that the production is in accordance with the Integrated Regenerative Production Standard.


What is the process of transition of a farm to regenerative production and awarding of the certificate within this programme?

First of all, it is necessary to introduce certain agrotechnical procedures and production methods. Only then does a farm undergo an audit once a year to confirm that these strictly defined practices are used and that the farm produces in a regenerative way. Such an audit is performed by an external independent certifying body. The certification process, that is a full transition from conventional to regenerative farming, usually takes approximately three years.


Complementary source:


Renata Struzik


[1]    „Soil health and nutrient density: preliminary comparison of regenerative and conventional farming” David R. Montgomery, Anne Biklé, Ray Archuleta, Paul Brown and Jazmin Jordan