Today’s episode is the deepest dive I’ve done to date into the world of regenerative agriculture. You’ll probably be able to hear it in my voice in the interview, but this one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. In fact I think the conversation just gets more and more interesting the deeper we get into it.
My viewpoint on regenerative agriculture since I first was introduced to the concept a few years ago is somewhere in between “cautious optimism” and maybe skepticism.
I’m certainly not skeptical about the importance of soil health. I think you’ve heard that from me a lot on this show, and certainly you have if you listen to Soil Sense, one of the other podcasts that I host.
But some of the - what I’ll call hype associated with regenerative ag have left me asking a lot of questions. Many of those, we get into on today’s episode. Questions like:
- Where is the line between what is regenerative and what is not?
- What is really motivating regenerative farmers and ranchers to pursue these ideals? Because it’s not really what you might see in the media or from many advocates.
- Also we get into some scientific questions like what is technically happening when carbon is sequestered?
- And, once it is sequestered, how do we know it’s staying there and for how long?
I couldn’t be more impressed with our guest we have on the show today to talk about these issues. Paige Stanley is a finishing PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, who works at the intersection of rangeland ecology and soil science.
Born in Detroit, she grew up in rural Georgia. While as an undergraduate at a liberal arts college, she took a course on the ethics of food production, which drove her to want to talk to more farmers and ranchers and ultimately pursue a master’s in animal science. She did so at Michigan State University studying under Jason Roundtree.
This master’s program furthered her interest in soil carbon sequestration in grazing lands; how it might reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide ecosystem services, improving animal welfare, and improving rural livelihoods. That led her to her work today at UC Berkeley. I’m going to let her describe it to you, but first a quick definition: you’ll hear regenerative grazing called AMP grazing in this episode. That stands for adaptive multi-paddock grazing, you may have heard of it as mob grazing. Essentially this is controlled and intensive grazing that is rotated across sections or paddocks of a field. For more on that go way back to episodes 44 or 64.