Applying eco-logical principles to regenerate the ecosystems in our farms and gardens we draw on the collective experiences of food growers around the world, and what science has deciphered from the evolved wisdom embedded in Nature.

Principles get us out of the trap of having “what practices should I use?” as our leading question.[1] Instead, we gain the skills to develop place-based practical solutions suitable for our climate, other growing conditions and the food we grow. Established regenerative practices, that tend to be one-size-fits-all solutions, become the source and inspiration for ideas rather than recipes to follow.

​Well-designed and thought-through principles concentrate on what’s essential, and guide us whether we’re growing veggies in a backyard in Wales, a community garden in Boston, fruit in a commercial orchard in Brazil, or running cattle in outback Australia!

The challenge is deciding which set of principles to use. There are many sets of regenerative principles available, but most focus on improving the indicators of our growing conditions, rather than the ecological processes enabling them to improve.[1]

Here are the principles we use at Learning from Nature.[2]

 

These principles focus on getting the ecosystems in our farms and gardens functioning again. We’ve done this because biodiversity, soil health, organic matter levels, water infiltration and storage in soil, and other indicators of our growing conditions are the products of functioning ecosystems. We need ecosystems that work for these to improve.[3]

The Eco-logic behind these Principles

Ecosystems are complex, but nutrient cycles, water cycles, and solar energy capture are the three key ecological functions that drive most of the action in our farms and gardens.[5] Virtually all of the natural resource issues holding us back are resolved by regaining these ecological services and building connections that create beneficial relationships in our ecosystems.

Icon illustrating nutrient cycle - part of what is regenerative farming and gardening

Nutrient Cycles

Repairing our nutrient cycles, soil organisms recycle the nutrients in plant and animal waste materials, unlock nutrients from mineral particles, and make the nutrients available for plants to reuse.

Icon illustrating water cycle - part of what is regenerative farming and gardening

Water Cycles

Water cycles are enormous, but we can improve them by increasing water infiltration and storage in our soil, reducing water loss through evaporation, and getting excess water draining freely down through our soil to reduce waterlogging.

image showing solar energy

Capture of Solar Energy

Why do we only think of fertilisers when we want to grow more food? Plants capture and store solar energy using their photosynthetic panels. Growing more solar panels, we increase energy supplies for the ecosystems in our farms and gardens.

Icon illustrating Beneficial Connections - part of what is regenerative farming and gardening

Build Connections

Building connections, we create beneficial relationships improving these ecological functions, how efficiently the ecosystems in our farms and gardens use the resources and energy they make available, and the ability of our ecosystems to weather the storms of climate change.

 

Using this eco-logical approach, it makes sense to ‘grow from our strengths’ as we rely on the ecological services provided by our plants, livestock, and other living organisms rather than on fertilisers, pest controls, and other inputs. ‘Mimicking Nature’ we benefit from Nature’s expertise, and ‘co-creating with succession’, we get our ecosystems functioning again and develop productive, resilient, complex adaptive ecosystems that can assist us with decision-making.

Get Support with Applying these Eco-logical Principles

Suggested articles –

  1. What is Regenerative Farming and Gardening
  2. How to do Regenerative Farming and Gardening – Ecologically
  3. How to choose Regenerative Practices – that Work!

Or get help with applying the eco-logical principles in your garden or farm using our Eco-logical Farming and Gardening Handbooks.Front cover Eco-logical Gardening HandbookFront cover Ecological Farming Handbook

 

References – Principles of Regenerative Agriculture

[1]Wendy Seabrook, 2021, How to choose Regenerative Practices – that Work! Learning from Nature

[2] They are a work in progress. Any comments and suggestions – we’d love to hear from you – info[at]learningfromnature.com.au

[3] Wendy Seabrook, 2021, What is Regenerative Farming and Gardening. Learning from Nature

[4] See here for a collation of regenerative practices with an emphasis on soil –  L. Schreefel, R.P.O. Schulte, I.J.M. de Boer, A. Pas Schrijver, H.H.E. van Zanten, 2020, Regenerative agriculture – the soil is the base, Global Food Security, Volume 26, 2020, 100404,

[5] Eugine P. Odium, 1971, Fundamentals of Ecology. Publ W.B. Saunders Company

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