Common Terms to Know
What will you find on this page?
As a team we highlight the importance of regenerating soil and environment in order to build resiliency to the impacts of climate change. This is what distinguishes the term "regenerative grazing" to the Regenerative Grazing NC project. The terms/ideas we use throughout our project may be different, but have specific emphasis on practices designed to enhance ecosystem services that assist in the restoration of degraded lands. The terminology guide was created in an attempt to create clarity throughout our work. We acknowledge the possibility for confusion caused by the lack of scientific consensus about what these terms mean. Therefore, we think it's important to clarify that this is what WE mean when we use these terms.
Regenerative Grazing refers to a set of grazing practices that deliver continuous benefits to the ecosystem, the economy, and society. These practices are designed to enhance the ecosystem services provided by the soil. Ecosystem services make the land more resilient to the impact of climate change by renewing the productivity of pasture by stimulating plant growth while increasing soil carbon sequestration, biodiversity, soil fertility and a long list of co-benefits.
The following terms are also known to describe a set of practices that focus on the similar ecosystem services outcomes:
• Rotational Grazing
• Adaptive multi-paddock grazing (AMP)
• Managed grazing = USDA grazing term
• Prescribed Grazing = who?
• Intensive Pasture
• “Mob grazing”
• Holistic Management (commonly known for being Allan Savory’s term of choice)
Still unclear? The Rodale Institute defines rotational grazing as the practice of containing and moving animals through pasture to improve soil, plant, and animal health. Their website also offers further explanation on these practices.
What does this mean for the planet?
Climate Mitigation involves reducing emissions of and stabilizing the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
INTEGRATED CROPPING SYSTEMS
Integrated cropping systems use crops and livestock to enhance fertility and Carbon sequestration by incorporating animal manure into crop fields and rotating crops and livestock to replenish Carbon and Nitrogen stores removed by crop production. This can be done within one farm or as a collaborative effort amongst farms.
What do healthy pasture-based systems look like?
Pasture quality will depend on many factors, including:
Environmental conditions (e.g. temperature, humidity, precipitation)
Types of grass and/or legumes
Plants of different life cycle
Adaptive grazing management
The health of soils is defined as “the capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and promote plant and animal health” (Doran and Zeiss, 2000).
Soil health is determined by the prevalence of soil organic matter, microbial diversity, and efficient nutrient cycling.
What do healthy soils do?
Healthy soils promote water infiltration and retention in soils, a critical aspect of pasture health.
Source: Doran, J. W., & Zeiss, M. R. (2000). Soil health and sustainability: managing the biotic component of soil quality. Applied soil ecology, 15(1), 3-11.
Sustainability rests on the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable agriculture addresses three key aspects of sustainability:
1) Economical Viability – If it is not profitable, it is not sustainable.
2) Socially Supportive – The quality of life of farmers, farm families and farm communities is important.
3) Ecologically Sound – Preserving the resource base that sustains us all.
SOIL CARBON SEQUESTRATION
Soil Carbon Sequestration is a vital ecosystem service, resulting from the interactions of ecological processes. Human activities affecting these processes can lead to carbon loss or improved storage. The term Soil Carbon Sequestration implies the removal of atmospheric CO2 and storage of this fixed Carbon as soil organic matter.
For the Southeast, regenerative grazing practices could sequester around 1.05 Mg of carbon per hectare per year.
This project aims to provide information on carbon offsets that are quantifiable units of emission reductions generated through implementation of activities that reduce or sequester greenhouse gases. These can be traded in marketplaces (e.g. the American Carbon Registry) and can be purchased for industries working to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
See our Soil Carbon 101 webpage for more information!
Franzluebbers, A. J., Hubbs, M. D., & Norfleet, M. L. (2012). Evaluating soil organic carbon sequestration potential in the Cotton Belt with the soil conditioning index. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, 67(5), 378-389.
Todd A. Ontl and Lisa A. Schulte, Department of Natural Resource Ecology Management, Iowa State University
Soil Ecosystem Services are generally classified as provisioning, regulating, supportive and cultural services. For example: water purification, carbon sequestration, nutrient cycling and the provision of habitats for biodiversity,
“Each service may reflect different soil functions, which can be quantified by specific measurements. Cultural services, however, are not expected to be affected by soil chemical, physical and biological soil attributes and thus cannot be modelled on the basis of these measurements.”
Source: Rinot, O., Levy, G. J., Steinberger, Y., Svoray, T., & Eshel, G. (2019). Soil health assessment: A critical review of current methodologies and a proposed new approach. Science of the Total Environment, 648, 1484-1491.