Resilient soil for a resilient future


How is it possible to feed the world when ever-greater yields and production come at a cost to the environment? Laura Lengnick, an award-winning soil scientist and founder of Cultivating Resistance, believes she has found the answer.

Fixing our industrial food system lies in making a few simple, low-cost changes to the way we farm, writes Lengnick, in her book, Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate. Sustainable farming practices include dynamic cropping, a method which involves rotating crops to adapt to specific conditions, composting, and more efficient irrigation, among other methods.

She encourages farmers to adopt those practices by making them economically efficient for farmers, rather than environmentally correct. “What I hear from farmers is that they can’t justify experimenting with practices that are going to cost more money,” Lengnick tells Civil Eats. She’s encouraged by the new mindset many farmers have today about the value of nourishing soil so it can withstand the dramatic weather changes that are part of a warming climate.

Lengnick hopes that by putting together a positive vision of what a resilient farming system can look like she can inspire more farmers to work towards it.

Finally, Lengnick notes the power of eaters, as she calls the rest of us. We can make a difference, she says, by making conscious everyday food decisions that send the right message to food producers and policymakers.

Takeaway: What kind of “everyday food decisions” can add up to change? You can start by choosing to support and work with sustainably-oriented farmers and ranchers. Do the research to find out which ones are closest to you.

Read more: A soil scientist with a plan for a more resilient food system