Restoring Healthy Soils for Greater Food Security
1. Minimise Soil Disturbance
Practices like no or low tillage farming practices, drastically minimise soil disturbance. This approach is embraced by over 3,000 smallholder farmers in Côte d'Ivoire, as well as across more than 25,000 acres in the United States. By employing this technique, these farmers are able to prioritise the preservation of soil structure and ensure that the ground beneath their crops remains stable and conducive to sustainable agriculture.
2. Keep Soil Covered
This practice involves planting cover crops, which helps to shield the soil from erosion and safeguard water resources, as well as maintain the fertility of the earth for better crop yields. It’s been a game-changer for more than 1,200 rice farmers spread across 2,400 hectares in the vibrant fields of India.
3. Keep Living Roots in the Soil
Over 13,000 farms in Côte d'Ivoire have become champions of nutrient cycling by keeping living roots in the soil, also known as mixed cropping. By maintaining plant roots in the ground, these farmers nurture a dynamic ecosystem beneath the surface.
4. Favour Organic Fertiliser Sources
By embracing organic farming practices, more than 2,000 Peruvian quinoa and chia farmers achieved organic certification in 20224 . These farmers prioritise organic fertilisers, incorporating natural sources like compost and animal manure to enrich soil nutrients. Just like how human consume probiotics for better gut health, these methods enhance soil health through better nutrient management and microbial diversity.
5. Maximise Farm Diversity
This principle encompasses a holistic approach, where a variety of plants, animals, and even fungi are integrated into the farm ecosystem to support and enhance nutrient cycles. In Côte d’Ivoire, farmers have embraced this principle and have adopted the practice of composting across nearly 7,000 hectares of farmland. Through composting, they not only recycle organic matter but also create a thriving ecosystem that supports nutrient-rich soil.
6. Livestock-Crop Synergies
Farmers are increasingly introducing animals into their agricultural ecosystems to aid in nutrient cycling and enhance sustainability. These animals serve multiple roles, including consuming cover crops to manage vegetation, taming arable weeds, and converting biomass into valuable manure.
Beyond the Farm
Healthy soils unlock a range of social and environmental benefits, restoring the soil ecosystems that contribute to the conservation of nature and the climate, which are inextricably linked to the future of agriculture. In addition, the increased crop productivity and yields will be beneficial for smallholder farmers in terms of income, creating a positive cycle of prosperity. We're taking active steps toward a regenerative model that aligns with our decarbonisation goals. Collaborating closely with partners and farmers across our value chains, we're driving the implementation and scaling of transformative changes in agriculture.
Find out more about our other regenerative efforts and our work on Transforming Farming & Communities.
1 FAO and ITPS (2015) Status of the World’s Soil Resources (SWSR)—Main Report. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils, Rome, Italy. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5199e.pdf.
2 FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations). The State of the World’s Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW)—Managing Systems at Risk; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Rome, Italy; Earthscan: London, UK, 2011; Available online: http://www.fao.org/docrep/017/i1688e/i1688e.pdf
3 FAO, 2023.
4 The organic certifications include BRC “AA”, HACCP, GMP, Gluten Free, Kosher, Halal and SMETA. Additional information on the project can be found via this link.