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Biodiversity – means variety of species in an ecosystem. This can be a variety of crops in a field, a variety of plants in the bush, a variety of species in the soil, a variety of livestock or wildlife. The more different species the better because diversity makes systems stronger. God hates nothing he has created. Every little bit of his creation has a purpose.

Composting – Dead organic matter (DOM) decomposes by nature’s law. This natural process can be managed, nursed and speeded up to influence the outcome. Finished compost is humus, though some people call it manure.

Cold Composting – a natural process that turns dead organic matter (DMO) into soil. This process takes up to one year.

Desertification – is a state in landscapes of total loss of fertility. Though desertification is more likely to commence in dry lands, it is also well known in temperate climates as a result of depleting agricultural practises and other management faults in land use.

Drylands – (arid, semi-arid and sub-humid) cover 40% of the terrestrial surface and are highly endangered to become deserts. Today 60 – 75% of the terrestrial surface is undergoing desertification and the historic desertification rate has in recent years, according to a survey carried out by UNO, accelerated 30 – 35 times. In 2030 the progonosed affected terrestrial surface will be 90%. Brittle drylands, like African Savannahs and even more so the Sahel will be amongst the most affected.

The man made desertification can be reversed by a change of management practises. RegenAg comprises such practises. They are simple and inexpensive and as the absolute numbers of smallholders in brittle areas are large, their implementation is to today seen as a potent tool in the hands of farmers to work the solution.

Farmers-Herders-Conflicts for non Nigerian readers – Deforestation for dwellings, firewood, fields, and pastures in combination with overgrazing are the major drivers of the down spiral of soil degradation. It has led to vast expanses of man made deserts, especially in brittle climates (Sahel), driving inhabitants of depleted landscapes to look for greener pastures. This migration often leads to land grab and deadly clashes and retaliation between nomadic -mostly Muslim- herders and settled -mostly Christian- farmers in many states in Nigeria.

Humus – a habitat and a soil organism in itself, that enables thriving, biodiverse soil life, the Soil Biome. The Soil Biome interacts with plants in the Soil Food Web.

Humus basically consists of

  • Space for life, air and water
  • Dead Organic Matter (DMO)
  • The soil biome

Without Humus the soil loses its properties like fertility, looseness, water infiltration and retention and erosion resilience. When the properties are on the decrease, the functionality of soil decreases also: water cycle and nutrient cycle break down and this leads to a total loss of fertility. The last stage of this down cycle is a depleted desert.

Manure – faeces. The properties and application of fresh manure are different from that of spent manure. Fresh manure might sometimes be too strong, especially for young plants. If composted before application, it is safe and more beneficial.

Microbiome – living creatures in the soil that can only be seen through a microscope, mainly bacteria, nematodes, protozoa and fungi. The Microbiome is a major player in keeping the nutrient cycle functional and directly feeds plants. It also fortifies plants against pests and diseases.

Mineral Soil – one of the soil types, consisting basically of weathered rock. Depending on the type of rock and its geological history there is a wide variety of mineral soil. Depleted mineral soil (low humus content, low soil biome) is compacted and does not allow strong plant growth.

Mulching – covering the ground with organic matter. That can be grasses, leaves, small branches. Mulching keeps the ground covered, serves as a slow fertilizer and keeps moisture in the soil.

Pollinator Strips – horticultural strips that provide a habitat for pollinating insects like bees, flies and others. These strips can also provide a habitat for predator insects that reduce pest on crops.

Rain planting – a multitude of simple constructions that allow rainwater to be directed to target plants and to stay longer in the soil.

RegenAg practises – observe nature’s laws. Amongst others they are: reduced tilling to no-tilling or conservation tilling, keeping the soil covered at all times, growing green manure, crop rotation, mixed cropping, biodiversity, mob grazing, reduced to no use of agrochemicals, use of organic, even self made fertilizers, interlocking farm enterprises, holistic management.

Sequestration of CO2 – sequestration means to catch and store. Plants naturally transform atmospheric carbon (mostly CO2) through photosynthesis into carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are sent down into the soil, where they are trapped by the Soil Biome in stable humus (SOM). This is called the Liquid Carbon Pathway.

When plants die the carbon captured in their bodies is again released into the atmosphere by decomposition. Monitored composting and consecutive humus build up will still stabilize the carbon in the soil. If properly treated with RegenAg practises, stored carbon stays in the soil and is thus kept from transitioning agan into a climate change agent.

Soil – is an unspecific word that alludes to anything under your feet (unless you walk on tar or tiles…)

Soil properties – healthy and fully functional soil boasts of the following properties: fertility, looseness, decompaction and easy root penetration, high water infiltration rate, high water and nutrient retention capacity, rich Soil Biome that makes nutrients plant available, increased resilience against erosion and climate change.

Stable humus – a habitat-creating-organism in the soil, consisting of SOM (Soil Organic Matter) and the soil microbiome. It consists 58% of soil carbon and is the major carbon sink of the soil and the base of carbon sequestering agriculture.

Soil biome – anybody living in the soil apart from plants. There is a visible biome: worms, insects etc, called the macrobiome and a microscopic biome, called the microbiome: mostly algae, nematodes, fungi, protozoa and bacteria. Almost all of them are beneficial. Evidence shows that a chemically unbalanced soil with an active and diverse soil biome can still produce vigorous plants whereas chemically balanced soil without an active soil biome cannot produce well.

Soil food web – the soil biome forms a web to supply nutrients to plants and make them plant soluble. In exchange plants feed the soil biome with carbohydrates. Living plants feed the soil biome through their roots (root exudate) and decaying plants are consumed by the Soil biome. In this way nutrients and energy are passed on in a never ending cycle, unless mismanagement of the land destroys that nutrient cycle.

Soil production – after composting, humus is mixed with other ingredients to produce soil for special purposes e.g. nursery beds, soil blocks, fertilizer for specific crops etc.

Upward cycle

Soil can regenerate if managed accordingly. Once regeneration has started, soil continues to heal and grow by itself in a cycle leading upwards.

Down cycle

If soil is not managed properly, it embarks on a down cycle, undergoes the process of desertification and ends in deserts. Deserts are areas that have completely lost fertility, because the soil biome has been killed. At that stage even chemical fertilizers cannot help to grow plants.

75% of land is depleted today, according to the European Commission’s World Atlas of Desertification. In 2030 it will be 90% estimated. 2 billion people are presently living on degrading dry lands. Africa and especially its vast expanse of arid and semi-arid landscapes are amongst the world’s most affected areas.