Over the years, agriculture has changed some of its practices to become more conscious of its carbon footprint.
Currently, agriculture makes up 25% of all human greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Regenerative farming has become a more common practice as a way of enriching crop vitality while simultaneously lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
The idea is to use carbon in the atmosphere as a way to increase soil biodiversity.
According to the Climate Reality Project, “Regenerative agriculture practices increase soil biodiversity and organic matter, leading to more resilient soils that can better withstand climate change impacts like flooding and drought. Healthy soils beget strong yields and nutrient-rich crops. It also diminishes erosion and runoff, leading to improved water quality on and off the farm.
Importantly, regenerative agriculture practices also help us fight the climate crisis by pulling carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the ground.”
“Healthy soil, as you know, improves the water cycle, the plants that grow in the soil,” said Alicia Primm, a project manager at NestFresh, an egg company that has used regenerative agriculture practices for the last eight years.“
“We’re going to be using the manure from the chickens onto the land to kind of recycle some of the carbon emissions from the environment and pull them down into the soil,” added Jason Urena, vice president of the specialty egg division at NestFresh.
The NestFresh team says it pays significantly more in expenses to meet its own standards for the environment. To feed the soil, workers use their own chicken waste as manure.
Chickens are also given far more land to roam, about four times what is considered normal. They also are not given feed that uses pesticides, herbicides or GMOs.
The result is a product that costs $8 to $9 per dozen eggs, even though some competing products cost closer to $2 per dozen.
“If our jumping in convinces someone else to do the same, then that’s just a bonus,” said Primm.
Right now, specialty or niche egg companies that specialize in organic products, like NestFresh, make up around one-third of the egg market, but according to Bloomberg, that number is expected to rise to two-thirds in the next five years.
Larger companies are also making the switch. In March 2019, General Mills launched its first regenerative farming pilot program with select farmers across the country. It announced by the year 2030, it will advance regenerative farming practices on more than 1 million acres of farmland in the United States.