Regenerative agriculture lessons from Estonia

Regenerative agriculture lessons from Estonia

In this article we present you with the key findings about agriculture in Estonia, which were collected and presented within wider research implemented as part of the REVIVER Project, standing for “Regenerative Agriculture for Vocational Education EU + Africa,”.

 

Trends in scientific research suggest that one priority of regenerative agriculture is providing the nation with access to sustainable, homegrown food. This lines up with historic long-term strategy dating back to 1995 where one main aim of planning was to ‘supply Estonian consumers with healthy food’. As such, reports on the adaption to climate change in the region suggest that the country has an incredibly low percentage of fallow land, and a high percentage of organic farming practices compared to the rest of the European Union. A report by the EITFood.eu found that as of 2014, 15.7% of Estonian farmland constituted organic farming, the third highest share of any EU country with a strong emphasis on high nature value. A Eurostat report in this overview notes that as of 2016 Estonia had the highest percentage of zero tillage in Europe, contributing to minimizing soil disturbance. The report also lists a number of target values and indicators for successful regenerative agriculture including healthy soil, sufficient food production, clean environment, rich biodiversity, climate change mitigation, fair income. Development of biodiversity monitoring shows an increased awareness across Europe.

 

 

Cattle farming and sustainability

 

In addition, cattle farming has become an area of focus with research being carried out on the impacts of holistic management, a process of alternating short-term grazing periods, and carbon sequestration. As a major emitter of greenhouse gases, cattle farming and the sustainability of livestock and wildlife has become a priority with improved vegetation composition, cover and soil health noted as important factors. Demonstrations on such topics suggest that lack of machinery (particularly seed drills and intercropping equipment) poses a serious threat to the implantation of regenerative farming practice and a potential financial penalty for such endeavours suggests that policy needs to be adjusted to accommodate.

Forest and farming landscapes

 

In 2020 LIFE-IP project “Comprehensive management of forest and farming landscapes to improve the conservation status of Natura 2000 habitats and species” (ForEst&FarmLand) was launched, involving all key players from universities, forestry sector and nature conservation as well as NGOs to jointly protect and restore Estonian landscapes and ecosystems and to improve the condition of the species and habitats in Estonian forests and agricultural lands. The project collaborated with Estonian farmers to reconcile food production, biodiversity, and healthy soils, and to identify agro-ecological techniques for the conditions in Estonia, which will enable the development of more expedient agricultural support schemes in the future. A number of conservation practices in agricultural land were recommended as a result of the scheme:

  • converting parts of cultivated land to extensively used pasture
  • improving ecological conditions of field edges
  • leaving larkspur patches in winter crop
  • avoiding fertilizing, ploughing, and poisoning edge areas
  • turning manure into soul
  • adjustment of the grazing load by alternating the use of different paddocks
  • avoiding farming in areas prone to erosion.

 

 

To learn more about the policies in Estonia, and also results of the survey implemented with farmers in Estonia; check the Research document available on the button below.

 

Research involves analysis of the current practices and policies from Ghana, Kenya, Germany, Tanzania, Croatia, and Estonia.

Cultivating Sustainable Solutions: Insights from the REVIVER Project Conference in Winneba, Ghana

Cultivating Sustainable Solutions: Insights from the REVIVER Project Conference in Winneba, Ghana

In a three-day gathering from February 21st to 23rd, 2024, stakeholders, researchers, and enthusiasts in regenerative agriculture convened in Winneba, Ghana. Hosted by University of Education Winneba, this conference of the REVIVER Project, an initiative co-funded by the European Union, was a crucial moment for sustainable agricultural practices in Vocational Educational and Training to move forward. With project partners from Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Croatia, Estonia, and Germany, the event served as a cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, aligning with the project’s objectives of promoting regenerative agriculture techniques across diverse agricultural landscapes.

 

 

Sharing REVIVER knowledge and understanding

 

The conference commenced with various keynote addresses by our Ghanaian hosts, all of them underscoring the urgent need for regenerative practices amidst escalating environmental challenges and emphasising the REVIVER Project’s role in positive change. The day unfolded with insightful panel discussions featuring representatives from each partner country, delving into the unique challenges and opportunities for regenerative agriculture in their respective regions, with a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. Diverse perspectives were shared to inform our research and educational resources in development.

 

The second day of the conference witnessed a deep dive into the scientific side of regenerative agriculture. Workshops were led by researchers and practitioners in regenerative agriculture. Participants looked into methodologies for soil regeneration, biodiversity conservation, and climate resilience, directly addressing the project’s objectives of promoting sustainable farming practices.

 

 

Field visits enriching our REVIVER partnership mutual understanding of needs and practices

 

One highlight was a field visit to local farms practicing regenerative principles, providing attendees with tangible examples of success stories and practical implementation strategies, further reinforcing the conference’s emphasis on bridging science with on-the-ground practice.

 

The conference concluded with a visit to Kakum National Park, a pristine tropical rainforest nestled in the heart of Ghana. Guided by knowledgeable park rangers, participants embarked on a breathtaking canopy walk, immersing themselves in the rich biodiversity and ecological wonders of the region. The lush greenery, vibrant birdlife, and tranquil surroundings served as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving our natural heritage for future generations.

The exchange of culture is an exchange of ideas and mutual vision

 

Continuing the journey of exploration, attendees then travelled to Cape Coast Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site steeped in history and symbolism. As they walked through the haunting corridors and somber dungeons of the castle, participants reflected on the dark legacy of slavery and colonialism, recognising the enduring legacy of injustice and oppression that continues to shape our world today.

Yet, amidst the solemnity of Cape Coast Castle, there was also a sense of resilience and hope. Just as the forests of Kakum stand tall despite the challenges they face, so too do communities around the world strive to build a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.

 

The REVIVER Project conference served as a beacon of light in this journey, bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds and perspectives to collaborate, innovate, and inspire change.

 

As participants bid farewell to Ghana and returned to their homes, they carried with them not only memories of a transformative conference but also a renewed commitment to the principles of regenerative agriculture and environmental stewardship.

Digital toolkit

Digital toolkit

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RE-AGRI calculator

RE-AGRI calculator

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E-learning system

E-learning system

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