Bugs and Farmers: Changing the World

ladybug on a leaf taking flight

Bugs—and farmers—are shaping the entire world.

That’s the message, or at least part of the message, Jonathan Lundgren delivered in his TEDxBrookings talk on regenerative farming: “A Six-legged March Toward Regenerative Agriculture.”

Lundgren explains how insects, through small individual actions, aggregate and synergize with one another to shape the entire world.

Lundgren, an agroecologist, entomologist, farmer and beekeeper, has always studied bugs. But his love for insects recently took him down a new path when he started hanging out with farmers.

The farmers Lundgren is talking about are regenerative farmers, farmers who, just like the insects he studies, are changing the world.

Farmers who “are taking their farms and rebuilding the natural resource base while producing foods.” Farmers who are “reinventing the system” because “sustainable agriculture isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

Lundgren says thousands of farmers who are part of the regenerative agriculture movement focus on rebuilding soil, while conserving biodiversity on their farms and producing nutrient dense food, profitably.

“Instead of compartmentalizing each aspect of the farm,” he says, “they are combining them into a systems-level perspective.”

Though these farmers have varied practices, Lundgren says that they are unified in certain principals, including:

• No tillage

• Never leave bare soil

• Encourage plant biodiversity

• Integrate livestock with their crops

Lundgren connects the dots between how we currently produce our food and major environmental and health issues, including climate change, pollution, degradation of rural communities, human health problems and biodiversity loss.

Those are big problems. Fortunately, as Lundgren makes clear during his nearly 14-minute talk, we have a solution. To put it simply: Regenerative farmers are boldly “solving planetary-scale problems with our food system.”

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

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