Listen: What are the pathways and potential for scaling regenerative agriculture?

There is a surge of interest in regenerative agriculture, but as the cliché goes, will it scale? A panel of experts and practitioners explored answers at a recent seminar.

Regenerative agriculture systems seek to restore the habitat they occupy by developing organic matter in the soil and and growing its biodiversity. Practitioners point to it as a holistic approach to farming that considers and addresses the needs of ecosystems on and around farms.

It is proposed as a way of addressing multiple crises relating to climate change, soil and biodiversity. Adopting regenerative agriculture approaches may have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while generating significant co-benefits.

A recent panel discussion, moderated by Professor Rod Keenan and featuring experienced regenerative farmers, discussed how the approach could be scaled to a national and global scale, including pathways, challenges and the policies and government support needed.

The panel consisted of:

  • Professor Rod Keenan, the University of Melbourne
  • Dr Charles Massy, Severn Park
  • Serenity Hill, Open Food Network
  • Ross Davey, Central Victorian Regenerative Farmers
  • Mark Gardner, Regenerative Agriculture consultant, Vanguard Business Services.

This event was the second seminar of the Sustainable Food System seminar series and is co-hosted by Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at Melbourne Law School and the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute.

Watch the seminar, “Growing regenerative agriculture – pathways and potential for scaling up”, below.

Professor Rod Keenan

Rod Keenan has been Professor and Chair of Forest and Ecosystem Sciences at the University of Melbourne since 2005. From 2009-14, he was Director of the Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research and since 2020, he has led a cross-university project on Scaling Regenerative Agriculture.

He is a senior member of the Environmental Social Sciences Group in the School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences, which focuses on the interaction between human and biophysical elements of urban, rural and wildland ecosystems and landscapes.

Dr Charles Massy

Charles Massey is the author of the groundbreaking book Call of the Reed Warbler, which explores farmers’ experiences of regenerative agriculture across Australia and his own journey of turning to regenerative farming approaches on his NSW sheep and cattle property over the last 20 years.

He holds a PhD from the Australian National University, where he is an Honorary Senior Lecturer.

Serenity Hill

Serenity Hill is a co-founder of the Open Food Network, and a Director of the Open Food Foundation and Open Food Network Australia. She is a regenerative farmer, who is passionate about developing solutions that deal with the multitude of barriers to expansion of ecological farming across the country.

She has extensive experience in policy development in government most recently in climate adaptation, and in delivery of large-scale projects for government clients.

Ross Davey

Ross Davey is the founder of the Central Victorian Regenerative Farmers group, which is actively involved in the ‘regenerative transition journey’.

Ross has a farm between Clunes and Maryborough and until recently also ran a paddock-to-plate lamb business.

Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner is a Regenerative Agriculture consultant with Vanguard Business Services in Dubbo, NSW, where he helps farmers to regenerate their land, people and businesses.

Mark has an honours degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne.