WASHINGTON — The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) has launched its Regenerator’s Atlas of America, an interactive storytelling map connecting farmers, ranchers, and land managers who are taking steps to catch and hold more water in the soil. The Regenerator’s Atlas of America is part of NCAT’s Soil for Water project.
“From Maine to Minnesota, Texas to Idaho, the Regenerator’s Atlas of America is sharing the stories of farmers and ranchers who are finding ways to catch and hold more water in the soils, making their businesses more resilient to drought, erosion, and extreme weather,” NCAT Executive Director Steve Thompson said. “The Regenerator’s Atlas of America is creating a virtual gathering place and information-sharing platform for the growing number of agricultural producers who know that soil health is key to a strong business.”
NCAT’s Soil for Water project is about connecting producers with each other to share land management practices that improve soil health, catch more water in soil, reduce erosion, sustain diverse plant and animal life, and filter out pollutants, all while improving the profitability of their businesses.
Doug Garrison, owner of DS Family Farm near Lincoln, Nebraska is among the nearly 200 farmers who have joined the free and voluntary Soil for Water network, and he’s also added his place to the Regenerator’s Atlas of America. For 25 years, Garrison has been practicing regenerative grazing and wants to connect with other ranchers who are trying similar methods.
“My main interest in Soil for Water is to learn from others who are practicing regenerative ag in their specific context. We like to see what others are doing, think about what they are doing and see what their results are,” Garrison said. “Then, we may take some of their ideas or techniques and adapt it to our farm context and try it. We look for both similar and opposite techniques from what we are doing. You never know where you might find the next breakthrough idea for your operation.”
Unhealthy soil doesn’t absorb much water. Healthy soil acts like a sponge, capable of holding hundreds of thousands of gallons of water in an acre. Climate trends across much of the U.S. indicate longer, hotter drought periods punctuated by storms that often are more severe, according to a 2021 USDA report. Regenerative farming practices enable the soil to capture rainfall that otherwise might disappear as runoff. Economically, these practices can increase crop and forage production, drought resilience, access to lucrative new markets, and therefore profitability. Environmentally, they can improve soil health and biodiversity.
To learn more about the newly expanded Soil for Water project, add your pin to the Regenerator’s Atlas or chat at the Forum visit SOILFORWATER.ORG.
–National Center for Appropriate Technology