Shifting the focus from environmental practices to “environmental profits”

Extracts from a blog on the Land to Market website

THE TERM “regenerative” is synonymous with net positive. So it should mean that there is more of something than there would have been otherwise.

If we focus on the environment, you can think of regenerative grazing or agriculture as an “ecological profit.” This environmental profit comes from maximizing photosynthesis, collecting as much outside energy from the sun as possible can be considered a revenue stream. Every time you see bare ground, you should train your eyes to see a “solar spill” – a missed opportunity to put more positive energy, or ecological revenue, into nature.

In business, no one says “profitable practices.” Profitability is an outcome. It requires active planning, feedback loops, and ongoing adjustments. As part of that process, you build a budget – a proactive plan that maps out your resources and reasonable goals to achieve.

There’s an old adage, initially stated by British statistician George Box, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” That’s exactly what a budget is: a compilation of what we know today and our best guesses for the future based on many proven and new strategies to achieve those goals.

No one comes out of business school with a proven list of “practices” to achieve profitable outcomes. Humans have an innate desire to reduce things to simpler forms, make them as linear as possible, and work in two dimensions. This reductionism fits the confines of what our brains can process. However, nature, human happiness, and finance are all incredibly dynamic, non-linear and utilize three and four dimensions.

Agriculture is constantly being widgetised and reduced to being treated like a mechanistic system when it is not. Humans hope and dream that it will be linear and predictable. ‍

Instead, we need proactive planning, intentional design, and ongoing iteration based on feedback loops. This constant journey of creativity and optimization is critical to achieving profit in a business and agriculture. The best process we have seen for achieving regenerative outcomes, again think “environmental profit,” is to set “budgets” based on the resources available and the goals that a farm or ranch wants to achieve.

While not required for verification with Land to Market, our work of being a voice for the land and a solution for the marketplace to support regenerative outcomes stems from Allan Savory’s work in developing Holistic Management.

The public resistance to embracing the more complex approach of bespoke, context-specific solutions is high. The idea that we can simplify ecology is deeply ingrained into our thinking and our desire to build security in our lives from the notion that we can master nature — make it work like a factory or machine. However, changing our approach to this topic matters deeply to the future of civilization. ‍

When our collective lexicon employs reductionism in identifying best practices or formulas for ecological profitability, we limit humanity’s ability to move quickly and set the right expectations. Achieving financial profit can be challenging, yet we all accept it can be done. There is no panacea, no quick fix – but it is achievable with ongoing commitment. Our future heavily depends on our ability to create ongoing environmental profits.

Read the full blog post here


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