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An Introduction to regenerative agriculture: An online course from FAI

By Caroline Grindrod and Clare Hill


The food sector is under extreme pressure to respond to our climate emergency. Leaders of food supply chains face severe disruptions and are trying to adapt to our fast-moving, volatile, unpredictable and complex times. The IPCC says carbon dioxide emissions must “decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030” and reduce by 7.6% every year from 2020 to reach net-zero around 2050.

But sustainability and net-zero is not enough. We need a food system that draws down more carbon than it emits; one that is fit for the turbulent future ahead.

Paul Hawkin describes it this way in his highly acclaimed plan ‘Drawdown’:

"Addressing, slowing arresting emissions is necessary, but insufficient. If you are travelling down the wrong road, you are still on the wrong road if you slow down. The only goal that makes sense for humanity is to reverse global warming." - Paul Hawkin

The food industry needs to turn around, and this needs to happen fast. Fortunately, there is a solution.

A regenerative evolution

Regenerative agriculture is sometimes summarised as: ‘a system of farming principles that rehabilitates the entire ecosystem and enhances natural resources, rather than depleting them.’

Regenerative agriculture works with, rather than against, nature. It places the farmers and their livestock and or crops within the natural environment mimicking natural processes to regenerate the health, vitality and evolutionary capacity of whole living systems.

In a recent white paper titled Regenerative Agriculture and the Soil Carbon Solution, the Rodale Institute compiles the “explosive amount of new science around soil carbon sequestration to identify regenerative agriculture as a path towards a new climate future.”

The Rodale Institute confirm: ‘if we converted all global croplands and pastures to regenerative agriculture, we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions.’


Adopting this agro-ecological approach can reduce or remove the financially and environmentally high input costs, prevent disease, sequester carbon and buffer the effects of drought and flood - moving farms toward a more resilient and consistently productive system.

This is good news for the farmers and good for those they supply.

But regenerative agriculture is guided by principles, not compliance to a set of standards. It’s a proactive whole system approach and cannot be achieved simply by adopting regenerative practices within an existing conventional farming system. Getting it right requires new knowledge and a change of mindset.

Transitioning a farm to regenerative agriculture requires a very different strategy to the conventional ways managers of supply chains have implemented sustainability measures in the past. It requires managers to take the time to understand the complexity that regenerative agriculture embraces. This is causing a barrier to understanding and adopting this essential and hopeful planetary solution.

Inspire the mindset change

FAI’s new self-led, online course is designed to helping food supply chain professionals - including executives, investors, buyers, and managers and anyone interested or involved in influencing supply chains - better understand the challenges and opportunities of moving towards supply networks that actively regenerate our planet, and how they can effectively influence and drive this change.

The course takes approximately 10 hours to complete, is self-led and hosted online. The course will leave you with a solid grasp of what it means to adopt regenerative agriculture. Remote sessions will be offered, ending with a live session where you can ask questions, recap on what you have learned, and explore the potential ways in which you can apply your new understanding in your own context. An optional follow-up site visit to a regenerative beef farm will be offered. It will develop your capacity for working with complexity, opening the door to the development of new supply networks.

Course Modules

This course comprises the following five different modules, featuring interactive content and regular knowledge checks:



Defining regenerative agriculture

Describing regeneration

An agro-ecological approach





Soil Health


Nature's dynamic networks




Animal impact


The oldest regenerative practices of all


A holistic perspective


Hierarchy of holons

Dealing with VUCA environments


Regenerative Business design

Fragility of efficiency

Living organisational models

Regenerative leaders

A truly regenerative food business

For more information on this course, please visit FAI Academy.