Nature-based solutions derived from agricultural waste products and animal dung seek to replace harmful agricultural practices on smallholder plots. For example, repurposing these materials for use as mulch and organic fertiliser eliminates the harmful practice of burning crop residues and other waste products – a process which releases substantial atmospheric pollutants.
It is anticipated that natural farming will rejuvenate soil health immensely. One of the most impactful transitions to natural farming from conventional agriculture follows the implementation of a no-till system. Tilling the land has been ingrained in African smallholder culture; the practice is believed to loosen the soil before planting for optimal crop growth. However, this practice destroys essential networks of mycorrhizal fungi and microbial life, depletes soil humus, and in the process releases CO2 to the atmosphere. Conventional agriculture also leads to substantial water and topsoil loss. Only now is research around soil health coming to light through the worldwide regenerative agriculture movement.
Encouraged practices within the Natural Farming Programme will include no-till, transitioning to the use of organic fertiliser rather than fossil fuel-based fertiliser, application of mulch and compost, integration of cover crops, crop rotation or intercropping, crop and animal diversification, water retention techniques, agroforestry, and natural remedies to pests and diseases. Research is underway to identify the best practices and crop and plant species across various regions.