Regenerative agriculture has become "a bit of a political football" lately, and people need to regain perspective, Director and Management Consultant for Baker Ag Chris Garland says.
Farmers who practise regenerative agriculture were "sincere about what they're doing", and Garland thought they may be feeling "a bit overwhelmed" by the attention it had received lately.
Last week Environment Minister James Shaw was interviewed by The Country's Jamie Mackay about the Green Party's agriculture policy, which focused on moving New Zealand to organic and regenerative practices.
Garland heard the interview and accused Mackay of "whipping it into a bit of a frenzy", although he did admit the Green Party co-leader didn't really understand regenerative agriculture.
"I think if you ask James to define what regen ag is, he would really struggle to do so because the industry itself, or the sector, is having trouble defining it."
"So it is quite dangerous to see it as a panacea for economic or environmental responsibility."
As a result, Garland was concerned there was a "huge risk of polarising the industry and the way we do things", especially when it came to "traditional farming".
"Traditional farming, if we call it that, is on a journey itself - and it's probably heading towards some form of regenerative ag anyway and to try and put up a wall between the two types of farming is very unhelpful at this stage".
Overseas there was a perception that organic and regenerative food was "somehow better or more sustainable" and while this might not be "scientifically founded", it was something to consider when it came to profits, Garland said.
In light of this, Beef + Lamb NZ was researching the value of regenerative agriculture in the marketplace, a study which had received financial backing from MPI, Garland said.
Garland was also involved in a three year study of regenerative agriculture for Landcare Research, commissioned by MPI, "to actually define what regenerative agriculture is".
"I think [that's] a good thing, to put some science across it and evaluate it."
Regenerative agriculture worked best with poor quality soils, and was effective in the dust bowls of the US Midwest, Mackay said.
Garland believed traditional Kiwi farmers could feel "a bit threatened and misrepresented" by the "political spin" that this put on the practice.
"Our soils by and large have not been degenerated by agricultural processes. In many cases the carbon levels and organic matter levels have actually improved - in some cases considerably."
"So tarring everything with the same brush - as it was generated out of depleted North American soils - to say that we should be adopting the same regenerative processes isn't really fair, because there hasn't actually been a degenerative process go on - and so that whole thing needs to be put into perspective."
Also in today's interview: Garland gave Mackay an update on the weather conditions in the Wairarapa where he is based.