Thursday, May 2, 2013

Holistic Land and Livestock Management

It’s no secret that how we manage our land and our other resources—from the local level to the global level
—has everything to do with sustainability and the very future of our having any fertile land left on the earth. And simply put, farming methodologies are either part of the problem or part of the solution.

At Beyond Organic, we’re happy to say that we’re part of the solution.

Specifically, we know that the land requires cattle and other livestock to feed on it in order to become and to remain fertile and vital. It’s the way in which this is done that’s key, too.

This idea, of course, goes against what the prevailing notion that the number of cattle and other livestock’s grazing—and overgrazing—are what lead to land becoming degraded, ending up more like deserts than rich, green, fertile grasslands. This process of land becoming more like deserts is called “desertification,” and it’s a major global issue we've been contending with, continue to contend with, and an issue that could very well be our demise in the future—if we don’t fix it.

While most people or organizations involved with righting the problem of desertification before it’s too late believe that livestock feeding is the problem, a man named Allan Savory—and we at Beyond Organic—believe that proper livestock feeding is actually the solution to reversing desertification.

It’s called “holistic management and planned grazing.”

Allan Savory, born in 1935, is a Zimbabwean biologist, farmer, soldier, environmentalist and winner of the Banksia International Award (seen as the most prestigious environmental award in Australia) and the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which is an annual international design competition that awards $100,000 to the most comprehensive solution to a pressing global problem.

He’s also the originator of holistic management—and he’s seen it work.

The truth is that Savory is well known internationally for his efforts, findings, research and amazing results in making successful and far-reaching changes in restoring the world’s grasslands.

In fact, Prince Charles of Wales highlighted Allan Savory as an example of a forward thinker in global effects to combine sustainability and agriculture in his August 2012 speed to the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Here’s some of what Prince Charles had to say:

“I have been particularly fascinated, for example, by the work of a remarkable man called Allan Savory in Zimbabwe and other semiarid areas, who has argued for years against the prevailing expert view that is the simple numbers of cattle that drive overgrazing and cause fertile land to become desert. On the contrary, as he has since shown so graphically, the land needs the presence of feeding animals and their droppings for the cycle to complete, so that soils and grassland areas stay productive. Such that, if you take grazers off the land and lock them away in vast feedlots, the land dies.”

Prince Charles adds, “Ultimately, his form of farming is one that mimics nature by managing domestic livestock to behave more like the migratory wild herbivores that co-evolved with these and savannas, and thus, does not separate conservation of the land from the process of farming it. It is this kind of nature-based approach to finding solutions that needs to be fostered.”

Fortunately, Savory’s approach is catching on. Thousands of families, corporations and businesses use the holistic management framework developed by Savory to radically improve the quality of their lives to regenerate the resource base that sustains them, including keeping their lands fertile and resilient.

And we at Beyond Organic are a part of it. We believe in it—and we practice it.

Since this is a primary practice at Beyond Organic, I’d like for you to view this video of Savory speaking about holistic management. He’s adamant that this is the only answer to desertification, a problem that is increasing worldwide and threatens our very existence—and I agree with him.

You’ll be riveted by his presentation, including the “before” and “after” photos of desert-like lands that he has turned back into lush, green grasslands through this simple, nature-mimicking method.