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Viv Null

Jun 16, 2013
07:17

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I have been unable to find data confirming your proposal other than this study which states: “failed to produce the marked improvement in grass cover claimed from its application.” The authors of the overview concluded exactly what mainstream ecologists have been concluding for 40 years: “No grazing system has yet shown the capacity to overcome the long-term effects of overstocking and/or drought on vegetation productivity.” https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/... Perhaps you could point me to some actual studies which I don't see in references

Viv Null

Jun 17, 2013
05:34

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Here is full web address which was omitted above: https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/rangelands/article/view/11560/10833

Seth Itzkan

Jun 19, 2013
12:59

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Hi, Please see below Stinner, D. 1997. Biodiversity As an Organizing Principle in Agroecosystem Management: Case Studies of Holistic Resource Management Practitioners in the USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol. 62:199-213 http://www.ecoagriculture.org/greatest_hits_details.php?id=889 Teague, W.R., Provenza, F.D., Norton, B.E., Steffens, T., Barnes, M.K., Kothmann, M.M., Roath, R.L., 2009. Benefits of multi-paddock grazing management on range- lands: limitations of experimental grazing research and knowledge gaps. In: Schroder, H.G. (Ed.), Grasslands: Ecology, Management and Restoration. Nova Science Publishers, New York, pp. 41–80. Teague, R. 2011. Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. Volume 141, Issues 3–4, May 2011, Pages 310–322 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880911000934 Walsh D. 2009. The holistic management approach: Etiwanda Station, NSW, in DKCRC Working Paper 57, The Central Australian Grazing Strategies Project Working Paper Series. Desert Knowledge CRC, Alice Springs, Australia. http://nintione.com.au/publication/dkcrc-0747 Weber K.T., Gokhale B.S., 2011. Effect of grazing on soil-water content in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho, Journal of Arid Environments, Volume 75, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 464–470 http://journals2.scholarsportal.info/details.xqy?uri=/01401963/v75i0005/464_eogoscisrosi.xml Weber, K. T., Horst, S., 2011. Desertification and livestock grazing: The roles of sedentarization, mobility and rest. Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2011, 1:19 doi:10.1186/2041-7136-1-19 http://www.pastoralismjournal.com/content/1/1/19

Gerard Wedderburn-bisshop

Jun 26, 2013
03:13

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Some comments from a retired Natural Resources Department Principal Scientist: Please be cautious in recommending the Savory method as a panacea for land degradation and climate. Watching Allan Savory give his TED talk leaves you with the feeling that finally we can do something to fix some of the ills of our world, but unfortunately these methods do not apply as widely as we might think. In some applications, the principal is sound – we know ourselves that when we regularly mow our lawn with the grass catcher off, we get thicker grass, and the soil builds up. Using animals to do this by confining them so they eat palatable and unpalatable grasses and forbs indiscriminately (but only down to the right level) will do the same job. However, we also know that if we have animals grazing on our grass, and there is no grass growth in dry times, then there is not enough to feed them. No matter how much we fertilize our lawn, we can’t make the grass grow if there is no rain or groundwater. Drought stops any grazing management system in its tracks. Intensive grazing systems (of which Savory’s is one) are the subject of considerable science discussion. Some are successful within a narrow set of circumstances, but the over-riding factor to all studies is rainfall (‘if it rains, grass grows’). To eliminate the dominating influence of rainfall in assessing grazing systems, a 14-year study of South Africa used satellite data to compare grazing practices, while removing the dominant influence of rainfall=grass growth - http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140196303001071. This study found that the higher stocking rate of intensive grazing systems resulted in a consistent reduction in above-ground biomass when compared to non-selective grazing, and the more ‘intensive’ grazing resulted in higher reduction of biomass. In other words, intensive grazing practices result in less grass cover. The best aspect of Savory’s method is that burning is stopped. Burning is a very effective tool to stop forests re-growing. Half of Africa is high rainfall savannah, which will revert to forest if the burning were stopped – see http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7369/full/nature10452.html. After a few years when African herders see their grazing lands overtaken with trees, they will turn back to fire. To see the extent of this burning just take a look at the NASA fire maps - http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MOD14A1_M_FIRE. ‘Conservation grazing’ does work in regions where consistent rainfall and pasture production can support the cost of fencing and labour - http://theconversation.edu.au/can-livestock-grazing-benefit-biodiversity-10789. Unfortunately, most of the world’s grazing pastures do not have closely spaced water points or stocking rates high enough to support the cost of labour and fencing to move herds as Savory proposes. Savory's methods are evolving, making them a moving target for others to study. Agricultural colleges, Primary Industries and Agriculture Departments see farmers as their main client, eager to support them, but clearly none of the many trials I have seen support Savory's claims. My personal view is that extremely careful small area pasture management grazing cattle (within available feed) may be able to offer benefits, but I have yet to come across any trials that have the resources to do this - an easy defence of the Savory method, but this may demonstrate the labour-intensive nature of the method. Also noteworthy is the failure of traditional intensive grazing in Russia, Siberia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, China and eastern Africa where large herds are constantly moved by traditional herders (as the Savory method does) – but sheer weight of livestock numbers has ravaged these landscapes in drought years, leading to more degradation. China has gone to great efforts to reverse desertification, (google Great Green Wall), and is discovering that in marginal areas the most effective method is re-planting native perennial grasses, and removing all livestock – see http://www.chinadialogue.net/books/4772-Books-simple-ecology-complex-issues/en. To put this in perspective, the number of ruminants now trampling planet earth is beyond belief. Ruminants evolved about 50 million years ago, and by the year 1500 there were about 200 million on our planet. Now there are 2 billion, and only 75 million are wildlife! Each year we breed 64 billion livestock (mostly chickens), that’s about 9 animals per person per year globally (28 animals per person per year in the USA). I have personally seen many dryland grazing pastures that have good grass cover - these are the farms that have stocking rates suitable to the local conditions for that season, but these are generally owned by families, not pastoral companies (the major beef and sheep producers), making them a small minority. Pastoral companies care about their bottom line, knowing that the bare ground will grow grass the next time it rains. There is enormous potential in above ground and below ground carbon sequestration, but this will only happen when we stop burning the daylights out of grasslands to remove dead grass and to stop ‘woody weeds’; and when we remove grazing pressure.

Adam Sacks

Jul 1, 2013
12:56

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Dear Gerard - On one point we certainly agree - most burning of grasslands has to end. Beyond that, your response appears to be based on widespread misinformation common among academics and conventional land managers. While Savory's methods are clearly evolving, as any reasonable approach to whole, living systems must, they are hardly a moving target. There have been some changes in terminology over the years, but since the 1980s the method has been well established and based on solid ecosystem science. The moving target element has been more a characteristic of the misunderstanding of Holistic Management than of Holistic Management (HM) itself. That is, it takes serious efforts to understand how to implement HM, it's not simply a matter of following a schedule and moving animals around. Most mainstream researchers rely on assumptions based on previous experience which do not apply. Their conclusions are, accordingly, incorrect. Certainly rainfall is important, but equally if not more important is *effective* rainfall, that is, rainfall that is effectively absorbed by healthy soils. Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG) results in effective ground cover, adequate plant recovery time, appropriate soil disturbance and trampling of litter into the ground, supporting soil biota biodiversity and health. Decades of experience with HM show that improvement in the water cycle, including reappearance of surface water in the form of springs, creeks and ponds that often persist well into the dry season, repeatedly presents ample evidence of even semi-arid and arid ecosystem recovery with proper grazing management in grassland ecosystems on four continents. As for mowing versus HPG, there is no comparison. These are entirely different processes, and any resemblance is entirely superficial. Animal impact opens the soil to aeration and water penetration, fertilizes and stimulates plant growth in ways a lawn mower cannot begin to approach. Furthermore, this process requires *increased* animal density, 2, 3, 4 or more times the conventionally "recommended" density (as appropriate to the conditions in question) in order to be most effective. In sum, while I cannot go into great detail here on the consistent success of HPG when applied by trained land managers, it is clear that the evidence is firmly on the side of this natural process that evolved in nature over millions of years, wherein grazing animals kept moving as a protection against predators and in search of fresh feed. The "grazing pressure" that you assert must be removed is the pressure of improper grazing as practiced worldwide on conventional operations - it is the pressure of incorrect timing and poor management, not the pressure of numbers. HPG restores evolutionary grazing, and regenerates ecosystems in a stunning and often rapid manner. You may find the references in the previous comment helpful. Best regards, Adam Sacks

2013ag/forestryjudges 2013ag/forestryjudges

Jul 3, 2013
02:49

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Same idea as '5 Billion Hectares of Hope' proposal in the 'Shifting Cultures for a Changing Climate' contest. This is probably much more feasible on this small scale - just New England. However, there are many issues with the Savory school of holistic land management such as its feasibility in urban areas. There is also no details on the carbon capture potential or supporting charts or figures.

Seth Itzkan

Jul 4, 2013
06:18

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Hi Gerard, Thank you for your interest in this approach and cordial discussion. I will agree with Adam, who has previously replied to your comments, that although your citations are germane, they are miscast and, unfortunately, consistent with a decades-old simplification of Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG). This mis-characterization typically will involve elimination of the core element, that is the formal planning process where plant recovery is a core element. The result is that many derivative, and, not surprisingly, inadequate versions of HPG, now exist. These have names such as “intensive grazing”, or “rotational grazing”, or “short duration grazing”. They are attributed to Savory, and cited in the literature, as you have done, but have no resemblance in practice to HPG or to anything advocated by Savory or implemented by HPG practitioners. As an example, you have cited studies on “intensive grazing”, as if those were germane to HPG. They are not. In practice, what has happened, is that many practitioners simply increased stocking density, but did not implement the planning process prescribed by HPG. Their failure is not surprising. Because HPG calls for increasing animal density - to simulate the beneficial impact of wild herds that grassland ecosystems evolved with -, the two, HPG, and “intensive grazing” are correlated, when, I fact, they bare little resemblance. The planning process, for which grass recovery is an essential element, makes the difference between a high intensity model that works, and one that does not. We are not concerned, in this project, with failure. We are concerned with success. There are many ways to graze deleteriously, but as we have seen, it is also possible to graze in a manner that is restorative. Understanding this distinction, and advancing the former, is part of our goal, and part of a strategy for reversal of desertification necessary to offset and oncoming climate catastrophe. For a clearer understanding of the mis-characterization of Savory's thesis, please see the following papers by Chris Gil. Gill, C. 2008. Letter to James Heffelfinger Regarding Habitat Guideline for Mule Deer. http://posterous.circleranchtx.com/Heffelfingeretal121508ltr.pdf Gill, C. 2009. Chris Gill to David Briske. http://posterous.circleranchtx.com/Briske043009ltr.pdf Also, these are excellent sources: Gill, C., 2009. Doing What Works, Range Magazine, Fall 2009. pp 48-50. http://www.rangemagazine.com/features/fall-09/fa09-what_works.pdf Gill, C. 2009. Of Mule Deers & Paradigms. In Practice. March / April 2009. pp 4 - 6. Holistic Management International, Albuquerque, NM. Additionally, I have written an analysis of this matter you may find helpful. Regarding Holechek and Briske, and Rebuttals by Teague, Gill & Savory http://planet-tech.com/blog/regarding-holechek-savory For current research on the efficacy of HPG, please see the following: Ferguson, B.G., S.A.W. Diemont, R. Alfaro-Arguello, J.F. Martin, J. Nahed-Toral, D. Álvarez-Solís, R. Pinto-Ruíz. 2013 (in press), Sustainability of holistic and conventional cattle ranching in the seasonally dry tropics of Chiapas, Mexico. Agricultural Systems. Available online 18 June 2013. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agsy.2013.05.005 http://www.yousendit.com/download/WFJYa3ZGT01IcWRqQTlVag Teague, R. 2011. Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. Volume 141, Issues 3–4, May 2011, Pages 310–322 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880911000934 Alfaro-Arguello R., A.W. Diemont S., 2010. Steps toward sustainable ranching: An emergy evaluation of conventional and holistic management in Chiapas, Mexico. Agricultural Systems 103 (2010) 639–646 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X10000983 Weber K.T., Gokhale B.S., 2011. Effect of grazing on soil-water content in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho, Journal of Arid Environments, Volume 75, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 464–470 http://journals2.scholarsportal.info/details.xqy?uri=/01401963/v75i0005/464_eogoscisrosi.xml Stinner, D. 1997. Biodiversity As an Organizing Principle in Agroecosystem Management: Case Studies of Holistic Resource Management Practitioners in the USA. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol. 62:199-213 http://www.ecoagriculture.org/greatest_hits_details.php?id=889 I look forward to discussing this matter with you further, after you have had a chance to understand the distinction between the Savory model, and the “intensive grazing” studies you’ve cited, and also after you have had a chance read up on the current studies that show it’s efficacy, when done properly. Thank again for your interest in this matter. Best Regards, - Seth Itzkan Planet-TECH Associates www.planet-tech.com

Seth Itzkan

Jul 5, 2013
01:37

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Hello 2013agforestryjudges, There are extensive calculations of carbon capture potential with charts, tables, summaries and citations in the principal, 1st, reference included with the proposal. http://nechm.org/downloads/Geotherapy_chapter_r.7.7.1.pdf This is a 50 page document with far too much information to post here. Can you please review this and let us know if there is additional information you would like or clarification we can provide. Thank you, - Seth

Rob Laubacher

Jul 5, 2013
01:26

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Emissions reductions are a key metric for assessing the impact of proposals in all the mitigation categories. Calculations about emissions reductions may well have appeared in one of the references, but burying such an important item in a 50 page reference makes it difficult for the judges and other readers to understand the proposals' potential impact in a quick and efficient manner. For the judges and other readers, it would have been helpful to summarize the reference in question in the template field labeled "How much will emissions be reduced vs. business as usual levels?"

Adam Sacks

Jul 5, 2013
02:38

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Dear Laubacher - Thanks for your question. There are two general approaches to reducing atmospheric carbon burdens: (1) reduce carbon emissions, and (2) remove carbon that's already in the atmosphere. Virtually all of the climate mitigation efforts over the past 25 years have focused on emissions reductions. It is incontrovertibly clear, from the objective measurement of atmospheric carbon concentrations, that emissions reductions efforts have failed. Might they succeed eventually? One devoutly hopes so, but the indications are not promising at this point in time. But even if emissions were reduced to zero tomorrow, would that have an effect on climate change that would suffice to avert catastrophe? Keep in mind that positive feedbacks are already in play, e.g., Arctic summer ice, melting permafrost, seabed methane, raging wildfires, etc. etc. Those are the feedbacks we can see at the moment, all potentially adding untold quantities of carbon to the atmosphere far sooner than anyone anticipated even 5 years ago. Furthermore it is reasonable to assume and highly likely that there are feedbacks we haven't recognized yet. There are also generally unpredictable non-linear behaviors in the climate system, as well as time lags in the effects of heating due primarily to the inertial mass of the oceans. These are already *in the system*. They are not going away just because we belatedly decide to reduce emissions. I completely agree that emissions reductions are of vital importance, but our collective obsession with reductions has diverted us from what should be the real goal: reducing actual atmospheric carbon concentrations. Therefore, the work of NECHM is focused on precisely that: removing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it in the ground in biomolecules that are stable for centuries and millennia, biomolecules that are created by soil biota in healthy ecosystems. We have lost more carbon to the atmosphere from degraded soils than from burning fossil fuels; we can also put it back. And we can do this without dangerous and untested high-tech geo-engineering schemes. Therefore our answer to your question is this: Few emissions will be reduced by our approach compared to business as usual levels (there will be some reductions because Holistic Management does not use synthetic soil supplements). However, I submit that you are asking the wrong question. The pertinent question would be: "How much will *atmospheric carbon concentrations* be reduced vs. business as usual levels." If you insist on your criterion as stated, you may eliminate our proposal without further ado, and you need not take the time to read our paper (scheduled to be published by CRC Press late this year in an anthology of low-tech approaches to geotherapy). If, however, you are willing to consider expanding your perspective to one that includes an effort that shows great promise in directly addressing climate, one that's outside of the dominant box that's been obscuring other possibilities (thinking beyond current boundaries is what I thought Climate Co-Lab's purpose was), then we are happy to assist in any way we can.

Rob Laubacher

Jul 5, 2013
03:10

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I was trying to make a quick post urging you to attend to the comment of the judges; in my haste, I failed to distinguish between reducing future emission and capturing carbon from prior emissions. I can assure you that I know the difference between these and the way that they jointly affect atmospheric GHG concentrations. The larger point I was trying to make is that giving a quick, quantitative summary of the expected impact is an important part of making the case for a set of proposed actions. When expert readers (the judges) respond that they did not find it easy from what you had written to ascertain the potential impact of your proposed actions ("no details on the carbon capture potential or supporting charts or figures"), there are two possible ways to respond. One is to say, "But details on the projected impacts were included in a 50 page document listed in the references." Another might be to ask, "Is there a way we could present this material in the future that will demonstrate the potential impact to readers right up front in a more effective way?"

Adam Sacks

Jul 5, 2013
03:49

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Dear 2013agforestryjudges: Thank you for your question, quoted here for ease of reference: "Same idea as '5 Billion Hectares of Hope' proposal in the 'Shifting Cultures for a Changing Climate' contest. This is probably much more feasible on this small scale - just New England. However, there are many issues with the Savory school of holistic land management such as its feasibility in urban areas. There is also no details on the carbon capture potential or supporting charts or figures." I would like to elaborate somewhat on Seth's reply. You are correct that the feasibility of Holistic Management (HM) is untested in urban areas, keeping in mind that HM is a *planning process* for ecological practice, not only a grazing process. Eco-restoration and carbon capture and storage in urban and suburban (as well as rural) environments are the new areas that we at NECHM hope to implement. We are currently in the process of investigating approaches in non-rural areas, which would include turning lawns back into native-plant carbon sinks, and that would also have a significant impact on water use (there are likely more acres of lawns - 40.5 million - than the eight largest irrigated crops combined in the U.S. - http://scienceline.org/2011/07/lawns-vs-crops-in-the-continental-u-s/). Another project recently begun in Somerville, Massachusetts, informally at the present time, is depaving areas of asphalt and concrete which are unnecessarily covering soils. The implications of restoring bare and covered soils for cities and towns for purposes of photosynthesis, temperature regulation and flood control are significant. Use of goats or sheep for such projects have the potential for accelerating positive effects. This is only part of our work. We also anticipate working with farmers across New England in ways of increasing soil carbon sequestration. Since we live in a region with ample year-round rainfall, there is significant potential for carbon capture, as green plants grow abundantly. HM offers many techniques for improving land productivity, and several New England farmers have been practicing HM with great success. Our task is to help spread the word on "carbon farming," which has many ecological and economic benefits beyond the storage of carbon. As for the amount of carbon sequestered, there are reports of 2 or more tons C/acre/year on holistically managed lands, even more in some areas with year-round rainfall, less in drier areas. At that rate, however, on the average of 1 ton C/acre/year on over 12 billion acres of degraded grasslands worldwide we could capture 12 gigatons/year, or 6 ppm, and sequester 120 ppm of legacy carbon in 20 years if we eliminate emissions, or less than 40 years with ongoing emissions. Whether or not we do it is another question, but this approach is likely to appeal to a wider range of people than emissions reductions, as it requires no sacrifice from the public - on the contrary it is of visible benefit, for few would prefer vast bare desertified tracts to lush greenery that is routinely restored under HM. At this point there is some direct data collection and a good deal of inference from existing rangeland and soils studies (available in our paper, which Seth cited above). There is no doubt that more data collection is in order, but there is more than enough to get started and there are so many benefits to eco-restoration that there is literally no reason not to proceed apace. HM is currently practiced successfully on 40 million acres worldwide. NECHM's purpose is to contribute to the aggregate knowledge and implement such practices in the New England area, urban, suburban and rural.

Adam Sacks

Jul 5, 2013
04:49

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Dear Laubacher - Thank you for the clarification. Forgive me if I jumped to a premature conclusion about the limits of the Co-Lab quest, but I'm sure you understand that the question as stated limits the possible responses, and in fact gives the impression that our proposal does not fit the contest criteria. Your point about concise presentation of quantitative data is well taken. I tried to address that in my subsequent reply to 2013agforestryjudges. However, it is not a simple question to answer, as extensive definitive data on soil carbon sequestration, even in conventional soil science, is fraught with questions. For example, mainstream soil science typically views accumulation of soils as *only* a geological process, which is very slow, measured in centuries or millennia. Those of us practicing HM know without a shadow of a doubt that tons of soil per acre per year can be created biologically in a biodiverse and healthy ecosystem. In fact, anyone can see that, all you need is a hand to scoop up rich, sweet topsoil, full of worms, insect, dung beetles, miles of fungal hyphae and billions of beneficial bacteria - and with simple measurements compare it to the depth of the topsoil from previous years, to see soil neogenesis with your own eyes (and nose). Furthermore, new carbon is also stored deeper in the soil through complex interactions among deep plant roots (15 feet or more in healthy prairies), fungi, bacteria, insects and small mammals, where it is stable for a very long time (as long as we don't dig it up and expose it to the sun and air). Measuring atomic carbon in those soils is another story, and although early results are extremely promising, much work remains to be done. Sampling techniques and quantitative analysis are still under development, and much progress is being made, but we have to get started before the results are all in. In addition, at this point HM is not well understood in the academic and financing worlds (it's not nearly as simple as it might appear, although not difficult to implement), funding for studies of holistically managed land has been sparse, and there has been considerable resistance from university departments, which are entrenched in a different paradigm. All of this is changing for the better, but again, it will take time.

Rob Laubacher

Jul 5, 2013
04:39

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Your comments about the way the question is posed in the CoLab's proposal template are quite on target. In the next round we will strive to put schemes that seek to capture existing carbon on equal footing with those that seek to reduce future emissions. It seems it is early days for HM, both in terms of measuring impacts and convincing the established actors that the approach is viable. Given the need for the latter, the ability to have a well-honed pitch about potential impacts would seem all the more important, even if some of the figures necessarily have to be based on assumptions. I do know that at least one member of the Climate CoLab's Expert Council https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/resources/-/wiki/Main/Expert+Council has expressed great interest in and enthusiasm for this approach, which I hope you will find encouraging.

Seth Itzkan

Jul 5, 2013
04:47

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The Carbon Capture Potential of Holistic Management (HM) with Holistic Planned Grazing (HPG) Capturing carbon from the atmosphere in stable and long lasting biomolecules in soil is an essential strategy for reducing global warming, and perhaps mitigating a climate change catastrophe. As grasslands are both the largest ecosystem on the planet, and, in combination with agroecosystems (former grasslands), are the largest reservoirs of terrestrial carbon, it goes without saying that there can not be a satisfactory long term solutions to global warming, even if emissions reductions were dropped to zero, while poor land practices - including farming, ranching, and deforestation - continue to degrade soils worldwide - both contributing to the atmospheric carbon load, while reducing the carbon sink and myriad other services of healthy vegetative ecosystems (such as local cooling and drought resistance). Our contention is that the sequestration potential through Holistic Management with Holistic Planned Grazing is equivalent with that of worldwide grassland restoration itself, as there is no other known way to restore grassland ecosystems than to recreate the proper ruminant interaction that they co-evolved with and depend. Of course, this will be entirely unlike conventional domestic ruminant interactions that grazing systems (high or low density) currently provide - and all of which are subtly or not-so-subtly contributing to land degradation, erosion, and desertification. So, what is the carbon capture potential of worldwide grassland ecosystem restoration? Of course, this is unknown, but all the estimates are large, and, regardless of the actual number, no scientist has postulated that global warming can be mitigated without addressing the pronounced problem of soil carbon loss due to inadequate farming and ranching practices. To get specific, Rattan Lal, soil scientist with Ohio State University, has published that the potential for soil organic carbon (SOC) sequestration is 3 Gigatons per year (3 Pg C yr-1) and that the potential total capture over several decades maybe be 50 to 70 Gigatons (50 to 70 Pg) (1). This would sequester 25 to 35 ppm aCO2. This sequestration, according to Lal, can be achieved principally on the rangeland and croplands of the world (former grasslands) through adopting best-practice conservation methods. Our contention is that the Lal estimate is a minimum, because Lal limits his calculations to restoration methodologies that are already well established and studied, such as conservation tillage, afforestation, resting agricultural land, and cover crops (2). Although these are certainly excellent practices that must be utilized, we believe the research is lacking because the utilization of domestic animals, properly managed, is not part of his calculation. Where animals are included in the studies cited, it always as an exclusion, to reduce the grazing “pressure” and not to change the management toward a restorative paradigm. Recent studies are beginning to address deficiency. In a study from 2011, Richard Teaque of Texas A&M University has shown that “multi-paddock grazing” combined with “adaptive management” was superior to other grazing methodologies for the conservation and restoration of resources. Included in these studies was a comparison of soil organic matter (SOM) at different depths which found that the multi-paddock ranches had higher SOM % than the “graze exclosure” - meaning that grazing, properly, gave a better SOM % than not grazing at all (exclosure) (3). Additionally, Keith Weber of Idaho State University, has shown that land under Simulated Holistic Planned Grazing (SHPG) produces superior percentage volumetric-water content (%VWC) when compared with other grazing schemes on similar soil (4). Although Weber’s paper does not measure SOM directly, the increase in %VWC is understood to be an indicator of improved soil structure and carbon content, as the water holding capacity of soil and it’s carbon content are correlated. Thus, although exact numbers are not known, we feel it is evident that new research shows that proper management of livestock, through HPG, adds to the carbon and water capturing potential of soils and is an important new strategy for land management that can help mitigate global warming while also supporting viable land stewardship. We also believe that only measures that do support viable land stewardship have a chance of widespread adoption. References 1. Lal, R. 2001, Myths and Facts About Soils and the Greenhouse Effect, in Soil Carbon Sequestration and the Greenhouse Effect, SSSA Special Publication no. 57, pp 9-26. 2. Lal, R. 1997 Residue management, conservation tillage and soil restoration for mitigating greenhouse effect by CO2-enrichment. Soil Tillage Res. 43:81-107. 3. Teague, R. 2011. Grazing management impacts on vegetation, soil biota and soil chemical, physical and hydrological properties in tall grass prairie. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. Volume 141, Issues 3–4, May 2011, Pages 310–322 4. Weber K.T., Gokhale B.S., 2011. Effect of grazing on soil-water content in semiarid rangelands of southeast Idaho, Journal of Arid Environments, Volume 75, Issue 5, May 2011, Pages 464–470

Adam Sacks

Jul 5, 2013
06:26

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Hi Rob - Thanks for your encouraging note. You're quite right about a well-honed pitch, it's something we need to work on. But we're not in the early days of HM. Allan Savory has been working on it for around 50 years and has results going back to the early 1970s. Hundreds, possibly thousands of farmers and ranchers have been convinced and practicing for decades, and impacts on the health of the land and the practitioners as well as on economic success are well established (simply not having to use synthetic inputs can turn an operation from bankruptcy to profit). Many more practitioners are coming on board in recent years because HM works, often dramatically well. Allan gave a well-received TED Talk in February which presents an overview of his work (http://www.ted.com/talks/allan_savory_how_to_green_the_world_s_deserts_and_reverse_climate_change.html). That restoration of grasslands also stores large quantities of carbon is a side effect of HM, in the sense that it wasn't an issue until relatively recently. But it all makes sense. Rebalancing the water cycle, major increases in photosynthesis, and life forms which are constantly burying carbon away from the surface (ruminants, wild or domestic; prairie dogs; dung beetles; earthworms; plant and fungal roots; etc.) all mean carbon sequestration. Exactly how much we can't be sure yet, but we've lost 400-500 gigatons of soil carbon since the beginning of agriculture, and now there's good reason to believe that we can put at least half of that back. Cheers! Adam
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