I've known about this for some time, and I'm glad it's finally getting the platform it deserves.
"Conventional" farming methods - i.e. monocrop and petrochemical heavy, haphazard grazing, etc. - see
soil erosion/loss at an astounding rate of 10 times the natural
replenishment rate (reaching as high as 40x faster in places like China and India). In short, we need to get to work putting organic matter
back into our soils in order to revivify/rebuild them. Allan Savory gave a talk at the TED 2013 conference on his biomimetic Holistic Pasture
Management that does just that at an incredible rate - which leads not only to healthier and more drought resistant/resilient crops, but
traps/sequesters carbon from the atmosphere like mad. Here's a short video describing the essentials of HPM:
Without further ado, they've finally posted Savory's stellar TED 2013 talk (one of the most important talks at the entire conference, in my opinion):
(the entire video deserves to be watched, but the changes come in around 15:00)
Fighting the growing deserts, with livestock: Allan Savory at TED2013 blog.ted.com...
Allan Savory has dedicated his life to studying management of grasslands. And if that doesn't sound exciting, just wait, because it touches on the
deepest roots of climate change and the future of the planet.
"The most massive, tsunami, perfect storm is bearing down on us," is the grim beginning to Savory's talk. This storm is the result of rising
population, of land that is turning to desert, and, of course, climate change. Savory is also unsure of the belief that new technology will solve all
of the problems. He agrees that only tech will create alternatives to fossil fuels, but that's not the only thing causing climate change.
So what can they do? "There is only one option left to climatologists and scientists. That is to do the unthinkable: to use livestock, bunched and
moving, as a proxy for the herds." Those herds mulch it down, leaving both the trampled grass and their dung. The grass is then free to grow without
having damaged with fire.
The results are stunning. For location after location he shows two comparison photos, one using his technique, one not. The difference is, "a profound
change," and he's not kidding - in some cases the locations are unrecognizable (in one case the audience gasped). Not only is the land greener, crop
yields are increasing. For example, in Patagonia, an expanding desert, they put 25,000 sheep into one flock. They found an extraordinary 50%
improvement in production of land in the first year.
(more at link)
Here's farmer Joel Salatin going into more detail (he calls it "management intensive grazing"):
And here's an excellent article from Tom Philpott (covering a university study) that also spells out the benefits of this incredible technique (that
works with, rather than against, nature):
I have not had time to watch the lecture video, but I will. Have watched the one featuring Joel Salatin and the other one, I live in a primarily
agrarian area, where it used to be all hands on and done the 'old fashioned way'. It is very exciting to see these ideas coming forward. I believe
this is the way to go that is best for us, the beasts and the earth, wonderful, Thank you for sharing this. I hope many people here read this
I watched now, and yes it is hope for the future. It has more credibility imho because Allan Savory once believed differently. I also like that he
looked at other disciplines to find solutions.
edit on 5-3-2013 by Iamschist because: (no reason given)
It's amazing what we can learn from nature when we observe it. Especially how it thrives in symbiotic relationships. To think, it's the
predator-prey relationship that built the soils so effectively and led to thriving landscapes/ecosystems (like those deep soils that used to exist in
the Great Plains...until we plowed them up and over-farmed them)! It's equally amazing for people like Savory and Salatin to recognize it and put
those fundamentals into action (and be such great advocates for it) - especially when it went against "conventional" wisdom (even shared by Savory
for a time, as you pointed out).
There's actually a great book I read recently that, while not dealing with building soils specifically, speaks well about just how mutually
beneficial these evolutionary web-of-life relationships are:
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