Monday, September 21, 2015
Reversing the destruction of agricultural land
Viv Forbes below does not mention a relevant matter. He directs our attention to a talk by Savory which is an absolute eye-opener and we must be profoundly grateful for Savory's work. But Savory does justify his proposals as assisting with global warming. That is just good politicking however. By doing that Savory gets more people onside. But his work is good for much more than global warming. It is truly a great leap forward in the management of agricultural land. I have always seen soil erosion as the environmental challenge that most needs attention but because the Greenies are really motivated by hatred of people rather than real care for the environment, I have yet to see concern about soil erosion from them -- JR
People send me things; lots of things - compliments, abuse, information and advice.
One correspondent is “Coochie” a wannabee grass-farmer who lives in town but reads all the latest stuff on managing grazing animals. He reads things like “Mother Earth” and “Stockman Grass Farmer”.
Coochie recently rebuked me.
“Please tell Farmer Fred that grazing animals are far better than ‘carbon neutral’. In fact they are the only hope for reversing desertification of the world’s grasslands and open forests. If managed properly, grazing herds will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce soil erosion, improve soil fertility and increase vegetative cover. They should earn ‘carbon credits’.”
I was all ears.
“You and Fred should study the work of Allan Savory. Allan is an observant honest ecologist who has spent his life worrying about desertification, which can be both a cause and a result of climate change. Initially, he hated grazing animals – he thought they were causing desertification and destroying his beloved wildlife.
“But a life-time of study of the whole system showed him it was neither the cloven hooves nor the animal numbers that caused desertification. The problem was how they grazed – how long, how intense. When hard-hoof animals are concentrated on small areas of land for short periods of time, they break up the hard crust and cover it with litter, dung and seeds. Then, when the herd moves on to seek new clean pastures, the abandoned areas recover quickly with improved soil and replanted pasture. This process restores the health of grasses and soil, returning much life-supporting carbon to the soil in the process.
“What turns grasslands into deserts is constant grazing by a few animals. Herds must be concentrated and moving.”
I insisted that Fred come over and listen to Alan Savory, telling us "How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change"
After he listened to it, Fred was stunned. He was always sceptical of our “funny ideas” on rotational grazing but suddenly he understood.
“Well, my boy” he said. “So much for all that rot from your Professor mate attacking us graziers and lauding soft-footed animals. It makes sense – soft-footed rabbits spread everywhere and destroyed everything with their constant nibbling; but one or two massive moving herds of bison, bunched and harassed by wolves and Indians and assisted by occasional fires, created the marvellous grasslands of the Prairies.
“Our cattle and sheep can be much more than grass harvesters and providers of periodic protein for people and predators. They can cultivate soil, prepare seed beds, spread seeds and mulch, and fertilise our grasslands and pastures in just one pass; but only if we concentrate them properly, and then give the pasture a decent rest-and-recovery period.”
“This Un-Savory chap will probably be expelled from the Deep Green Brotherhood for such blasphemy.”
Coochie was ecstatic: “With plenty of plant-sustaining emissions from coal in the skies, and soil-sustaining emissions from cattle in the soils, then coal and cattle can paint the grasslands green again.”
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).