Re: On grazing and land conservation again: Assessment of Allan Savory anyone?

David Walters

Hi Hari, this happens to be an area of of study for me. An over enthusiastic article I wrote years ago is here: a recent debate in "Socialist Organiser" from the UK is here: I'm not a supporter at all of this group that puts out the paper but the discussion and debate over "going meatless" is fascinating. I was invited to write a contribution, which actually focuses on what I'm interested in, soil fertility. The article Louis links to is sadly so one sided and avoids all the discussion around regenerative agriculture (or "eco-agriculture" as it is known in some circles) that involves everything from Savory's "holistic management" to no-till farming. It really seems that that this George Wuerthner Geore Wuethner person is either ignorant of all this or has not understanding at all of the role cattle have played historically, even in the very dry climates he uses to attack the cow as the enemy. My point on this is that is a HUGE debate and involves everything from climate change to how to farm to "organic" farming to the nitrogen and organic soil carbon crisis and the lose of gigatons every year of top soil due to bad farming practices. In my article that comes out in Socialist Organiser I try to address some of these issues. My perspective to start from actually is not climate change but indeed, the soil. And it is from here that I grew to understand the problems of factory farming ("CAFOs") and fossil fuel derived fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, etc.


Savory. I have to admit that watching Savory at the Ted talk kind of/sort of got me going on this soil and cattle kick. The problem is that he appears to have eared in some ways in his talk, overstating his case for the results of his own experiments in Zimbabwe. The Savory Institute in fact answers the critics of his method. The problem here is that there is a kind of mini-cult around Savory from ranchers and practitioners of mob-grazing. People are overly enthused about it. It is a far more complex than often the supporters of mob-grazing/regenerative agriculture are willing to admit. I urge you to look over the Savory Institute web site for actual data and papers they have published on this subject.


A few points to end my own bit on this. I would urge a reading of the links provided by ratbagradio in his post on this. I had not seen them before and they are fascinating. Lastly, on the comment forwarded to this list or made by Karen(?) with the point that there are many healthy ecologies where there are no cattle or disturbance of the soil (to stimulate root growth in grasses). I agree. New Zealand was one place without large ruminants (grass eaters) and their semi-tropical rainforests and grass lands did flourish. But then no one was harvesting these grasses for grain or vegetables. For every kilo of carbon removed in the form of corn, wheat, or legumes, that carbon *has to be replaced*. What cattle offer in addition to the way they eat grass, if moved around in a managed way (and as nature did with predators) when combined with photosynthesis (solar energy) that carbon, all of it, and more is replaced. Combine this will getting rid of the plow and using mechanzed seed drills, our soil run off, or most of it, goes away. Our soils *regenerate*, something no one in the anti-cow brigade can compete with.


David Walters

PS...then we get to eat the grass fed, grass finished cattle!

Join to automatically receive all group messages.