A bridge in the climate debate – How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change

This is one of the most important posts ever on WUWT, it will be a top “sticky” post for a few days, and new posts will appear below this one during that time.

People send me stuff.

Imagine, shooting 40,000 elephants to prevent the land in Africa from going to desert because scientists thought the land couldn’t sustain them, only to find the effort was for naught and the idea as to why was totally wrong. That alone was a real eye opener.

sahara-desert-earth-climate-101220-02

The Sahara Desert in Africa, as seen from space – Image NASA

Every once in awhile, an idea comes along that makes you ask, “gee why hasn’t anybody seen this before?”. This one of those times. This video below is something I almost didn’t watch, because my concerns were triggered by a few key words in the beginning. But, recommended by a Facebook friend, I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did, because I want every one of you, no matter what side of the climate debate you live in, to watch this and experience that light bulb moment as I did. The key here is to understand that desertification is one of the real climate changes we are witnessing as opposed to some the predicted ones we often fight over.

It is one of those seminal moments where I think a bridge has been created in the climate debate, and I hope you’ll seize the moment and embrace it. This video comes with my strongest possible recommendation, because it speaks to a real problem, with real solutions in plain language, while at the same time offering true hope.

This is a TED talk by Dr. Allan Savory in Los Angeles this past week, attended by our friend Dr. Matt Ridley, whose presentation we’ll look at another time. Sometimes, TED talks are little more that pie in the sky; this one is not. And, it not only offers a solution, it shows the solution in action and presents proof that it works. It makes more sense than anything I’ve seen in a long, long, time. Our friend Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., champion of studying land use change as it affects local and regional climate will understand this, so will our cowboy poet Willis Eschenbach, who grew up on a cattle ranch. I daresay some of our staunchest critics will get it too.

To encapsulate the idea presented, I’ll borrow from a widely used TV commercial and say:

Beef, it’s what’s for climate

You can call me crazy for saying that after you watch this presentation. A BIG hattip to Mark Steward Young for bringing this to my attention.

“Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

Published on Mar 4, 2013

There’s a longer version with more detail below, about an hour long. Also worth watching if you want to understand the process in more detail:

Feasta Lecture 2009

Extracts available at vimeo.com/8291896

Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.

feasta.org/events/general/2009_lecture.htm

Recorded 7 November 2009, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

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586 Responses to A bridge in the climate debate – How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change

  1. omnologos says:

    Richer people? More cattle? No wonder it’s been forgotten for four years. No self-respecting greenie will go for such an amount of positive news.

    Remember, for them it’s miserabilism first. The environment can wait. Perhaps we should re-cast that talk in a way that properly explains how people will suffer in a way or another.

  2. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Nice find, Anthony. No news to me, I wrote about it here.

    Best to all,

    w.

  3. Mario Lento says:

    Sounds very hopeful. Will the IPCC endorse this? No.
    Why? ???

  4. Eyal Porat says:

    Thank you very much Anthony for bringing this here!
    2 things:
    A. Here in Israel you can see it happening for many years along with reforestation even in areas never thought to be able to hold forests (northern Negev desert).
    B. This is going to be a mote in Gary Yourofsky’s eye. We will have to increase meat consumption worldwide to financially support the farmers and to manage the livestock. It is great for carnivores like myself, but Yourofsky is going to have a fit. :-)
    Eyal

  5. Rick says:

    A sizable tool in the colonialist’s arsenal was the insistence that native land practices (especially grazing) were ‘incorrect’ and merely extended ‘natural’ conditions, which were, as indicated above, thought to cause desertification. It was believed that only the European system of intensive land use along with the removal of nomadic grazing systems could ‘redeem’ the land and return it to its former glory. Oh, how wrong they were. It’s nice to see them come out and admit it, and do something positive for once. Hopefully a bunch of myopic, idiotic environmentalist fanatics don’t charge in and find away to muck this all up.

  6. Harris says:

    Thanks for that, Anthony. Great presentation.
    Seems like a win-win proposition, even if AGW should prove to be overstated.

  7. tobias says:

    I grew up in Holland post WWII and as you can imagine farmers were, all over Europe in those days, an important group (sorry if I cannot express myself well), But some of my farming family always, always showed me small ways to grow things (composting and propagating, milking, birthing etc.) and to how ROTATE crops and grazing animals . Every week, or less, live stock was moved from one pasture to another to give the grazed pastures a rest and recuperation to give the “shit and piss” a chance to do their thing. As Holland was small it had to be done on a few hectares (if not acres) at a time but by darn it worked.
    This Gentleman’s concept is not new but is on a scale I can hardly imagine ( like the size of all of Europe ). But I did like this video a lot because I do hope that people get a lesson out of it. The 40,000 dead elephants! It might wake up a few people.

  8. Mike Bromley the Canucklehead in Cowburg says:

    As much as I think TED talks are good I really do wish they’d get Al Gore out of the opening frames.

  9. Lew Skannen says:

    Fascinating. I am always ready to consider that if an obvious solution has not worked after a sufficient amount of time then it may not actually be a solution.
    Often the standard response is just to assume we have not done enough yet. (I also think this principle applies to a lot of problems from foreign aid to drug abuse but that is another story.)

    Stopping the natives of Africa burning during the dry season might not be so easy, it seems to be a rather ingrained habit, but having spent a bit of time in that part of the world I would back this idea over any other project currently being funded there.

  10. fred says:

    That talk is brilliant!

  11. Hoser says:

    Anthony, this post was really important. Thanks.

    Willis, although “Animal, Vegetable, or E. O. Wilson” (11 SEP 2010) was an excellent post, you wrote nothing directly about fighting desertification. However, a commenter on your post, E.M.Smith, September 12, 2010 at 4:14 pm, did.

  12. UK Sceptic says:

    Cows, not wind turbines.

    I’ll have some of that!

  13. Stephen Skinner says:

    Excellent talk and positive. Perhaps some of the temperature increases over the last 50 or so years are from increasing areas of bare ground and so a measure of increased desertification?
    This may not explain why temps have not continued to increase unless desertification has stalled?

  14. slabadang says:

    Real people understand this!

    Enviromentallist dont! Its hard to profit from and hard to tax … and it gives you hope .. the most forbidden tinking in the green religion.

  15. Mike Mellor says:

    It’s all part of scientific pasture management. What we call land degradation today has long been known as “The Tragedy of the Commons.”

    http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/search.aspx?s=allan%20savory

  16. Keitho says:

    Yet another outstanding man from that very small tribe known as Rhodesians. Alan Savory has achieved so much in terms of wildlife management, zero tillage and conservation. His moving to New Mexico seems to have really given him the environment in which to shine.

    The message, more livestock, is quite revolutionary but based on his previous successes and ability to learn from his mistakes I have no doubt this is a huge step forward for mankind.

  17. dave38 says:

    So he suggests that we can reduce ” carbon” to preindustrial levels. I assume he means carbon dioxide which is of course a plant food. So there will be less plant food for this new level of growth.
    hmmm…. Perhaps we should keep burning fossil fuels to help keep the level of CO2 up.
    It’s still a very interesting idea though but the fixation with “carbon” makes me wonder about the original premise that there is such a thing as “climate change” (which in this case means anthropogenic climate change)

  18. Michael says:

    Not news to Australian Graziers. A similar programme was on Landline (Country TV series in Australia)

  19. I interrupted watching an outstanding speech by a great teacher (Jon Kabot-Zinn) to watch this video.

    Wow. Am I ever glad I did.

    It’s important, and I found it gripping from stem to stern. I learned a lot, and it all makes sense.

  20. james griffin says:

    A great idea that he appears to have been proved…and I am all for that. However he does not know the difference between carbon and carbon dioxide or that NASA report that the planet is greeening due to more CO2 in the atmosphere.
    It is the soot and things such as sulphur dioxide that we need to address…..the extra CO2 is of great benefit.

  21. Practical, scientific, sensible, humane, economical.
    The eco-fascists and climate alarmists will oppose this with the last breath in their bodies.

  22. tommoriarty says:

    Many have read the book “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. He writes about the demise of various civilizations, large and small. In almost every instance one of the main contributors is destruction of soil resources.

    A community that is originally successfull increases its population and expands agriculture from the best lands to the maginal lands. Then during lean times they find that their practices have destroyed those marginal lands. The greater population is forced to overburden the originally better land, and destroys it also.

    Today, one of the not so brilliant ideas is to use our most precious resources – land and water – to make fuel for cars. This will lead to disasters.

    See, for example…
    “Taking Measure of biofuel limits”
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2009/09/24/taking-measure-of-biofuel-limits/

    Or
    “Nobel Prize winning biochemist says ALL biofuels are ‘nonsense.’”
    http://climatesanity.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/nobel-prize-winning-biochemist-says-all-biofuels-are-nonsense/

  23. Wonderful. There has been a lot of discussion in Australia recently about ‘un-desertifying’ the land. It is known that the continent used to be largely forested, so it is clearly capable of having other than desert wasteland. This approach is clearly what we need.

  24. DirkH says:

    Absolutely wonderful.

  25. Elanor says:

    That’s great, but I see a flaw… How can you graze thousands of cattle in an area with no grass or other such vegetation?

  26. Thanks a lot Anthony. I intend to call attention to this on my blog.

  27. Frosty says:

    I mentioned Mr. Savorys work here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/12/13/to-sahel-and-back/#comment-828805 and here http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/16/water-evaporated-from-trees-cools-global-climate/#comment-744521 in a wider context.

    Regenerative Agriculture (RegenAg) takes the principles even further, RegenAg uses Savorys Holistic Management techniques alongside keyline ploughing (developed by P.A. Yeoman) and the integrated design principles of Permaculture (developed by Bill Mollison) to provide a proven system to regenerate soils and landscapes in a productive, profitable, manor.

    I attended the UK RegenAg design course run by Darren Doherty in 2011, highly recommended for farmers, landscape designers, and environmentalists, this is the future of farming IMO. see links for further details.
    http://regenag.com/web/
    http://www.regenerativeagriculture.co.uk/

  28. Kasuha says:

    Thank you Anthony, this is a very important message to all people concerned about climate.
    It may be a bit bold to assume that rising CO2 is caused by desertification rather than by fossil fuels, but that would explain why it didn’t stop even though temperatures aren’t rising for quite a few years already.

  29. Leg says:

    A scientist willing to admit a mistake, and Savory’s mistake was enormous, is a real scientist. I’ll bet you don’t see him too often behind a desk or tied to a GIGO computer program. I am a little amazed that this is the first time I’m learning of his work, but in the little shown, it sure makes sense and sure gives one a sense of hope for all the species on earth. With the constant din of gloom and doom from our politicians, media and nay-sayers, this is a breath of fresh air.

  30. AB says:

    I am sharing this with as many as I can. Here in HK they seem to be doing their best to eliminate water buffaloes but they are an essential part of the ecology.

    Government officials and a protection group have in recent years moved four buffaloes, from Lantau and elsewhere to the WWF-run Mai Po nature reserve in northwest Hong Kong. Such moves are usually prompted by complaints from the public.
    The latest addition, Mai Bo, arrived in September. The WWF says the animals are proving a great help at the 380-hectare (940-acre) reserve where they graze wetlands, which in turn helps to attract rare birds.
    “We found that buffalo are actually very good at managing the habitats, at keeping short vegetation… which provides very good habitat for the birds that we get here,” said John Allcock, WWF-Hong Kong’s head of habitat management and monitoring at Mai Po.
    He hopes to take in more buffaloes but distances the WWF from the debate that moving the animals has sparked in a city where many are concerned with the loss of heritage that has come as a consequence of its development.
    “I think of them as something that adds character to Lantau,” said David Blecken, a 32-year-old British journalist who lives on Hong Kong’s main island.
    “I think Hong Kong sometimes lacks a connection with nature, so it’s quite nice to see animals of any kind in Hong Kong.”

    LINK

  31. ScottD says:

    Now that I think about it most ruminates (cows, buffaloes, etc) have developed a symbiotic relationship with grasses. Many species of grasses have seed coats that survive going through a cow’s stomachs and are deposited with a capsule of highly nutritious plant food.Then they are tilled into the ground by the hooves of the cows. Cows are natures little farm combines running around tilling the soil and planting seeds for next years crops.

    Ask any farmer what happens if you use raw manure on farmland. Your fields get full of whatever plants the cows had been eating, so they compose or heat the manure first to kill the seeds in it.

  32. NikFromNYC says:

    Basically? Blah blah blah. Each day you, Tony Watts, you further PULL otherwise rational souls into some odd combination of “nice old men” propaganda, minus any edge, or minus anything but your stealing of cool from simple libertarian citizens of the United States of America.

    Every day you bury you best clothes in piles of dirty and maybe dirty underwear.

    Republicans, anti-science Republicans, are already on the side of reason.

    Now what?

    I don’t know.

  33. mwhite says:

    “2 Ancient African Civilisation in the Sahara”

    “Historian Basil Davidson looks at ancient rock paintings in Zimbabwe of civilised black-skinned African peoples. “The evidence of these paintings suggests a continuous community of peoples, lving right across the Saharah from the Atlantic to the valley of the Nile.”

    As the Sahara was overtaken by desert around 2000 BCE, these peoples moved southwards and eastwards”.

  34. Dodgy Geezer says:

    1 – There are political problems. Dr Allan Savory is not an American. So anything he says is most likely to be ignored until it is ‘invented in America’. Even worse, he is a white man who worked for the British Colonial Service in Rhodesia (as was). In current politics, that makes him a racist imperialist.

    2 – Won’t somebody think of the poor Sand Lizards which will have their habitat ruined if the desert is removed?

    The ideas are very good, but I reckon the above is what they’ll fail on…

  35. Leg says:

    @ tommoriarty
    I wholeheartedly agree with your biofuel sentiments. However I would suggest being circumspect with regards to Jared Diamond. He is a bit of a Malthusian in my opinion and his work made him the darling of the “chicken-little, let’s see who we can scare into giving us money” crowd. I find his theories interesting, but not exactly hopeful as you see in Savory’s work.

  36. Jimbo says:

    FANTASTIC! Bravo! Wow!

    I learned something today and am well impressed. Thanks. From cheap simple solutions we had increased vegetation, water retention, more food, carbon sequestration. I am impressed. That light bulb moment went on when he pointed out that the current year’s grassland must be removed for the following years grass to grow with the key being moving livestock.

    When I read

    Imagine, shooting 40,000 elephants to prevent the land in Africa from going to desert…..

    I thought it was just a hypothetical example, but it happened and for nought.

    On a sad and cynical note, and I do hope I’m wrong here, but it seems this lesson will not be of much interest to those seeking funds to ‘tackle’ climate change as there ain’t money to be made. Please feel free to snip this last paragraph, it’s just the way I feel.

  37. ColdOldMan says:

    Wonderful talk and I can ignore his comments about carbon as he says himself, “I’m no expert on carbon”. It’s not his discipline so has simply accepted the ‘consensus’.

    I doubt it will get the backing it needs, as it goes totally against the thinking behind Agenda 21 which is to return as much land back to ‘Nature’ as possible and move the people into confined urban areas.You won’t get the environmentalists on board, either, as other commenters have said, as their focus is on forcing vegetarianism on us all. The Law of Unintended Consequences is a foreign land to them.

  38. I liked the part where he learned the “consensus” about cows in college and later found out that the “consensus” was completely wrong… But there won’t be a single professor anywhere teaching about ecology or ecosystems who won’t constantly be demonizing cows – it’s just a reflex action by now…

  39. Jens Raunsø Jensen says:

    Hi Anthony,
    sorry but I do not see the light here, on the contrary. Having worked as a scientist, development aid administrator and consultant to major international developing agencies on land and water management for about 30 years in Africa and Asia, I am sad to see the lack of skepticism – especially on this site – when people promote ideas like this without proper documentation.

    Several statements may be challenged i the presentation, but let’s just recall what a team of scientists have concluded on the subject in a Synthesis Paper on the issue (Briske et al., 2008, Rangeland Ecol Manage 61: 3-17) with reference also to Savory: “Continued advocacy for rotational grazing as a superior strategy of grazing on rangelands is founded on perception and anecdotal interpretations, rather than an objective assessment of the vast experimental evidence.”

    Further:
    “The rangeland profession has become mired in confusion,
    misinterpretation, and uncertainty with respect to the evaluation
    of grazing systems and the development of grazing
    recommendations and policy decisions. We contend that this
    has occurred because recommendations have traditionally been
    based on perception, personal experience, and anecdotal
    interpretations of management practices, rather than evidence-
    based assessments of ecosystem responses, which is
    a common phenomenon in ecosystem management (Pullin et
    al. 2003; Sutherland et al. 2004). This has seriously impeded
    the development of more robust, consistent, and unified grazing
    management recommendations and policy decisions to govern
    this predominant land use on rangelands.”

    Finally, recall that the socalled Sahel crisis of the 1970-80 with widespread “desertification” has later been found to be driven by decadal changes in rainfall pattern. The vegetation has largely recovered in recent years with more “normal” rainfall.

    regards .. jens

  40. seth says:

    Anthony,

    Does anyone here know how he is funded or how to make donations?

    Seth

  41. Jimbo says:

    The following paragraph is very important as it should alert people to the ‘solutions’ being proposed to ‘tackle’ global warming climate change. It may all be for nothing.

    Imagine, shooting 40,000 elephants to prevent the land in Africa from going to desert because scientists thought the land couldn’t sustain them, only to find the effort was for naught and the idea as to why was totally wrong.

    Something similar was carried out in Africa earlier called the Cattle Killing Movement of the Xhosa.

  42. Peter Whale says:

    Absolutely, brilliantly simple, give him the warmist funding.

  43. Stephen Richards says:

    Send it to the BBC.

    I dislike immensely the continuous use of carbon as opposed to CO² (a minor thing but annoying) and the absolute assumption that CO² of itself fuels (climate change) global warming. He like many other environmentalists has adopted the “climate change” description of global warming to avoid conflict with reality.

    However, one cannot fault his work and his passion and his drive and he should receive all the money currently being wasted by Hansen et al so it can be put to real environmental restoration instead of the destruction of human civilization. We are all environmentalists. None of us wants to destroy the planet on which we live. Give him all the backing he needs to get on with his work as fast as nature will allow.

    Thanks to Anthony and to Mark Steward Young

  44. Stephen Richards says:

    NikFromNYC says:

    March 9, 2013 at 1:49 am

    You need to lay off the maruyana, son. You are in danger of losing it altogether.

  45. Geoff Sherrington says:

    Australia shows a high % of desertification on the maps. The Savory approach has been tried in parts, without, I suspect, the scientists knowing that there needed to be a more coordinated plan. Some plus and minus policies compared to the Savory plan.

    e.g. 1960s, CSIRO Division of Tropical pastures introduced legumes and grasses to assist beef cattle area. This is the good part. I helped in a very small way and time in my early graduate years.
    e.g. 1979, start of eradication of 20,000 water buffalo from Kakadu national park because they were not native. Some were machine gunned from helicopters. Current National Park thinking is here, including fire management. http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/kakadu/management/conservation.html
    e.g. recent decades, culling of brumby horses and camels from the arid interior
    e.g. spreading the misconception that agriculture is self-conserving and does not need inputs like animals
    e.g demonising cloven hoofed animals for the reason that they break up dry soil and make it more dust bowl.

    If it is shown that the Savory plan is sound, it will take quite some time to provide at least minimal pasture for carrying capacity to be increased. That is not insurmountable, it’s just slow.

    There is a strong push here, with the national broadcaster the ABC strongly involved, for a silly idea called ‘organic farming’. I’ve formally complained about objectivity in this pseudo-science by the ABC and been treated badly.

    There are variants, but I can’t close without quoting “Biodynamic agriculture uses various herbal and mineral additives for compost additives and field sprays; these are sometimes prepared by mystical (and controversial) methods, such as burying ground quartz stuffed into the horn of a cow, which are said to harvest “cosmic forces in the soil”, See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture and more.

  46. Lawrie Ayres says:

    Alan Savory has had a strong following among sustainable farmers in Australia for many years. I use the word sustainable as it meant before the Greenies thought it meant stopping everything and in particular the use of and consumption of animals. As a now retired farmer I was always amazed at how nature did what I was trying to do. I guess it is best summed up as working with the environment to achieve a mutual benefit rather than working against it to achieve a good outcome for me alone. It lead me to abandon insecticides and most herbicides and take a smaller return albeit with a smaller outlay. As a lucerne (alfalfa for you yanks) grower we often had leaf roller (heliothis) attacks and some neighbours sprayed to control them. I put up with them and chaffed my hay so slight imperfections went un-noticed. What I found was that I had many more insectivorous birds visiting every time I mowed and many just lived on the farm for the duration. I also had many good insects like ladybugs that ate aphids. No real science I agree but observations and outcomes should count for something. Unfortunately our agricultural scientists by and large concentrate their advice about the bottom line and higher outputs rather than a holistic approach that allowed me to avoid using large quantities of artificial fertilizers but still maintain healthy soils and a reasonable return. The Greens here, and most politicians who are not game to buck the trend, continue to lock up our National Parks just to see them burn every few years when the re-introduction of grazing animals would reduce the fuel load and flame height as they once did before the parks were created from crown land grazing leases. I don’t say farmers know everything but they certainly know more than city bred land managers. Alan is a respected observer of nature who has articulated what he sees.

  47. Matthew Carver says:

    This sounds a lot like the work of Joel Salatin in Virginia. He is a farmer that focuses on land restoration. He has written several books that are simple and well written.

  48. Jimbo says:

    It is people like Savory and Norman Borlaug (Father of the green revolution in farming) that are the real contributors to humanity and their legacies will long outlive them. I can’t say the same for the likes of Michael Mann, the Sierra Club, James Hansen, Gore and other none contributing parasites of humanity.

  49. Peter Plail says:

    A character in a ’60s UK radio comedy had a catch phrase – “the answer lies in the soil”. How true

    I am now on a mission to make sure as many people as possible listen to that talk, understand the importance of the message and take action.

    What more important way could there be of spending the West’s overseas aid budgets than promulgating Dr Savory’s message? A solution that yields results in such short timescales could save so much human suffering.

    Sadly, I fear that those with vested interests and a desire for power will deny the benefits and prolong so much suffering.

    To the warmists out there I would say that here is a way to massively increase biomass which can provide alternatives to fossil fuels – forget your crusade against technology-driven CO2 producers and get fully behind livestock-led CO2 sequestration.

  50. Too simple, no villains, no wonder it’s the first we’ve heard of it. Good to know there’s hope.

  51. Mike M says:

    With his vilification of CO2 and MEEthane he clearly does not yet have both feet in the canoe. All we need to do is get him to realize that more CO2 is beneficial because it reduces plant stomata count reducing evaporation even further from reduced transpiration AND increases a plant’s resistance to drought AND makes for faster growing plants able to support more animals AND has no measurable affect on earth’s temperature – then he’ll be free to paddle all the way over to our side.

  52. Lawrie Ayres says:

    I have limited download so this may have been it the long version of Alan’s talk. The first thing cows do when they stand up is take a dump or urinate, often both. A herd under attack from predators drops a lot of nutrient in a small area. That in itself is handy for growth of the new crop particularly when the soil is disturbed. The other nature marvel is the dung beetle ( actually the several hundred species) that bury the dung up to a metre below ground level. Their tunnels allow water penetration and a route for roots to find deep nutrients which plants then bring to the surface. Burying the dung also inhibits the breeding cycle of flies etc. Climate change can’t be fought as some politicians and environmentalists wish to do and neither can nature be “fought” but we can adapt to the former and adapt with the latter. There will be a war of course as the logical and practical combat the feel good know nothings of the environmental lobby.

    In answer to Elanor @ 1:15 the animals were not grazed on the bare paddocks but they were locked in for the night. They would bring with them a load of grass that they would chew the cud on and extract moisture from. During the night and in the morning they would dump the lot prior to being let out to graze. After several nights the paddock was locked up and another paddock used for a night paddock. On our farm the night paddocks were rotated into growing paddocks and were always very productive.

  53. snaparooni says:

    Re: Willis’ previous post: I agree. I have a farmette with chickens. It is amazing that they eat anything: grass, garbage, bugs, dead mice, simply everything. They keep the yard clean, clear out the weeds, eat ticks and fleas, and every day I get a dozen delicious eggs from my little flock. As they age they become stewing chickens. They do indeed increase food for me not decrease it. You won’t catch me eating all that junk that they do.

  54. Gerard says:

    As an environmental scientist formerly involved in land management and land rehabilitation I once attended a lecture by an American scientist (sorry can’t remember his name) He demonstrated that if you had 1 horse in a 1 acre paddock for 1 year that paddock would be a permanent dustpan or mud patch depending on the season. However if you subjected that same 1 acre paddock to the same grazing pressure by putting 365 horses for 1 day that in 1 years time the grass would be 6 foot tall and lush. Rotational grazing works but it does require management. New Zealand sheep farmers are masters of the process.

  55. Kerry McCauley says:

    Thanks ever so much for posting this. An amazingly fruitful lifework, and a terrifically potent testimony to the tremendous good that can come of realizing and admitting one has been WRONG, as opposed to circling the wagons. Mr. Savory’s wisdom is amplified by his gracious humility.

    Willis also sometime back referenced Polyface Farm and Joel Salatin, and I had the extreme pleasure of making a pilgrimage to that Farm in Swope, Virginia this past October, and hearing from the matriarch herself of the trials and challenges of those early days starting over after the expropriation of the property she and her husband had farmed for over a decade in Venezuela.

    We live in interesting times and great heroes/legends of our time are the Savorys and Salatins, who bring salt and light into the present darkness.

  56. johnmarshall says:

    i was under the impression that the Sahal, the grassland bordering the Sahara, was moving north gradually. At least NASA data shows that it is happening.

  57. Peter Ward says:

    Could I just mention something I only learned of earlier this year, and that’s that dust from the Sahara fertilises the Amazon. We would need to understand the pros and cons that the effects of greening the Sahara might have on the Amazon.

    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/100809/full/news.2010.396.html

  58. mwhite says:

    “95% of that land can only feed people from animals”

    That’s not part of the consensus, there’s a group of people who won’t like that.

  59. Patrick says:

    “Peter Ward says:

    March 9, 2013 at 3:36 am”

    Maybe we should just ban Africa? /sarc off

    But seriously, intersting read.

    http://www.weather.com/outlook/weather-news/news/articles/hurricanes-where-do-they-come-from_2011-07-22?page=2

  60. 3x2 says:

    Says enough that I started watching the video thinking that Anthony must have had an overnight visit from the pod people and ended up grabbing the full length version.

    An Interesting, practical and positive win-win solution to a real problem. The eco-loons will hate it. Just watch the opposition from ‘big green’ should he ever get the funding to prove the method on a large scale.

  61. jdseanjd says:

    Beautiful. The best & most important 22 mins of my life this year.

    I will be spreading this around.

    What a slap in the face for the Eugenicists at the UN.

  62. Joe says:

    I’m a sceptic. In fact, when it comes to Man trying to “put nature right” I’m a downright cynic. So I started to watch this with all sorts of pre-hatched thoughts about “great, but what will the unintended consequences be?”

    Having watched the short version through, all I can say is common sense 1 – cynicism 0. If (sorry, the cynic still needs the qualifying “if”) the results really are as good as he showed there, that really is a breathtakingly simple approach to so many problems!

  63. Martin Clark says:

    Certainly “a bridge in the climate debate”. Hopefully Dr Savory will find out his lecture is a sticky on WUWT and reads the comments. Could have far-reaching effects. Sounds as if the Brit skeptics grind their teeth at Prince Charles’ contribution to the debate, but Charles has endorsed Savory’s work. The Savory Institute seems to be locked into “Hockey-stick climate change” alarmism. Maybe take the comment “I’m no expert on carbon” as an invitation.

  64. Ian W says:

    As others have mentioned, the repeated genuflection to CO2 as the real reason for warming was a little bit annoying but perhaps that is the only way that anyone can get a hearing in the current climate (sic). There are unfortunately, many areas where ‘experts’ have thrown out the old ways of doing things, made money and reputations, and been totally and completely wrong. At least Allan Savory accepted that he had been wrong and changed the way the land managers worked. He can now show empirical and visual validation that his methods emulating the movements of herds actually work.

    Perhaps, Jens Raunsø Jensen says: March 9, 2013 at 2:24 am who criticizes the Savory methodology can show similar empirical and visual validation that the ideas from the ‘international developing agencies’ for which he has worked for 30 years, have had the same success – I doubt it.

  65. Remarkable. But when you think about it, it is really just the sort of common sense our ancestors have employed for centuries.

    Rotating cattle to allow grass to reestablish, natural fertilisation, crop rotation, leaving fields fallow for every year in four.

    We were doing all this in the middle ages. So why has modern man forgotten it?

  66. There are a couple of papers here that make similar points about deforestation.

    Not only does it destroy soils and their ability to store water, they can also impact climate on a regional basis by reducing rainfall.

    http://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/deforestation-makes-droughts-worse/

  67. FerdinandAkin says:

    Allan Savory speaks of losing carbon from the soil. In the short presentation at 3:20, there is a black arrow that says “CARBON” pointing up out of the soil. If instead he had said “ORGANIC MATTER” it would have been much more informative.
    Having grown home gardens in both heavy clay and sand, the solution to having the soil retain moisture suitable for plant growth is adding organic matter. Composting and frequent tilling improve the soil noticeably.

  68. Josualdo says:

    Fantastic. Wow. I wont say more than this because it still has to sink in.

    Anyway, we where discussing this here and noticed that our sheep… Sheperd acquaintance refutes to allow a few sheep for a long time in the same land. We thought it was the right thing to do. He just said no, and keeps taking the entire herd from one pasture to another for short stays. He’s unable or unwilling to say why. We’re wondering if life taught him something we plainly missed.

  69. Confession of an academic: Around a half century ago, a young academic studies a natural phenomenon, and proves (his word) the cause. Being politically supercharged, his work is checked by a team of experts from the government, who agreed with him. So they eliminate the cause, and not only did the problem not go away, which would have been “totally wrong”, but it worsened. The cause was the antidote!
    Sound familiar? Is anyone surprised that that academic, now an old man, subscribes to the carbon model for global climate? Post Modern Science is a communicable disease.

  70. FerdinandAkin says:

    In the early 1970’s I was interested in motorcycle riding. There was an article in a magazine about individuals riding on arid land in Southern California. Naturally there was a group of people who objected to the motorcycles “tearing up the desert” and they wanted it stopped.
    The land was hard packed dirt that pooled water on the surface when it rained, and the water either evaporated or became run off. The motorcycles cress-crossing the desert would break through the top layer of soil and allow rain water to enter the ground. In just a couple of years, the plant growth in the desert was so thick it ended the motorcycle riding.

  71. JDN says:

    Half of what that man argues are laughable falsehoods. So, who did he steal the good idea from? I doubt very much that he is the original.

  72. Chris Wright says:

    I’m impressed, but not completely convinced.
    I was not aware that the world is faced by a desertification crisis. I believe that NASA data shows an increased greening over the last decade. Is there a good source of data that shows global desertification?

    His presentation was spoiled by the constant climate change nonsense. Mankind has always prospered during the warm periods and many great civilisations failed during the cold periods, usually due to drought.

    To be fair, he did state that CO2 might not be the greatest problem. But surely he must be aware of the fertilisation effect of increased CO2?
    It’s a bit odd to claim these problems are linked to climate change while claiming they can be solved by changes in farming practices.

    Those comparison photographs are impressive. But I hope they were taken in the same season.

    He deserves a lot of respect as he had the integrity to admit he made a catastrophic mistake. If only climate scientists had the same integrity….
    Chris

  73. rpielke says:

    Hi Anthony – Thank you for alerting us to this TED talk! With respect to desertification, see also this study of Inner Mongolia

    Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China, 1992: Grasslands and grassland sciences in Northern China, Office of International Affairs, National Research Council, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 214 pp. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=1942

    Roger Sr

  74. Stephen Wilde says:

    There is no doubt that sensible land and livestock management can reduce the desertifying effects of low rainfall.

    In the end though that which is achievable is limited by the amount of rainfall.

    For those limits we have to look at the way global air circulation and the positions of the dry zones change over centuries.

  75. eliasparkin says:

    Thanks for sharing. The answer to most of the environmental problems are to just let nature do nature, right?

    I’m definitely going to spend some more time researching and learning about this!

  76. apachewhoknows says:

    So, a real estimate of the number of buffalo on the North American continent prior to say 1200 A.D.

    Add in the deer, antelope, moose, and other grazing ones.

    Odd how it worked do fine.

  77. Robertv says:

    Nobody ever wonderd why millions and millions of buffalo didn’t destroy the American soil.

  78. Dub says:

    I had the great privilege of meeting Allan years ago. He is a legend in the ranching industry and the Savory method of land management can triple the carrying capacity of the land. My best friend, Duke, is a long time student of Allan’s and studied under him for years. You can literally see the difference in the foliage on Duke’s side of the fence from his neighbors after a few years of applying the Savory system.

  79. Beth Cooper says:

    I have ‘reclaimed’ degraded land along the railway line where I live in
    Melbourne Oz and turned it into a wild life corridor. In the early days of
    the global warming scare before I’d done the reading :) I wanted to play
    my part in covering the earth and sequestering carbon . I still do this but
    no longer motivated by fear of unprecedented warming. I’m happy to see
    clay become good top soil and grow bushland and support life.

    Say, … ..’O sweet spontaneous
    earth how often have
    the
    doting
    fingers of
    prurient philosophers pinched
    and
    poked
    thee……

    …. (but
    true
    to the incomperable
    couch of death thy
    rhythmic
    lover
    thou answerwst
    them only with
    spring)’ H/t e.e.cummings.

  80. James Cross says:

    In one of the posts on my own blog, I try to lay out a politically progressive argument for dealing with climate change as a way of “doing the things we should be doing anyway”. This is a great example of exactly what I meant.

    http://broadspeculations.com/2012/08/26/climate-of-change/

    The only question I have is whether this strategy will actually work across the whole of North Africa. This region has been subject to periodic dry and wet periods going back over 100,000 years. I always thought this was related to changes in Earth’s orbit and tilt. However, this might raise the possibility that the desertification of North Africa at least in last several thousand years might have come about through humans destruction of the grazing wildlife that must have existed at one time in the region.

  81. Caleb says:

    Once again it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

  82. Thisisgettingtiresome says:

    So is the answer in subsistence farming, which the Greenies could sympathise with, or in huge great castle ranching ?

  83. Alvin says:

    Does this mean we can export all the radicals busybodies that are now infesting Washington to give them something to do, and leave my power bills alone?

  84. jjs says:

    I knew it – Vegetarians are causing global warming.

  85. Alvin says:

    P.S. I’ll have my steak medium rare with a nice domestic beer.

  86. Rick Bradford says:

    How can we believe this guy — where are his computer models?

    All he does is fieldwork, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and then applying it. /sarc.

  87. Michael Snow says:

    And for our own health, on Willis’ article that he linked above, someone recommended this book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, here on amazon http://tinyurl.com/b4vfek8
    All the wheat, pasta, carbs we eat are not the healty way to go. A big part of that may be the processing.

  88. Robertv says:

    Dust Bowl Classic: “The Plow that Broke the Plains” 1936

  89. Chris D. says:

    Fascinating talk. Kudos to Mark Steward Young and Anthony for bringing it forward. This makes so much sense.

    I’m reminded of a paper I read back in the ’70s that was part of an assignment for – of all things – an aesthetics course I was taking in college. It described the interrelationships among the various species of grazing animals that migrated through the Serengeti Plains of Africa. The first species to migrate through were those that fed on the softer tips of the grasses. After that came species that had evolved teeth that equipped them to feed off the thicker stems. And so on. Each subsequent migration benefited from the preceding due to their being able to access the parts of the plants that had been exposed by the last species that went through. Thus, the plants and soil benefited from the selective, but progressive, pruning and fertilization such that the entire ecosphere of the grassland was elegantly balanced around large scale migrations. It was a fascinating read, and was one of my most memorable assignments as an undergrad.

  90. michael hart says:

    Firstly, it’s the water. Liquid water.
    Sunlight.
    Assimilable Nitrogen and other trace elements.

    The green plants also have another absolute requirement for them to grow. What was it? My mind has gone blank.

    Oh, Yes, I remember now. Carbon dioxide.

    Also, I get slightly uneasy when someone is so supremely confident that they are in possession of the one true solution and that there are no others possible. A heuristic approach has served us well in the past.

  91. mike kelter says:

    Outstanding post Anthony! Given the dominance of carbon in living tissue, this makes perfect sense for a greener planet.

    Frankly, I have never believed that increased CO2 was a CAUSE of warming, but rather an EFFECT of warming. There is a CO2 flux into the atmosphere from the world’s great CO2 sinks: the land and the sea. This presentation clearly explains how to capture more of this CO2 flux at the surface where it is best used for enriching plant life.

    The government needs to quit flying drones to measure herd size and magnitude of cow farts. Allan Savory appears to be bringing back common sense agricultural management techniques.

    Thanks for sharing this Anthony.

  92. Alvin says:

    And one more comment, he is still blaming the CO2 boogieman for climate change.

  93. rpielke says:

    Here is a paper that presents an analysis of one of the locations discussed in his talk

    Beltrán-Przekurat, A., R.A. Pielke Sr., D.P.C. Peters, K.A. Snyder, and A. Rango, 2008: Modelling the effects of historical vegetation change on near surface atmosphere in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. J. Arid Environments, 72:10, 1897-1910, doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2008.05.012.
    http://pielkeclimatesci.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/r-2973.pdf

  94. kootenaybob says:

    It is notable that most of the examples of massive desertification are occurring in places that have no private property rights, or have been confiscated by government to be “conserved”. Issues of “carbon” aside (it is still not clear that increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 have much if anything to with “climate change”) – anyone who grew up on or near a ranch or dryland farm whose livelihood depends on the continuing productivity of the land would understand the concept of the video.

    Respectfully, this video says more about the failure of central planning and technocracy than it does about “climate” – a lethal combination of bureaucracy and the “tragedy of the commons”.

    Given the opportunity, individuals will prove to be far better stewards of the land than governments or well meaning organizations.

    40,000 elephants would agree.

  95. The Parable of the Lost Sheep

  96. Alexander Harvey says:

    All very good but it is underpinned by holism and at its core profoundly anti-science.

    Here is a quote from the longer version:

    “We’ve had one Green Revolution that was disastrous, we’ve got another one taking place that’s going to be a bigger disaster.”

    Not much praise for Borlaug there then.

    Rather than describe itself as anti-science it is couched in terms of being anti-reductionist. Holism is a philosophy, an overarching belief system that trumps other systems of thinking and allows gentlemen such as Savory to make statements indicating that theirs is the only solution (which he does in this case).

    It also has political underpinnings which in the hands of its inventor, Jan Smuts, gave rise to the “All Things Bright and Beautiful” flavour of ecology, with predefined roles, for plants, animals, and humans subdivided by race.

    It is also a very static view under which nature or perhaps God always knew best and humanity is the root of the world’s evils. It was one of many ideas that underpinned environmentalism and is echoed in the terminally static vision that gave us “Limits to Growth”.

    If it were only a set of ideas towards better husbandry and land management, amongst other equivalent sets of ideas that would be one thing. But it isn’t, it is a philosophy and in its own terms the only solution.

    I suggest that people who doubt this watch the longer version and follow up on what Holism and Smuts were all about, and where the science ends and the woo begins.

  97. Lars P. says:

    tobias says:
    March 9, 2013 at 12:28 am
    I grew up in Holland post WWII and as you can imagine farmers were, all over Europe in those days, an important group (sorry if I cannot express myself well), But some of my farming family always, always showed me small ways to grow things (composting and propagating, milking, birthing etc.) and to how ROTATE crops and grazing animals . Every week, or less, live stock was moved from one pasture to another to give the grazed pastures a rest and recuperation to give the “shit and piss” a chance to do their thing. As Holland was small it had to be done on a few hectares (if not acres) at a time but by darn it worked.
    This no new news and was done by farmers as they cared for the land.
    He has learned how wrong the “consensus science” can be and still does not understand and is not a bit of skeptic for the “climate-change” meme.
    He tries to point to real problems, but this will not have the same traction with the religious part of warmista community as it does not have the religious elemtents in it: the sinns that we commited and the need to do penitence for the sinns.
    And sorry but, before killing those 40000 elephants would it not have been good to test the solution on a couple of hectars to see if it works?

    Stephen Richards says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:28 am
    I dislike immensely the continuous use of carbon as opposed to CO² (a minor thing but annoying) and the absolute assumption that CO² of itself fuels (climate change) global warming. He like many other environmentalists has adopted the “climate change” description of global warming to avoid conflict with reality.
    Totally agree Stephen, same for me. To mention also black-carbon use instead of soot. I feel it is done to use “carbon” in connection with polution, identify it automatically as polutant.
    I find this being language phychology.
    Now if the planet greens it is because of the added CO2, this works.

  98. SandyInLimousin says:

    Herodotus
    The History Book 2

    Libyans (and of them many races) extend along the whole coast, except so much as the Hellenes and Phonicians hold; but in the upper parts, which lie above the sea-coast and above those people whose land comes down to the sea, Libya is full of wild beasts; and in the parts above the land of wild beasts it is full of sand, terribly waterless and utterly desert.

    The coastal strip in Herodotus’ time was very fertile and productive.

    Now taking what was said at the end of the lecture about losing large amounts of soil in one of the pictures, and sequestering all the CO2 since the industrial revolution; does that mean that desertification has contributed more than burning fossil fuels to current CO2 levels? So the current biosphere sequesters about half the CO2 produced and desertification will sequester more than half; therefore CO2 has the effect stated in the models then a new iceage could be on the cards?

  99. bernie says:

    Many thanks for link to a very informative video. It would be very interesting to have a discussion among those who have looked at Allan Savory’s solution in a more systematic fashion. Clearly it is not simply a case of doing studies – viz., Allan’s 40,000 Elephant story illustrates – but it makes sense to simply have more information on the first and second order effects of his approach and to understand what might be some of the boundary conditions.
    Even so, Allan’s tone and optimism was extraordinarily refreshing.

  100. metamars says:

    What about the methane produced by all those extra millions of sheep? I only listened to the youtube 22 minute version, and I didn’t notice methane discussed.

  101. jjs says:

    kootenaybob
    “Given the opportunity, individuals will prove to be far better stewards of the land than governments or well-meaning organizations.”
    I think we are finding that as we peal back the layers neither government or most of these organizations are well meaning….

  102. Gerry Parker says:

    Paul Homewood wrote: “So why has modern man forgotten it?”

    We’ve had two generations of farmers taught by the universities that chemical fertilizers, monoculture and pesticides are the way to increase crop yields. And in fact, for a short period of time, that will work (look at any research on crop yields over the last 100 years to see this), but it takes a terrible, long-term toll on the soil. I believe this kind of high intensity, single crop focus, has fundamentally changed how many people relate to the land. I think it is one example of how we’ve lost the formula for short term gain and don’t understand the longer term damage.

    It’s difficult to say that people five generations ago were wiser or had hidden knowledge when we had things like the dust bowl and extreme poverty and poor yields in farming generally in earlier times. There is a primary difference in people doing things just because they work, and understanding why they work. In the first case, there is a tendancy to innovate and lose the formula because you do not have the critical understanding. This is why, however frustrating the scientific process may be, however much it seems to ignore “common sense” (things everyone knows to be true) in the short term, it can bring a more complete understanding even when it brings you back to where you started in terms of processes and methods. When properly done, now you know why you are doing it and how to adjust and tune as required by circumstances.

    Gerry Parker

  103. Tom in Florida says:

    And who will manage these vast herds? Why the big, giant central government that’s who. They will direct where and when they go and hell be to any private person that stands in the way. No thanks. I’d rather live with Edgar Friendly than follow the Cocteau plan.

  104. jim2 says:

    This is one of the most epic memes to be put out about global warming …

    “”If any period in time had a sustained temperature change similar to what we have today, we would have certainly seen that in our record,” he said. It is a good indicator of just how fast man-made climate change has progressed.

    A century is a very short period of time for such a spike.
    Mineral dust could curb global warming
    Scientists map Antarctic sea ice
    Obama calls for action on climate change

    It’s supposed to be cold

    The Earth was very cold at the turn of the 20th century. The decade from 1900 to 1909 was colder than 95% of the last 11,300 years, the study found.

    Fast forward to the turn of the 21st century, and the opposite occurs. Between 2000 and 2009, it was hotter than about 75% of the last 11,300 years.

    If not for man-made influences, the Earth would be in a very cold phase right now and getting even colder, according the joint study by Oregon State University and Harvard University. Marcott was the lead author of the report on its results.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/08/world/world-climate-change/index.html

  105. Juan Slayton says:

    I notice Dr. Savory includes a scene from Jornada Experimental Station. Does anyone know if he has ever expressed an opinion on (or perhaps influenced) cattle management on the station? I seem to recall someone commenting, when I took pictures out there, that there had been some problem with the critters wanting to get into the weather station fenced enclosure. Given the general bare ground, I can see why they would:
    http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=66229

  106. Jean Parisot says:

    Thank you. I am having a discussion on the political and economic risk issues associated with infrastructure and agricultural investments in the Sahara and southern Med regions. This will be getting some exposure.

  107. Pamela Gray says:

    I have a hunch that desert land and cyclical catastrophic droughts that enlarge such areas for a period of time are a necessary part of oceanic fertilization from iron dust carried to the oceans on the waves of hot, dry winds. This is not to say we have any hope at all of greening up the African fertilizer store. We can green the edges but that is about it.

    Tinkering with our lands, oceans, and air in order to somehow orchestrate climate and weather is a silly pie in the sky dream. But it could keep us benevolently occupied with that sky instead of filling it with bomb carrying planes. However, I don’t want to pay for it out of my hard earned salary.

    So…No thanks. If this dude wants to volunteer his time to pursue such activities fine. But I can’t afford to foot the bill.

  108. Richard M says:

    I’ve long thought that land use changes were the biggest factor in the CO2 increases we see today. This was reinforced by the Japanese CO2 tracking satellite. It’s nice to see this idea taking hold in real research.

    I suspect that Savory is using the climate change issue to push his agenda. Notice he stated that restoring one half of the areas currently under stress to their natural state would return CO2 to its pre-industrial levels. Essentially, he is saying that our emissions are nothing compared to the affect of land use. Can we now use some of the wasted money on climate change research to fund efforts in restoring the land? Don’t hold your breath.

  109. jim2 says:

    ” Alexander Harvey says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:52 am

    All very good but it is underpinned by holism and at its core profoundly anti-science.”

    I see no reason ranchers who own private land couldn’t do this. They can sell some of the cattle to make a living. The input costs will be small compared to intensive cattle feed lots.

  110. tommoriarty says:

    Leg said (2:02 am)

    “I wholeheartedly agree with your biofuel sentiments. However I would suggest being circumspect with regards to Jared Diamond. He is a bit of a Malthusian in my opinion and his work made him the darling of the “chicken-little, let’s see who we can scare into giving us money” crowd. I find his theories interesting, but not exactly hopeful as you see in Savory’s work.”

    The biggest problem with Diamond’s book is the near complete lack of sources. When I read his various interesting points I say to myself “I’d like to see the sources and data. But where are they?”

  111. davidmhoffer says:

    What makes this man look smart is that he gets to compare his successes to his epic failures.

    Dry land framers in North America have been employing the same practices since the dustbowl years of the dirty thirties. Burning of stubble used to be standard practice, now it is almost unheard of, and for the precise reasons he mentioned. Crop rotation, not new. Livestock herds being rotated through pasture land in segments, not new.

    But the part of this video that p*ssed me of the most is this guy’s certainty that this solution of his is our only choice. He’s just as wrong about that as he was about shooting 40,000 elephants. He made a gross ignorant mistake resulting in massive damage due to his certainty then, and he is repeating his certainty now. Not that what he is advocating will cause the kind of mess he caused the first time round, but by being so entirely certain again he is cutting off the possibility that there are other options still. He can’t think of any, so in his arrogance he makes the same mistake he made with the 40,000 elephants and decides that his ignorance dictates the answer.

    Dry land farmers grow 5 foot tall grasslands every year. Then they cut them down with swathers. Run the swaths of grain through combines which take the grain out and return the broken up straw to the land. Zero til seeding preserves the root systems in the soil to better hold it together and keep it from drying out. Manure collected from cattle in livestock operations like feed lots is spread mechanically on the crop land. In other words, we’ve been getting similar results using different techniques to tackle the exact same problems for decades. These techniques are in part why the American and Canadian prairies have not returned to the dust bowl times even in years of reduced rainfall.

    But this guy is absolutely certain that his way is the only way.

    Just like he was certain that killing those elephants was the only way.

    Other ways are under his nose and have been in practice for decades by thousands of farmers.

    His service to the world is to undo some of the damage that he had wrought, while pretending that his ideas are not only new, but that they are the only ones that will work. What a giant pretentious…

    I have nothing further to say about this guy that won’t get snipped.

  112. profitup10 says:

    How about we just do this thing and it will remove all the excess C02 and we will have millions of acres of irrigated farm land to replenish the ground water aquifers . . all win win win . . what say all of you in the Web World . . share this . .

    A BOLD NEW ENERGY POLICY TO SAVE THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE!!!

    We put millions of skilled workers on manufacturing jobs building 500 to 1,000 Nuclear power plant of a low cost standard design. This will provide all the energy to accomplish a full restoration of our industrial base. How will this happen you ask?

    First we “MINE” the oceans for gold, silver, copper, uranium, methane, manganese and other valuable minerals and metals. It has been estimated that it will be profitable to mine gold from the seas at around $ 3,000 per ounce. Second we use cheap nuclear power to extract these metals which could make a profit to pay off the national debt. Third we use the byproduct “WATER” to farm the huge vacant dry south west feeding the entire planet with low cost food.

    Finally we use the cheap nuclear power to build factories to manufacture everything the entire planet needs and we return to zero unemployment and can pay good wages because we have free energy that makes a profit in it’s creation.The money generated can payoff all debts, build nuclear reprocessing plants, research and develop a system to render nuclear waste harmless.

    Just think, full employment, no energy crisis ever, gold to make money valuable, make the dollar the strongest currency on earth, end inflation, end government debt. Just imagine “AMERICA REBORN AND THE DREAM FULFILLED!!!

  113. davidgmills says:

    Saw this video several days ago and watched it a half of a dozen times since. Spent an entire day watching videos based on Allan’s concept and Allan Savory himself — probably 50 or more on Youtube. Very intrigued. Wasn’t sure whether this community would like it or not because of Savoy’s comments regarding CO2. Wasn’t even sure that alerting Anthony to it would be anything more than wasting my time. So I didn’t.

    Good to see Anthony’s post and the positive comments as well as the skeptical ones too.

    For a similar idea you might want to research terra preta, the pre-Columbian South American manner of chracoaling the soil (either intentionally or accidentally) and sequestering carbon for thousands of years as charcoal is very stable in the soil. I’ve been charcoaling my soil now for about 8 years. It works to add biodiversity to the soil.

    If I had a farm or ranch I would use both of these concepts to enhance the soil.

  114. Luther Wu says:

    Pamela Gray says:
    March 9, 2013 at 7:35 am

    “…This is not to say we have any hope at all of greening up the African fertilizer store. We can green the edges but that is about it…”
    _________________
    Even the best efforts at stopping Sub- Saharan desertification often meet with human- induced failure, of a sort. Goats are endemic among the peoples of the region and have quickly eaten anything planted as windrows, etc. to stop the dunes from advancing.

  115. eco-geek says:

    Where can I buy shares in such ventures?

    Of course greenies don’t like methane producing cattle (even though they are vegetarian) so this could be an obstacle to removing lots and lots of the hated CO2 from our cooling atmosphere. In any case if these nasty even toed ungulates were to be responsible for such reductions there would then hardly be an excuse for centralised world government ruled by eco-warrior elites. It would wreck their plans for population reduction (at first sight – which is as far as they can see) so I think the idea that bridges might be built by posting such an excellent video expressing great hope for the world is moonshine.

    The greenies will respond with ridicule. Demonstrable truth is anathema to them. There was hardly a model in sight and thus nothing for them to profit by.

  116. Ian L. McQueen says:

    Minor typos:
    Sometimes, TED talks are little more that [THAN] pie in the sky; this one is not.
    Beef, its [IT'S] what’s for climate

    I’ve skipped many comments, so someone may have already pointed these out.

    Now. back to the main attraction…..

    IanM

  117. Steve in SC says:

    Buffalo (bison) will grow fat on land that cattle will starve on. The meat is better as well.
    Perhaps the plains Indians weren’t quite the ignorant savages they were portrayed by the white man.
    “Endeavor to Persevere”

  118. ferd berple says:

    Elanor says:
    March 9, 2013 at 1:15 am
    That’s great, but I see a flaw… How can you graze thousands of cattle in an area with no grass or other such vegetation?
    =========
    this was answered in the question period at the end of the film.

  119. wws says:

    It strikes me that this could work in Australia and perhaps Mongolia, maybe other parts of the world with stable governments – but North Africa? What army will stop the Tuareg from raiding and destroying the herds and dwellings of anyone trying to do this in their area? That’s what they do. (as the French have been dealing with lately) And Libya has turned into a collection of petty gang controlled fiefdoms most of which most westerners don’t even dare to enter anymore.

  120. John in NZ says:

    I don’t have time to watch this now. I have to go milk the cows.

    Will watch it later though.

  121. Stephen Wilde says:

    profitup10:

    Nice ideas but a few gaps in the technology/cost chain there.

    davdmhoffer:

    Spot on. The guy is just another blinkered knowall who thinks that whatever he says must be true just because he said it.

  122. Bruce Cobb says:

    His talk would have been perfect if only he could stop with the climate change nonsense. Stopping desertification and at the same time feeding people is genius. Bravo, well done. But, please shut up about climate change, which is just a red herring.

  123. ferd berple says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 7:55 am
    But the part of this video that p*ssed me of the most is this guy’s certainty that this solution of his is our only choice.
    ========
    I didn’t get the message that it was the only solution. Rather that it works, and is contrary to what we have been taught.

    A lot of the world is too poor to afford the equipment for mechanized dry-land agriculture. For these people livestock provide a self-manufacturing and self-repairing alternative, that still provides an edible byproduct (meat/milk) for the people that manage the land.

    As has been shown in Canada and the US, you can replace the livestock with mechanical “livestock” and harvest the seeds of the grass (grain) as food in place of using livestock as food. However, to do this requires that you first create the industrialized infrastructure to produce and repair the “mechanical cattle”.

    I found the talk an eye opener and it directly contradicts Packy and the IPCC’s claim that vegetarianism is the solution to reducing climate change. What has been shown is that reducing cattle numbers does not work to restore the land. You need to mimic nature. Grazing animals and grass evolved together. You cannot remove one without destroying the other. Either the grazing must be done by herds of animals, or by herds of machines.

  124. SteveC says:

    Some ranchers in Southern Arizona are doing something very similar to this and their ranches now look very lush. Interesting…

  125. ferd berple says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    March 9, 2013 at 8:20 am
    davdmhoffer:
    Spot on. The guy is just another blinkered knowall who thinks that whatever he says must be true just because he said it.
    ===========
    You are reading between the lines to reach a conclusion that isn’t in the talk. Clearly “mechanized cattle” works as an alternative in countries that have the industrialized base to support if.

    What I took from the talk is that:
    1. Our education system has largely ignored the simple fact that gazing animals and grass co-evolved. You cannot remove one without destroying the other.

    2. Fencing in animals and limiting their ability to herd and move is turning the grass lands of the planet into deserts. This is a significant problem that can be solved by changing farm management practices.

    2. 1 hectare of desert = 6,000 cars. 1 billion hectare = 1/2 the desert of the word = 6 trillion cars. By reclaiming 1/2 the deserts we would remove enough CO2 for everyone on earth to drive 1000 cars.

  126. Rob Potter says:

    Before we go overboard on this, I suspect we need to be careful extrapolating this to all the entire planet. What is happening here is that we have a “solution” to one cause of desertification in specific areas. I will agree that savannah areas are going to be attractive option, but much of the planet either does not have this problem because it is high humidity for the entire year, or has such variable rainfall that this kind of ground cover will lead to salinity problems of a raising water table.

    As an example, many people are talking about Australia, but most of the central areas of Australia have such variable rainfall that to calculate an “average annual” figure is completely useless. In this case, what is needed are deeper-rooted trees to keep the water table low as when there is no vegetation (or grasses and other crops) the water table rises and evaporates leaving high levels of salt. Admittedly, Australia is different in that it pretty much never had large herds of grazing animals with big predators and maybe this is why!

    The best thing about this approach is that Savoury was prepared to go against the “less is more” mantra of the “sustainability” set and not just advocate for but actually show that intensification is the solution in this case. It might not be applicable everywhere, but it is clearly a better option than keeping people and domestic animals out of savannahs.

  127. John B says:

    Scientist invents farming. Planet saved.

    Do we need any further evidence why ecologists, environmentalists and climatologists should be locked away and not allowed to tinker with things they do not understand?

    And rather delivers a blow to vegetarianism being the way to save the World.

  128. David L. Hagen says:

    Brilliant insight and marvelous pragmatic holistic stewardship.

    See further resources see: The Savory Institute
    Papers
    Video library
    Research and Case Studies

  129. ferd berple says:

    By reclaiming 1/2 the deserts we would remove enough CO2 for everyone on earth to drive 1000 cars. each.

  130. The other Phil says:

    Very impressive.

  131. HenryP says:

    Somebody said

    The vegetation has largely recovered in recent years with more “normal” rainfall.

    Henry says
    I knew that. I have been able to correlate the flooding of the Nile with the warming / cooling periods.
    In a cooling period the cloud formation/condensation shifts a bit more towards the equator: :more flooding of the Nile.
    http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2012/10/02/best-sine-wave-fit-for-the-drop-in-global-maximum-temperatures/

  132. davidmhoffer says:

    ferd berple;
    I didn’t get the message that it was the only solution.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    There is a part of the video where he says this emphatically and leaves no room for discussion of the matter. Watch it again. I can imagine he was just as fervent when advocating for 40,000 elephants to be slaughtered.

    ferd berple;
    However, to do this requires that you first create the industrialized infrastructure to produce and repair the “mechanical cattle”.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Excuse the saying in this context but bullsh*t. Farmers in Europe and North America have had methods of collecting and re-distributing animal dung that predate the industrial revolution by decades, centuries even.

    This guy is nothing but a self promoting idiot claiming the work of others as his own.

  133. Kaboom says:

    It will be another eureka day for Mr Savory when he figures out yet another “common knowledge” consensus came out of the southern end of a northwards traveling buffalo. May he live to enjoy it.

  134. Gary Pearse says:

    I note some say anti-science, etc, etc. If his examples are truly representative of how it works, then this is very much true science. Hypothesis, experimentation, results. Savoury has presented results to illustrate the idea – what more do you want? It certainly surpasses the standard for “proof” of hockey sticks and carbon dioxide where they have to cull and twist the data to make it work.

    Jens Raunsø Jensen says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:24 am

    “…sorry but I do not see the light here, on the contrary. Having worked as a scientist, development aid administrator and consultant to major international developing agencies on land and water management for about 30 years in Africa and Asia, I am sad to see the lack of skepticism…”

    There will be a lot of this kind of blowback by well-meaning fellows who have done their version of shooting 40k elephants over their lifetimes. NGOs who have been essentially on safari in Africa for a living won’t take kindly to this. Jens naturally didn’t illustrate the effectiveness of his science in the dry lands.

    I worked in the Sahel for three years (Geological Survey of Nigeria) and I can attest to the torrential rains of the rainy season. I used the dry river beds as roads and take- off points for two day compass traverses mapping the geology on a 30,000sq mi area to the southwest of Maiduguri on Lake Chad. You had to be out of the area before the rains came as one’s dry season roads became raging rivers that could strand you on the wrong side of the river for weeks if it didn’t pluck you and your Landrover up. You could easily be taken by surprise by a sudden filling of the river from rains a hundred miles away. You kept an eye on the distant sky as the time approached. Hail storms on occasion made the landscape temporarily look like a Manitoba winter scene. I can certainly see that established soil horizons and vegetation would allow this water to be retained and prolong a more modest and usable river flow for at least a few additional months. When Savoury’s work gets better known, we will see who the honest concerned citizens are and who are the people-haters at heart.

  135. James Ard says:

    Sometimes you have to couch an argument in terms of what people might listen to to get your underlying point across. I pray that Savory was using the co2/climate change talk to keep his brainwashed audience open to his ideas. In fact, the lecture might never have happened had it not included the climate change part.

  136. John F. Hultquist says:

    A friend sent this story to me, so I looked on the web and sent back this note between the ~~~~lines below. Note, this is not a new story. I have 6 horses and live near ranchers. Grazing is a big issue. Also, if you have an interest– investigate the wild horses on public lands in the western USA. My guess is that after an initial ‘round-the-world headline this topic will go the way of planting gazillions of trees in the US mid-West. It will fade back to the murmur it has been for the last 50 years.
    ~~~~~~~
    The following site provides a short statement and then 6 links to critiques of Holisitic Resource Management – also known as the “Savory grazing method.” Bottom line: They say it is crap!

    http://www.publiclandsranching.org/htmlres/myth_grazing_solution.htm

    The 2nd link to a George Wuerthner article called “The Donut Diet …” seems well-reasoned.

    The Jeff Burgess written material has been removed.
    ~~~~~~~

  137. davidmhoffer says:

    Imagine Michael Mann standing up to do a speech 20 years from now about climate. He could say he made some terrible mistakes that weigh heavily on him. He could say that the decisions were too important for him to make alone, so very important committees of highly qualified people looked in detail at his research and agreed with him. Then he could explain why he was wrong, and present a whole bunch of articles from WUWT as his own “new” research. He could emphatically state that his new point of view was the right one, that there are no other possibilities. He could even talk about how people once believed the earth to be flat, but they were wrong. Then an audience with no background in the subject matter who have no way of judging his past work or his current work could applaud and rise to their feet in a standing ovation.

    That’s what this absolute self serving bag of ********* has accomplished.

  138. Matthew R Marler says:

    This video is getting a lot of play on the web, or so it seems from where I view the web.

    The ideas of grazing and rotation of the grazers has been promoted before, with the proviso that the grazers also need to be diverse; nothing but grass-eaters will promote other kinds of woody shrubs.

    This presenter does present a much more thorough and systematic case than I have ever seen before. The resilience of previously degraded land is extremely encouraging.

  139. Bruce Foutch says:

    Interesting, but be cautious of a one-solution ‘solution’. Here is another view and another ‘solution’ that may be just as valid:

    Only goes to show that these problems are multidimensional and may requires unique combinations of solutions to reverse desertification dependent on geography and underlying causes in a specific area.

    Also recommend reading about the research on the Konza Prairie in Kansas where fire and bison are used to ensure the continuation of the tall grass prairie system.
    http://www.konza.ksu.edu/knz/

  140. Matthew R Marler says:

    The author mixes up “carbon” and “carbon dioxide” but not always inappropriately. For example, he talks of removing “carbon” from the atmosphere (meaning CO2) and storing “carbon” in the soil (meaning mostly carbohydrates and cellulose.)

  141. john robertson says:

    Fine presentation, thanks Anthony.
    Thought provoking, common sense and a workable method at local levels, that does not need foreign interventionists involved.
    If it works as well as his demonstration plots, there is hope for subsaharan Africa.
    Makes sense when I think of the migrating herds our forefathers described when they took over the plains.

  142. That’s great, but I see a flaw… How can you graze thousands of cattle in an area with no grass or other such vegetation?

    You don’t.

    You walk them from grassy area A to grassy area B, and they urinate, defecate, as well as somewhat turn up the soil on their passage. They drop some seed along the way, especially in their feces and to a degree from their bodies; and other than that, wind and birds distributes other seed.

    Thus the soil is quasinaturally fertilised, tilled, and planted, and new grasslands emerge.

  143. Jim Strom says:

    Savory gets global warming and carbon dioxide wrong as well as current global population trends, but he doesn’t really claim to be an expert in these areas. Rather, he’s nodding to prevailing opinion. His recommendations for land management are quite revolutionary. They would require a change in customary practice and probably changes in the treatment of property in land. To get an idea of these changes watch some of the classic American western movies, Shane, for example. Many of them presented a clash between an older herding culture (ranchers or American Indians) and farmers who fenced off the land and called it their own. After bitter, war-like encounters, the farmers eventually won out and usually came out as the good guys in these movies. But if Savory is right all this “progress” needs to be undone since the farmers were an ecological scourge, we now learn. If it took war to establish property rights suitable for the farmers, it may well take something almost as severe to institute property rights suitable for growing free-ranging cattle.

  144. David Lee says:

    I googled “cattle overgrazing myth” and found many pages by people in the cattle and sheep industry raging against government “experts” who think they know better than the people making a living off their practical knowledge of range management. I especially liked the article at http://ranchmanagers.wix.com/ranch-management-consultants/apps/blog/the-myth-that-is-conventional-range-management

  145. Craig says:

    This is break through thinking and doing. I watched this right after listening to the John Lovelock discussion on the GAIA Theory (liked on Climate Debate Daily) – the scientific GAIA. The interconnections are interesting. I also loved what Lovelock had to say about peer reviewed science – Savory is a prime example of countering the consensus.

  146. Michael J says:

    This sounds very promising and certainly deserves some more attention. Yet my skeptical senses are buzzing somewhat.

    We see radical claims with very high frequency. A cure for cancer (or a new cause of cancer), weight loss without pain, cheap clean energy (cold fusion, perpetual motion). Approximately 100% are later retracted or disappear without a trace.

    I hope this proves correct, bur pardon me if I postpone the champaign for just a little while.

  147. Judy F. says:

    We used rotational grazing on our farm, and it worked. We took classes from Ranch Management Consultants by Stan Parsons, who early on, was associated with Alan Savory. I know that there was also a group in Australia with an incredible group of guys. The classes teach not only grazing techniques, but also business and ranch management fundamentals. They also hold workshops in various parts of the country, and you might be able to attend some of them, just to get an idea of how the system works. http://ranchmanagement.com/about/about.html

    There is also an emphasis on working with natural cycles and less machinery. Most ranchers calve in the dead of winter, so they need calving sheds and lots of hay to feed the new Mama cows. RMC would advocate pushing back the calving time to late spring, so that the cows could then graze on the new grass growth without the need for hay. If you don’t need hay, you don’t need the tractors and tilling machines and balers etc. I have seen Riparian areas regenerated with the use of rotational grazing, because the cows aren’t constantly trampling the stream banks, instead, the
    stream banks are only disturbed occasionally.

    This is the type of ecology and “Green” that truly makes a difference in the lives of people and the land we live on. I am glad that Anthony is giving it the attention it needs.

  148. crosspatch says:

    I have finally had the chance to sit and watch this through and found it very validating of some notions arrived at on my own over the years. It has been rather well known that grasslands and ruminants co-evolved and so it would be expected that the removal of the herds of ruminants would change the land. But this sort of thing even extends to other environments and what I mean by “this sort of thing” is where humans intervening to “protect” or to “save” something actually does more damage than leaving things alone. I’ll give a couple of examples.

    In California, whenever there is a dolphin or an adolescent whale that ends up in the Sacramento River delta or even farther up the river, thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours are spent “saving” the animal. Well, who “saved” them before we arrived? The problem is that this would have been a fairly normal occurrence before we arrived and there were probably one or two of these every year or so. A sea mammal that wanders into a fresh water area and dies would be a food bonanza for many species. Small fish and other scavengers would have had an absolute feeding frenzy on these. Young salmon and trout would possibly feed on the smaller fish feeding on the carcass. We wonder why the smelt populations are down.

    Whales that beach themselves are quickly removed or if they haven’t died are “saved” or attempted to be “saved” by people. These beached whale carcasses were a major food supply for the California Condor and all sorts of other scavenging species on the beach. Crabs, insects, birds, all sorts of things would find a smorgasbord in a beached carcass. Flies would lay eggs in the carcass, birds would eat the larvae, others would eat the hatched out flies. These carcasses would be absolute “food bombs” that would maintain populations of these animals all long the coast. The decay would also act to fertilize beach grasses and other plant life that help stabilize the beaches.

    In many cases we need to stop “managing” things so “carefully” because I believe that in many cases we are “saving” things right to death. Where possible, allow that whale carcass to remain on the beach. Don’t “save” that young whale that wanders into the delta. Ok, fine, maybe move it after death to a place where it can decay without being too much of a health hazard to people, but allow it to decay. This is how those ecosystems evolved. When we started to harvest the great whale herds, these events became less common. As those events came less often, we saw the demise of the condors and the smaller species that used those carcasses for bottom of the food chain nutrition. That lack of abundance worked its way up the food chain.

    The great cattle drives of the 1800′s where great herds of cattle would be driven from Texas, across Oklahoma and Kansas and delivered to the stockyards in Kansas City or Omaha were probably very good for that land and replaced the actions of the buffalo. Since those have stopped, we have likely seen a degradation of that land.

    As the whale herds begin to recover, we will likely see an increase in beached animals. These animals will likely cause a boom in the numbers of the very species they feed on.

    We need to stop “saving” things to death, we need to stop trying to “manage” things so closely but it is an industry with entire government departments and various NGOs devoted to it. It needs to stop or at least be dialed back a bit.

  149. janama says:

    In Australia we have developed Cell Grazing where instead of having a 100 acre paddock you have 10 x 10 acre paddocks. You put grazing animals into the first paddock for a week, then the next paddock for a week etc . By the time the animals get back to the first paddock it has been 10 weeks, two and a half months. What happens is that the plants have 2 1/2 months to recover and when they first tried it out in our outback suddenly new plants appeared that had never been seen before.. (Janet Holmes A’Court tried it on the Barkley Tablelands in the Northern Territory with amazing success)

    We also burn, like he said they do in Africa. From May this year to October right across the top end of Australia there will be fires so that every inch of the country is burnt.

  150. Stefan says:

    This’ll be of interest to Paleo lifefestyle fans. Here on WUWT a comment mentioned conventional nutrition advice (low fat) as being another pseudo-science — that was a few years ago and it got me to try Paleo — and it is similar to this in that, you can either follow nutrition expert advice to keep doing harder what isn’t working, and end up demoralised and feeling guilty, or discover a key to how nature works, which works and works quickly. Lierre Keith (ex-vegan) wrote in The Vegetarian Myth about what if we just returned the industrial monoculture to pasture and grazing and humans ate the animals we’d evolved to eat? Wouldn’t it be sooo interesting if what turned out to be healthy for humans re. diabetes and obesity, also turned out to work for the environment?

  151. Bruce Cobb says:

    If this is truly a good idea, and it certainly appears to be, then it shouldn’t need the bogeyman of manmade climate change to sell it. Stopping desertification, making areas habitable again, and providing food for people sound like excellent goals of their own.

  152. jorgekafkazar says:

    ScottD says: “Now that I think about it most ruminates (cows, buffaloes, etc) have developed a symbiotic relationship with grasses.”

    ruminate [ˈruːmɪˌneɪt]; vb
    1. (Life Sciences & Allied Applications / Zoology) (of ruminants) to chew (the cud)
    2. (when intr, often foll by upon, on, etc.) to meditate or ponder (upon)
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    You mean ruminants.

  153. I watched this video several days ago, as a good friend of mine posted it on his Facebook. I was impressed and was sure I could find more about Allan Savory if I did a search on WUWT. Well I did the search and came up dry.
    But lo and behold this morning the Allan Savory presentation appears on WUWT. I am starting to regain my faith in mankind. Thanks Anthony and Allan Savory, and my professor friend at WWU.

  154. “I found the talk an eye opener and it directly contradicts Packy and the IPCC’s claim ….”

    Surely we can find a better nickname for the head of the IPCC than “Packy” [phonetically similar to "Paki"]?

    I don’t know whether you intended it that way, but it sounds inappropriate. You might not hear them, being American, but the same phase is often considered to have racial overtones in, for example, Canada, Australia, and especially the United Kingdom.

  155. Jeremy says:

    This whole story is like one giant DUH!

    I am not saying this Alan is correct but I have ALWAYS been skeptical of most of the widely held beliefs preached by scientists regarding the environment. We spent 50 years fighting fires in North America only to discover that fires are important to the health of the that ecosystem. Now the forestry service spends much of their time burning forests in order to restore health.

    The message or takeaway is that in many complex situations scientists STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND FULLY what is going on. When it comes to nature we need to be wary of scientists making strong statements and preaching with total conviction. They are USUALLY WRONG when they simplify things too much!

    Alan was equally convinced that killing 40,000 elephants was the right thing to do – so how can we trust him when he now says the exact OPPOSITE with equal conviction!

    Nature and climate are more COMPLEX than simple one dimensional high school simpleton rules. Just as you do NOT control climate through CO2, you do not control desertification through herd control. Nature is NEVER so ridiculously simple.

    I have personally observed that spreading animal manure over the soil is great for increasing plant yield. Perhaps I should do a TED talk? Oops – it appears some humans have already figured this out 1000′s of years ago and any farming and gardening book will mention this simple fact.

    WHY DO PROPELLERHEADS HAVE TO REDISCOVER WHAT EVERY ORDINARY PERSON KNOWS AND THEN MAKE IT SOUND LIKE THE HOLY GRAIL?

    Scientific PRIESTS are so very tiring and boring and WRONG.

  156. davidmhoffer says:

    ferd berple;
    2. 1 hectare of desert = 6,000 cars.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yup, that was one of the many major indicators that this guy is full of it. Once the grassland is in a healthy state, it sequesters precisely zero co2. The new growth each year is off set by decomposition (even if it is further up the food chain due to the grass being eaten by animals, it still eventually decomposes at about the same rate it is being produced).

    So the only CO2 being sequestered is during the transition from desert to healthy grassland.

    So let’s run that number again and ask the obvious question:

    A one time sequestration that = 6,000 cars for:

    a) 1 year?
    b) 1 month?
    c) 100,000 km?
    d) 5 km?

    What?

    What total bull.

  157. markx says:

    John F. Hultquist says: March 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

    The following site provides a short statement and then 6 links to critiques of Holisitic Resource Management – also known as the “Savory grazing method.” Bottom line: They say it is crap!

    http://www.publiclandsranching.org/htmlres/myth_grazing_solution.htm

    You may well be correct John, I see quite a few reasons why it may not be quiet so simple (eg – feeding the initial mob in desert conditions, and dealing with (ie carrying feed to or selling) increased herds in times of true drought (which always have and will occur).

    … .but I really have to worry about a critique in which the main objection on the subject page is based on an irrelevancy – surely it is a matter of trialling this management rather than simply saying “We are different, so it won’t work here!”

    Eg; Quote: “….this theory has been roundly criticized for presupposing that the vegetation, soils, and wildlife that live on western grasslands and deserts are fundamentally the same as the African Serengheti(!)….”

    And a from group which clearly has its own preconceived attitudes, ideas and agendas:

    Keith Raether has written in Headwater News that, rather than trying to force yet another grazing method onto battered western rangelands (akin to rubbing salt into an open wound), the environment, ranchers, and the federal treasury would be better served by grazing permit retirement.

    See also Myth: Rangelands must be Grazed to Stay Healthy in Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West.

  158. BarryW says:

    The Greenies will have an answer for this: “But what about all the methane those cattle are releasing! We’ll just be trading one greenhouse gas for another!”

    Of course, what about those gigantic herds of Bison on the American plains or the gigantic herds of the Serengeti that used to be there before man releasing methane?

  159. Fred says:

    Agreed. So which warmist blog will step up and join us in a funding race for this?

  160. Justthinkin says:

    Not sure how many baseball bats upside the head it’s going to take to wake up the eco-cultists,but this should help with a few.But remember,you’re fighting the Agenda 21 genocidists,the power/money, hungry,the psychotic,and the just plain stupid.The latter do not live in reality,so are easy dupes for the former. Still a ways to go.

  161. Chucker says:

    Anthony – this is jaw-dropping and revolutionary. Who knew such a simple solution could address so many problems (poverty, hunger, carbon emissions). Great find – hope you will continue to follow and report on this.

  162. Graham R. says:

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are experts at desertification. Look at how efficiently they have dried up the Owens River Valley in Eastern California. Would like to know Dr. Savory’s perspective on water diversion and the impact on the land and associated ecosystems. A fertile Owen’s Valley could provide food for hundreds of thousands of people, both with livestock and crops.

  163. OssQss says:

    Excellent !

    Thanks Anthony

    Now, what did you all do with Gail Combs? She is MIA (ª¿ª)

  164. Jimbo says:

    Jens Raunsø Jensen,
    The paper you referred to does not say Savoy is wrong. They state there is a lack of large scale experimental data. That does not mean he is wrong. Finally, if his methods are actually nonsense, people will soon tell him due to their own experiences.

  165. Paul Westhaver says:

    Referring to the video:

    I don’t accept the hypothesis of creature-cause desertification or overpopulation by humanity.. What I heard was a using fear-mongering hyperbole like “Flat-Earth” and the usual pejoratives to hype his views.

    He’s just an old coot stuck in a narrow-minded rut.

    Its the sun stupid.

    Deserts are natural. They always have been, Arctic deserts, equatorial deserts.

    Irrigation of the desert view from space:
    http://holeintheclouds.net/sites/holeintheclouds.net/files/good_morning/12jan/irrigation-sm.jpg

    The myth of overpopulation:

    He’s just an old socialist spouting his spin on Global Warming, which there hasn’t been, for the past 18 years.

  166. Let’s not get carried away – it’s not panacea for all desertification. Why not read a second opinion

    http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=26965

  167. Thon Brocket says:

    I don’t buy the bit about goats. To say that goats are the solution to desertification is just plain goddamn wrong. Cattle I can believe; sheep, hmmm, maybe. But eat-everything-down-to-the-ground-and-then-dig-for-the-roots goats? Not in a joke.

  168. Paul Westhaver says:
    March 9, 2013 at 10:30 am

    He’s just an old socialist spouting his spin on Global Warming, which there hasn’t been, for the past 18 years.

    I think you missed the forest for the trees, and in a big way.

    It [the CO2 cycle)] isn’t his area of expertise. I kind of doubt that he thinks fossil fuels are as big a deal as others do. That’s the impression I got watching that video.

    That said, burning anything, whether grasslands, forests, or fossil fuels is polluting to air quality and no one disputes that. But Allan Savory is right when he says degrading the quality of land has led to the degredation and downfall of civilisations that depend on the land.

    By bringing up the CO2 sequestration of turning desert into grassland that, according to scientists he’s asked about it (because, and I repeat myself, it isn’t his area of expertise — he’s a biologist and makes no pretence otherwise) is a way of selling the idea to people who are, possibly wrongly, focused on it.

    Even if CO2 isn’t the main driver of climate change, and I agree with you that it isn’t, it can only help to treat the land in a way closer to how the ecosystem evolved — which certainly included large herds of grass eaters.

    And yes, of course deserts are natural. But it isn’t ideal to continually expand the size of them either, especially as we’re dependent on food.

    Finally, meat is higher-quality food. We evolved as hunter-gatherers and while our ancient ancestors did a certain, limited amount of farming at some warmer latitudes, the bulk of their diet was still hunter-fisher-gatherer based. Having more protein and healthy natural fats in the human diet is a boon to humanity.

    The current relative overconsumption of grains and sugars is a major plague upon it, causing rises in diabetes and other illnesses in the west.

    I’m all for better land-management practices.

  169. Reed Coray says:

    Very interesting and enjoyable. Listening to Dr. Savory’s talk elicited two confllicting thoughts. First, the tenor of Dr. Savory’s presentation (humble, sincere and anything but “in your face, I’m the expert and don’t you dare question me”) is a breath of fresh air compared to Michael Mann and his ilk.

    Second, when Dr. Savory was young and a student he knew the answer to the cause of desertification. As he aged and studied the issue he came to the conclusion that what as a student he knew to be true was in fact not true. Now he knows the true and only answer. I agree that he’s probably more correct now than he was in the past and what he now believes is likely to be right; but his past experience should, in my opinion, temper his conviction that he now knows the “only answer to mitigating desertification”.

    Other than this minor criticism, I was thoroughly impressed. Thank you Anthony for bringing his talk to my attention.

  170. Good talk (other than the ‘carbon-in-the-atmosphere-problem’ nonsense).

    And a sobering reminder that, almost without exception, when mankind tries to “fix” something in nature it gets messed up. Also a reminder that starvation/poverty are not the result of a lack of resources, but of mismanagement of resources.

    There is a good discussion in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, if memory serves, about some ranchers/farmers in the US who have started using planned livestock grazing to increase soil productivity, with excellent results.

  171. Alan S. Blue says:

    This article would be enhanced by applying “The Watts Standard Technique”.

    That is: Find the nearest long-term stations for every single point-of-interest mentioned by Dr. Savory. Graph temperature and rainfall.

    The dramatic long-term park shots and ‘research station’ shots should be interesting.

  172. Jens Raunsø Jensen says:

    ref. Gary Pearse, 9:01 am:
    Hi Gary, What’s your point? You talk about people haters at heart !

    I have also worked in Northern Nigeria for two years and are quite familiar with the issues and conditions there. And I have worked with land development and poverty alleviation in semi-arid areas in 25 countries of Africa and Asia for years and could tell a rather long story about that.

    You and many others here on this blog prefer to subscribe to the preaching of a person who can not document his findings and test of his theories. It is my experience from meeting such guys that somebody claiming to have a unique solution to the “worlds problems” is a demagog and that’s exactly how I evaluate Mr Savory. Greening the deserts of the world – my ***.

    regards … jens

  173. Joe says:

    Really don’t understand the people who automatically jump on this sort of thing as “socialist claptrap, blah de blah de blah….”..

    As far as I could see, watching both videos, at no point is this guy advocating anything but taking land which is of no use whatsoever to us in its current state and letting nature do what nature did for countless millions of years before the blip in geological time that’s been man’s existence.

    He doesn’t EVEN appear to be saying we should stop that nice, profitable, Western-style intensive farming where the world can tolerate it. Just that we might get some productivity out of the sh*t bits of the world if we try to mimic what the plants and animals would do naturally.

    Anyone who’s ever had a garden will know that leaving soil – especially poor soil – to itself isn’t going to work well. So we fertilise it and dig it and things grow better. That’s pretty much what those gazillion herbivores used to do – drop fertiliser everywhere, then dig it in by trampling it.

    Only, we don’t want herds of a gazillion wild herbivores wandering through our farmlands and, besides, we found that they’re quite tasty, so we got rid of them over the millenia by either culling them or eating them. Only we didn’t (in fact, couldn’t) then go out and fertilise and dig the millions of square miles they used to live on. It makes perfect sense to let the animals do the work (for virtually no cost) that they do naturally, then eat the animals – especially in the vast areas where modern techniques aren’t viable or cost effective.

    The only people who could possibly argue with that are those with interests in intensive farming or tractor production, or those who (for whatever reason) simply don’t want to see any improvement in 3rd world conditions!

  174. SAMURAI says:

    It’s so infuriating to find yet again the “environmentalists’”/ Big Brother programs have ironically help destroy the environment: desertification caused by reduced livestock graving, increased forest fires by limiting/banning controlled burns, rabid push for vegetarianism, which has increased heart disease, the stupid food pyramid that greatly reduces meat consumption, vastly increases carbohydrate consumption leading to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, excessive drug regulations that cost $1 BILLION per drug in compliance costs, the $trillion CAGW fiasco etc.

    When will people finally realize that governments’ over regulation of food, drug and environment sectors has hurt rather than helped societies around the world.

    Almost without exception, free-market solutions invariably lead to much higher standards of living than do central government controlled solutions.

  175. cdw says:

    Reblogged this on Minor contemplations and musings and commented:
    A TED talk worth watching…an alternative to carbon trading or cap/trade to help climate change. Bring on the herds of animals to mimic nature.

  176. Jerry from Boston says:

    I saw the long video and, like other commenters here, I was somewhat put off by his certainty that his was the only solution to climate change. But some strutting is understandable after decades of being ostracized for an idea that has been vindicated to some extent (imagine how Wegman would react today).

    One commenter asked how grazing herds could regenerate an absolutely barren area? Well, my understanding is that a cow’s digestive track takes about 2-3 days to pass through its contents. Another commenter said there’s seeds and associated organic material to be dunged and urinated to be driven into the ground by hooves to possibly restore the barren area once rainwater hits the area. Excellent point.

    I have also read that along the margins of the Sahel/Sahara that locals are tilling soil to minimize erosion and retain runoff and that they are planting drought-tolerant plant species that retain moisture in their roots. As a result, the desert is being driven back. Match that with Savory’s concept, and we may not have a silver bullet for all our climate concerns. But it’s nothing to be dissed lightly.

  177. jim2 says:

    ” Christoph Dollis says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

    “I found the talk an eye opener and it directly contradicts Packy and the IPCC’s claim ….”

    Surely we can find a better nickname for the head of the IPCC than “Packy” [phonetically similar to "Paki"]?”

    Instead of everyone having to remember all these PC “rules,” just get over it. Lose the thick skin, It’s much simpler and easier for everyone. IOW, don’t take everything so seriously.

  178. Bernal says:

    I don’t have a problem with Savory’s confidence in the validity of his observations since he is able to own up to horrific mistakes he has made as a scientist. He is passionate about the importance of his work and is an advocate for his concept of land use but who does anything at all if they are not passionate about what they are doing.

    Is this “The Most Important Thing There Ever Was?” Who knows. But what he advocates seems harmless enough and could do good.

  179. John Phillips says:

    For grasslands that have been converted to cropland, no-till farming is reversing soil depletion and desertification. No-till farming can only be done on large scales with genetically modified crops. GM crops are also opposed by “environmentalists” or “greens”. They are in denial about the benefit of GM crops.

  180. NorthStarState says:

    CO2 affects the water vapor/heat concentrations in our atmosphere and that, my friends, does cause an increase in overall global temps as well as an increase of severe weather ( the dynamics of increased energy from heat and water vapor) that we are witnessing now, as well as having been documented for the last several decades.I’m at a loss as to why that is such an incredibly difficult fact for so many to accept. Ignorance? Fear? Compensation by those in the fossil fuel industry? Burning massive amounts of fossil fuels releases massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Never before has our earth has such a *rapid* increase of CO2 in such short of a time. The short time beginning precisely when the industrial revolution began and fossil fuels increasingly burned. The industrialization of India and China, as well as promoting the West’s consumption based economies as being the “ideal” has doomed this planet’s living inhabitants. Sadly, the poorest, least well represented, will suffer the most in the coming, turbulent years.

  181. Ken Harvey says:

    A word or two of background on Dr. Allan Savory from a contemporary, compatriot and fellow exile might be of interest. Allan is not some brand new zealot with a theory. For more than forty years he has been the world’s foremost authority on the nurture and resuscitation of ranch land and the optimisation of ranch water usage. I cannot conceive of any cattleman who has ever consulted him arguing with that. It is a tragedy that he and his methods are not more widely known among the general public. His position on desertification follows quite naturally from his “Savory System” of ranch management.

    I can’t imagine that he has ever applied his mind to AGW but if he has he has got that badly wrong. . He is more a practical man rather than an academic and his teaching has always been empirically based. These days he has a web site and an ‘institution’ but certainly in his younger days he never enjoyed the backing of a powerhouse sponsor and he is not a natural or a successful self publicist. He was universally esteemed within his home country but did himself no favours when he went into politics at the end of the ‘sixties, an endeavor for which few are suited. His mention of the elephant culls strikes me as a populist appeal – a little like ‘let’s save the poor polar bears’. One can ranch the white rhinoceros and the Nile crocodile and a few other large animals with no great difficulty, but you can’t do that with the elephant. He goes where he likes and cannot be fenced. Put a concrete wall between him and his planned water hole for this evening and he and his impi, perhaps three hundred strong, will go straight through it.There are solutions but short of NASA going into hibernation and donating its funding to the cause, and declaring, say, Louisiana as a reserve for Zimbabwean elephants with no right of human abode, it is difficult to see an ideal answer.

    Somebody above mentioned British colonial rule and it might be thought that Britain should have funded elephant conservation. From the arrival of the Pioneer Column in 1890 the British Government did not govern Rhodesia for one day and it did not fund the country’s needs. The country first came under British government law in December 1979. That culminated four months later with ‘one man, one vote, once’
    .
    Having said all that, when it comes to grassland, Dr. Allan Savory has no peer. He and I were born within days of one another and I don’t think that either one of us will be making much of an impact in future.

  182. atheok says:

    Too slow. And too many delusions of his own that he used emotionally.

    Biodiversity is not the issue he is discussing. Many arid regions are very bio-diverse places with creatures that adapted over ages. Their adaptation is not because of man or man’s influence on the earth. The reference the gentleman making the presentation is stumbling around, yes stumbling, is total biomass not biodiversity; and yes every lush forest/farmland has more biomass than an arid region. You could possibly relate the total biomass to the total content of water.

    Nice pics of the sand dunes in Texas. Completely natural. Ghost towns? Well, maybe; I sure wouldn’t try stealing anything from any of those houses until one is absolutely positive no one is living there. And no, not everyone who lives in a mostly deserted town is eager for company or vandals. The picture of the overgrazed area in Montana (I think, I’m not going back into the presentation to check) is actually a picture of irrigated land versus the surrounding land, not overgrazed land. When flying over the western states one can look down and see round circles of green. They represent irrigated parcels and either the water is pumped from running water (river, stream) or up from an aquifer.

    With enough fresh water, the entire west could be turned into lush farmland. Only the atmosphere is not cooperating with dropping water from the sky. Before the polar caps melt we could drag icebergs across California (and those tiny Sierras, heh) and fill the whole basin with sweet fresh water.

    There are a lot of pity pictures with emotive phrasing. Do not trust pictures unless verified! It may not be photo-shopped, but that doesn’t mean they’re true representation of a person’s words.

    Ifn’ I was silly (stupid) enough to be president; it seems to me that a president should be far-seeing enough to realize that for America to truly double in size that we would have to seek a way to increase (not necessarily double) America’s arable land. Taking the gentleman’s suggestions as a start is a good idea. My thought would be to seek a good source of fresh water first. I’d also expect the enviro’s to go bananas in protecting the happily arid living creatures like the desert tortoise.

    There used to be a film shown on PBS many years ago about a man who collected seeds and planted forests in land destroyed by wars. I thought the film was brilliant as the movie unfolded one realized that the man planting seeds understood ecological niches and biodiversity and that he planted seeds necessary to bring multiple interwoven layers of biology back.

    Perhaps it is time for that film to make the rounds again. It was a charcoal/crayon series of drawings that made the film with a narrator.

  183. Rune says:

    I have always (or at least for more than a decade) been wary of the “CO2 is the root of all evil” message (just like most people here). My reason for being skeptical is that I feel solid proof is required before vilifying a gas that is vital to most life on this planet.

    Mr Savory’s presentation OTOH presents a clear message and I find every step of it easy to follow. This makes much more sense than anything presented by the CAGW crowd so far. PLUS: If it turns out that turning deserts into green pastures did not help, then at least we can walk away feeling good about having more green pastures around (and more meat to consume). Win-win either way.

  184. Gary Pearse says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 10:02 am

    ferd berple;
    2. 1 hectare of desert = 6,000 cars.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yup, that was one of the many major indicators that this guy is full of it. Once the grassland is in a healthy state, it sequesters precisely zero co2.

    David, I note several angry posts about this. If the results he shows have been achieved by methods he claims, one has to be impressed. He’s remarkable for a start in accepting that the horror of shooting 40k elephants to solve the problem was a mistake – you don’t see that type of confession very much. You seem to be grasping at a straw above and over-hyping it. Certainly if you could green a good part of the 33% desert that makes up the earth’s land area, you would certainly sequester a lot of carbon, first in the grasses, soil and billions of cattle or goats that would be wandering around and then followed by forestation. And, man, even the one shot CO2 at 6000 cars a hectare would cover, what?…. 3×10^9 x 6000= 18x 10^12 cars, which at ~10×10^7 cars made a year would amortize pollution from car production for ~2×10^5 years. In short, re-greening in this way only 1/1000 of the desert would make car pollution neutral for 200 years. Finally, if it just improved food production and cooled a measurable part of any desert, what’s wrong with that?This guy may have a few things wrong, and it can be argued that perhaps the Sumerians already knew all this, it is worthy of evaluation (we forgot what the Sumerians knew and we even forgot that the world was round – well known to scholars 2500 years ago – still Columbus deserves our respect for rediscovering it).

    http://www.eden-foundation.org/project/desertif.html

    This type of criticism and cynicism is precisely the way the hockey team attacks science that disagrees with them – find a few loose threads and pull the whole garment apart.

  185. RockyRoad says:

    The father of my dad’s old prospecting buddy, who was working in the southern Nevada “desert”, maintained that the grass was actually belly-deep to the cows when they first came to the Las Vegas area. He also maintained that it didn’t take the cattlemen long to over-graze the land, which was so destructive to the natural environment that it reverted to sand and sage and not much else.

    But whether that’s true or not, it seems reasonable that a natural (holistic) approach working with rather than against nature would be more productive than our “educated” rangeland and farming practices. If not, we’re a doomed species.

  186. Björn says:

    Well, he is probably right. But that wont make any difference.
    Bill Gates and Monsanto will find ways to put a stop to this.
    Im sorry, but I dont see any reason to be optimistic anymore.
    The liars and frauds always win.
    Mediaq will demonize this guy, or ignore him, probably both.

  187. fretslider says:

    As an issue of land management, there is a lot of sense in what he’s putting forward; there has to be some ecological pressure. But he lost me with the CO2/fossil fuel thing.

    When the levels of CO2 emissions have been climbing ever upward over the last 17 years and the temperature hasn’t budged, when the fabled hot-spot has not been found and all the models found wanting, I think this man needs a little more re-educating.,

    fretslider aka IngSocSucks

  188. RockyRoad says:

    Jimbo says:
    March 9, 2013 at 10:27 am

    Jens Raunsø Jensen,
    The paper you referred to does not say Savoy is wrong. They state there is a lack of large scale experimental data. That does not mean he is wrong. Finally, if his methods are actually nonsense, people will soon tell him due to their own experiences.

    Yet Savoy states in the video there’s already 15,000,000 hectares on 5 continents devoted to this approach. I wonder if the nay-sayers require 100 million or 200 million? Seems rather disingenuous. What’s their definition of “large scale”?

  189. Very important video. I think I’d like to hear his viewpoint on soil conditions, i.e. aluminum contaminated soils as found in parts of Africa and Australia, but the talk is brilliant.

  190. TRM says:

    Cool. Too bad Willis spoiled the beauty of the cattle drive with his factual account. I’m at the front or I’m not going :) Sort of like the cows at the back of the herd. Poop on my food? I’m going to the head of the line.

    So what animal is best for this? Or is it a combination of animals? Cattle, goats, sheep? Which can produce the most food and milk? I think it is goats if my memory serves me correctly.

    Another benefit of herds is that they pulverize most of their excrement. So instead of people collecting, drying and burning it you leave it in the soil.

  191. Latitude says:

    does not know one thing about dairy cattle….
    ..this is the way we’ve always done it

  192. Louis says:

    Paul Westhaver says:
    “Deserts are natural. They always have been, Arctic deserts, equatorial deserts.”
    -
    Did you watch the video? He is reclaiming desert back to grasslands. His method is actually working. To get caught up in his occasional references to climate change is missing the forest for the trees. Only an “old coot stuck in a narrow-minded rut” would be so dismissive of the main point of this presentation because of a few side-issues you don’t like. I think it’s great to see a scientist actually change his mind about an issue like this after reviewing the facts and making actual observations.

  193. A.D. Everard says:

    This is excellent, Anthony. Way I’m reading it, we do this for even just half the arid lands, we won’t need to give up fossil fuels, we won’t need to devote corn and other crops to eco-fuel production, we won’t starve and we won’t have to give up eating meat. It’s win-win-win-win.

  194. Steve from Rockwood says:

    Not quite what I was expecting but very interesting. Thanks Anthony. You are crazy.

  195. A.D. Everard says:

    Elanor says:
    March 9, 2013 at 1:15 am

    That’s great, but I see a flaw… How can you graze thousands of cattle in an area with no grass or other such vegetation?

    *

    You would start with a few head, which would find and eat what’s available (they roam over a large area and there is enough food for them), then add to the number each year – you don’t just bring in thousands in one hit, unless the area is bigger again.

  196. A.D. Everard says:

    Having already put in my two cents, and now read more of the comments, I’d just like to add that I have no problem with the carbon and global warming climate change message in this talk – it speaks to the warmists who believe that such is an issue, and the solution is the same. Truly a bridge.

  197. James Sexton says:

    Uhmm….. I don’t mean to come off mean, but, the fact that livestock is good for the soil is and has been common knowledge for quite some time now. And that it does “green” a field has been shown for over 100 years.

    People, this has been a common practice among farmers for a very long time now. I guess I’m glad people are aware of this now, but I’m aghast, agape, and awed.

    It works like this. Farmer has some land….. let’s say 1/2 section. He divides it up into fields. He has cattle. He moves the cattle into one field. He plants various crops according to the season in the various fields. Next year, he moves the herd to another field. Oh, look at the crops grow that the cattle just vacated! Wow! Rinse and repeat.

    “But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.”

    Good heavens!

  198. Why all the ad hoc argument from many of those who are agaist Savory? The ideas are what it is proper to discuss, not the man presenting them. If it works it will proliferate, at least on private lands. But governments? Not unless they can control it. That is really all government is about – control. Professional, so called “environmentalists” are on the side of govenment, as are huge corporations. But, it is people who make the real decisions and fund their folly.

    But that is the professional greens and the governments who use them to expand their power. You can’t get them to act against their pecuniary interests, but they rely on the low infomation voters to suport their agenda. That is why they pretend to support the environment – it taps into what people already believe. We are all environmentalists. None of us wants to destroy the planet on which we live. The professional greens? Not so much.

  199. Fred Harwood says:

    Hawks and men eat chicken; the more hawks the fewer chicken, the more men the more chicken, to paraphrase “Progress and Poverty” (George – 1879).
    Also, perhaps the pastoral Swiss could add something here.

  200. Don says:

    Hoffer and Wilde and some others, I resonate with your arrogance-aversion. But I am disappointed that you can’t see past what you characterize as arrogance to the value of what is being said. You hear, “I used to be conceited but now I’m perfect!” I hear, “My well-meaning but ignorant acceptance and propagation of errors led to horrific failures, so I opened my eyes and saw a vital truth that fills me with hope; and I want to share it in terms that win people over because it is a politically-incorrect paradigm and probably doomed to languish for tragic generations before it is adopted.” This is the guy’s shining moment; let him shine!

    Scepticism is constructive. Cynicism is destructive (and often arrogant at heart) and, I admit, comes too easily to me. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s assume he is arrogant. So what? The bigger question is: in the main, is he right? Already being familiar with these concepts through Joel Salatin’s work and writings, I am of the opinion that he probably is. And I am very encouraged by the general response I see in the comments. Thank you for featuring this video, Anthony!

  201. Austin says:

    Allan Savory is a salesman. He has been peddling his Vision for a long time. This is just a recasting of it within a different framework. He likes to show pictures which purport to show what he is selling. He speaks convingly and uses his past “mistakes” as a testament to lower the audience’s critical thinking skills.

    There are many things wrong with Savory’s ideas.

    The facts themselves are wrong.

    Catastrophic drought is a part of recent history prior to industrialization or even civilization. The Sandhills in Nebraska used to be nothing but dunes a few centuries ago. Prior to that drought was so bad in parts of Eastern TX and OK that blowing dirt formed dirt dune fields thousands of square miles in size. These Mima Mounds are evidence of conditions so dry that nothing would grow. And many formed within the last few thousand years.

    There are desert succulents in these areas that usually grow in areas with less than 10 inches of rainfall which are still present today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mima_mounds

    Fire is a part of the American landscape. From our forests to the grasslands. Plants have specific traits that evolved long before humans arrived on the scene in North America which are adapted to fire. Furthermore, fire was the way that parasites were removed, allowing wildlife to thrive, and how woody species were kept in check, allowing grassland to flourish.

    It has been shown repeatedly shown that fire is good for the soil – causing bacterial growth that releases nutrients and removing old dead grass, allowing new growth. It has also been shown that grass and woody plants regrowing after a fire cause much higher growth rates in wild life both large and small.

    In the past, when there were large grazers around, they were kept in check by drought. Not during the drought but the following winter when it was cold and wet they died off. In droves.

  202. Austin says:

    Saw Willis’ post on cattle drives. I can attest to this. My favorite position in moving livestock is the windward side in the summer and the lee side in winter. You stay cool in the summer and its MUCH warmer on the downside of the herd in the winter. A good lead cow is worth her weight in gold. On lead cow and one man can move an immense herd any where.

  203. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Jens Raunsø Jensen says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Hi Anthony,
    sorry but I do not see the light here, on the contrary. Having worked as a scientist, development aid administrator and consultant to major international developing agencies on land and water management for about 30 years in Africa and Asia, I am sad to see the lack of skepticism – especially on this site – when people promote ideas like this without proper documentation.

    Several statements may be challenged i the presentation, but let’s just recall what a team of scientists have concluded on the subject in a Synthesis Paper on the issue (Briske et al., 2008, Rangeland Ecol Manage 61: 3-17) with reference also to Savory: “Continued advocacy for rotational grazing as a superior strategy of grazing on rangelands is founded on perception and anecdotal interpretations, rather than an objective assessment of the vast experimental evidence.”

    Thanks, Jens. The paper you referred to is here (PDF). It lists underlying principles of grazing, viz:

    1) Chronic, intensive grazing is detrimental to plant growth and survival;

    2) Primary productivity can be increased by lenient grazing and decreased by severe grazing;

    3) Forage quality is often improved by frequent grazing; and

    4) Species composition of plant communities can be modified in response to the frequency, intensity, and seasonality of grazing.

    I agree with your authors. those are indeed the facts about grazing.

    Now, we have a choice in grazing. We can let the cows decide, or we can let the humans decide. When you advocate continuous grazing, in some sense you are letting the cows decide.

    Now, to be sure, having the humans decide is absolutely no guarantee of a better outcome. Cows have been at it for a while. And as your authors point out, an analysis of the various studies shows that on average “there were no differences between rotational and continuous grazing.”

    But, as your authors also point out, a well managed rotational system will outperform a poorly managed continuous grazing system … and vice versa.

    Given all of that, I’d certainly opt for the humans making the decisions about principles one through four above.

    For example, the Polyface farm people use moveable fences to rotationally graze a mixed herd over their farmland. What’s in the mixed herd? Well … cattle, pigs, and chickens. Here’s the Wikipedia description, good a starting point as any:

    Salatin bases his farm’s ecosystem on the principle of observing animals’ activities in nature and emulating those conditions as closely as possible. Salatin grazes his cattle outdoors within small pastures enclosed by electrified fencing that is easily and daily moved at 4pm in an established rotational grazing system. Animal manure fertilizes the pastures and enables Polyface Farm to graze about four times as many cattle as on a conventional farm, thus also saving feed costs. The small size of the pastures forces the cattle to ‘mob stock’-to eat all the grass.

    Polyface raises pastured meat chickens, egg layers, pigs, turkeys, and rabbits. The diversity in production better utilizes the grass, breaks pathogen cycles, and creates multiple income streams. The meat chickens are housed in portable field shelters that are moved daily to a fresh “salad bar” of new grass and away from yesterday’s droppings. All manure is distributed by the chickens directly onto the field. His egg-laying chickens are housed in mobile trailer-style coops that follow four days after the cattle, when flies in the manure are pupating; the chickens get 15% of their feed from this. While scratching for pupae, the chickens also distribute the cow manure across the field.

    Salatin feels that “if you smell manure [on a livestock farm], you are smelling mismanagement.” So everything possible is done to allow grass to absorb all the fertilizer left behind by the animals. If animals must be kept inside (to brood young chicks for example), Salatin recommends providing deep bedding of wood chips or sawdust to chemically lock in all the nutrients and smell until they can be spread on the field where the compost can be used by the grass.

    Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …

    All the best,

    w.

  204. Billy Ruff'n says:

    I looked him up at Wikipedia and found some interesting background on the man and then this under the heading “Criticism”

    ” Land management researchers have heavily criticized the concepts of holistic management because experiments conducted on grazed land in many different places in the last few decades have failed to find any scientific support for their validity.[5] Virtually no active academic rangeland ecology researchers have come forward to espouse holistic management principles.[citation needed]”

    Hmmmmm…..now where have I heard something like that before? Not 97%, but a 99.999% consensus. Wow! He must be a wacko.

  205. noloctd says:

    Oh, my. Jens Jensen hit the nail on the head when he summarized the bureacrat’s worst fear in one pithy phrase “ideas like this without proper documentation”. The free range idea of no proper pedigree is anathema to the bureacrat and to our self anointed elites. This is why so many Americans worry about creeping Europeanism on our shores, by the way.

    Allow me to translate Jens’ comment:

    “I spent decades contributing to the desertification problem (likely for the UN or an NGO) by applying the common wisdom of my annointed class, and how dare this fellow come along and suggest something different. And he did not present the proper documents with the proper stamps from the proper bureacrats before he spoke. We cannot have this!”

    *******************************************
    Jens Raunsø Jensen says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Hi Anthony,
    sorry but I do not see the light here, on the contrary. Having worked as a scientist, development aid administrator and consultant to major international developing agencies on land and water management for about 30 years in Africa and Asia, I am sad to see the lack of skepticism – especially on this site – when people promote ideas like this without proper documentation.

    Several statements may be challenged i the presentation, but let’s just recall what a team of scientists have concluded on the subject in a Synthesis Paper on the issue (Briske et al., 2008, Rangeland Ecol Manage 61: 3-17) with reference also to Savory: “Continued advocacy for rotational grazing as a superior strategy of grazing on rangelands is founded on perception and anecdotal interpretations, rather than an objective assessment of the vast experimental evidence.”

    Further:
    “The rangeland profession has become mired in confusion,
    misinterpretation, and uncertainty with respect to the evaluation
    of grazing systems and the development of grazing
    recommendations and policy decisions. We contend that this
    has occurred because recommendations have traditionally been
    based on perception, personal experience, and anecdotal
    interpretations of management practices, rather than evidence-
    based assessments of ecosystem responses, which is
    a common phenomenon in ecosystem management (Pullin et
    al. 2003; Sutherland et al. 2004). This has seriously impeded
    the development of more robust, consistent, and unified grazing
    management recommendations and policy decisions to govern
    this predominant land use on rangelands.”

    Finally, recall that the socalled Sahel crisis of the 1970-80 with widespread “desertification” has later been found to be driven by decadal changes in rainfall pattern. The vegetation has largely recovered in recent years with more “normal” rainfall.

    regards .. jens

  206. Cornfed says:

    Fascinating. As biologists have long known, you needed to either burn or graze grassland to keep it healthy. Since all the buffalo are long gone, burning is what’s left. Much of what we know about grasslands was learned in North America, and since our great grasslands mostly receive summer rains, desertification was never a threat. (plus, what hasn’t been plowed up for farming, is grazed by livestock, so…..)

    This is really an important find. Good luck implementing it though. The Greenpeace Vegans will hate it, and dismiss it, and attack it endlessly.

  207. Latitude says:

    James Sexton says:
    March 9, 2013 at 1:03 pm
    People, this has been a common practice among farmers for a very long time now
    ======
    yep, and they even have a name for it…..

    http://www.farmcollector.com/uploadedImages/FCM/articles/issues/2010-10-01/newlcm-spreader-01600.jpg

  208. I can’t see this idea becoming popular, this is actually a solution to a problem, you can’t tax the worlds population if you’re offering solutions now.

  209. Michael Cohen says:

    In response to noloctd, I’m surprised that skeptics here can’t understand Jens Jensen’s caution. I’ve been following Savory’s work for a couple of decades, and have worked with the grazing leaseholder on private range land in the dry inland northwest. While there is much of interest in Savory’s approach, local conditions can be surprisingly difficult to manage this way. The range land biospheres have been radically altered by past practices in ways that make a simple prescription unlikely to fit well.

    There is no reason to assume that a grazing management specialist who argues for a scientific assessment of Savory’s techniques is somehow disingenuous or corrupt.

  210. ferd berple says:

    Stephen Wilde says:
    March 9, 2013 at 5:26 am
    In the end though that which is achievable is limited by the amount of rainfall.
    ===========
    Or the reverse. By turning pasture into desert through well intended but misguided farming practices WE reduce the rainfall.

  211. RossP says:

    I think the most important part of the talk was the first bit where he looked at the “first principles” aspects of how nature works. After that, as many people have said it is not new. What you call your systems in different parts of the world does not matter ( rotational grazing , cell grazing etc ) –it is adapting your farming methods to suit the soils and climate of the area you farm using those basic principles that matters.
    Also the fact that it not new is not important — opening peoples eyes to a differnt line of thought is what matters. Clearly a number of the readers of this post are not rural or farming people and it is great they have found this fasinating ,giving them more information to argue with the Greenies .

    PS . I read somewhere a few years back about guy using this sort of system in the USA on a smaller farm . He had a mobile chicken “shed” that he moved from feild to feild after the animals had been in it. The chickens got to work on the dung left behind , broke it down and scattered it evrywhere.
    (plus he got the eggs etc) .

  212. ferd berple says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am
    Farmers in Europe and North America have had methods of collecting and re-distributing animal dung that predate the industrial revolution by decades, centuries even.
    ===============
    the technique was called farm animals. As the animals moved about the farm they collect dung in their bowels and later deposit this out in the fields.

    What you overlooked is urine, which is nitrogen rich and a critical nutrient for plants. Also collected by farm animals, this time in their bladders, and also later deposited out in the fields.

  213. ferd berple says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am
    There is a part of the video where he says this emphatically and leaves no room for discussion of the matter.
    ==========
    if you are so certain, why did you not supply the timestamp for that part of the video? Much more likely you have taken one piece of the presentation out of context to support your own narrow agenda.

  214. Michael Tremblay says:

    Unlike most of the posters in this thread I find a lot more to criticize in Dr. Savory’s presentation than to support. I won’t go to the extreme that davidmhoffer does, but I agree with the direction he has taken – this is basically a presentation by a Malthusian who doesn’t agree with one particular aspect of the general Malthusian opinion, that being that livestock contributes to desertification.

    First, I would like to say that I support his general premise that livestock does not contribute to desertification and that desertification can be stopped and potentially reversed through the proper management of livestock on lands vulnerable to desertification. That is where my support ends.

    He starts out saying that man, being the common denominator, is responsible for desertification. FAIL – desertification existed before man came along and will exist long after we are gone. It is true that the actions of man can extend or retard desertification but in the end mankind cannot stop its’ growth or start its’ reversal except in very limited way. Why? Because deserts are caused by a lack of precipitation and are located mainly along the earth’s surface at the ‘Horse Latitudes’, where cold dry air descends after dropping all of its’ water in the tropics, or on the lee side of mountains, where cold dry air descends after dropping its’ water on the windward side of mountains. Regardless of whether you follow the line of the AGW crowd or not, real desertification only grows or shrinks if area of the ‘Horse Latitudes’ grow or shrink. What Dr. Savory is describing as desertification is actually the transformation of sub-desert areas into deserts because of the suppression of the symbiotic relationship between herds and grasslands/savannah/prairie. There is none of this effect in real deserts because there is not enough water to support the grasslands or the herds that he describes.

    Next, he talks about how the arrival of man in the Australia and the Americas resulted in the extinction of large amounts of the fauna in those locales. FAIL – this is a theory supported by a one group of paleontologists which has little to no evidence to support it. There is a correlation of the extinction of those species with the arrival of man, but as any first year statistics course will teach you, correlation does not mean causation. Also correlated with the arrival of man was climate change which resulted in the retreat of the glaciers in North America and Europe, as well as the migration of numerous animal species across the land bridges, along with numerous unknown diseases, (Bovine Tuberculosis among them). The theory that man caused the extinction of such mega fauna like the mammoth and mastodon is also not supported by facts such as the fact that those animals survived extinction in Eurasia, with much larger population of humans, for much longer than they did in North America or that a related species, Elephants, still survive today.

    At the next point, he talks about man, using his tool, fire, to destroy large swaths of grassland and contribute to desertification and loss of herds. FAIL again – fire occurs naturally on such a regular basis that plants and animals have evolved to take advantage of the fact. Plants like the Eucalyptus in Australia, Chaparral in the southwest United States, and Lodgepole pines in northern areas of Canada evolved to the point that they produce volatile resins and oils which promote the starting and spreading of fires so that those plants can reproduce. Fires in grasslands actually contribute to returning the nutrients from those plants to the soil through rapid oxidation – anybody who has deliberately burned his lawn in order to promote new growth is aware of this, and the agricultural practice of ‘Slash and Burn’ developed from this principle. Evidence actually demonstrates that it is man’s interference, through suppression, with the natural progression of fire, and the fact that we populate areas which used to experience a regular fire season, which actually contributes to the devastating fires that we experience today.

    I will sum this now up with the fact that he comes to this common-sense conclusion: Grasslands, which developed as a symbiotic relationship with herding animals in order to reproduce and survive, require herding animals to reproduce and survive or else they will succumb to the effects of desertification.

  215. TRM says:

    His absolute belief he is right is not comforting given his track record. He is wrong again. Hopefully there will be no mass carnage to prove him wrong.

    There are alternatives like the one above on trees (thanks to Bruce Foutch March 9, 2013 at 9:19 am) for that one. Very good

    Here is one about doing it in Jordan with high salt content soil and common “swales”. No critters in this one.

  216. Cromagnum says:

    Have you ever wondered why God called the Shepherds to see Christ before everyone else in Bethlehem? Perhaps there is a Divine Wisdom in having flocks/herds of livestock roaming across the lands.

  217. Berényi Péter says:

    davidgmills says:
    March 9, 2013 at 7:57 am

    For a similar idea you might want to research terra preta, the pre-Columbian South American manner of charcoaling the soil

    Yep.

  218. AlexS says:

    And video of another guy trying to control the life of others… making the same noises of warmists. Yeah putting this crap sticky will be very helpful…

  219. RS says:

    Dogma KILLS.
    It takes a strong and great person to confront his own beliefs.

  220. Joe says:
    March 9, 2013 at 11:06 am
    Really don’t understand the people who automatically jump on this sort of thing as “socialist claptrap, blah de blah de blah….”..

    Anyone who’s ever had a garden will know that leaving soil – especially poor soil – to itself isn’t going to work well. So we fertilise it and dig it and things grow better. That’s pretty much what those gazillion herbivores used to do – drop fertiliser everywhere, then dig it in by trampling it.

    +1

    jim2 says:
    March 9, 2013 at 11:17 am

    ” Christoph Dollis says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

    “I found the talk an eye opener and it directly contradicts Packy and the IPCC’s claim ….”

    Surely we can find a better nickname for the head of the IPCC than “Packy” [phonetically similar to "Paki"]?”

    Instead of everyone having to remember all these PC “rules,” just get over it. Lose the thick skin, It’s much simpler and easier for everyone. IOW, don’t take everything so seriously.

    No, I’ll keep my empathy, thanks.

  221. ferd berple says:

    Christoph Dollis says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:56 am
    You might not hear them, being American,
    ================
    I’m not American. I was fortunate enough to be inoculated against political correctness before the disease spread throughout the general population.

    Like Willis I spent many years sailing around the world and living in many different cultures. In my early years I made a pack with the devil, so that I could sail around the world with an all girl crew. Add the devil kept his side of the bargain. Little did I realize at the time that my crew would turn out to be my wife and daughters.

    How does this relate? One of the great insults Ozzie’s sailors would hurl at other sailors was to accuse them of being Yanks. In reply we would tell the Ozzies, “You Kiwi’s can never tell the different between a Yank and a ______”.

    If they dared protest that they were Ozzies, then we’d ask them; S’truth mate, do you know how they separate the men from the boys in the outback? Or another favorite; how did the Ozzie find the sheep in the tall grass? And from these jovial insults grew many friendships.

  222. Wu says:

    Although it makes sense that the environment has developed a symbiotic relationship between plants and animals, it does not mean that it fits today’s world. As the man himself puts it – the world will soon have to support 10 billion people.

    People like him think small – it’s time to see how much humans can really effect climate. Geoengineering that stimulates rain in desertified areas in near future is a possibility when one considers great leaps in technology over the past century. However when we believe something is impossible it will never be possible.

    Unlike many here I am not willing to put fate of humanity in nature’s hands. We outgrew “mother earth” a few millennia ago yet something keeps holding us back – the belief that potential waiting to be unlocked within us is weaker than a climatic system that is effectivly impermanent.

    We have been to the moon, build bases in space, and are about to master the power of stars. I’ll be damned if we then become slaves to a system that has developed along with dumb animals and even dumber plants.

    We may have evolved out of animals but we are animals no longer. It’s time to start acting like it.

  223. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Hoser says:
    March 9, 2013 at 12:33 am

    … Willis, although “Animal, Vegetable, or E. O. Wilson” (11 SEP 2010) was an excellent post, you wrote nothing directly about fighting desertification.

    Here’s my rules of thumb for preventing or reversing desertification in Africa, while providing much needed protein.

    1) When you cut down the trees, you cut down the clouds.

    and

    2) Every day, kill a goat and plant a fruit tree.

    If everyone in Africa did that for a year, have daily goat feasts until the goats were all gone and plant loads of locally adapted fruit trees, date palms, mangos, coconuts, whatever fit the climate, the place would be much more pleasant.

    The problem is that goats are browsers, meaning they eat tree leaves. As if that’s not bad enough, they can also climb trees. Sheep and cattle, on the other hand, basically eat off the ground. They are grazers.

    As a result, the goats are a huge threat to the trees. I used to herd goats, take a dozen of them out for couple miles of grazing every day or two. So I know their evil ways of old. They can do outrageous aerobatics, bounce up the trunk of a tree like mountain goats up a sheer cliff, and eat the poor tree to death.

    That’s my simple prescription for stopping anthropogenic desertification …

    w.

  224. TRM says:

    ” Bruce Foutch says: March 9, 2013 at 9:19 am ”

    Thanks for that video. It is never going to be “one way only”. That self certainty is what got him in trouble with 40,000 dead elephants to his name. To his credit he does admit when wrong and it seems to have bothered him. That is good, but his “It’s the only way” is BS.

    There are many ways to bring soil back to life even in salty deserts like Jordan. I love his “it’s not rocket science” line. Honest and humble and not insisting his way is the only way.

    And for the the moving chicken coop idea (uses the same amount of land per chicken as raising feed). Lots of stuff available online. Great protein and fertilizer out.

  225. farmerbraun says:

    This stuff is fairly old hat to pastoral farmers practicing rotational grazing,.
    I didn’t read all the posts , but it was clear that this approach was news to many. I just hope that I am not the first commenter to mention the work of Andre Voisin, from which Alan Savory devised “his” method.
    The same principles were further developed in N.Z. in the 40s and 50s by McMeekan and others leading to modern pastoral farming.

  226. He’s wrong in one important respect. Get rid of grazing animals and you don’t create a desert, you create a forest, at least in all but the driest places. And a forest sequesters rather more carbon than a grassland, however well managed.

    Grasses and trees have been in competition for land for a few 10s of millions of years. Grasses and herd grazing animals have co-evolved in competition with trees.

    Here in Western Australia we have what is called the Great Southern Woodland, the largest warm temperate forest on Earth. In the early 20th century large areas were cleared for wheat growing, but it was found to be too dry and the farms were abandoned prior to WWII. There are no native herd grazing animals in Australia and sheep graziers didn’t move in after the wheat farms were abandoned. I believe too many dingos. So now those farms are dense secondary growth forest, too thick to walk through, and not a blade of grass in sight.

  227. dan houck says:

    An interesting video, but let me rain on the parade: what does the science say (as opposed to the anecdotes)? Note that there are other viewpoints: http://allenpress.com/pdf/i1551-5028-61-1-3.pdf

    If this be true – and I would certainly wish for such a simple solution to be true – is there proof, other than a convincing orator with slides?

  228. Manfred says:

    Thank you for bringing Allan Savory and ‘his findings’ to this web site. It strikes me that together with the recent work on tree planting and humidity, practical answers to ‘micro’ desertification and rainfall issues appear to reside easily within our (community) grasp, theoretically unencumbered by the impoverishing and toxic politics of the Greens.

    Like you Anthony, it took a breath or two to get beyond the beginning of the Savory presentation. I was struck by a couple of things. Firstly, ‘Fool me twice – shame on me’ – Savory had the grace to admit that his ‘scientific’ analysis of the elephant problem, reviewed and endorsed by his expert peers, was a frightful error that he would take to his grave. His volte-face led has to a new paradigm, which he demonstrated in his TED presentation. Nevertheless, as others have commented he causatively endorses the AGW/CO2 meme, as he indeed he does global population as two out of three cataclysm factors (the third being desertification) about to visit a ‘perfect storm’ on humanity and the World…..BUT he is propounding a practical community based solution to ‘micro’ desertification, quite do-able without punitive taxation, Green morality politics and UN/government intervention. So he stumbles again on consensus, the climate consensus, as he did once on the elephant consensus.

    Secondly, he opens his TED address with an attention grabbing strategy that includes the ‘I would guess’ statement that two-thirds of the world is ‘desertifying’ accompanied by a slide with red ellipses around the regions where this process is said to be occurring. There is an ellipse around the entire continent of Australia for example…that ignores large tropical regions of rain forest and which could quite well have furnished some of the images of slides he had used to demonstrate humid regions at the beginning of his presentation. Furthermore, as seven-tenths of the World is covered by water, it is hard to see how he arrives at two-thirds being desertified. Of course, I realise there is a measure of poetic license here that ignores the 70 percent of the planet that is covered in ocean to an average depth of about 1,000 meters, but make no mistake, it is the same distorting language that is used to talk up the AGW meme.

    Finally, desertification is a complex process occurring on different scales that may or may not be related – on macro and micro scales, so to speak. I suspect that here we are witnessing the ‘micro’ scale…whose collective restoration and regeneration would indeed achieve much good. It does not however, appear to provide a way of dealing with the following: http://egyptianbreeders.com/index.php/topic/2061-sahara-desert-to-become-grasslands-and-forest-again/
    “Interesting scientific discoveries have been reported. The Saharan Desert began about 3 million years ago. Prior to that it was swampy and prior to that the Northern part was a shallow sea which ran from Gibraltar to the Pacific. This was prior to the Indian peninsula crashing North into the Asian continent.”
    “Deep sea core drills in the Atlantic show the Saharan history. 500 million tons of sand blow into the Atlantic yearly, but in cycles. The current cycle is desert, but this is part of a 40,000 year cycle which is due to a corresponding earth rotational wobble cycle. 7000 years ago, the Saharan desert was non-existant with heavy Summer rains and huge lakes and forests and grasslands. The cores show that the cycles cause change within about 200 years turning rapidly to desert. The next change is expected in about 12,000 years and the Summer rains will bring grasslands, forests, and huge lakes again.”
    “Also found were huge water reservoirs under the desert sands protected by layers of clay so as not to evaporate. It is a sum of fresh water equal to the Great Lakes in America.”

  229. Heidi says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments. Allan Savory is an eloquent speaker, there is no doubt. And promoting crop and herd rotation is very reasonable and certainly a refreshing change from the usual ‘climate change’ rhetoric. However, a few things are bothering me:
    1. The answer to the question of what will the vast herds eat to begin with (when first introduced to a ravaged, desertified land) was not satisfactory to me. Savory said that in the beginning they sometimes provided supplements, but then gave an example where apparently the cattle survived perfectly fine on a land where there was not a single blade of grass. Really???
    2. If the desertified land requires only that herds of animals pass over it, then why are wild deer, buffalo, antelope, etc. not already roaming there in vast numbers?
    3. There was hardly a word about variations in rainfall as a contributing factor.
    4. The comparison of two plots of land, one desertified and one ‘treated’ with rotating cattle was frankly a little too good to be believed.
    5. As others have already pointed out, the issues of desertification and whether carbon dioxide levels are related to climate change are separate.
    6. Just as the Green Revolution gave the green light for unchecked population growth, so will Savory’s Save-the-World Solution, but even more so. This is not what we need.
    Therefore, I remain to be convinced (that this– running herds of cattle over dried-up and abused lands — is the one single solution to all our problems). Meanwhile, I’ll take my steak rare and with a glass of merlot, please!

  230. farmerbraun says:

    Willis says;

    “Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …

    All the best,

    w.”

    FB says; Sometime , when you are bored , you might like to read up on variable- rate set-stocking. You may be surprised.

  231. Willis:

    Thanks for mentioning Polyface. That was one of the farms I was thinking of, but couldn’t remember the name right off. I agree that Polyface is doing some good stuff.

    You contrast Polyface’s approach with “continuous” grazing. Who was advocating continuous grazing? I didn’t hear Savory argue for that.

  232. Great discussion of best practices for certain land use.
    How the climate gets dragged into his talk is beyond me since these changes are so very very very small compared to the regional climate oscilations. The real elephant in the room (with apologies) Every time he mentions Carbon in the atmospghere as though it were a poison instead of food I cringed with dismay.

  233. François GM says:

    Careful. This guy is an impressive and effective speaker and he’s on a mission. He was previously convinced of the opposite theory, and his conviction led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of elephants. I can’t believe 15 million hectares have been saved from the desert and we have no scientific data to show for it. Anecdote is not science. What type of deserts ? Which herds for which deserts ?There are a million questions. He couldn’t even answer how to start the process when introducing large herds in a desert. He may be right, and this requires urgent investigation, but i’m sceptical. Where’s the science ?

  234. I’m not American…

    Fair enough. It was an incorrect guess on my part, and the reason for that guess was that in American culture the term is usually not considered offensive, but in Britain or the Commonwealth countries, for example, it generally is.

    I was fortunate enough to be inoculated against political correctness before the disease spread throughout the general population.

    As far as substantive conclusions on issues are concerned, I go with reason and evidence, not PC conformity. However, one doesn’t have to be politically correct to both refrain from and object to the unnecessary use of terms that can be hurtful to others’ perceived sense of self-worth and dignity.

    It’s a matter of basic kindness, not political correctness.

  235. ferd berple says:

    NorthStarState says:
    March 9, 2013 at 11:23 am
    The industrialization of India and China, as well as promoting the West’s consumption based economies as being the “ideal” has doomed this planet’s living inhabitants. Sadly, the poorest, least well represented, will suffer the most in the coming, turbulent years
    +++++++++++
    And yet we have more people living longer and in better conditions than at any time in history.

    The simple fact is that every person on this planet is already doomed. No matter what you do. In something less than 100 years you will be dead, I will be dead, and so will everyone that reads these words.

    What low cost energy has done has freed millions of people from poverty and subsistence lifestyles. It has allowed us to feed 7 billion people. Something that was completely impossible before fossil fuels.

    I’ve yet to hear the poorest of the poor crying out. “oh please, do not bring us electricity, do not build paved roads, do not bring us tractors to farm our land, do not bring us trucks to take our products to market”.

    Nowhere is this more obvious than in India and China, where only a generation or two ago these people were among the poorest on the planet. Today, hundreds of millions of people in India and China enjoy health and prosperity that was reserved only for the richest of the rich only a few generations ago.

    Are there warts? Of course there are, and like the west which largely cleaned up its act when it had enough to feed and clothe its people, the same will happen in India and China. As will happen across the planet given that the rich don’t stand in their way and steal from the poor, which is a major cause of poverty. The rich and powerful taking from those least able to defend themselves, to benefit the rich.

    Across the planet some 2 billion people live a life better in many respects than the most powerful kings and queens a few hundred years ago. Largely a result of fossil fuels. Primarily coal, which is very cheap and very abundant. Are we to deny these advantages to the remaining 5 billion people on the planet? If you are one of the 2 billion “haves” that seek to keep these benefits from the “have nots”, out of fear that they will harm your own well being, then shame on you.

  236. John Kaye says:

    If it’s a way for politically connected leeches to get more money and power, it will happen; if it isn’t, it won’t (c.f. current climate ‘policy’).

  237. Chuck Nolan says:

    I have a hard time with this at minute 3 of the long version.
    He said “should be no debate whether or not climate change is occurring it’s already destroyed more than 20 civilizations”
    I did not know that.
    Where have I been?
    Mostly, what have I been doing?
    cn

  238. Max Hugoson says:

    ” We have changed more than 1/2 the World’s Land”. Look, although he may have some points… that number is a FANTASY.

    We have only touched about 1/5 to 1/7 of the world’s dry land, no matter which way you cut it. I have trouble working with statements from anyone, no matter HOW well intentioned, when a blunder THIS COLLOSAL is made in the presentation.

    I hope someone else (Willis are you there?) will call him on this. Tragic in many ways. Underminds that which can be very useful. I guess I’m a “stick in the mud” when it comes to DETAIL.

  239. Willis Eschenbach says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    Willis says;

    “Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …

    All the best,

    w.”

    FB says; Sometime , when you are bored , you might like to read up on variable- rate set-stocking. You may be surprised.

    Thanks, FB. I have to tell you I never go look when someone says “you might find this interesting” with no further info. I don’t do it. Disappointed too many times.

    In addition I don’t google random topics just because someone says I should do so. Same reason.

    I’m not saying this to tell you you’re going about it backwards. I’m here to explain what forwards looks like.

    1. Summarize your point. At present I know nothing about variable-rate set-stocking, nor do I know if I want to waste ten seconds finding out anything about set-stockings. Heck, I don’t even wear stockings. So what is it that makes VRSS something I should spend my precious time on? Does it cure what ails me? What is it? Why on earth would I take some random anonymous internet guy’s word for it?

    2. Provide a clickable link.I am totally uninterested in googling some new topic. I know nothing about it, I can’t tell the Shinola from the shirt. You obviously at least believe you know something about it … OK, provide me with the key piece of evidence, point me in what you think is the right direction. I’m not going out looking on your say-so.

    3. Don’t waste my time. You have one shot at attracting someone’s attention, Don’t waste it with bloated descriptions or claims. Don’t waste it with weak or faulty web sites. State your point, provide your link, and you might get traction.

    Waving your hands and uttering the magical shibboleth “variable-rate set-stocking” on the other hand … pretty much guarantees you’ll get nothing.

    Regards,

    w.

  240. Max Hugoson says:

    Oh darn, edited and took out an “m” from “more” giving ORE…please note that.

    [Fixed -w.]

  241. farmerbraun says:

    @ Willis
    Fair enough. You were talking about continuous grazing and made an unsubstantiated comment.
    I suggested you learn more. Please yourself ; I have no axe to grind , just 35 years experience of pastoral farming.
    Anyway , you’re an intelligent person and the name says it all. Variable -rate set-stocking; you could work it out for yourself.
    Sorry to waste your time.

  242. Paul Westhaver says:

    @ Christopher Dollis,
    No, I don’ think I missed much. CO2, anthropogenic or otherwise is well known not to be the principle variable driving GLOBULL WARMING, which hasn’t been happening for 18 years despite increased CO2 concentration.

    You have to accept quite a bit of NON-science, and ignore quite a bit of Green Religion-speak from the video to believe what this guy is carping about.

    1) CO2 concentration increases are good for organic growth
    2) warming has caused CO2 release from the oceans,
    3) There is no overpopulation
    4) Nobody who has been educated has believed that the earth was flat for 3000 years, at least.

    The host of the video said that he formed his opinion about animals, THEN confirmed than after he went to school.

    He is an activist trying to prove a point…..like everyone in the GREEN religion…. and destroying science in the process.

  243. Paul Westhaver says:

    @ louis,

    Did you look at the satellite photos of the desert that was turned into farmland through irrigation?

    http://design.epfl.ch/organicites/2010b/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/irrigation_arabie.jpg

    http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/staticfiles/NGS/Shared/StaticFiles/Photography/Images/POD/i/irrigated-fields-kendrick-731194-xl.jpg

    http://slowmuse.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/saudi-blogspan.jpg

    The guy has an axe to grind. I don’t grind axes for Globull Warming zealots trying to confuse the issue by making peripheral claims. He is making several absurd underlying claims that simply are not true. So his “solution” is for a problem that does not exist.

    He staged a fake problem, lied that there was no other solution for it, then created a cock-a-mamy solution, all while providing a fake backdrop of fear-mongering overpopulation and Globull Warming. Total BULL!

  244. Crispin in Waterloo but actually in Yogyakarta says:

    I have visited a 35,000 acre farm near Tsumeb where holistic veld management is practised and they were about to double the carrying capacity of the land, they said, to 1300 (very large) cattle.

    The explanation at the time (about 1990) was different from that proposed in the TED talk but Savory was still the motivating influence on the method. I believe we met at the time – certainly met some implementers of his ideas in Windhoek.

    A very different perspective on this subject is taken by Dr Bill Millison ({Permaculture) who contended that the problem with the destruction of the laterite soils in Africe is cattle. They compact the soil with their hooves and create the equivalent of a hard ‘ploug pan’ (farmers will know what I am talking about) through which water cannot penetrate the soil deeply. There may be a balance of ideas that will work as well in both cases because Savory and Mollison have both been successful in reclaiming deserts and rebuilding the aquifers using techniques that are polar extremes. I have seen them both working.

    It behooves us to examing the scenarios to find why two ‘opposite views’ create the same result and why the middle path doesn’t work.

    I do not agree with the idea that ‘fossil fuels’ are responsible for ‘causing climate change’. The human influence is undetectable, while the influence of grazing patterns is. The whole carbon storage thing has ‘lousy numbers’.

    Mollison pointed out some eroded land and said that the only thing left that can survive on it is goats, so people blame the goats for eating every leaf on the few remaining trees. But, he said, the real cause of the destruction of the soil was the the cattle that created the impenetratable compressed layer under the topsoil with their hooves. He demonstrated in the same area as Savory (in the US) that getting the heavy hoofed animals off the land and ‘denting it’ with little craters (using a special wheel) created hollows into which grass seed fell and rain accumulated. Without any animals at all, the entire patch (SW US area) that had been completely re-grassed. It is in one of his videos. The effect is as spectacular as Savory’s. It was untreated land that continued to degrade (no animals, no denting).

    What Savory has shown is that such reclamation can coexist with herds that are intensively eating things in small patches but which do not reurn for a long time (mimicking the behaviour of wild herd animals). That is the essence of holistic veld management. Continuous occupation by cattle on an ‘allowed stocking level’ merely allows the cattle to eat what they like and leave what they do not which then takes over. This results in thornveld encroachment and the loss of all animal productivity to trees. The forest is created by the cattle. Huge areas of S Africa are covered with thorn trees that did not exist historically because the animals trampled them and were forced by fear of moving (lions) to eat everything before moving on. This stripping of the thorn trees improves grassland productivity. Elephants were good at that.

    The ‘return period’ in Namibia is 7 years. In other words the productivity is caused by leaving the land alone, then taking off just about everything using animals, then leaving it alone again for a long time. The consequence of that is ‘a doubling of carrying capacity’. The method includes the eradication of ‘all non-native species’ of plants – a fanatical response but to be expected I suppose from innovators. The idea of gardening the desert (which would involve using non-native plants) is too radical.

    Dr St Barbe Baker (founder, Men of the Trees) advocated desert reclamation using techniques more in line with Mollison’s but which do not contradict the idea that more animals can be supported, as long as they do not destroy the trees.

    All of this must be set against a backdrop of a natural drying/wetting cycle – remember the story about the advancing desert in Sudan started by a casual observation by a pilot who calculated the advance of the Sahara 50 years ago (now in full retreat without any interference at all by Man). It may be that the experiments were conducted over long periods when the climate (as usual) was changing, and the natural influence overwhelmed whatever puny works were performed by Man.

  245. davidmhoffer says:

    Francois GM;
    I can’t believe 15 million hectares have been saved from the desert and we have no scientific data to show for it.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Was that his claim?
    Wow.
    At 6000 cars per hectare, he is off setting the co2 from 90 billion cars.
    I’m guessing we have no scientific data for that either….

  246. Paul Westhaver says:

    Anthony,
    I don’t perceive a bridge to embrace. I see a desperate man trying to have it both ways… while being nutty about both. His kind of bridge is a like the Bridge of San Luis Rey. Not one I want to walk on.

  247. farmerbraun says:

    Some very basic “grazing” terminology. Variable – rate set-stocking gets a mention under other grazing methods (last section)

    http://www.clarkcd.org/pdf/Pasture%20Systems%20and%20Grazing%20Methods2.pdf

  248. James Padgett says:

    I’m all for reclaiming desert and creating more food for people, but it would also reduce the albedo of the earth and increase warming.

    Whether or not enough carbon would be reclaimed to counter that effect seems like a moot point since I don’t see environmentalists getting behind a program that would encourage meat-eating and negatively impact animals native to the desert.

  249. Macha says:

    Nothing new here. Anyone can prove this with a mobile chicken coop on their back lawn. You will soon learn the balance between over grazing and rotation, else your lawn will become desert.

  250. Gary Hladik says:

    ferd berple says (March 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm, to davidmhoffer): “if you are so certain, why did you not supply the timestamp for that part of the video?”

    Check the video at 11:54. After eliminating “resting” and burning as options for maintaining grassland health, he says “There is only one option. I repeat to you, only one option left to climatologists and scientists, and that is to do the UNTHINKABLE.” (he stressed that “unthinkable” part)

    Now he may very well know what he’s talking about, but his faith in the CAGW meme and his dogmatic certainty in the truth of his solution (no doubt the same certainty he had about shooting elephants) raised red flags for me, and apparently for some others on this thread. I should explore the subject in more detail, but it’s taken me years just to get semi-literate on the CAGW scam, and there are soooo many video games I haven’t played yet… :-)

  251. Willis Eschenbach says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    @ Willis
    Fair enough. You were talking about continuous grazing and made an unsubstantiated comment.
    I suggested you learn more. Please yourself ; I have no axe to grind , just 35 years experience of pastoral farming.
    Anyway , you’re an intelligent person and the name says it all. Variable -rate set-stocking; you could work it out for yourself.
    Sorry to waste your time.

    Farmer, this is the first I’ve heard about some vague “unsubstantiated comment”. Absent a quotation, that is just unsubstantiated handwaving. Quote my words if you object to them. I haven’t a clue which of my many statements you are claiming is unsubstantiated. So far, you’re just throwing mud at the wall to see if it will stick.

    Next, I invited you to provide a link if you were actually interested in making a difference. That way, we could all learn more about what you say is important (and which may indeed be important).

    Instead of wanting to make a difference, however, it appears you’re more interested in parading your admittedly impressive resume, and in being right.

    Fair enough.

    I’m just saying your tactics as a spokesperson for VRSS are … mmm … well, not all that effective. I won’t be looking up your pet idea for a while, for example. I may get to it, got nothing against it … but right now it’s nowhere near interesting enough or easy enough to tempt me.

    Regards,

    w.

  252. Paul Westhaver says:
    March 9, 2013 at 4:26 pm
    @ Christopher Dollis,
    No, I don’ think I missed much. CO2, anthropogenic or otherwise is well known not to be the principle variable driving GLOBULL WARMING, which hasn’t been happening for 18 years despite increased CO2 concentration.

    You have to accept quite a bit of NON-science, and ignore quite a bit of Green Religion-speak from the video to believe what this guy is carping about.

    1) CO2 concentration increases are good for organic growth
    2) warming has caused CO2 release from the oceans,
    3) There is no overpopulation
    4) Nobody who has been educated has believed that the earth was flat for 3000 years, at least.

    The host of the video said that he formed his opinion about animals, THEN confirmed than after he went to school.

    He is an activist trying to prove a point…..like everyone in the GREEN religion…. and destroying science in the process.

    As I suspected, you pretty much missed what I was getting at just as you missed the main thrust of what Allan Savory was getting at.

    You have instead replied with your dogmatic shibboleth. Carry on.

  253. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Max Hugoson says:
    March 9, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    ” We have changed more than 1/2 the World’s Land”. Look, although he may have some points… that number is a FANTASY.

    We have only touched about 1/5 to 1/7 of the world’s dry land, no matter which way you cut it. I have trouble working with statements from anyone, no matter HOW well intentioned, when a blunder THIS COLLOSAL is made in the presentation.

    I hope someone else (Willis are you there?) will call him on this. Tragic in many ways. Underminds that which can be very useful. I guess I’m a “stick in the mud” when it comes to DETAIL.

    I have no idea what he means by “changed” so I can’t say how much is “changed”.

    Here’s the breakdown by current LU/LC (land use / land cover):

    w.

  254. Stu Miller says:

    Four or so years ago, my wife and I visited a copper mine south of Tucson, AZ. The mine was, of course, open pit, so there was a very large overburden storage area carefully leveled and terraced. The overburden area was being reclaimed by exactly the techniques identified in the subject video. Grass was planted and was being grazed in rotation by beef creating fertilizer spreaders.

  255. ”We have changed more than 1/2 the World’s Land”. Look, although he may have some points… that number is a FANTASY.

    We have only touched about 1/5 to 1/7 of the world’s dry land, no matter which way you cut it.

    I presume in many cases you could change land by changing the land adjacent to it.

  256. Addendum to my last comment:

    Or for that matter, per Allan Savory’s thesis, by changing the number of or migratory pattern of predators or herds of prey.

  257. farmerbraun says:

    Rotational grazing (on/off) and continuous grazing (set stocking) can both satisfy the grazing principles already established as critical for productivity, viz

    1) Chronic, intensive grazing is detrimental to plant growth and survival;

    2) Primary productivity can be increased by lenient grazing and decreased by severe grazing;

    What rotational grazing achieves by having(variable) rest periods (grazing interval or rotation length) between grazings, and by leaving a suitable aftermath of the sward (residual dry-matter), continuous grazing can achieve by removing/replacing some but not all of the animals(grazing-pressure) for varying periods of time.
    Both systems require that the areas grazed be contained cells so that control is possible.

    Pretty basic stuff really. Apparently Voisin observed some Scottish sheep farmers doing this in the 18th century.
    Sorry but it seems they did not publish their findings :-)

  258. Max Hugoson says:

    Yes Willis! Right on as usual. You have a good reference for “general land use”. Now what I think about is something along these lines – Fly over the USA. We have about 2/5ths of our land which has been turned into FARMLAND.

    About 2/5 ths is “Wilderness” which is really..UNTOUCHED from pioneer days.

    Maybe 20% is FOREST LAND which has been cut, but replanted (And that may be an extreme exaggeration.

    If we look at the LAND MASS of RUSSIA, Siberia, Alaska…90% unchanged.
    I think South America and Africa, again probably about 60% unchanged. PUT IT ALL TOGETHER I believe if one talks about the AREAS OF THE GLOBE WHICH MAN HAS CHANGED, it would amount to about 30 to 35%.

    Nothing as the number cited by the presenter. HIS MICRO ECOLOGICAL EXAMPLES are perhaps, quite good. And point to a “stunning revelation” destroying the common conceptions.

    BUT I’d like to have more precision on the broad claim for the massive land shifts that he presents at the beginning of the talk.

    When did the LANDSAT Sattelites start? Don’t we still have data from them? Can we NOT find a true progression or number to put on “desertfication” from those observations?

  259. geran says:

    If you are impressed with this unsavory Savory, just from one crafted video, then you must ask why you are impressed. Is it because he killed 40,000 elephants (think polar bears), or is it because he is slim/lean, articulate, resonate voice, soft-speaking, urbane, and sophisticated?

    (I’m saying nothing about the “science” of cows, I’m talking about the illusion of “messiah”. Get a clue folks.)

  260. commieBob says:

    SAMURAI says:
    March 9, 2013 at 11:07 am

    … Almost without exception, free-market solutions invariably lead to much higher standards of living than do central government controlled solutions.

    Unwavering faith in the free market is just as misplaced as is unwavering faith in the government. Since we’re on the topic of agriculture, I give you the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration. http://econet.ca/sk_enviro_champions/pfra.html Large chunks of Saskatchewan would now be desert without the efforts of the PFRA.

    As many other posters have pointed out, much/most of what Dr. Savory advocates is standard operating practice in the prairies thanks largely to the PFRA.

  261. lol geran

    He’s a good speaker. What of it?

    He’s lived outdoors much of his life as a working biologist. Why wouldn’t he be lean?

    There’s more to it than just any personal appeal he might have. And no, his killing 40,000 elephants, in error, doesn’t impress me. His owning up to it does.

  262. farmerbraun says:

    Hey Willis , I quoted your comment to which I was referring
    in my first post , and then you re-posted it in your reply.
    Whatever. Here it is again.

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm
    Willis says;

    “Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …”

    Just what “that system” that you were referring to was , may be my error ; I took it that you were comparing continuous grazing with rotational grazing.

  263. Steven Mosher says:

    ““Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …

    All the best,

    w.”

    FB says; Sometime , when you are bored , you might like to read up on variable- rate set-stocking. You may be surprised.

    #################

    Framer braun. The funny thing is in your first comment you did quote willis exactly only later to be instructed in how you should respond. oy vey.

    Anyway, thanks for the hint to look at Variable rate, set stocking. a smidgen of curiousity and google was all it took. 35 years of doing this and not retiring gave you a deeper understanding. Kudos.

  264. davidmhoffer says:

    Christoff Dollis;
    And no, his killing 40,000 elephants, in error, doesn’t impress me. His owning up to it does.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yeah, but he didn’t really own up to it. He admitted his mistake then went out of his way to explain that committees of other people reviewed his work and agreed with it, and made the final decision to kill the elephants. In just a few sentences he spreads the blame around and absolves himself of the actual decision. He then makes all manner of claims (like 6,000 cars co2 production being offset by a single hectare of grassland) and promotes techniques that have been practiced for centuries as if they were new and “his”.

    Will he next invent fire and speak at TED about that?

  265. farmerbraun says:

    @Willis.

    O.K. I’ll concede that the following is not an unsubstantiated comment-

    ” I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …”

    As for this one of yours -
    “Instead of wanting to make a difference, however, it appears you’re more interested in parading your admittedly impressive resume, and in being right.”

    Lay off :-) . 35 years of pastoral dairy farming? Impressive resume?
    You might be overdoing it a bit.

  266. farmerbraun says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    FB says ; thanks for that. nice to know that someone was reading my effort, such as it was.

  267. dabbio says:

    Correction: This is one of the most embarrassing posts ever on WUWT. Un-sticky it ASAP.

    At one point, Savory says that no-one NO ONE, mind you, ever refers to time, always to land area. Oh, what is an animal unit month, then? In one slide, we see a watering hole in an arid(-season?) landscape, in the “after” (I suppose) slide, a lush hillside and no watering hole. What happened, did a herd of cattle get in, drink up the water, and then pee and poo it all out with a good mixture of short- and tall-grass prairies seed? In another slide, he contrasts a foreground vegetated flat area with a steep, eroded hillside in the background. Duh now.

  268. Power Grab says:

    Very timely! I was just describing Allen Savory’s methods to someone at work the other day.

  269. farmerbraun says:

    “Geoff Sherrington says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:32 am

    There is a strong push here, with the national broadcaster the ABC strongly involved, for a silly idea called ‘organic farming’. I’ve formally complained about objectivity in this pseudo-science by the ABC and been treated badly.”

    On the main islands down under organic farming is known as a type of sustainable agriculture.
    “Organic” because it arose from a concern for conservation of soil carbon , or organic matter.
    If you don’t mind me asking Geoff, what exactly is the problem that you have with that?

  270. Matthew R Marler says:

    Thanks to Jens Jensen and Willis Eschenbach for an interesting interchange.

    davidmhoffer wrote: Once the grassland is in a healthy state, it sequesters precisely zero co2. The new growth each year is off set by decomposition (even if it is further up the food chain due to the grass being eaten by animals, it still eventually decomposes at about the same rate it is being produced).

    That depends on the grass. Some varieties continue to build up the “carbon” in the soil year after year, eventually producing much thicker and richer soil than was there at the start. In the American Great Plains, the buffalo ate the grass at a rate slightly lower than the grass grew, and the soil became extremely thick. As someone else wrote, you do have to be careful not to have animals eating the roots.

    In this video, Savory seems to have changed from one devotional discipline to another, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is wrong.

    Roughly speaking, the cattle are the method of irrigation, carrying fluid from the rivers and ponds to the countryside. The fertilizing effect of the manure merely recycles the nitrogenous compounds synthesized by the grasses and legumes.

  271. Steve Oregon says:

    From a video above than ended was this find.

    Pretty impressive stuff.

  272. RockyRoad says:

    Were this approach to counter desertification employed on much of the available land surface, I’m thinking the annual gyration in atmospheric CO2 would be much larger than what we now see. And the contribution from the burning of fossil fuels to the available pool of CO2 would undoubtedly add to the efficacy. Another reason sequestration of CO2 is a bad idea–it (CO2) is there; utilize it!

  273. davidgmills says:

    Here’s another video of a lecture given by a farmer in Missouri who is using Savory’s method. Very informative and detailed:

  274. OssQss says:

    Considering the open thread aspect.

    Vote, it’s easy and only a few days left~~~

    Here!

    http://2013.bloggi.es/#science

  275. Yeah, but he didn’t really own up to it. He admitted his mistake then went out of his way to explain that committees of other people reviewed his work and agreed with it, and made the final decision to kill the elephants.

    Well that’s true. He didn’t personally shoot all 40,000 elephants.

    So yes, he owned up to what he did, which was advise that it take place.

  276. Ben says:

    Bottom Line:

    Mother Nature is signaling –

    The World Needs More Cowbell…

  277. Willis Eschenbach says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Hey Willis , I quoted your comment to which I was referring
    in my first post , and then you re-posted it in your reply.
    Whatever. Here it is again.

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm
    Willis says;

    “Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …”

    Just what “that system” that you were referring to was , may be my error ; I took it that you were comparing continuous grazing with rotational grazing.

    Thanks for the quote, Farmer, and sorry for the confusion. What I was referring to as “that system” was the system I’d just described that was employed on the Polyface farm.

    Also, please don’t think I’m opposed to your ideas, or that I’m dissing your extensive experience.

    I’m just saying that I’m unwilling to do the work to find the resources that you think are important. That’s your job if you want to get your ideas out there.

    w.

  278. davidmhoffer says:

    Christoff Dollis;
    So yes, he owned up to what he did, which was advise that it take place.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Oh bull.
    What took place is that he did the research, he presented it to the committees, he persuaded them that he was right, and that the only choice, ONLY CHOICE, was to kill 40,000 elephants. That’s hardly “advising” that it happened. The problem is that history is repeating itself. He’s making unsubstantiated claims again (like the 6,000 cars per hectare bullsht) to a gullible audience with no expertise in the matter who laps it up. If it goes awry this time, he’ll use the same excuse, lots of other people looked at his work and agreed with it…whine….not really his fault….don’t look behind the curtain….

    None of which changes the fact that he took what he saw elsewhere, called it his own, and is now trading off that to standing ovations where he repeats that his new work, stolen from others, stolen from history in fact, is the only choice. The ONLY CHOICE! AGAIN!

    In fact much of what he advocates will in fact work in many situations. But it is clear that he is selling and the audience is buying without doing any due diligence regarding the actual efficacy or the intellectual property.

  279. Lew Skannen says:

    With regard to calls for us to be sceptical – I think it is safe to say we all are. That goes without saying on this board.
    This is still a rather interesting idea and certainly worth consideration. Whether it can be implemented in a scientific way is another matter. Once aid agencies get hold of something it rarely succeeds as planned and from my experience the continent would have been a lot better off without foreign ‘aid’ and meddling. There have been many countries which have recovered from wars but I can hardly think of any, and none in Africa, which have recovered from Foreign Aid.

  280. Willis Eschenbach says:

    In response to my commenting on his “impressive resume”, farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Lay off :-) . 35 years of pastoral dairy farming? Impressive resume?
    You might be overdoing it a bit.

    Actually, I was quite serious. In a discussion of rotational versus continuous grazing, that is an impressive resume. Certainly equals a PhD in plant science in my book, not better, but assuredly no worse …

    And in my world, farming or ranching is always an impressive resume. You can’t do that for 35 years without learning some very real lessons about nature and humans and a host of other things.

    Well, I suppose you can farm or ranch and not learn anything … but most men or women that stick it out for 35 years do so because of that odd unquantifiable and certainly unteachable mix of stubbornness and curiosity and observation and insight and craft and hard work and willingness to learn that makes for a good farmer or rancher … and that counts for me, it counts a lot. People like that may still be wrong, but generally not from naiveté …

    My best to you,

    w.

  281. davidmhoffer says:

    Matthew L Marler;
    That depends on the grass. Some varieties continue to build up the “carbon” in the soil year after year, eventually producing much thicker and richer soil than was there at the start.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    1. A maximum is still arrived at at some point.
    2. Prairie fires regularly set the grassland back
    3. The notion that a single hectare of land could sequester the output of 6,000 cars on an on going basis is ludicrous.

  282. Barbee says:

    How is this a bridge?
    They’re wrong, they have always been wrong….where’s the bridge in that?

  283. farmerbraun says:

    Geoff , re my comment March 9 2013 at 7:02 pm -
    to save you time and ammunition with a scatter-gun approach , here is a definition of sustainable agriculture as proposed several decades ago. What is the problem that you see with this?

    ‘To work as much as possible within a closed system, and draw upon local resources.
    To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.
    To avoid all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural techniques.
    To produce foodstuffs of high nutritional quality and sufficient quantity.
    To reduce the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to a minimum.
    To give livestock conditions of life that conform to their physiological needs and to humanitarian
    principles.
    To make it possible for agricultural producers to earn a living through their work and develop
    their potentialities as human beings.

  284. geran says:

    Christoph Dollis says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:16
    (…..)

    There’s more to it than just any personal appeal he might have. And no, his killing 40,000 elephants, in error, doesn’t impress me. His owning up to it does.
    ——–

    Sadly, there is nothing a false messiah can do to alienate his followers….

  285. john robertson says:

    Read all the comments here, notice some hostility to the presentation and the presenter.
    Yes he dresses his presentation in, woo woo, sole authority and bows to CAGW.
    But what is the down side?
    He is not advocating compulsory donations to his cause, nor calling for sweeping lifestyle changes, or invoking the need for yet another UN/Eco-loony intervention.
    If the recreation of migratory herds,done by locals, revives the subsaharan grasslands, great.
    If it does not we will soon see.
    What has been happening in these areas , at least for my lifetime, is hardly considered a success.
    I get the light bulb moment, I never gave any thought to the migratory effect of the herds, leaving evolutionary consequences for the plants.
    I grew up on a farm and rotational grazing was weeks or months, depending on livestock and range size&condition, on grasses we have bred for the their traits.
    For all the presentation critiques, we can, are and will be testing these ideas, if Savoury is right, then meat eaters can laugh at vegans, co2 can be sequestered as steak and a good chunk of UN chuckleheads will be out of work soon.
    If he is wrong, another fine concept tested.

  286. So Willis, what do you really think of Allan Savory’s ideas and work/solutions? Is he right or is he wrong? Just asking…

  287. farmerbraun says:

    davidmhoffer says: re Soil Carbon levels

    1. A maximum is still arrived at at some point.
    2. Prairie fires regularly set the grassland back

    FB observes; 1. it is correct that a maximum will be reached. Measurements in Godzone indicate that most sheep and beef farms on non-cultivable land reached that maximum some time ago as a result of the pastoral grazing, over a century or so, since the forest was cleared and phosphorus was applied to encourage legume growth, which in turn raised the nitrogen status of the soil. Those maximum levels appear to be being maintained.

    On the dairy farms the levels , once at a maximum, have fallen, possibly as a result of soil damage from overstocking in winter, and possibly from the use of nitrogenous fertilisers. Research into the causes is continuing. These losses are not found on farms practising some forms of sustainable agriculture (lower stocking rates and no nitrogen fertiliser introduced).

    2. Not just prairie fires can cause carbon losses; prolonged droughts are also very effective at oxidising carbon.

  288. Willis Eschenbach says:

    J. Philip Peterson says:
    March 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    So Willis, what do you really think of Allan Savory’s ideas and work/solutions? Is he right or is he wrong? Just asking…

    No clue. Too long, didn’t listen. I can’t stand presentations made for the average listener, I’m bored to tears three minutes in. I can read wicked fast, I skip the filler, and I can’t be bothered with watching some guy slowly belaboring some point. So I gave up even starting such videos, unless a whole bunch of people say wow, you’ve got to see this, I just give it a miss.

    I also often end up with my intravenous pressure climbing while I’m shouting at the screen, things like “How about a citation for that outrageous claim!” and the like … not good, angrifies my blood.

    So instead I read the comments. And in this case, there was no groundswell saying that this was something I should waste 22 minutes on. Instead, there was a lot of folks saying a) sounds workable, and b) sounds oversimplified, and c) where’s the citations?

    So I gave it a pass.

    I was only commenting on the question of how to get the most production out of the land, regarding rotational or continuous grazing. For me, the way to get the most is a careful and clever combination of plants and animals and insects, a la Polyface or something like that.

    I also gave my own recommendations for reversing desertification above.

    Other than that, though, I’m sorry but I know nothing about Savory.

    All the best,

    w.

  289. andy says:

    Show me some data, otherwise he is just talking anecdotes. And my skeptic alarm always goes off when someone says how “we” used to believe in the flat earth. We didn’t. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_the_Flat_Earth

  290. markx says:

    Jens Raunsø Jensen says: March 9, 2013 at 10:57 am

    It is my experience from meeting such guys that somebody claiming to have a unique solution to the “worlds problems” is a demagog and that’s exactly how I evaluate Mr Savory. Greening the deserts of the world – my ***.

    I am quite astonished by people such as Jens above who dismiss this immediately because they don’t like the certainty of the man’s beliefs. Failing to recognize that information such as this helps to counter the certain beliefs of others (ie, Mann, Hansen … “its all fossil fuels”…)

    All of this information points to a far more complex system, and a far greater variety of solutions, than some would currently realize or accept.

    I’m pretty sure Savory’s ideas are not going to work in every ecosystem, but I also believe he has made and is promoting a very sensible observation that high intensity rotational grazing may have a profoundly different and favorable end result to constant low pressure year round grazing, or indeed no grazing. This is important because at least in some environments, there have been failed misguided efforts to save the environment by locking it up and leaving it alone.

    There is much in Jen’s statement which indicates he too is a man locked in his beliefs of how these things should be done, and does not like to see a contradiction.

    Matthew R Marler says: March 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    “….. As someone else wrote, you do have to be careful not to have animals eating the roots.

    In this video, Savory seems to have changed from one devotional discipline to another, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is wrong.

    Roughly speaking, the cattle are the method of irrigation, carrying fluid from the rivers and ponds to the countryside. The fertilizing effect of the manure merely recycles the nitrogenous compounds synthesized by the grasses and legumes….”

    Agree on all points, Matthew – required management input and infrastructure is obliviously mcuh greater.

    I liked too the concept that the ruminants are the source of water and bacteria on the plains in the dry times –

    This is a very compelling point – grasses that dry up, oxidize and blow away as dust help no-one, and certainly not the soil. But, organic matter trampled into the soil (grasses and manure) does more than just provide nutrients, it also hugely increases water holding capacity of the soil, traps minerals which would otherwise be leached away, and this combination of nutrients and water sustains an active bacterial population in the upper soil layer.

  291. andy says:

    Does he remind anyone else of an ageing Einstein searching for his holistic field theory ?

  292. farmerbraun says:

    markx says:-
    “the concept that the ruminants are the source of water and bacteria on the plains in the dry times”
    I doubt that very much; even in temperate climates in summer , the water from animals evaporates almost immediately, the bacteria die and the carbon in the dung is oxidised. Perhaps the mineral content is deposited , depending on the volatility of the compounds containing the same. Life is not possible without water.

    The same deposits , during wetter times , undoubtedly can be sequestered.

  293. markx says:

    One thing I am sure of, and as both Savory and Willis have pointed out, the greenie demonization of meat eating is ludicrous. There are environments and seasons in which nothing but herbivores, and particularly ruminants can survive, and there are many foodstuffs in the world that we cannot eat.

  294. Calvin Long says:

    james griffin says:
    It is the soot and things such as sulphur dioxide that we need to address….
    ———————————————
    I was on vacation last week and met a farm supply and produce trucker from Minnesota. He says the farmers there are complaining about the cost of low sulphur diesel fuel. They then have to buy sulphur to spread on their fields.

    Talk about law of unintended consequences. Pay to remove sulpher then buy it back.

  295. janama says:

    Some people appear to have missed that he explicitly said – controlled animal management.

    A farmer in Australia cell grazes his sheep and in the paddock following the cattle he has converted two caravans (Trailers) into layer boxes and he runs chickens in the paddocks that the cattle were previously in. The chickens scratch and distribute the manure and he sells the eggs as true free range.

    Here’s a video of the NSW Farmer of the Year 2008 who uses cell grazing for sheep.

    http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2008/s2413406.htm -

  296. farmerbraun says:

    andy says:
    March 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm
    Does he remind anyone else of an ageing Einstein searching for his holistic field theory ?

    Yes , a little.
    FB , reading Savory’s book “Holistic Resource Management” about 25 years ago , found it useful only for its information theory in regard to seeing the farm as a discrete organism, and the need for a total immersion in the farm processes in order to achieve understanding of the internal workings; an understanding that was not achievable by a team of specialists each in their own disciple, nor by a team of multi-disciplinary specialists. That’s why we have “farmers” of course; grizzled old bastards who have lived and breathed inside their farms over a lifetime, and are virtually an inseparable part of the farm. They “know” it like the back of their hand.

  297. Geoff Sherrington says:

    farmerbraun says: March 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm “Organic” because it arose from a concern for conservation of soil carbon , or organic matter.
    If you don’t mind me asking Geoff, what exactly is the problem that you have with that?
    ……………………………

    I do mind you asking because the movement has gone from one stupid concept to another. It has been hijacked by chemophobes. As a chemist, I’m ashamed to read of the denigration of the work of many thoughtful and talented chemical forebears. If you have been sucked in by the mistruth of some of the basic assertions, than nothing I say will change your mind unless you are prepared to state that you understand and practise the scientific method in its broad sense,

  298. Calvin Long says:

    markx says:
    March 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm
    The fertilizing effect of the manure merely recycles the nitrogenous compounds synthesized by the grasses and legumes….”
    _________________________________________________________________
    Not true. There is a net gain in nitrogen. Ruminants have nitrogen fixing bacteria in their stomachs. This is why the can survive on such low quality forage. Cattle can be fed on news paper and molasses and can still produce weight. I can not cite page, but this is discussed in the book “The Science of Producing Milk for Man”. This was a text book from a dairy science class at SFASU in Nacogdoches, TX in 1980.

  299. RockyRoad says:

    Well, Willis, grab a beer or two, find a comfortable chair, have your mouse ready to Close and watch the video.

    I know it won’t be as exciting as watching our favorite fishing hole, but I thought the pictures “before and afterwards” were worth the time.

    If not, just click “Close” anytime–and finish your beer. (And don’t worry about citations–assume what you see is original, field-based results.)

  300. Clive Schaupmeyer says:

    Interesting video. Not read all comments. I’ve returned to 11:08 seconds three times to confirm what he said about burning grassland. He says “one billion ha of grasslands are burned annually in Africa.” That’s 10,000,000 sq km or one third of the entire land area of the African continent is burned annually. Is that possible? Seems a stretch.

    If it is not correct, it is an important error and puts other “facts” into question.

  301. markx says:

    davidmhoffer says: March 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Christoff Dollis; So yes, he owned up to what he did, which was advise that it take place.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “Oh bull. What took place is that he did the research, he presented it to the committees, he persuaded them that he was right, and that the only choice, ONLY CHOICE, was to kill 40,000 elephants. ……… If it goes awry this time, he’ll use the same excuse, lots of other people looked at his work and agreed with it…whine….not really his fault….don’t look behind the curtain….”

    Hoffer, it is my opinion there is is something disturbingly wrong with your thought processes, perceptions, and probably hearing. Savory clearly says he did the calculations and came to a conclusion, that his conclusion was a hugely contentious issue, that committees were formed and politicians were involved and Savory had to convince them all. He says “I was wrong”.

    One thing this debate needs is more laterally thinking, open minded people.

    It has enough stubborn know alls who will unashamedly put a spin on another man’s words and turn an open honest demonstrative admission of error into something lesser to prove their own point of view.

  302. TBear says:

    Uhm … Savory has been banging on about his concept of holistic land management for about 40 years and has (so far as the Bear can find) failed to convince any mainstream ecologists/land management expert that there is any scientific validity to his ideas.

    Just one point from the presentation: the Bear knows a bit about cattle farming and the idea that a large herd of cattle or sheep (etc.) can be released on land with little grass coverage is simply mad; they will all predictably die within a short period of time. In Australia, if you stock land with no available feed you will also be prosecuted for cruelty to animals. And quite rightly.

    This is a serious, unexplained and gaping hole in Savory’s presentation; how livestock survive on land with no feed, while they wait for a lost annual land-cycle to kick in and rehabilitate the land. It’s a bit like the good old perpetual motion machine.

    Not impressed.

  303. Mario Lento says:

    Talking about managing land. This immediately reminded me of the consequences of the US destroying Yellowstone by killing off the wolves, which led to over grazing and then the land was destroyed and animals starved. This 22 minute video is a better approach. Leave it alone and it will thrive as herd animals are good for the land!

  304. Mike says:

    No. I don’t agree with his theories or techniques or even his observations and experiments.
    Look at Europe, especially the French. Each spring, they till the land in the city and the farms to pump air into the soil because it becomes hard on the surface, unable to absorb nutrients and water. This is a known farming technique to “disturb” the bacteria, unlock barriers in the top soil etc. Then he talked about putting animals on land that have no grasses. That was ridiculous. Animals need to eat SOMETHING. I was not sure of the disconnect there when there were Q & As at the end of his presentation.

    Also “evaporation” of 8 ft. of water does not occur as he seems to indicate. Much of the monsoon moisture in some of the seasonally dry areas simply seeps back into the Earth as underground aquafers that dominate the globe.

    If you want to re-claim desert…do what the israelis do, what we do in the Southwest: Cultivate, plant stuff, irrigate, put in nutrients. We don’t need a bunch of methane-farting cows (or goats, or sheep, or whatever) running crazy…especially when we should stop eating animals that just cause us heart disease anyway. We have machines that aerate soul. We have plenty of phosphate mines, composte from uneaten food, mulch and whatever to re-forest areas that have become dry through cycles of Earth climate.

    Me, I live near Las Vegas where nothing has grown for thousands of years except for cactus and mesquite and such. The Las Vegas Valley now has more trees than ever and even pollen problems each Spring, where there was never any real growth.

    It is also well-known that simple nutrients added to soil cause a total change, no cow required.

    The “only” choice presented, is NOT the only choice. This guy is just like Hanson: too much ego, too much drama, too much academia and white papers. Not much thinking. Give him an audience, and he is a preacher.

  305. Not being a farmer, this presentation sounded as old, well-proven, knowledge to me.
    As a student of climate, it sounded old and wrong to me. After all, “dirty” CO2, even if you call it “carbon”, is the gas of live.

  306. Mark.R says:

    I would say its the” ORGANIC MATTER” which the cows have left behined that has made the bigest change to the land.
    All grasses grow faster and greener with a bit of urea fertilizer.
    Urea Makes more nitrogen available as a nutrient to the plant. … Stimulates a more drought-tolerant plant.

  307. …especially when we should stop eating animals that just cause us heart disease anyway.

    With all due respect, this is severely misguided. We evolved on a diet of animal fat and protein, with more modest amounts of carbohydrates, particularly during the warmer months — without heart disease being widespread or an exploding diabetes epidemic.

    These are caused by an overconsumption of carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates, and particularly fructose, as well as a seriously out of whack omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio and the resulting inflammation.

    The lipid hypothesis of Ancel Keys is just plain wrong.

  308. markx says:

    geran says: March 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm
    “…… you must ask why you are impressed. Is it because he killed 40,000 elephants (think polar bears), or is it because he is slim/lean, articulate, resonate voice, soft-speaking, urbane, and sophisticated?………I’m talking about the illusion of “messiah”. Get a clue folks…”

    I found him impressive – because he is an articulate speaker, who (in my opinion) strongly believes what he is saying. He puts forward a sensible and logical background of concepts and thought processes as to why he holds those beliefs, and while his ‘proofs’ were anecdotal as presented, he created a few “aha, lightbulb” moments in my mind. I, for one, do not believe it will apply to every dry ecosystem and work with every soil type, but I feel it goes a long way towards further demonstrating the complexity of our world’s systems and deserves attention. I’m not big on messiahs, he is just a man with an idea, and I can already seem some faults with this one, but it does not mean it holds no good.

    The elephant story is blown all out of proportion in this debate. Here you have a man who relates a story about errors in scientific knowledge, calculations, beliefs and conclusions, and uses it to demonstrate that entrenched “truths” are often wrong. While it was undoubtedly a pity, these were not sacred animals, their demise probably did not cause any lasting harm to the environment, and while some who knew them personally may mourn them, the event would have been lost in the vague mists of time had Savory himself not brought it up for a greater purpose. (Rather than polar bears (what?…why…?) think of 30,000 British dead lost in one day of the Battle of the Somme … mourned…… then gradually forgotten, the world goes on, and though plenty of blame was allocated, no-one ever came forward to claim it.)

  309. Just one point from the presentation: the Bear knows a bit about cattle farming and the idea that a large herd of cattle or sheep (etc.) can be released on land with little grass coverage is simply mad; they will all predictably die within a short period of time. In Australia, if you stock land with no available feed you will also be prosecuted for cruelty to animals. And quite rightly.

    Well duh. The point is the livestock walk from feeding area A to feeding area B, fertilising and disturbing the soil in barren area C along the way.

  310. Sparks says:

    It only took over 30 years and the slaughter of 40,000 elephants for this environmentalist to find out what has been known about for centuries, maybe he should have done his homework before becoming a maniac elephant killer. This guy does not deserve the praise that he is receiving, he should be punished for his environmental ignorance. But, obviously he is sorry and bears a lot of guilt about what he did and I believe in forgiveness, there is a morale to his story that Alarmists and this new breed of environmentalists need to take heed of.

  311. farmerbraun says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    March 9, 2013 at 8:43 pm
    farmerbraun says: March 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm “Organic” because it arose from a concern for conservation of soil carbon , or organic matter.
    If you don’t mind me asking Geoff, what exactly is the problem that you have with that?
    ……………………………

    I do mind you asking because the movement has gone from one stupid concept to another.

    FB: we are talking about sustainable agriculture, right? I tried to make that clear. So I provided a definition. Who cares what the whackos think?
    Of course the scientific method and everything that it implies is taken for granted.

    ” If you have been sucked in by the mistruth of some of the basic assertions, ” . . .

    Try not to put words in my mouth; you appear awfully defensive or condescending . . . or something.

    Here it is again:

    ‘To work as much as possible within a closed system, and draw upon local resources.
    To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.
    To avoid all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural techniques.
    To produce foodstuffs of high nutritional quality and sufficient quantity.
    To reduce the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to a minimum.
    To give livestock conditions of life that conform to their physiological needs and to humanitarian
    principles.
    To make it possible for agricultural producers to earn a living through their work and develop
    their potentialities as human beings.

    Those are the aims; the tools are the various sciences. What’s the problem?

  312. @ Mike,

    You weren’t suggesting (March 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm) that Allan Savory was unaware animals need to eat, surely.

  313. David Falkner says:

    You just HAVE to wonder what the affect of snow plows is on the historical albedo from snowfall. 10 inches of snow melts faster now because we clear the heat abosrobing surfaces we have to drive on…

  314. Richard G says:

    On the whole very good. Never the less, at 50:30 of the film Savory is explaining the Holistic Framework, culminating in the statement “and then we assume we are wrong and we complete the feedback”. Advice to Allan Savory: listen to your own advice. You need one more epiphany.

    CO2 is the chemical feedstock of all biological growth starting with plants. Carbon sequestration is so wrong headed it makes my head hurt. Desertification was happening long before the industrial age and the carbon scare. CO2 is not the problem, it is a part (holistic) of the solution. If more plant growth is desired, more CO2 is needed. The results of numerous FACE experiments prove that the benefits of increased CO2 across the botanical spectrum include increased biomass crop production and increased water use efficiency (drought tolerance). I guess being shunned for heretical views about animal husbandry was traumatizing. Who wants to be banished again over CO2 heresy. To quote the film again: “birth, growth, death, decay.” CO2 is recycled through the ecosystem. Hooray for decomposers.

  315. David Falkner says:

    Did he just say six trillion cars worth of pollution come from burning grasslands?!?!

    1 hecatare = 6,000 cars

    Burning 1,000,000,000 hectares in Africa every year equals 6,000,000,000,000 cars, right? That is a pretty massive source of GHG, yes? Is it accounted for in the models? On that scale? Are his numbers even correct? I am wondering. He seems pretty knowledgeable.

  316. OK, Willis I get your point.

    I felt the same way when I watched the video days ago which my good friend (which sends me stuff from SKS) posted on his Facebook pg , but he is at least open to debate so I hung in there. To be honest I thought Allan Savory was a bit of a kook (a global warming kook) because he was talking about carbon and climate change etc. I did a search for Allan Savory on all the skeptic and warmer websites and came up with no matches, nothing, nota.

    So I was surprised to find it on WUWT and so I watched it again with an “open mind” (my open mind is pretty skeptical) ignoring all the climate change, carbon – methane stuff. It seemed to make some sense, and I was surprised to see your first post:

    “Nice find, Anthony. No news to me, I wrote about it ‘here’.
    Best to all,”

    I clicked on “here”, and didn’t see anything about Allan Savory or his works so I was a little disappointed with the first Willis post.

    That’s why I asked whether you thought he was right or wrong.

    Also, at Burning Man, “Willis’ Excellent Adventure” would you have misted Allan Savory thoroughly (all exposed skin), if you knew then what you know about him now?

    Thanks for answering my question, I really enjoy all your posts. Wish I could express myself as well as you can.

    Phil

  317. markx says:

    Calvin Long says: March 9, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    “… Ruminants have nitrogen fixing bacteria in their stomachs. This is why they can survive on such low quality forage. Cattle can be fed on news paper and molasses and can still produce weight….”

    From my memory, Calvin, that should read newspaper, molasses and urea... …. cattle can survive on some very low protein feed, but if you go too low eventually you need add nitrogen to keep the rumenal bacterial population alive …

  318. markx says:

    Sparks says: March 9, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    It only took over 30 years and the slaughter of 40,000 elephants for this environmentalist to find out what has been known about for centuries, maybe he should have done his homework before becoming a maniac elephant killer. This guy does not deserve the praise that he is receiving, he should be punished for his environmental ignorance.

    I’m starting to worry about the level of debate we are attracting these days … one little mention of carbon, a simple hat tip to the CAGW beliefs, and some start foaming at the mouth, go into full “anti” mode, and perhaps miss the rest of the story…

    There are plenty of scientists out there forced to, or choosing to not take the CAGW doctrines on head-on, yet who still go about promoting their own programs and beliefs.

  319. Isn’t “Reversing Climate Change” the same as “Producing Climate Change”?

  320. markx says:

    dang …sorry mods – third try ..(italic quotes) please delete above

    markx says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Mike says: March 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    … seeps back into the Earth as underground aquafers that dominate the globe…

    If you want to re-claim desert…do what the israelis do, what we do in the Southwest: Cultivate, plant stuff, irrigate, put in nutrients. , composts from uneaten food, mulch and whatever to re-forest areas that have become dry through cycles of Earth climate.

    … I live near Las Vegas where nothing has grown for thousands of years except for cactus and mesquite and such. The Las Vegas Valley now has more trees than ever and even pollen problems each Spring, where there was never any real growth.

    It is also well-known that simple nutrients added to soil cause a total change, no cow required…

    The “only” choice presented, is NOT the only choice.

    Hi Mike … all the above I agree with … we have a huge capacity to regrow forests grow trees, and re-vegetate areas … but, some dry regions are not so easy and have resisted our best efforts.

    In my opinion Savory is simply supplying another method of doing so which may be highly applicable to some environments… it also makes much sense to me that herbivores/ruminants may play a vital role in maintaining grasslands and this should be explored, we should not simply take the simplistic approach that they only cause harm. Jumping on the CAGW bandwagon thusly: We don’t need a bunch of methane-farting cows (or goats, or sheep, or whatever) running crazy… verges on lunacy IMHO.

    And there is something ironic in such a debate to state the following …especially when we should stop eating animals that just cause us heart disease anyway…. when the debate on the causes of heart disease are hugely contentious and becoming more so, and new discoveries and old falsehoods are revealed every year.

    This statement too may be in error … “.. We have plenty of phosphate …”
    The Achilles’ Heel Of Algal Biofuels: Peak Phosphate
    http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml (and many other references)

  321. atheok says:

    “…Salatin bases his farm’s ecosystem on the principle of observing animals’ activities in nature and emulating those conditions as closely as possible. Salatin grazes his cattle outdoors within small pastures enclosed by electrified fencing that is easily and daily moved at 4pm in an established rotational grazing system. Animal manure fertilizes the pastures and enables Polyface Farm to graze about four times as many cattle as on a conventional farm, thus also saving feed costs. The small size of the pastures forces the cattle to ‘mob stock’-to eat all the grass…”

    Willis did ranching, FarmerBraun does pastoral farming (Producing livestock?), I worked on a dairy farm and we were close friends with the family that owned the farm; so when there was some kind of urgency my father rousted his sons (5) and we went to help.

    Dairy farms are work, every day, all day, every year. Cows get darned unhappy if they’re not milked on schedule and the milk loses quality if the graze loses quality. Manure collected while the cows are inside (bitter cold weather, milking) is dumped into a spreader, or shoveled if the collector breaks down. Hay, timothy and meadow grass is harvested from the fallow areas of the farm, dried and stored for winter food.

    What a dairy farmer does is likely no different in process; but they sure don’t use anything that requires extra effort every day. Like Willis I have a healthy respect for farmers, but the moment someone tells me they grew up on a farm and learned to get up before dawn every day and worked till after dark rain shine winter summer, they most likely grew up on a dairy farm. Yeah other farmers do get up before dawn and work till after dusk, but only the dairy farmers must.

    “…Polyface raises pastured meat chickens, egg layers, pigs, turkeys, and rabbits. The diversity in production better utilizes the grass, breaks pathogen cycles, and creates multiple income streams. The meat chickens are housed in portable field shelters that are moved daily to a fresh “salad bar” of new grass and away from yesterday’s droppings. All manure is distributed by the chickens directly onto the field. His egg-laying chickens are housed in mobile trailer-style coops that follow four days after the cattle, when flies in the manure are pupating; the chickens get 15% of their feed from this. While scratching for pupae, the chickens also distribute the cow manure across the field…”

    Old news and has been practiced actively for a very long time. Chickens, ducks, geese and other birds have been moved from location to location; including gardens. The birds are quite good at eating bugs and weeds but leaving vegetables alone, something cattle and other browsers are not good at.

    Many of the so-called organic chicken producers are using a similar process so that the birds get to ‘free range’ along with exercise. The difficulty with the organic producers here is making the operation cost effective.

    Salatin feels that “if you smell manure [on a livestock farm], you are smelling mismanagement.” So everything possible is done to allow grass to absorb all the fertilizer left behind by the animals. If animals must be kept inside (to brood young chicks for example), Salatin recommends providing deep bedding of wood chips or sawdust to chemically lock in all the nutrients and smell until they can be spread on the field where the compost can be used by the grass.

    If you do not smell manure on a livestock farm, then your nose is broken or you have a cold.

    Animals are funny that way, the more that goes in the front, the more that comes out the back. Collected manure gets rather sharp and collected concentrated animal wastes are not chemically locked in sawdust/woodchips. Unless someone changed the meaning of absorbed. Collected absorbed animal wastes should be spread sparsely as their urea content will burn vegetation. Fowl wastes (including chickens) and even rabbit droppings exhibit these properties. Composting is another way to render the animal waste kinder to plants.

    “…Call me crazy, but as a man who grew up on a cattle ranch, I’ll lay long odds that that system would beat continuous grazing …

    All the best,

    w.”

    Aye! Or even beat the basic concept of rotational farming that, as an above poster pointed out, is described in the bible.

    Willis, thank you. I posted about a friends goats in a different thread where I couldn’t figure out they munched seven feet up the trees. I never saw them reach that high but I certainly believe they could jump up and use the tree trunk to get higher.

    What’s missing from most off the above posts is that water is required to reclaim desert. If land is tenable for reclaiming from desert without adding water then planting and fertilizing are the ways to go. Sorry for those that are offended; fertilizing using critters works so does using fertilizers made from bat, gull, elephant guano, or phosphate/nitrogen/potassium chemical reclamation of other sources. Without a fresh water source, adding critters and plants to desert land will yield skinny critters (if alive) and few plants.

    One of the cool things in the Western United States is desert land after a thunderstorm swings on by dropping the annual quotient of precipitation. Plants that were lucky enough to be where the water fell quickly sprout, grow and flower; the standing plants are put on a quick growth and flower and perhaps fruit. It becomes a beautiful river of flowering plants for a few weeks; seeds form and the land reverts to that gray brown dusty look. But only where precipitation actually fell, or if it fell in sufficient quantity in the runoff areas (washes and gullies).

    Hardpan is mentioned above several times. Hardpan is not caused by critters. Yes, a lot of critters repeatedly walking standing in the same spot will make for hard soil; but that is not hardpan. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/hardpan.aspx. A farmers quick solution to hardpan is deep tilling to break up the upper surface of hardpan.

    Hardpan is a layer where water collects and often stands causing a ‘sour roots’ condition. There are many plants that will not tolerate standing water as their roots rot especially during dormant seasons. A frequent recommendation for hardpan soil is planting alfalfa, a nitrogen fixing legume that’s great for soil and animals love it. Alfalfa requires water though, but the roots reach deep and break up hardpan over time. Which is a major reason farmers plant their fallow fields with alfalfa.

  322. Power Grab says:

    Three more things:

    1. I have seen first-hand how neglected/abused soil can be restored to productivity by rotational grazing. If the bureaucrats don’t want to believe it, fine. That’s their loss. BTW, one of the things you watch for is the presence of dung beetles. When they are absent, the piles of manure just sit around. When dung beetles are present, they break up the manure and disperse it within a few days, if not overnight.

    2. I have to wonder whether some desert dwellers don’t actually prefer to be surrounded with an impassable no-man’s-land (as a defense against incursions by neighbors), or whether deserts haven’t been created by those who sought to get rid of nearby neighbors. In other words, if you remove your neighbors’ food sources, you force your neighbors to move away (or weaken and die).

    3. People who practice this type of grazing talk about “building up” the soil. Once the organic matter (a/k/a “carbon”) is re-introduced to the soil, it doesn’t simply disappear when the next crop grows. The benefits of it continue as long as you avoid killing and dessicating the soil with chemical fertilizers and such. Therefore, if Savory wants to talk about sequestering “carbon” in the soil, I would allow it.

  323. Power Grab says:

    Yet another comment:

    Since Savory was presenting to an audience that was known to be steeped in the AGW “kool-aid”, so to speak, and they commonly speak in absolute alarmist terms, I would be surprised if he DIDN’T come out with a strong statement about his opinion of a solution.

    If he had used namby-pamby language, hemming and hawing, and acting like holistic grazing management “could” be a possible solution, “might” be worth looking into, they probably would have trod him into the dirt and moved on to the next show.

    We Americans are so accustomed to the idea that “everyone” should have the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”, that we find it nearly impossible to wrap our brain around the rather common mindset that dictates that only the powerful few at the top of the pyramid should have wealth and resources, and everyone else can just eat dirt. I see the movement to destroy the family farm and move everyone off the land and into cities as one manifestation of that attitude.

    I can’t help but wonder if the fact that so many of the wealthy individuals these days didn’t actually earn their wealth, but inherited it, and that has caused them to want to prevent there from being any competitors that might threaten their stash.

  324. Brian Johnson UK says:

    I thought the Savory anti CO2 stuff spoilt the lecture. He talks about burning as though it was mankind who ‘invented’ it. Surely with so many plants/trees evolving via naturally caused lightning strikes the notion of desertification [and available satellite images of a gradual greening of the southern sahara] for me lessened the impact. Why would he want to reduce CO2 levels if a CO2 increase encourages plant/tree growth? And frankly the thought of sustaining the greening with zillions of hungry cattle and all the husbandry that entails also reduced the plausibility of continent wide re-greening being a real possibility. To me anyway. No question it works but in a scale that would take millennia to change the sat nav image areas of desert to green. Bring on more CO2 I say.

  325. Larry in Texas says:

    Great find, Anthony! I think Dr. Savory’s work is as important to the future of grasslands as Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work was to the future of feeding the world. I certainly hope he gets more of a chance to teach others about his work. It certainly is a much better idea than what our fool Dr. Hansen would be proposing.

  326. Keitho says:

    I too am of the same generation, come from the same country and encountered him in politics in the 70′s in the Rhodesia Party.

    I think you mistake the reason for including the elephants in the presentation. His point, I think, was that what he and so many of us were taught was incorrect. All of the science up to that point was the consensus but he found over time that it was mistaken. It was not a polar bear moment.

    Like others here I don’t think he believes in the CO2/Thermageddon story but he recognises that the debate is fierce and it would be a distraction from what he is saying. To me he is really advocating a more profitable, less damaging method of livestock farming. He says that if it is adopted it would lead to less desert and a better food supply. Farmers are hard headed types and would only implement the system if it made them more money ( or smaller losses ).

    Savory is not a snake oil salesman, rather a genuine guy who is trying to share what he has learned in the belief it will make things better for many rather than worse.

  327. EW says:

    About that burning grasslands – fire is that what they are accustomed to, otherwise they would be a forest. African savanna grasses are developed so that they are able to sprout a lot of biomass, get burned and as quickly as possible to grow again after the fire.

  328. Robber says:

    Interesting implications for Australia, where cattle have been shut out of high country grazing on “environmental grounds”. So what happens is that the grass grows, then lightning strikes and creates bushfires that destroy the grass and trees – are we heading for desertification of our mountain areas? The current rationale is that bushfires regenerate the native vegetation.

  329. Keitho says:

    Going by my own experiences in Zimbabwe/Zambia and Mozambique it could even be an underestimate.

  330. AB says:

    Another good watch with out too much AGW.

  331. Willis Eschenbach says:

    J. Philip Peterson says:
    March 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    … It seemed to make some sense, and I was surprised to see your first post:

    “Nice find, Anthony. No news to me, I wrote about it ‘here’.
    Best to all,”

    I clicked on “here”, and didn’t see anything about Allan Savory or his works so I was a little disappointed with the first Willis post.

    That’s why I asked whether you thought he was right or wrong.

    Ah. My post was what I understood to be the point of Savory’s post. According to the accompanying text above, this was:

    Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lusher, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.

    That was what my other post was about, the need for animals in agriculture.

    Also, at Burning Man, “Willis’ Excellent Adventure” would you have misted Allan Savory thoroughly (all exposed skin), if you knew then what you know about him now?

    Sure. For me, the misting and the bowing were all part of acting without all of my considerations. Didn’t matter whether the person was a prince or a pervert, I just misted them and bowed to them. It was a marvelous exercise, don’t get to do that too often.

    Thanks for answering my question, I really enjoy all your posts. Wish I could express myself as well as you can.

    I’ve written on the order of 500 pieces that have been published here on WUWT … after a while, you just get better. I’d lay odds that if you did the same, you’d end up much better than you started …

    w.

  332. Larry in Texas says:

    Having read all of the comments now, I must add that it sounds like Dr. Savory’s ideas are not the only good ones out there. I’m all for whatever works, from rotational grazing on out. Unlike Dr. Savory, I don’t believe that my idea is the only solution. I also have a much greater appreciation for the subtle wisdom of the average farmer who manages his land wisely and keeps the grassland from turning into a desert.

  333. Willis Eschenbach says:

    atheok says:
    March 9, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    … Willis did ranching, FarmerBraun does pastoral farming (Producing livestock?), I worked on a dairy farm and we were close friends with the family that owned the farm; so when there was some kind of urgency my father rousted his sons (5) and we went to help.

    Dairy farms are work, every day, all day, every year. Cows get darned unhappy if they’re not milked on schedule and the milk loses quality if the graze loses quality. Manure collected while the cows are inside (bitter cold weather, milking) is dumped into a spreader, or shoveled if the collector breaks down. Hay, timothy and meadow grass is harvested from the fallow areas of the farm, dried and stored for winter food.

    What a dairy farmer does is likely no different in process; but they sure don’t use anything that requires extra effort every day. Like Willis I have a healthy respect for farmers, but the moment someone tells me they grew up on a farm and learned to get up before dawn every day and worked till after dark rain shine winter summer, they most likely grew up on a dairy farm. Yeah other farmers do get up before dawn and work till after dusk, but only the dairy farmers must.

    What I used to say is that ranchers own their cows … but dairy farmers are married to their cows. Serious work.

    w.

  334. SamG says:

    The first statement is a little like FDR killing livestock and pouring milk down the drain to induce demand.

  335. What Limits Trees in C4 Grasslands and Savannas?

    http://www.sysecol2.ethz.ch/Refs/EntClim/B/Bo248.pdf

    Herbivores and fire.

  336. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Clive Schaupmeyer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Interesting video. Not read all comments. I’ve returned to 11:08 seconds three times to confirm what he said about burning grassland. He says “one billion ha of grasslands are burned annually in Africa.” That’s 10,000,000 sq km or one third of the entire land area of the African continent is burned annually. Is that possible? Seems a stretch.

    If it is not correct, it is an important error and puts other “facts” into question.

    Here’s how the land use splits out, in billions of hectares for direct comparison with his claim. …

    To start with, there aren’t a billion hectares of grasslands in all of Africa …

    w.

    Data for the graph is from the GAEZ study, Dataset 1 and Table 44.

  337. lemiere jacques says:

    he may be right, but may be exagerating too.

    He is talking about grasslands that became desert..

  338. devijvers says:

    Arid lands have been restored across the globe using a variety of techniques. This is probably a good technique for restoring vast tracts of land. If you want your eyes opened on how degraded soil handles a rain shower vs healthy soil you have to watch this: http://vimeo.com/52283742 (one minute).

    Frankly, I’ve been telling for years that desertification is the most important cause of global warming. Hopefully this video will do some good.

  339. johanna says:

    Larry in Texas says:
    March 10, 2013 at 12:35 am

    Great find, Anthony! I think Dr. Savory’s work is as important to the future of grasslands as Dr. Norman Borlaug’s work was to the future of feeding the world.
    ————————
    I’m afraid that this kind of hyperbole, like Anthony’s in making this a sticky post, just illustrates how removed most people are from contemporary agricultural practice.

    There is nothing wrong with people like Savory spruiking their nostrums about how to save the world, but anyone who claims to have the One Right Way is always wrong in part. People who make a lifetime career of it are would-be messiahs or their followers. Undeterred by being wrong, they just find a new One Right Way.

    I agree with David Hoffman and others who have pointed out that there is nothing new about anything he says. What’s more, it is just absurd to apply it across the board. There is a big difference between a claypan desert and a sandy desert and a stony desert.

    Most importantly, in a real desert, it ain’t gonna happen. He is talking about semi-arid regions, at the margins. A few years of serious drought and most of his projects would be in ruins.

    He’s a pretty good snake-oil salesman, as the comments here indicate. But, other people have been doing what he talks about for a very long time, where it is applicable. They weren’t trying to save the world, just to make a living. That’s how human progress usually happens.

    The errors already identified and his lack of citations would have him shot down in flames if his name ended in Mann or Ehrlich.

  340. Geoff Sherrington says:

    farmerbraun says: March 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm “Organic” because it arose from a concern for conservation of soil carbon , or organic matter. If you don’t mind me asking Geoff, what exactly is the problem that you have with that?
    …………………………..
    Don’t play the disingenuous game, please. You now that there is a self-invented definitional difference between normal farming and organic farming that is far deeper than your chosen words suggest. The latter dissuades the use of agricultural chemicals. It is based on ignorance of the chemistry of plant growth. It is an insult to chemical professionalism.
    I’m not going to give oxygen. Just the one example, where in your studiously principled way you say from the tablet of stone “To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.”

    You cannot maintain the fertility of soils when you harvest plant or animal crops and take them off location. There are a dozen or so moderate to trace elements, leaving aside for the moment other than inorganic chemicals, that are depleted each time you take material off the site. One of them will eventually fall below the level need to give growth and the crop will fail. Perhaps one example is potassium. Repeated removal of potassium is not balanced in most cases by the rapid decay of enough bedrock to replace the potassium. Hence, addition of fertilizer in the form of KCl (potash) is commonly a part or normal farming. Another inorganic example would be zinc, another molybdenum. All of these have recorded instances where crops have exhausted the supply; but the soil has recovered after their addition as chemical fertilizers, which is against the Holy Writ of strict organic farming.

    I spent some years researching the nutrient supply of plants and their effects on soils. I will state categorically that if you tried to feed the world by organic farming as currently most usually defined, you would be rewarded by mass starvation. It is nothing more than a trendy, passing, “Child of Nature” trend. Try to harm as few people as you can if you opt for it.

    OTOH, the way that Allan Savory presents his case is far less troublesome and far more full of logic, observation and likely success. This is because his method is designed to increase the long-term fertility of the soil – by a plausible mechanism.

  341. Steve (Paris) says:

    Picked up on this org from a comment on another thread. Seems very pertinent on this one.

    http://www.heifer.org/ourwork/success/africa/florence-yotamus-testimony

  342. Dennis says:

    Allan Savory put forward proposals like this in what was Rhodesia before it became ZImbabwe. I was there at the time as a TV producer and we followed up on this. Although some pooh-poohed the idea, many of my farmer friends implemented the ideas which proved very successful. Rhodesia was once a vibrant food producing nation with some of the best grass-fed beef in the world with it’s healthy low fat/cholesterol content. Sadly all my friends farms have been invaded and stolen. When there no so long ago, all the cattle had been slaughtered, no crops planted and most of the farm houses vandalised and destroyed. South Africa is experiencing low rainfall this season and the maize crop has been adjusted downwards by some 15/20%. As South Africa feeds most of the southern region, there is every chance of a future famine on a biblical scale.

  343. meemoe_uk says:

    Yay thanks, I have been enlightened.
    The hooves of a million livestock will plough a desert

  344. Crispin in Waterloo but actually in Yogyakarta says:

    @Clive

    “That’s 10,000,000 sq km or one third of the entire land area of the African continent is burned annually. Is that possible? Seems a stretch.”

    Burning was used in northern Alberta (for example) to keep the forest back. Without humana management burning the open spaces each year, the forest would completely take over and the deer production drops off a lot. West of Stoney Plain the forest has completely taken over after burning was stopped a few decades ago.

    Burning in Africa is largely to get rid of the thick hay left from the summer. After burning, usually done when the ground is slightly damp and wind is low so no one loses a house, the green sprouts are visible a few days later and the animals are driven there to graze on them.

    If the burning is banned (as is often the case) inevitable fires from lightning of a spark from a fire lay waste huge regions as happened around Badplass a decade ago. The fire is very hot and destroys everything.

    Fynbos is a vegetative cover the requires fire to survive. Around Cape Town the protea flowers by the highways are burned individually by road workers so they will bloom. Fire is part of the environment, naturally and eternally. All biomass fires are Carbon neutral, in case you are worried about that, just like stable grassland or a stable forest. The smoke prodices rain somewhere else. Carefully timed fires can induce rain in a drought (a traditional practise of natives in N America and Africa).

    Leaving cattle to eat whatever they like in a large area results inevitably in the growth of everything they do not like, which then takes over, reducing production.

  345. Chuck Nolan says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 4:54 pm
    Francois GM;
    I can’t believe 15 million hectares have been saved from the desert and we have no scientific data to show for it.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Was that his claim?
    Wow.
    At 6000 cars per hectare, he is off setting the co2 from 90 billion cars.
    I’m guessing we have no scientific data for that either….
    ————————————————

    You must have missed it in the first part of the long video where he talks about Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” In less than 2 minutes into his lecture he starts.
    How much reference do you need?

    My guess is he couldn’t stand being out of money after spending it on bullets while CAGW gets all the dough. It looks like biodiversity loss was not enough so he added desertification and climate change. He did what the team did and just changed the name.
    It’s now all called Environmental Malfunction.
    Don’t tell Mann or we’ll have Climate Disruption causing cows to stop grazing…with proof.
    He’ll get his money without our help because he tipped his hat to Al Gore and CAGW.
    cn

  346. johanna says:

    Geoff Sherrington, well said.

    Just like some fool above claimed that this was as important as the contribution of Norman Borlaug, the notion that the application of science to farming is ‘going against Nature’ and doomed to eventual failure is hippie nonsense promulgated by the well-fed.

    As for goats, they are the cockroaches of the mammalian world, along with rats. They serve a useful purpose, but anyone who knows anything about them know that in a confined or low-food area, they have a scorched-earth eating policy.

    My old man used to keep one on a long chain when he owned acres. He would tie it up anywhere that noxious weeds were becoming a problem. After a week or two, the ground was suitable for reseeding or replanting. Not a blade or leaf or root was left.

  347. janama says:

    With regard to soil tillage Peter Andrews, a leading Australian Horse Trainer and soil conservationist and author of “Back from the Brink” , says a good horse paddock should never be plowed and should contain 85 different plant species.
    During WWII in the UK horse breeders stood by their gates with guns to stop the authorities from plowing up their horse paddocks to raise food, it was that precious to them.

  348. Chuck Nolan says:

    geran says:
    March 9, 2013 at 7:48 pm
    Christoph Dollis says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:16
    (…..)

    There’s more to it than just any personal appeal he might have. And no, his killing 40,000 elephants, in error, doesn’t impress me. His owning up to it does.
    ——–

    Sadly, there is nothing a false messiah can do to alienate his followers….
    ————————————–
    He had to admit it before he could start on his new venture.
    You know he would have been caught and the greenies would never let it slide.
    But forgiveness, sure it’s easy as long as you hate CO2, okay.
    cn

  349. Ranger Joe says:

    NASA did a radar scan of the Sahara from the Shuttle and they found direct evidence that it was once a lush wet grassland…that there was a Great Lakes worth of fresh water beneath the surface that bubbled up here and there into lush oases. The last remnants of what once was. Further research determined that the cause was a drastic climate change; that the Monsoon rain belt drastically shifted away and withdrew it’s blessings. Within a short couple of years desertification set in. The native populace relocated to the lush fertile Nile Valley and founded the Egyptian Civilization. This was all chronicled on the excellent History Channel documentray ‘How the Earth Was Made’.

  350. Here is a counterpoint:

    http://www.mikehudak.com/Videos/SteveGallizioli2.html

    Like everyone else, I found the talk impressive. But we are skeptics. What is the real deal here?

  351. Bill Illis says:

    Cheap steak and hamburgers.

    Less desert.

    Happy cows (if you’ve ever seen them moved to a new pasture, you’ll know what I mean).

    Its all good in my opinion.

    “Before and afters” is all one needs to prove the point. We’ve seen the “before and afters” of most other methods and they don’t work. This method seems to.

    If something works, you stick with it. If it works 19 times out of 20, you really stick with it. It if doesn’t work, you should try something else. Sometimes, things that seem like they should work in theory, just don’t in reality (like climate theory). The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again (especially when it didn’t work the first 100 times you tried it even though it seemed like it should at the beginning). Simple philosophy to guide most things in life that works really well 19 times out of 20. (This site has made me redo everything in math terms; another philosophy that works really well since numbers are truth, 19 times out of 20).

  352. markx says:

    devijvers says:
    March 10, 2013 at 2:47 am
    ….degraded soil handles a rain shower vs healthy soil you have to watch this: http://vimeo.com/52283742 (one minute).

    Frankly, I’ve been telling for years that desertification is the most important cause of global warming. Hopefully this video will do some good….

    Great little video on minimum (zero?) till farming!

    And everyone else here seems to have missed the last point you made above which was very carefully stated by Dr Allan Savory:

    That a big part of the temperature rise we are seeing is likely due to desertification. Really, it would be hard to argue that this could not be the case.

  353. elmer says:

    I think this will get traction in the warmists community because he pays homage to their global warming gods, but then goes on to point out a real manmade problem that needs attention.

  354. Dr. Phil Hartman says:

    Notice he didn’t answer the hosts question at the end.

    Quack.

  355. phlogiston says:

    This article makes a lot of common sense, which is why it will without fail offend vested interest and self-appointed experts.

    Dobzhansky said, correctly, that nothing in biology makes any sense except in the light of evolution.

    Most earth land ecosystem including forest and arid / semi-arid ecosystems evolved in the presence of large numbers of grazing animals, first Carboniferous-Permian giant reptilian pigs, then sauropods, finally mammals and birds. It is important to recognise that ecosystems evolve as a connected whole. So the plants have evolved around the activities of animals in grazing and dropping manure and churning the soil. This has shaped their anatomy and physiology.

    Spread of human civilisation has disrupted the continuity of pristine wilderness areas and decimated the numbers of wild grazing animals. Land stripped of these animals represents an ecosystem where one of its primary components, with which it together evolved and functioned for hundreds of millions of years – has beed removed. Then it is not surprising that disbalance should lead to desertification.

    If animals reared for agriculture – huge herds of various Laurasiatheres such as cattle, sheep, horses even ostriches, can take the place of the prehistoric herds, then it makes sense that the ecosystems should return to something closer to normality.

    Brazilians have the right idea. They raise millions of cattle and eating beef and other types of meat is central to their culture. I strongly recommend to anyone having the chance to eat at a Brazilian barbeque restaurant. I go to Brazil about once a year on business, and always enjoy these reseaurants where waiters continually come round the tables offering all kinds of different meat cuts, throughout the meal. One is given a big wooden thing looking like an egg timer with a red end and a green end, if you are still up for more carnivory then you place it with the green end up, when you have had enough you upend it so the red end is up, the waiters will recognise this signal and leave you alone.

    Also – if you haven’t done it before – try a steak rare or medium-rare instead of medium or well done. You get the real taste of the meat much better this way.

  356. nikki says:

    “Beef, its what’s for climate”

    In London:
    Custemer: “Is this beef?”
    Butcher: “Ofhorse!”

    In Reykjavik
    - Beef?
    - No beef.
    - Em,… Horse?
    - No horse.
    - Eeeem,… chicken?
    - No chicken.

  357. Bugs Man says:

    Anthony,

    Grit + poo + piss + rain + solar + microbes = sustainable life. Works for me.

    My degree is in biomedical science, majoring in microbiology. All of a sudden I feel more qualified than Mann, Gore et al to put forth contrary opinions on CO2 = AGW. Definitely a “lightbulb moment” for me.

    Thanks for posting this. I am disappointed with myself for not being aware of Allan Savory or his work before today, and he’s been working for decades! Maybe, through WUWT, his voice just became louder. Also it’s a real eye-opener: that climate change could, after all, be human induced. Crikey! I suppose that makes this CO2=AGW sceptic open-minded after all.
    —————————

    To all those that criticise Savory for using “Carbon” instead of “carbon dioxide/CO2″ consider that he is adressing an audience that has been fed “carbon footprints” and “carbon neutral” by the MSM and eco-friendly advertisers. He is simply using an accepted catchphrase. Effective communication = understand your audience. Use lowest common denominator words = message received.
    —————————-

    Personally, as a Brit that once lived in the same part of the world as Allan’s African test sites, I find his matter-of-fact presentation style rather nostalgic, and somewhat reassuring. Loud does not mean correct.

    Allan – stiff upper lip, chin-chin and bottoms up old boy!

  358. Ron Richey says:

    Great info Geoff Sherrington (3:19am post)
    Saved it to my “best of” file.
    RR

  359. Skeptical genius says:

    Can we please get back to science…. Jeez.

    http://www.srmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.2111/06-159R.1

  360. adrien says:

    I’would be happy if it were true, but searching for his name on Google Scholar I found that he developped his ideas at the end of the 80′s – beginning of the 90′s. If other scientists had been able to reproduce what he says he did, since this time it would have changed the face of the world. Wikipedia (ok, it’s Wikipedia, but nonetheless) says sadly: “Land management researchers have heavily criticized the concepts of holistic management because experiments conducted on grazed land in many different places in the last few decades have failed to find any scientific support for their validity.[5] Virtually no active academic rangeland ecology researchers have come forward to espouse holistic management principles”.

    So we should remain sceptic.

  361. Arno Arrak says:

    Looked at Savory – really worthwhile. He certainly has “an idea worth spreading” as the TED people say. That made me look up some of their other presentations and I did not think they were all of the same quality. Some were actually annoying. Their operation has become international and their website recently reported reaching a billion hits. They get eight or nine hundred people to attend their conferences, at 4,000 dollars each. Now they also give prizes and Bill Clinton got one. Prize is worth 1 million dollars. I also had an idea worth spreading and published it. Had I known about the prize I would have submitted it to them too but instead I gave you a chance to put it up. You refused it because you are a lukewarmist and still believe that there must be something to that greenhouse effect. I assure you that the greenhouse effect is dead thanks to Ferenc Miskolczi’s work. You are not the only one trying to tear down my article. I gave a copy to Donald Rapp and immediately he took umbrage at a sentemce in my abstract. What he said was that “… It may well be that there was a ‘relatively sudden rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system at the turn of the century that directed warm currents into the Arctic Ocean’ but you have utterly no proof of this assertion.” I did have references to back it up and I also had a copy of his book. In it he quoted Scholaski saying that “The branch of the North Atlantic current which enters it by way of the edge of the continental shelf round Spitsbergen has evidently been increasing in volume, and has introduced a body of warm water so great, that the surface layer of cold water which was 200 meters thick in Nansen’s time, has now been reduced to less than 100 meters in thickness.” I told him to read his own book, page 130, and then apologize, and have not heard from him since. It is amazing the egos these guys have, on both sides of the climate debate. Now you have built up a reputation for your site but likewise are misdirecting your efforts because you do not understand my science. Not your fault, because you are not a scientist. My views derive entirely from science, regardless of people’s opinions.

  362. John Tillman says:

    Gary Pearse says at 11:33 am (March 9) :

    “…we even forgot that the world was round – well known to scholars 2500 years ago – still Columbus deserves our respect for rediscovering it).”

    That learned Europeans in 1492 thought the world is flat is a myth invented by story-teller Washington Irving, author of Rip van Winkle & the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Least of all would sailors & Church scholars have supposed such an obviously false belief. The Earth’s shadow on the Moon when entering & leaving a lunar eclipse is always rounded, regardless of point of view. A ship’s mast appears over the horizon before its hull, which parts would both be visible at the same time in Flatland. Ditto churches & their spires viewed from a ship approaching land. By 1492, the Portuguese had already sailed a farther distance south than Columbus proposed sailing west. The Portuguese had crossed the equator, so sailors knew that constellations changed in the Southern Hemisphere, which again would not be the case on a flat Earth.

    So, not only Columbus but his fellow mariners, the savants advising Ferdinand & Isabella & the king & queen themselves knew the world was spherical, as had sailors, scholars & monarchs for centuries, even during the so-called Dark Ages, as shown by the works, among others, of a Visigothic king & the Venerable Bede.

    There was a brief period in the early Church when some of its Fathers interpreted the Bible literally, so argued for flatness, but by the time of Augustine (c. 400 AD), Church doctrine adopted ancient science, with a globular but immobile Earth. The elaborate Medieval Christian cosmos was entirely spherical, with Earth resting at (or near) its center, based upon Ptolemy’s 2nd century AD refinement of the Aristotelian universe (itself derived from predecessors as early as 600 BC).

    The issue for Columbus & the Spanish crown was the size of the Earth, not its shape. For his proposal to succeed, the ocean between Europe & Asia had to be small enough to be crossed with ships of the day. Isabella’s experts’ estimation of the size of the Earth was roughly correct, so they naturally advised against financing a scheme to reach the (East) Indies by sailing west into the Ocean Sea. Columbus argued Earth was smaller & that Asia extended farther east than it actually does. He was wrong, but two other big continents happen to occupy the position where he expected Asia.

    In the next century, Copernicus proposed that the Earth goes around the sun yearly, turns daily on its axis & wobbles in a 26,000-year cycle. He was in college in 1492.

    Apologize for going on at such length off-topic.

  363. Bertram Felden says:

    A Greenpeace spokesman said today “Savory is an oil company shill. He is part of a conspiracy to distract humanity from the only viable solution that is the deindustrialisation of the western economies through the destruction of democracy and their energy infrastructure. Only by forcing the west back into subsistence farming can the ecosphere be optimised for the other species on the planet, which, of course, have been here a lot longer than humanity and deserve to get their planet back’.

    [I assume there's a missing /sarc tag - mod]

  364. Dennis says:

    .

    [Is that a dot.com or a dot.gone ? Mod]

  365. Gorgi says:

    Fake.

    [were you referring to yourself? - mod]

  366. phlogiston says:

    Natural climate change itself is re-greeneing some Sahara regions. The livestock will follow.

    Dont shoot goats – shoot vegetarians!

  367. Dennis says:

    “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?” – Maurice Strong, founder of the UN Environment Programme.
    Loonies!

  368. Pat Moffitt says:

    Dr. Savoy sees cattle as the control knob dialing in grassland or desert. Complex self- organizing systems are not controlled by a single variable following a simple algorithm. CO2 is one of hundreds of poorly understand variables influencing the complexities of climate and cattle is one element of hundreds determining the type and fate of grassland ecosystems.
    Most troubling is Dr. Savoy’s dismissal of fire. True prairies do not exist in any earlier interglacial- they are arguably a construct of man and his use of fire.
    Perhaps because Dr. Savoy’s projects are relatively new he has not considered how soil acidification will be stopped given the continuing addition of organic material. (Fire ash has a pH of between 12-13) His video did not address the all important soil formation processes that are simply not controlled by cattle. It will be interesting to see how long his restored grassland will continue in the absence of fire.
    Fire also selects for the type of vegetation and prevents invasion by shrubs and later trees. Fire has a role in removing plant litter that can suffocate vegetation and prevent seed germination. Fire also removes the build up of allelopathic substances (herbicides produced by plants to kill other plants). Nitrogen mineralization as an example is inhibited by the formation of organic N and tannin complexes- fire destroys the tannins.
    Fire is also essential to nutrient cycling and soil formation. Fire produces the alkaline pH necessary to foster nitrogen fixation and mobilizes phosphorus. If the soil pH falls much below a pH 7- nitrogen fixation ceases.
    Dr. Savoy is correct about oxidation of plant material being problematic to grassland development but I’m not sure he appreciates the important nuances as fire also promotes soil water logging and thus moisture. (wet soils produce higher CN content compared to well drained soils- but while important beyond this note’s intent)
    Nitrogen fixation requires anoxic or anaerobic conditions. These conditions are certainly fostered by cattle pounding down grasses that under anoxic condition become the substrate for an explosion of nitrogen fixing bacteria. However, it is but one important piece among many important pieces.
    Missing from the discussion of desertification is past crop farming practices that drained the soil (ditching, furrows etc). This fostered the oxidation of which Dr. Savoy is concerned and the eventual destruction of the soil profile and disruption of the nutrient cycle. Too much attention has been focused on overgrazing IMHO and not enough on dewatering effects resulting from crop farming.
    I’ve seen incorrect comments on this site that cattle “turned the soil.” The biological plows necessary to drive the organic and nutrient material into the deeper soil layers (and create the deep rich organic “black earth” underlying the US tall grass prairies) are the work of insect and burrowing mammals. The eastern mound ant as an example was found to have worked in a two year period 13,600kg/ha of soil down to a depth of 160cm. (Point here is that to create a grassland ecosystem we need all the biologicals not just cattle)
    The type of cattle or grazer is also extremely important as it determines the type of grasses or forbs that are selected. You will end up with very different grassland of very different productivity depending on the dominant grazer.
    Complex systems do not conform to simple solutions. (Apologies to Dr. Savoy if he has addressed these matters outside the video)
    Two great papers on US prairie ecosystems and soils here and here

  369. John Tillman says:

    I would second (or third, fourth or fifth) davidmhoffer’s comments on March 9, 2013 at 7:55 AM, except to add that in NE Oregon some of my neighbors still burn their wheat fields intentionally not so much to clear stubble, which is short nowadays, but to get rid of the straw left behind by combines. There is a market for straw & friends of mine have made a great living baling & trucking it to buyers far & wide, but not all farmers are able to sell theirs. Modern high-yielding soft white wheat varieties leave a lot of short straw.

    Another friend of mine tried using goats to eat the straw, but there was not enough of a market for their meat. He & many of my neighbors rotationally pasture cattle (with movable electric fencing & similar in theory to the New Zealand system) in the stubble to eat the volunteer shoots in the fall in fields that will be disced later to be summer fallowed or seeded, depending upon the rotation, or to be left trashy if no-tilled.

    So, dryland ranchers here on the semi-arid wheat plateau of Eastern Oregon & in the Blue Mountains above it (also in the Palouse Country of WA) have engaged in all or most of the practices advocated by Dr. Savory for decades (arguably since the 1860s), & others he doesn’t but which are successful in our environment. However the Columbia Plateau is a native bunchgrass prairie, blessed with deep loess soil, gift of the glaciers. Our unirrigated timber, crop & pasture lands get 12 to 18 inches of precipitation per year (up to 34″ in the mountains, mostly as snow), not the fewer than five average of the Sahara & eight to 24″ for the Sahel (rainfall varies on the mostly high plateau of Zimbabwe, but averages IIRC around 34″). Similar practices are possible on the arid Columbia Basin (8″ precip), in combination with center-pivot & wheel-line irrigation.

    Indians in Western Oregon used fire to maintain the Willamette Valley as grassland rather than the western hemlock forest it would have been in a climax state. When botanist David Douglas (of the eponymous “fir”) first visited the upper valley in 1828, he found the smoke choking. So the grass farmers who burned their fields had history on their side, but environmentalists were still able to stop them.

    Savory is right that public land managers have gone overboard against grazing. (There are few range managers anymore, since grazing is on its way out.) Every year less US Forest Service (Dept. of Ag) & BLM (Dept. of Int) land is leased for grazing, under pressure of “environmentalists” (the same people who love subsidized windmills despite their massacre of birds & bats, but hey, my family, friends & neighbors have made out like gangbusters from those on their land). The BLM now leases for grazing only 155 million of its 245 million acres, while the FS is down to around 80 of 193 million acres, from originally practically all of them.

    I didn’t watch Savory’s longer presentation, so he may have answered some of my concerns, such as compaction. I suppose he proposes grazing on desertified ground only when dry, so even the large herds he advocates wouldn’t compact the soil. Zimbabwe has only about four months of (tropical southern) summer rain, but during the wet season the cattle would have to be pastured or fed hay somewhere. Naturally the steers & barren cows would be slaughtered, but that still leaves a lot bovines for which to care.

    Finally, sometimes culling wild game is the right thing to do. My brother, a Central Oregon stockman, & his wife, a veterinarian, gained a reputation in the “international foot & mouth disease community” (more like a small village) due to their successful importation of a rare (in North America) breed of alpaca from Bolivia. They rinsed their mouths & noses with vinegar whenever leaving the Truman quarantine facility at Key West, which no longer exists.

    The South African government in 1998 invited her to a long seminar on tropical diseases at Kruger NP’s Berg-en-Dal campsite, which then was for staff only & served as a training area for game guards.

    The meeting was attended by several of the principals who eliminated FMD in the Australian Outback by a ten year-long extermination of feral bush bulls. FMD-free status was a big economic boon to Oz & would have been to SA. My brother said it would have been feasible to eradicate FMD & TB in the Cape buffalo population (a zoonotic threat to other game animals & humans). But it would have required shooting the buffs from helicopters with .50 cal door mounts (which he suspected were used for cross-border elephant poaching).

    Kruger had tried game drives in past with a bunch of guys armed with rifles in hopes of getting one district at a time clean of FMD, but it did not work. There actually not all that many buff in SA & extermination as in Australia was possible. They could have been reintroduced from clean herds.

    The Sabi River was a natural barrier for a lot of hoofed stock & that part of Kruger would have been the best place to start. SA did not adopt his pretty radical proposal, but the Aussies loved it.

    Male lions feed on buffs & lionesses on kudu. The buffalo-lion-kudu loop is a human health issue, since TB is one of many diseases we share with animals. It spreads from infected animals via meat, blood & thorns. Acacia thorns are like barbed wire & can infect humans when infected animals are scratched.

    A buffalo he shot years later in Zimbabwae had a lesion that looked a lot like those they saw in Kruger on kudu, so he didn’t eat any of the meat or get involved with butchering that animal.

    FMD is still a problem in SA & even more in Zimbabwe, now that its descent into chaos has hastened. In 2011 Botswana’s FMD-free status was violated by incursions from Zimbabwe.

  370. Matthew R Marler says:

    Calvin Long: There is a net gain in nitrogen. Ruminants have nitrogen fixing bacteria in their stomachs.

    I did not know that. Thanks. All the better.

  371. Matthew R Marler says:

    davidmhuffer: 1. A maximum is still arrived at at some point.
    2. Prairie fires regularly set the grassland back
    3. The notion that a single hectare of land could sequester the output of 6,000 cars on an on going basis is ludicrous.

    1. that is not known. Experience shows the soil getting thicker year after year.

    2. The accumulated carbon in the soil is little disturbed.

    3. I agree with you there, but I think it’s irrelevant; his talk would have been better without the claim, but I never made the claim.

  372. Clive Schaupmeyer says:

    Willis and Crispin in Waterloo but actually in Yogyakarta:

    Thanks for your comments. My intent was to question the veracity of “burning one billion ha of grassland annually” (11:08) and Willis you concur. “To start with, there aren’t a billion hectares of grasslands in all of Africa … ” Not questioning burning…just the actual figure used.

    I do not dispute the general concepts of the video because I do not know this subject. I was just questioning the figures which Willis confirms to be incorrect.

    The speaker was most emphatic about this point at 11:08. If the “one billion” is inaccurate then what else is inaccurate? Just sayin’

    Regards

    Clive

  373. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Steven Mosher says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    … Framer braun. The funny thing is in your first comment you did quote willis exactly only later to be instructed in how you should respond. oy vey.

    Steven, I’ve given it a day to let my blood pressure drop down to the triple digits, so let me answer your objection.

    Farmer Braun quoted me in his first comment. Fair enough, well done.

    However, in his second comment he didn’t quote one word. Instead he referred to some vague unspecified “unsubstantiated comment” he said I’d made during my discussion of grazing, viz:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 4:22 pm

    @ Willis
    Fair enough. You were talking about continuous grazing and made an unsubstantiated comment.

    Now I’m not a mind reader. Which comment is he referring to? He gives no hint or clue. I made a number of comments about continuous grazing in my post. Is he talking about his previous quote? Is he thinking about a different comment?

    I have no way of knowing, Steven. And having gotten into trouble when I’ve made assumptions in the past, these days I am more careful to be sure what the other person is referring to.

    So I asked him to point out, by quoting my words, what “unsubstantiated comment” he was talking about. Crazy me, huh?

    However, clearly asking for more information must be either a high crime or a misdemeanor in your book, because at that point you waltz in, Steven, to abuse me for seeking clarification … what, are you seriously claiming it would be better for me to make rash assumptions??

    Sometimes, my friend, the damage you do to your own reputation is substantial. I don’t understand your desire to bark and snap at my ankles, but whatever your reasons, you are doing yourself harm.

    Just sayin’ … you are a very smart man, your science-fu is strong, but your unrelenting, mindless, content-less attacks on me for doing things like seeking clarification before answering are harming you, not me.

    w.

    … Yeah, that’s a more measured response. I’ll learn how to be Canadian yet, Steve McIntyre is my sensei in these matters …

  374. michael hart says:

    ferd berple says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:00 am
    There is a part of the video where he says this emphatically and leaves no room for discussion of the matter.
    ==========
    if you are so certain, why did you not supply the timestamp for that part of the video? Much more likely you have taken one piece of the presentation out of context to support your own narrow agenda.

    It is at 11:50 forwards.

  375. John Tillman says:

    PS: My suspicion is, without having done any actual research, that the frequency & severity of western US forest fires are in part attributable to reduced grazing. Without low-level fires, pine forests don’t regenerate naturally. Decades of fire suppression led to horrific fires once started, due to fuel build up. Then when the USFS begrudgingly let some natural fires burn, they intentionally allowed them to get big, to boost the agency’s budget. And when the Park Service tried setting fires, they no surprise let those burn up beloved Yellowstone.

    The government is usually not your friend, especially when it’s trying to help. The EPA may have helped clean up the environment, but now it has gotten out of congressional control & become a monster, declaring contrary to all real science that CO2 is a pollutant. Brilliant! Now at last breathing can be taxed.

  376. michael hart says:

    johanna says:
    March 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Geoff Sherrington, well said.

    Just like some fool above claimed that this was as important as the contribution of Norman Borlaug, the notion that the application of science to farming is ‘going against Nature’ and doomed to eventual failure is hippie nonsense promulgated by the well-fed.

    As for goats, they are the cockroaches of the mammalian world, along with rats. They serve a useful purpose, but anyone who knows anything about them know that in a confined or low-food area, they have a scorched-earth eating policy.

    My old man used to keep one on a long chain when he owned acres. He would tie it up anywhere that noxious weeds were becoming a problem. After a week or two, the ground was suitable for reseeding or replanting. Not a blade or leaf or root was left.

    People should try this approach in the UK for the otherwise invincible Japanese Knotweed!

  377. John Whitman says:

    johanna on March 10, 2013 at 3:11 am

    johanna on March 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    - – - – - – - –

    johanna,

    I read all the ~370 comments.

    You seemed to have a very clearheaded critical perspective and sufficiently skeptical view on the ideas presented in the TED talk by Dr. Allan Savory in Los Angeles.

    Individual farmers can take or leave his thoughts. The marketplace simply judges and adapts. But I think Savory is not making his pitch to them. I think he is addressing the central planners in governments (the anti-market bureaucracies) and also he is addressing those NGOs whose sole profession is to influence the central planners in enviro areas.

    Individual farmers make individual judgements on ideas like Savory’s. The effects of their errors are limited. Centrally planned errors are the highest risk exposure for civilization; central planning should be replaced by the market. I vote no on adopting Savory’s ideas to any central planning effort.

    John

  378. farmerbraun says:

    Geoff Sherrington says:
    March 10, 2013 at 3:19 am
    farmerbraun says: March 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm “Organic” because it arose from a concern for conservation of soil carbon , or organic matter. If you don’t mind me asking Geoff, what exactly is the problem that you have with that?
    …………………………..
    Don’t play the disingenuous game, please. You now that there is a self-invented definitional difference between normal farming and organic farming that is far deeper than your chosen words suggest. The latter dissuades the use of agricultural chemicals. It is based on ignorance of the chemistry of plant growth. It is an insult to chemical professionalism.
    I’m not going to give oxygen. Just the one example, where in your studiously principled way you say from the tablet of stone “To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.”

    You cannot maintain the fertility of soils when you harvest plant or animal crops and take them off location. There are a dozen or so moderate to trace elements, leaving aside for the moment other than inorganic chemicals, that are depleted each time you take material off the site. One of them will eventually fall below the level need to give growth and the crop will fail. Perhaps one example is potassium. Repeated removal of potassium is not balanced in most cases by the rapid decay of enough bedrock to replace the potassium. Hence, addition of fertilizer in the form of KCl (potash) is commonly a part or normal farming. Another inorganic example would be zinc, another molybdenum. All of these have recorded instances where crops have exhausted the supply; but the soil has recovered after their addition as chemical fertilizers, which is against the Holy Writ of strict organic farming.

    Farmerbraun responds: actually , my working hypothesis was that you don’t know the first thing about sustainable agriculture/ organic farming. Everything that you have written so far tends to confirm my hypothesis. For example , using your paragraph on fertility above , the protocols require annual soil testing to ensure that mineral levels are being maintained and that no depletion is occurring. The principle of Limiting Factors is observed.

    You say : ” . . .addition as chemical fertilizers, which is against the Holy Writ of strict organic farming.”

    In that you are completely wrong; the form of the element may differ (K2SO4 rather than KCl is likely but KCl is used where appropriate). The point is that replacement of depleted minerals is COMPULSORY. In my operation the only element never applied would be potassium, because the base saturation % for K is already high in my soil. I do use Ca, Mg, Na, , S, P, Cu , Zn, Bo , Mn , Fe, Mo , Se , I, Co, to name a few.
    Of course the main element inputs are C, H, O and N all from atmospheric sources.

    I rest my case. But I feel sure that you could produce further erroneous examples which I could point out if you were listening. It is clear that you have formed an opinion in the complete absence of knowledge. Such faith! :-)

    “Maintaining the long term fertility of soils “may be written in stone , so to speak : why do you have a problem with that? Surely it should be a requirement for sustainable agriculture.
    You are tilting at windmills.

  379. davidmhoffer says:

    John Tillman;
    except to add that in NE Oregon some of my neighbors still burn their wheat fields intentionally not so much to clear stubble, which is short nowadays, but to get rid of the straw left behind by combines.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Yeah, there’s always exceptions to the rule driven by local conditions and crop specifics. Flax straw for example takes decades to decompose so incorporating it back into the soil is problematic. Wheat straw is easier, but not in all soil types. If you have a bumper crop with a late harvest you’ll also have challenges that might cause burning to be a more likely choice. Enjoyed the balance of your comment by the way, learned a lot.

  380. farmerbraun says:

    @Willis
    “Which comment is he referring to? He gives no hint or clue. I made a number of comments about continuous grazing in my post. Is he talking about his previous quote? Is he thinking about a different comment?”

    FB says: my fault Willis. Ducking in to post between jobs is not a great idea, but it is what I must do. I’ll get better at this.

  381. farmerbraun says:

    michael hart says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:09 am
    johanna says:
    March 10, 2013 at 5:13 am

    Geoff Sherrington, well said.

    Just like some fool above claimed that this was as important as the contribution of Norman Borlaug, the notion that the application of science to farming is ‘going against Nature’ and doomed to eventual failure is hippie nonsense promulgated by the well-fed.

    As for goats, they are the cockroaches of the mammalian world, along with rats. They serve a useful purpose, but anyone who knows anything about them know that in a confined or low-food area, they have a scorched-earth eating policy.

    FB says; another convincing display of ignorance. Any animal confined in a low -food area has a scorched -earth eating policy. Goats are not special. FB has about 500 goats and finds them very useful agronomically and economically.
    Just one question though . Where do you find these practitioners of sustainable agriculture who insist that the application of science to farming is “going against nature”?

    In the supermarket? In your imagination? In your commune?

  382. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Man, I love this web site. My profound thanks to all of those who have posted thoughtful, insightful, and usually experience-based comments and criticisms.

    Clive, you say:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

    … I was just questioning the figures which Willis confirms to be incorrect.

    The speaker was most emphatic about this point at 11:08. If the “one billion” is inaccurate then what else is inaccurate? Just sayin’

    Yeah, I was sorry to find that out, because while “False in one, false in all” is not true, once you see an error that large then you have to check every number the guy pulls out.

    It’s fascinating not to have seen the video, and instead to see it through the eyes of of the commenters. It sounds like he’s on the right track (a mix of animals and plants and insects are necessary to bring damaged soil back to life) but prone to exaggeration and oversimplification.

    These kinds of solutions tend to be very site-specific. A healthy ecosystem often falls prey to the “cake problem”, where one missing ingredient can stop the whole process. Often, it’s not obvious what might be missing, or what the unexpected long-term effects of a change might look like. It is by no means a simple challenge.

    It also sounds like he wants to take credit for a basic concept that farmers have used since forever. This is the idea that all the different parts of the farm both feed and affect each other. I’ve read about Chinese farmers who raise mink next to their duck and fish pond. The excrement from the mink and the ducks fertilizes the pond, providing food for the plants that feed the fish and ducks … and the mink eat the guts of the ducks and the fish.

    These are the kinds of inter-relationships and linked physical effects that human farmers have fostered since time immemorial.

    Where he has the most impact, from the comments, is in his insistence that animals are an essential part of a healthy farm ecosystem.

    Again, my thanks to the commenters, keep’m coming, always more for me to learn.

    w.

  383. davidmhoffer says:

    Matthew L Marler;
    1. that is not known. Experience shows the soil getting thicker year after year.

    I refer you to the very well informed comments by farmerbraun
    farmerbraun says:
    March 9, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    2. The accumulated carbon in the soil is little disturbed.

    Which doesn’t change the fact that in the scenario you propose, the bulk of co2 sequestered is released again. The amount accumulated in the soil in any given year is by comparison inconsequential

    3. I agree with you there, but I think it’s irrelevant; his talk would have been better without the claim, but I never made the claim.

    When someone uses complete nonsense to hype their facts, one can only wonder why they felt their position could not be substantiated with facts alone. In this case he didn’t even provide rainfall records to show that his before and after pictures were not the result of a change in local climate rather than his efforts. Odd that he would leave out such important information while going out of his way to hype information that doesn’t hold up to even the briefest scrutiny.

    And once again, I’m not disagreeing with his techniques. I’m just pointing out that they aren’t his, they aren’t new, and had he done any research into dry land crop practices all over the world in the first place he wouldn’t have made such an incredibly stupid error. But well presented plagiarism seems to be OK at TED so he gets a standing ovation. Pffffft.

  384. Willis Eschenbach says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:44 am

    @Willis
    “Which comment is he referring to? He gives no hint or clue. I made a number of comments about continuous grazing in my post. Is he talking about his previous quote? Is he thinking about a different comment?”

    FB says: my fault Willis. Ducking in to post between jobs is not a great idea, but it is what I must do. I’ll get better at this.

    No fault, FB, I post in the same manner. I was just bugged by Mosher’s incessant hammering on me, it gets old.

    w.

  385. farmerbraun says:

    ” not so much to clear stubble, which is short nowadays, but to get rid of the straw left behind by combines.”

    Where annual monoculture is the practice , the burning is usually to prevent the build-up of pathogens where the soil cannot digest the crop aftermath.
    Where crop rotation is practised , the problem is lessened or eliminated.

  386. indegar says:

    Unfortunately, this bridge was burned years ago. The dire CAGW meme that CO2 emissions must be stopped at all costs is overruled by an earlier, more comprehensive meme that humans can do no good vis-à-vis Nature. Attempts to “improve” Nature with intelligent grazing practices or timely thinning of forests are strictly forbidden according to Orthodox Environmentalism. Other posters have coined the terms “post-truth” (crafted messaging and endless re-branding instead of straight talk) and “post-science” (using science factoids to support an agenda, rather than using science to understand reality) to describe what we’re up against. Truth and science have become malleable concepts to be enlisted in the Noble Cause, so simply making a clear and rational argument, or even demonstrating obvious benefits in practice on the land, isn’t going to cut it.

    It doesn’t matter that the officially sanctioned solution for the manufactured CAGW crisis is all about extreme pain and expense for humanity – that’s a feature, not a bug. At the same time, the most effective and painless solution for addressing real ecological problems, including real human-caused climate change, is the millennia-long tradition of exemplary and conscious land stewardship. Aside from token gestures on small parcels with a heavy topping of happy talk about sustainability, any significant, landscape-level ecosystem management is fought tooth and nail via the courts and media. If it ain’t wilderness, it’s broke – there’s no middle ground for these folks.

    So it remains an uphill battle. Enlightened ranchers know that they are grass farmers first, and will evolve rapidly as this research becomes more widely known. Grazing management feedback is measured in months and years. But forest management feedback runs decades to centuries. U.S. National Forests have been in lockdown mode for over 20 years, so the overcrowding due to non-management is just getting to the point of collapse. Expect to see massive loss due to wildfire and insects over the next 20 years, of course blamed exclusively on CAGW. I peg the year 2030 as the point of inflection when 40 million acres of unnecessarily wasted trees triggers the Alan Savory 40,000 elephant death “Aha” moment, and we can begin to restore sanity to our public forest lands.

  387. Steve Oregon says:

    Willis,
    I echo your appreciation for this web site.

    However, this particular thread has staggered me a bit with the warmth of concern for our planet earth.

    Perhaps the name may have to be changed to WGWT?
    WattsGreenWithThat :)

  388. Pat Moffitt says:

    Calvin Long,
    What percentage of cattle nitrogen are you ascribing to gut N fixation?
    Mature cattle excrete about 70kg of nitrogen per year per head. (A lactating cow about 150kg) Most of this is in the urine. We need again to look at the larger processes to see what nitrogen is being retained in the system and what is lost. Urine patches as shown by a study by Stout (1997) are not like evenly spread like applied manure and oversaturate an area allowing mobilization of N and transfer to groundwater (lost from system). (Winter grazing triples this effect)
    Nitrogen fixation in water logged soils and 1% straw produces N fixation rates up to 150/kg/ha and 500-1000kg/ha when straw increases to 5 to 20%. Adding manure to the equation can bump fixation rates to over 1300kg/ha. (Stewart 1969) Its easy to see that the real injection of new nitrogen into the system is from soil N fixation.

    The fire, cattle and waterlogged soils of the unplowed US tall grass prairies in combination with other variables produced soil nitrogen levels that were so high that corn was grown without fertilizer till the 1920s. Wheat was unable to grow in freshly plowed prairie soils- ofter requiring decades for the excessive nitrogen and SOC levels to fall low enough for wheat to survive. (Welch 1979)
    So great was the soil N fixation rate that nitrate salts were common on the surface of prairie soils and nitrate licks and vegetation N actually killed many early Corn Belt domestic cattle.

    The nitrate buildup is what made prairie fire so feared by early settlers. An investigation by Mayo(1895) found that cornstalks contained 18.8% pottasium nitrate by dry weight! Mayo wrote,
    “Upon splitting a corn stalk, the crystals in the pith of the stalk could easily be seen with the unaided eye…. On lighting a bit of stalk with a match, it would deflagrate, burning rapidly like the fuse of a fire cracker.” Its why one person stayed awake at all times on the early prairies.

    Nitrogen fixation (KNO3) and fire were positive feedbacks. It did not take much to burn the prairies. Burning fueled N-fixation- N fixation fueled burning. We are talking annual acreages of prairie burning the size of several midwestern states. (Why EPA’s PM2.5 air quality reference condition is rediculous)

    Some of the virgin midwest black loam soil have nearly 1500kgN/ha in the top 40 inches. A grassland system loses nitrogen to runoff, groundwater and air(ash), recylces nitrogen, sequesters nitrogen through various soil and vegetative processes and creates new bio-available nitrogen. Each step there are multiple variables controlling whether nitrogen is being lost or accumulated within or from the system by porcesses we are just coming to understand. (And each of the many variables also influence whether soil organic carbon increases or decreases.) And even when or if we understand them the chaotic complexity/intial condition will limit our able to predict with precision. (Not implying knowledge cannot usefully inform mangament or decision)
    Two essential papers on the subject of US grassland dynamics were written by Ed Krug- who felt the full wrath of the environmental movement for having the audacity to claim that soil processes and fire suppression were equal to or more important than acid rain. (The environmental narrative on acid rain has constrained our understanding and caused a host of mangement probems but that is another subject). Krug’s papers:
    http://webh2o.sws.uiuc.edu/pubdoc/CR/ISWSCR2003-02.pdf
    http://www.isws.illinois.edu/pubdoc/CR/ISWSCR2000-08.pdf
    A very good paper on the keystone role of bison on the tall grass prairie:
    http://www.konza.ksu.edu/keep/main/Knapp_Bison_99%5B1%5D.pdf

  389. davidgmills says:

    A billion hectacre burn might be possible with the same acreage burned multiple times a year.

  390. Talking from south London on a US website.

    Tonight and last week on the British version of Top Gear car show Clarkson May and Hammond are again driving across Africa in very cheap old second hand estate car (not 4x4s).
    Last weeks episode they got stuck in a 24 hour Traffic Jam in Kampala capital of Uganda .Then they visit the old abandoned Terminal building at Entebbe Airport complete with bullet holes from the Israeli commandos Hijack Hostage rescue from many years ago.

    Watching the show you see just how bad the roads in Africa actually are.Unlit unmaintained single lane tarmac to impassable dirt tracks.

    A plan to irrigate the African Deserts to create a natural Carbon Sink and thousand of acres of Farm land needing reservoirs and pumping stations .However you need proper roads and proper communications.
    Improved roads is a benefit .But what crops are you going to grow .The WTO and the EU puts massive inport tarriffs on African Food exports .Africa’s biggest Agriculture export is Cut Flowers.

    At present the African main economy is based purely on mining oil Gas and tourism.Its people suffering the highest rates of Poverty and civil war.

    Every Industrial revolution has always been followed by an Agricultural revolution.Britain in the 19 century farmers had suddenly got steam Railways and Canals to take their produce to market.The previously far eastern backward countries with peasant farming transformed themselves into the G20 Tiger Economies..
    Similarly just as in the western world their farmers too have proper roads.

    You have to massively industrialize Manufacturing before you can industrialize agriculture .

    Invest in communications to create manufacturing industry is best way to help Africa and lift the continent out of Poverty.China Singapore Vietnam Thailand India Brazil Malayzia .Not long ago they were considered primitive feudal societies.Now we refer to them as Tiger Economies.

    Maybe one day we might refer to emerging Hi Tech Enterprising Manufacturing based African nations as “Lion Economies”

    Top Gear can go another road trip across Africa on Proper Roads.

  391. John Tillman says:

    FB: Goats have this reputation because they are browsers, IMO. They eat enthusiastically vegetation, like blackberry vines, which would be a last resort for grazers.

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:40 am

    “Enjoyed your comments…”

    Thanks for the kind words regarding such a long post. I edited out comments on integrating wildlife into ranching, for example the effects of coyotes (& domestic & feral dogs), deer & elk (& introduced pheasants). Deer spread morning glory seeds, which weed is nearly impossible to eradicate now that Tordon is banned.

    Indegar: You’re sadly right about forest fires’ being blamed on CAGW instead of mismanagement. The Udall cousin senators from CO & NM are leaders in that chorus.

    Whatever anyone thinks of Savory’s presentation, I’m glad Anthony made it sticky, since the topic has provoked worthwhile heated discussion & produced some light of information.

  392. atheok says:

    “Steve (Paris) says: March 10, 2013 at 3:27 am
    Picked up on this org from a comment on another thread. Seems very pertinent on this one.
    http://www.heifer.org/ourwork/success/africa/florence-yotamus-testimony

    From the link provided by Steve; “…On rented land, Flo (as she is commonly known), could not produce enough grain to last the family the whole year. “Our peak production would be 11 x 50 kg bags and I would even commend myself for the harvest,” she says. “My family survived like that until Heifer International introduced draft animals and training.”…”

    No relation to the ideas in Savory’s presentation. Draft animals are animals hitched to equipment and yes, animal power can till much more land than a single person with a hoe.

    I don’t know. Savory’s suggestions are basic farming common sense and practices in use for millennia. So there is nothing wrong with the basic suggestions. I take issue with his rather imaginative exaggerated narratives on why, but not basic rotational farming practice.

    Without water, this practice will not perform miracles! Before all of you lovely believers in Savory’s desert rescues I strongly suggest that you purchase some of those “overgrazed” properties and then rescue it using Savory’s techniques… That would provide some proof to us miracle desert rescue doubters.

    “Geoff Sherrington says: March 10, 2013 at 3:19 am

    …You cannot maintain the fertility of soils when you harvest plant or animal crops and take them off location. There are a dozen or so moderate to trace elements, leaving aside for the moment other than inorganic chemicals, that are depleted each time you take material off the site…”

    Excellent statement of reality Geoff! Thank you for adding this post.

    “Pat Moffitt says: March 10, 2013 at 9:44 am …”

    Also great stuff about the reality of soils. Though I can’t quite agree fully with your statement that prairies only exist because of man. In the United States Prairies man certainly abetted or better phrased as managing prairies by natives using fire. Prairie fire use was also a method of harvesting small game in quantity by the natives. I am not as positive there is evidence for man maintaining the prairies of Asia, Canada and lower South America. I don’t flatly disagree, I’m just not convinced.

    One of the ways to spot signs of people out in the American west is to look for trees. Trees are frequently the mark of man’s settlement in formerly treeless areas.

  393. Richard deSousa says:

    I saw the shorter version of Dr. Allan Savory TED talk (22 + minutes long) and I’m no farmer but it seems to make sense. If what he says is true, this would be a boon for the parts of the world where desertification has occurred. We need more arable land to feed a growing population. With a possible climate minimum in the future the more temperate parts of the world would have be the bread basket of the world.

  394. John Tillman says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Re: crop rotation, pathogens & burning.

    In my region, we’re pretty limited as to dryland rotation. The basic rotation is alternating years of summer fallow & winter (soft white) wheat, because two years of rain are needed to make a crop (spring barley is also possible, but doesn’t pay as well). Peas can be grown instead of summer fallow, because they use only the moisture close to the surface, whereas wheat roots grow down farther, & of course legumes fix N, saving a bit on fertilizer. But in a dry year peas can kill your wheat yield & in any case, the canneries (actually freezeries now), such as owned by former OR senator Smith (another Udall cousin), let few contracts these days.

    In wet years, rust can be a threat, which burning does help deter, but to fight pathogens isn’t the main reason in this area.

  395. tmtisfree says:

    A scientist discovering what farmers (me included) practice all year long since ages. It is sad to think that this guy has taken almost his entire life to (re-)discover what every farmer using rotating grasslands to feed livestock is required to know if he want to stay in the business next year.

    Using the climate change meme to push his ‘research’ is disgusting (especially the wrong tirade on fossils fuels) and there is no word to describe my sentiment of him using a public tribune as a kind of redemption for his former and grave errors of judgement.

  396. davidmhoffer says:

    I just had a recollection from my teenage years that is relevant.

    When I was a kid, my Dad rented some pastureland for our cattle to free range on. There was very little water on the land, it had to be hauled. My Dad insisted that the watering station be placed in the center of pasture. That kinda p*ssed me off because the person who had to haul the water was me, and driving an extra 2 km over uneven prairie with a 500 gal water tanking sloshing about on the back of the truck wasn’t my idea of a good time. So of course I wanted to know why all the way out in the center instead of at the corner where the road came in?

    “So the cattle will graze in a circle.”

    At the time I had no idea what he meant. But it became evident over time. The cattle would fan out and graze, then go for water. They’d generally tend toward the longest grass on the way back from the watering station, so would move in a circle around it. The shortest grass was always behind them, the longest always in front of them, and they would chase the long grass around in a circle over the course of the summer. Had the watering station been in one corner of the pasture, they would have constantly returned to that end, and on the way back, would have stopped at the first grass long enough to easily graze. So the area close to the watering hole would have been over grazed while the far end of the pasture would have been untouched.

    Of course events like storms or invasion by a coyote pack or other disruptions would interrupt the pattern. But in general, just simply putting that watering station in the center of the pasture insured grazing rotation without much additional effort.

  397. wayne says:

    So environmentalists are capable of admitting they are many times totally wrong, even if it is just one. Never thought I would see the day. ;)

    Very, very, good catch Anthony. This video needs to be spread far and wide for all to see, our future does depend on it.

  398. atheok says:

    “John Tillman says: March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am

    FB: Goats have this reputation because they are browsers, IMO. They eat enthusiastically vegetation, like blackberry vines, which would be a last resort for grazers…”

    So will pigs if you give them a chance. I’ve even seen pigs eat the tender stems of thistle. yeah they got thistle thorns in their mouth, they just chewed thistle slower with a funny slant to their jaws. Out at an Aunt’s place in California, I watched her pigs pull tumbleweed branches through her fence so they could eat the tender (well softer anyway) tips. For anyone unfamiliar with tumbleweed, if you’ve ever backed into a fir, cedar or cypress and gotten those sharp dry leaves down your shirt; they’re similar to mature tumbleweed leaves/seeds green or dry. Given a choice pigs will uproot plants and eat the roots; unable to uproot, they’ll eat what they can get.

    Pigs are walking stomachs. Goats eat anything chewable, pigs eat anything they can swallow.

  399. farmerbraun says:

    @John Tillman

    ‘In wet years, rust can be a threat, which burning does help deter, but to fight pathogens isn’t the main reason in this area.”

    That makes sense. Wheat growers here have to contend with annual precipitation of 40 in. (1000mm). Very conducive to fungal growth, but pathogenic bacteria are also a big concern.
    And of course , without adequate rainfall, you cannot get the biological activity needed to incorporate the straw any way. And the constant cultivation can be very hard on soil structure, further compromising biological activity through loss of pore space.

  400. farmerbraun says:

    John Tillman says:
    March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am
    : Goats have this reputation because they are browsers, IMO. They eat enthusiastically vegetation, like blackberry vines, which would be a last resort for grazers.

    FB: that’s right. Goats like a little bit of everything everyday. Confining them is a great way of getting unhealthy goats. And they do like a bit of crunch in their diet.
    It is surprising how much browsing the grazers (cows and sheep) will do though, given the opportunity. Blackberry leaf and willow bark etc seem to be relished by cows, even in a diverse multi-species sward (which is a rarity in these parts where ryegrass/ white clover is the norm).

  401. Trenton says:

    He has ignored two thirds of the Earth’s surface and only talks about a small proportion of the other third and then ignores all the ice deserts.

  402. Owen Morgan says:

    I’m missing something here: how is the growing of vegetation good, but the production of “carbon” bad, since I presume that he does actually mean carbon dioxide here, rather than carbon, per se?
    I am vaguely prepared to believe that he is on to something here, but not entirely convinced.

    Sheep will eat anything that grows and goats will eat anything left behind. Parts of north Africa were rich arable land in Roman times, only to be stripped bare by goats when Arabic nomads arrived. Why didn’t this theory work then?

    In Ecuador, it was the sheep, introduced by the Spanish, which denuded the vegetation. When I went there, eight years ago, the practice was to encourage alpaca, instead of sheep, as alpaca ate less of the vegetation. They can’t both be right. Eat lots and deposit lots on the landscape (sheep), or eat much less and, presumably, deposit less (alpaca).

  403. Pat Moffitt says:

    atheok says:
    March 10, 2013 at 11:45 am
    “Also great stuff about the reality of soils. Though I can’t quite agree fully with your statement that prairies only exist because of man.”
    My comment was about “true prairies” or tall grass prairies as opposed to the mixed grass and short grass prairies. The tall grass prairies grow on different soils and higher rainfall compared to the other prairie types. We can see the key role of fire in the selection of tall growth prairie as a stable state with the change witnessed in US over the last century as tall grass prairie reverted to forest as a result of fire suppression. True Prairies don’t seem to exist during the previous interglacials at least in the US. Is this proof- no- does it mean it is all fire related- no. My goal was to raise concern with Dr. Savoy’s claim that fire can be removed without consequence and to present additional aspects that must be considerd in addition to the role of grazers.
    “Not being convinced” is a good thing.

  404. I don’t buy a single word of this presentation (except for the fact that 40,000 elephants were killed because of this fool’s conceit). Just about every supposition this guy uses as a basis of his talk is patently false. He starts with lies (“catastrophic global warming,” “carbon,” “saving the planet,” etc.), and he ends with pathetic lies.

    For example, great deserts of Earth are not the result of any human activity, however “unscientific” or “politically incorrect.” The “climate change” that created these deserts (as well as any other “climate change”) was (and is) of cosmic origin — precession of Earth’s axis and other changes in Earth’s orbital position, as well as changes in Solar activity, are main causes of climate changes.

    Other WUWT commentators (particularly, davidmhoffer) already explained, why this guilt-ridden old heel is not to be trusted.

    Surely, if you gather on the patch of desert thousands of cattle that spent a few months on greener pastures or are being fed with the brought-in hay, you can make this particular patch of desert greener for a while. Otherwise, your cattle will die, and your desert will remain a desert.

    The photos this guy is using to illustrate his implausible point look picked and altered; the abuse of color filters is evident.

    Last but not the least — from my first-hand Soviet experience:
    ANY PERSON (ESPECIALLY A WHITE PERSON) WHO KEEPS ANY POSITION OF ANY IMPORTANCE UNDER ZIMBABWEAN REGIME IS UP TO HIS EARS IN CORRUPTION AND LIES BY DEFINITION.

  405. Climate Ace says:

    That is one of the most important posts ever on WUWT?

    Gimme a skeptical break.

    The biggest problem is that it conflates rangelands with deserts thereby confusing the scale of the opportunity to reverse desertification by altering grazing regeimes and and stocking rates. By way of example, cattle are never, ever going to turn the Atacama Desert into grazeable rangelands. Below a certain ratio between precipitation and evaporation rates you get desert.

    Bare ground does not ’cause’ deserts. Climate causes deserts. Australia was once covered by rainforest. It was not cattle that turned a lot of it into desert and rangeland. It was climate.

    If the post had had a core message of ‘Fiddle with climate and you fiddle with deserts’ then I would have been really impressed. Sceptical sites need to focus on the shocking risks we are taking when we fiddle with climate and generate AGW.

    Various climate functinos, including albedo, changes to the water cycle, the role of forests particulates in droplet formation, and the role of wind-blown dust in droplet formation all lead to the conclusion that deserts also help make climate.

    Fiddle with deserts and you fiddle with climate.

    Anthropogenic activities can increase or increase the area of deserts by various interventions including by altering both micro- and macro- climates.

    Natural processes other than climate tend to ensure that deserts are persistent in nature, although not permanently so.

    The key here is the balance between the rate of soil formation and the rate of soil loss. Deserts lose soil faster than they form them, reducing the potential of other vegetation growth variables to reverse desertification.

    ‘Mimicing nature’ in a holistic way can not mean having a human population of 10 billion or 20 billion or 30 billion or wherever optimum human population it is that endless growth advocates think we should be aiming for. Nor does it include hundreds of cities with a population of greater than a million and many with populations of over 10 million. We have gone a long way past being able to survive as a species by ‘mimicing nature’.

    Having kicked Mother Nature in the guts, we are on our own.

    Others have canvassed the various issues relating to the lack of science underpinning Savory’s views so I will not repeat those.

    I note in passing that numerous so-called WUWT skeptical posters have done their usual hagiography and instantly done their ‘Wow!’ thing and ‘Greenies are wicked!’ thing. Grow up, guys. That sort of rubbish adds nothing useful. If you need to vent steam go to Yellowstone.

    BTW, one of the elements that was missed in the well-known benefits of shifting your cattle from one paddock to another is that you can use it to help break, or reduce the impact of, parasite cycles. Many parasites have life cycles that includes passing out of cattle by way of dung, saliva and urine and then cattle picking them up by walking or lying down (eg ticks) or, more commonly, by eating them (numerous stomach worms). The trick is to know the ‘hang time’ available to the parasites when they are lurking in pastures, and to keep stock out. Herd health, herd productivity, reduction of chemical controls of herd parasites, reduction in the number of disease vectors, and profitability, all depend to some extent on moving cattle around at the right times.

    Australian dairy farmers and beef farmers have been using these sorts of insights for years.

    There is nothing new about Savory’s views. They have been one strand of thinking about rangeland grazing regimes and stocking rates for decades. So, remind again why is this one of the most important posts of all time on WUWT?

  406. Kerry McCauley says:

    I can’t help but wonder if the commentators who so severely scrutinize the mouth of Allan Savory are folks who know no persons trapped in the CAGW meme, no folks passively acquiescent to the Big Governmentality with which they have been indoctrinated and propagandized for the past decades, no folks the Savory critics deeply desire and ache to find freedom from those shackles. I’ve found it a positive that “my” side neither imputes nor requires infallibility in those willing to step up to the firing line, take a stand, as opposed to lobbing pot shots from the sidelines or simply voting “present.” Savory’s gentleness, transparency, PC catchphrases, all contribute to a nonthreatening talk that has a chance of breaking through the stupor, the somnolence of those dear ones…it’s a gift I’ll receive with thankfulness and encourage everyone I can think of to view.

    Many thanks to Anthony Watts for the posting. And I’m grateful also for the window into the workings of the Eschenbach screening processes. He does know how to make time work.
    Willis’ 3/16/2012 post SEVEN BUILDING BLOCKS TO FAIRNESS & EQUITY is another I wish all those Big Governmentality folks would ponder, and the comment of Dave Wendt at 12:20 a.m. 3/17/2012 to that writing.

    The globalists keep thinking their one world thoughts; Whittaker Chambers, though thinking world communism inevitable, nevertheless stepped away from it to stand with the projected losers. There is attraction to Oneness, maybe not as the planners envision it, the Agenda 21 folk. Leonard Cohen, visionary poet and songwriter, may have nailed it in “Anthem”, especially the line

    “every heart, EVERY heart to love will come
    but like a refugee”

    I’d sooner show up with rings on my fingers and bells on my toes, as a dancer. The destination makes sense to me as the way, the one and only way, really, for EVERYTHING to be good. Part of traveling that way means being grateful for all the bits and pieces of the puzzle that anyone finds and offers up, to be turned and tried until finally there’s another little edge intact, and we can see a bit more.

    Thanks again for accommodating so many voices, so many bits and pieces, and very large chunks.

  407. Anssi V. says:

    Anthony, Allan Savory is my hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving more publicity to his ideas, and I hope Allan will come to this blog and answer some of the questions himself.

    To Alexander Feht: I have always regarded you as a reasonable and very intelligent guy, but in this case I kindly suggest that you think again. I present you with just one simple point:
    1) Quoting from his wikipedia page (you may contest this but that’s another question): “When Savory made a public statement that if he had been born a black Rhodesian, he would have been a guerilla fighter and although he urged white Rhodesians to understand why he would feel this, Ian Smith denounced him as a traitor”
    2) Others you might want to think again after considering the first one.

    As a more general note, I urge folks to watch the 2009 lecture linked by Anthony, it explains the concept much more thoroughly (though to really grasp it you need the book). In particular it explains the role of holistic thinking – he explains that without it one will experience spectacular successess with equally spectacular failures!

  408. Skeptic Tank says:

    Mario Lento:

    Sounds very hopeful. Will the IPCC endorse this? No. Why? ???

    It threatens to cut the collectivists out of the loop. It could empower local societies.

  409. RockyRoad says:

    Steve Oregon says:
    March 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Willis,
    I echo your appreciation for this web site.

    However, this particular thread has staggered me a bit with the warmth of concern for our planet earth.

    Perhaps the name may have to be changed to WGWT?
    WattsGreenWithThat :)

    I’ve noticed a common thread with “climate scientists” of the CAGW ilk is they place their paycheck/grant money/prestige first, while real environmental concerns are swept under the rug. I have several friends that listen only to Main Stream Media and they have never heard that CO2 was making things grow faster–the benefits of CO2 are ignored as they would defeat their argument about fossil fuels and all the other bunkum. You’ll find that commenters here at WUWT are some of the most considerate, well-meaning bunch. They actually care, as opposed to those who claim to be the only “credentialed caretakers”.

  410. Anssi V. says:

    Oh, regarding C / C2O, I think he’s just toeing the line, trying not to annoy anyone lest that would become distracting to the main message (which is LAND USE). In this context, the amount of, say, the fossil fuels burned, is of little significance.

  411. lowercase fred says:

    The problem I see with this system is the management of it by tribal people in the third world. As one commenter noted there is an absolute requirement of social stability (no raiding militias or bandits) and you will have quite an investment in fencing to say nothing of supplying water to each plot and moving the cattle about.

    All of that says more government control. Good luck with that.

  412. Anssi V. says:

    *C2O->CO2, could as well fix that in the original (previous) message, thanks!

  413. Anssi V. says:

    The whole point (which Allan Savory places his CONSISTENT success on) is a whole new Decision Making framework called Holistic Management. It’s not about government control, it’s simply being more conscious about potentially smart things to do.

  414. Climate Ace says:

    KM

    ‘Savory’s gentleness, transparency, PC catchphrases, all contribute to a nonthreatening talk that has a chance of breaking through the stupor, the somnolence of those dear ones…it’s a gift I’ll receive with thankfulness and encourage everyone I can think of to view.’

    Quite right. This has got nothing to do about communication styles or about personalities. It would not matter whether Savory is a thug or a saint. You seem to think he is some sort of saint. I don’t care, frankly. The question comes down to this: ‘Does he make scientific sense?’

    IMHO, an approach that integrates social, economic and biodiversity thinking is much more likely to work than an approach that simply says, axiomatically, ‘Burning more fossil fuels is good.’ But that does not mean that ALL the elements of Savory’s approach are valid. Nor does it necessarily mean that it would work in ALL circumstances. We have had many a farmer, ex-farmer, poet, or cowboy opinionating on WUWT and then expecting WUWT readers to accept the sometimes absurd generalisations they come up with on the basis of personal experience.

    It is often interesting and entertaining. It might be vaguely useful. It might not.

    But it is not science.

  415. Glad to see this presentation getting wider currency. I wrote a piece about this a while ago (http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/5339/), and have met Savory: he seems utterly genuine to me.

  416. Ian H says:

    CO2 accounting as currently practiced regards cattle as massive GHG producers. Hence the incentives are perversely in the direction of cutting back or eliminating them.

  417. NASA: Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North’s Growing Seasons (March 10, 2013)
    “Vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of ground-based and satellite data sets.”
    “In a paper published Sunday, March 10, in the journal Nature Climate Change, an international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.”
    From http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/10mar_greenhouseshift/

  418. policycritic says:

    Peter Ward says:
    March 9, 2013 at 3:36 am
    Could I just mention something I only learned of earlier this year, and that’s that dust from the Sahara fertilises the Amazon.

    What about the upwelling of CO2 from the ENSO ocean cycle hitting Peru?

  419. policycritic says:

    Watch the second video. Don’t miss it.

  420. Bill Parsons says:

    I’d like to read all comments after I make a few of my own.

    Re:

    James Ard says:
    March 9, 2013 at 9:04 am
    Sometimes you have to couch an argument in terms of what people might listen to to get your underlying point across. I pray that Savory was using the co2/climate change talk to keep his brainwashed audience open to his ideas. In fact, the lecture might never have happened had it not included the climate change part.

    He appears to be just using the global warming meme as an attention grabber; it’s the wrong justification to launch into his solutions to desertification. He is, unfortunately, a CO2 alarmist, using the idea of “a tsunami” of destruction in the same way that other AGW alarmists do – to promote his own special cure-all as a solution to the world’s problems. As advised by the intro, I overlooked the initial hyperbole, and found that I agreed with much that he says about positive effects of grazing on the grasslands. I found many aspects of his presentation surprisingly weak and actually disturbing.

    Savory is unable to answer the moderator’s very reasonable question at the end: how do you re-introduce cattle to land which is barren of every blade of grass in the first place? His answer: we’ve been doing this a long time; and we trebled their growth in the first few years.

    …Well, HOW??

    Savory blames early nomadic herding practices for creating the desertification in the Sahel in the first place, but never explains just how his herding practices are any different. What, exactly does he do, and for how long does he do it?

    What happened to those herds of elephants which (he claims) he was instrumental in decimating? If they were an effective mechanism for “greening” the savannah, rather than just blaming himself, wouldn’t he have done something to see that the elephant was reintroduced in the area?

    Savory says there is “only one” thing that can resolve the problem of desertification. Assuming that trampling of the soil and spreading of dung and urine are what he means, how has he shown that human efforts to do this are insufficient?

    Assuming that what he is presenting is more than just Savory’s special sauce, where is the research by other experts in desertification to back up what he only claims (as Jens says – and I agree with Jens) anecdotally?

    A few of the pictures are impressive – but I would like to see much more.

  421. The Sir Walter Scott says:

    Side trivia on the Alan Savory story;

    One of the arresting slides of African predators used by Alan Savory in the YouTube video (09:15), has a photo credit to the late, great, Bruce Davidson.
    Bruce was a well known Australian agronomist whom also worked in Africa and was most likely known to Alan himself. Bruce is best known for his clinical demolition job on the potentials & economics of the Ord River Irrigation scheme in Northern Australia;
    “The northern myth: A study of the physical and economic limits to agricultural and pastoral development in tropical Australia.”
    http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_Northern_Myth.html?id=2HIEAAAAMAAJ&redir_esc=y
    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2011/09/23/sinking-the-top-end-dams-and-food-bowl-plan/?wpmp_switcher=mobile
    The book title is largely self explanatory. Apart from the purely economic arguements against large scale irrigation in remote areas, one of the chief problems cited, centres on the endemically unsustainable soils of northern Australia. And so, it appears, at least one of Alan Savory’s contempories would counsel caution in applying overly optimistic ‘holistic’ outcomes to one of the worlds major savannas… one that has been grazed continuously by cattle and buffalo for the past 100 years or more.

  422. editstet says:

    Well, EARTH University in Costa Rica is taking him seriously. They’ve even set up programs in Brazil:
    http://www.earth.ac.cr/2012/07/31/modulo-demostrativo-de-pastoreo-racional-intensivo-en-la-finca-pecuaria-integrada/?lang=en

  423. markx says:

    John Tillman says:
    March 10, 2013 at 11:38 am

    now that Tordon is banned.

    Dang! When did that happen? (Disclaimer – I have not speared a tree or chopped brush for 25 years).

  424. John Tillman says:

    PS on Columbia Plateau dry land crop rotation:

    I neglected to mention canola in recent years replacing green or dry peas. And of course with irrigation a variety or other crops can be grown, as diverse as strawberries & bush beans. But raising water to local elevation costs at least as much as buying the land.

    Chris D. says:
    March 9, 2013 at 6:22 am

    “I’m reminded of a paper I read back in the ’70s that was part of an assignment for – of all things – an aesthetics course I was taking in college. It described the interrelationships among the various species of grazing animals that migrated through the Serengeti Plains of Africa. The first species to migrate through were those that fed on the softer tips of the grasses. After that came species that had evolved teeth that equipped them to feed off the thicker stems. And so on. Each subsequent migration benefited from the preceding due to their being able to access the parts of the plants that had been exposed by the last species that went through. Thus, the plants and soil benefited from the selective, but progressive, pruning and fertilization such that the entire ecosphere of the grassland was elegantly balanced around large scale migrations. It was a fascinating read, and was one of my most memorable assignments as an undergrad.”

    The extinct steppe-tundra biome of Eurasia & North America during the Pleistocene glaciations worked like the Serengeti. To a certain extent, the ecosystem of remaining bits of the Indo-Gangetic Plain still does.

    Ice Age horses filled the role of zebras in Africa. They’re non-ruminants who process cellulose in their ceca rather than elaborate stomachs, with cud-chewing in safety after cropping rapidly. Ruminants follow the equines: antelopes, wildebeest or buffalo in Africa & bison, ibex, red deer, Irish “elk” or saiga in Laurasia, with aurochs in more wooded terrain. Wooly mammoth obviously played the African elephant role (or Indian elephant in that subcontinent), with teeth & trunk tips specialized for tundra vegetation, adapted from its ancestral steppe mammoth. The diet of wooly rhino has been controversial, but it now appears to have been primarily a grazer. Africa of course has a grazing rhino & a browser. The “white” rhino gets its name from the Afrikaans word for wide, referring to the shape of its mouth.

    The predators too echoed Africa: lion, leopard & hyena, plus cave bears, brown bears, wolves (v. African hunting dogs & jackals) & sabertooth “cats”. North America had an even more diverse herbivore & carnivore population, including the giant short-faced bears, predators so effective (especially the larger western species) that some have argued that humans were kept out of this continent until they went extinct.

  425. markx says:

    Owen Morgan says: March 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    “…Sheep will eat anything that grows and goats will eat anything left behind. Parts of north Africa were rich arable land in Roman times, only to be stripped bare by goats when Arabic nomads arrived. Why didn’t this theory work then?…”

    It’d probably help to watch the video again and also get some direct information on the topic.

    I got the distinct impression some management might be required: (ie, rotational grazing, for a start…).

  426. farmerbraun says:

    “whole new Decision Making framework called Holistic Management.”

    It is true that this is what Alan Savory is really all about, and the cover of his book presents the various management models in a pictorial form , which makes it clear exactly what he means by holistic resource management, but the idea that this is new , at least to those farmers, of any era (except perhaps the present) with a few decades of experience, will not stand scrutiny.

    In fact FB believes that both of his grandfathers employed exactly the same management model; they were dealing with a complex , semi-chaotic biological system with multiple negative and positive feedback loops, and the task was to keep it on a roughly even keel in the face of constantly changing externalities. How else to manage it , except wholistically?
    That’s farming, and a certain type of busy brain finds it enormously interesting and challenging, and rewarding if you get it right.

  427. markx says:

    Pat Moffitt says: March 10, 2013 at 11:31 am

    “….percentage of cattle nitrogen are you ascribing to gut N fixation?…”

    Very informative post, Pat. Many thanks.

  428. John B., M.D. says:

    For context, I’d recommend watching the “How The Earth Ws Made” episode on the Sahara Desert.

  429. Anssi V. says:
    March 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm
    To Alexander Feht: I have always regarded you as a reasonable and very intelligent guy, but in this case I kindly suggest that you think again. I present you with just one simple point:
    1) Quoting from his wikipedia page (you may contest this but that’s another question): “When Savory made a public statement that if he had been born a black Rhodesian, he would have been a guerilla fighter and although he urged white Rhodesians to understand why he would feel this, Ian Smith denounced him as a traitor”

    And this proves me unreasonable — how? Traitor he is.
    Mugabe is a mass murderer who destroyed his people and his country.

  430. TRM says:

    Maybe we have the perfect place to test his theory. UK.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/09/deer-cull-would-destroy-livelihoods

    We have 1.5 million deer and “scientists believe” we need to cull half. Yes they are talking about killing off 750,000 deer “to protect the countryside from damage caused by herds of animals eating and trampling plants and crops”.

    Here is a great opportunity to test this theory.

  431. indrdev200 says:

    Dear Sir,   Water content on land surface controls our climate. Climate change related points are all linked with water only not gases. So simply develop a net work of water supply system so that every inch of the earth’s surface is kept moist throughout the year. Keep land parts of the earth saturated all the time as used to be in old days. Sea level will be lowered automatically. Nature will do rest of the works by itself. If we want vegetation faster we can do plantation. Plants will help the earth to hold water on and in land. Plants will control evaporation of water as transpiration. Evaporation of water will regularize ‘rain cycle’ and reduce temperature. Rain cycle will keep temperature of our atmosphere within a range constantly. Thus, climate will go back to the time before urbanization, deforestation and desert formation. By maintaining the moisture contents on and in land we can stabilize climate as we desire.           We must stop draining all water to the sea that belongs to land as underground water and snow on mountains and poles. Let water remain in and on land as used to be in old days. Hold water as underground water by draining water on land. Regular rain cycle will add water on mountains and poles as snow besides lowering temperature of our atmosphere. Constant moisture on land will revive rains throughout the year. Sea surface temperature is not hot enough to develop upward air current to lift humid air up for precipitation.  The humid air above the sea surface must move towards heated land to get it lifted up. AS A SOLUTION TO POWER CRISIS: Before discharging water we can tap hydropower as much as we can along a single running water column by installing turbines in series.  Power will be available to pump water anywhere. NATURE has a method of providing UNLIMITED ENERGY, it is up to us to tap it or not as WIND or HYDROPOWER as a single installation. We have the knowhow of the science of the methodology, yet we are not tapping maximum possible hydropower for clean energy to end the power crisis for good, never to face the power crisis again.At present we are tapping minimum hydropower by installing only one turbine at the bottom of a running water column by applying the property of standing still water column that the pressure effect is highest at thatposition; it isa blunder in hydropower engineering.  By applying the property of running water column and series connection; along the same uniform path, flowing water column(river/flood/canal/ piped) can uniformly and independently run any number of turbines installed in series without decreasing their efficiency and the power of the rushing water column. Uniform and uninterrupted kinetic energy is constantly available at every section of the runningwater column because of the constant force of gravity and its effect on a fluid, running water. So each of the turbines installed in series between the intake and discharge points of the running water column can perform uniformly and independently. Thus by applying the property of ‘running water column’ and ‘series connection’ we can tap many times more (out of the available unlimited) hydropower than done at present from the already existing installations, so there is no need of new power projects. Electricity will be terribly cheaper. Thus both the burning problems, CC and power crisis, are solved. CONGRATULATIONS AND THANKS. For details, please click on my name (devbahadurdongol.blogspot.com).

    ________________________________

  432. _Jim says:

    … approximately 12:20 (min:secs) in and he presents his solution … proceeding to watch the balance now …

    .

  433. Climate Ace says:

    Part of Savory’s argument is that excluding grazing by cattle creates new areas of desert. He has various before and after pictures to demonstrate his point of view. He has various experimental plots which demonstrate his point. He argues that we should use cattle to mimic nature, thus reversing desertification. He may be right. If he is right in some circumstances, he is certainly not right in all circumstances.

    No-one has drawn attention to numerous deer-exclusion studies in several (humid) countries, or to kangaroo-exclusions studies (including in semi-arid rangeland areas) in Australia. In relation to kangaroos exclusion studies, these almost invariably lead to lush regrowth, sometimes with the sudden re-appearance of many endangered plant species, improved plant cover, and changes to species composition.

    There are usually between 20 and 30 million kangaroos of harvestable species in Australia at any one time.

    Kangaroos don’t just mimic nature. They keep trying to ‘do’ nature. But their top predators (dingoes) have been exterminated from most of the continent, and (Aborigines) have been driven from large areas of the continent. Added to this the introduction of artificial watering points dotted around the countryside, and the introduction of nutritious grasses for cattle grazing are much appreciated by the kangaroos.

    There is little doubt that grazing by large herds of kangaroos can have significant, landscape scale impacts. By preferential grazing means, and in the absence of population controls, they tend to eliminate some species of plants altogether. Traditionally, kangaroo population control was mostly by way of catastrophic mass mortality in times of prolonged drought. They also develop very heavy parasite loads when overcrowded.

    Kangaroos have also evolved some fairly sophisticated (one in the pouch and one in the womb, ready to go if required) physiological techniques for dealing with Australia’s famous boom and bust climate. Boom and bust, incidentally, is a quintessential element of Australia’s deserts.

    It would be virtually impossible to graze kangaroos rotationally with management intent. They are impossible to muster or drove because they break back to their home territories and, superman-like, they can jump most fences in a single bound. (Qualification: kangaroo behaviour varies with species and also with the conditions in which they find themselves).

    Oh, and we have a wild kangaroo harvesting industry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_industry

  434. John Tillman says:

    Re: Tordon ban.

    It started with a ban on aerial application over federal lands, then for general use in Oregon. Some ranchers continued using it until stocks were exhausted, so couldn’t recall the exact year.

    Appears to have been 1968:

    http://hgt.stparchive.com/Archive/HGT/HGT08011968P06.php

    Now of course the state requires farmers to take & pass a licensed chemical applicator test.

    In Oregon, nobody actually owns any land. The state lets you use it, if you follow the bureaucrats’ orders.

  435. Sparks says:

    TRM says:
    March 10, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Maybe we have the perfect place to test his theory. UK.

    In case you didn’t know, they need to cull the deer before they can chop down the forests, wood for power stations that have recently been converted into “green sustainable” sources of energy.

  436. markx says:

    It is not easy to find much published research supporting Savory’s certainty on the value of his methods (the contribution of desertification to global temperature changes is a separate issue which I have not yet pursued).

    But this is a pretty detailed publication refuting it:
    http://allenpress.com/pdf/i1551-5028-61-1-3.pdf
    Rotational Grazing on Rangelands: Reconciliation of Perception and Experimental Evidence. Briske et al 2008 (Multinational Author list looks to be highly qualified to assess this: see below)

    Plant production was equal or greater in continuous compared to rotational grazing in 87% (20 of 23) of the experiments. Similarly, animal production per head and per area were equal or greater in continuous compared to rotational grazing in 92% (35 of 38) and 84% (27 of 32) of the experiments, respectively. These experimental data demonstrate that a set of potentially effective grazing strategies exist, none of which have unique properties that set one apart from the other in terms of ecological effectiveness. The performance of rangeland grazing strategies are similarly constrained by several ecological variables establishing that differences among them are dependent on the effectiveness of management models, rather than the occurrence of unique ecological phenomena. Continued advocacy for rotational grazing as a superior strategy of grazing on rangelands is founded on perception and anecdotal interpretations, rather than an objective assessment of the vast experimental evidence. We recommend that these evidence-based conclusions be explicitly incorporated into management and policy decisions addressing this predominant land use on rangelands.

    And (this figure… not shown here) and its description make a pretty good case for the problems of this working in dry times;

    Figure 3. Depiction of how infrequent and unpredictable rainfall and corresponding periods of plant growth can minimize the benefits of rest on vegetation responses in rotational grazing systems. Rest periods that coincide with limited plant growth convey minimal benefit to plants so that the impacts of increased grazing pressure during short grazing periods may not be offset during subsequent rest periods. This represents the most plausible ecological explanation for why grazing research has found the redistribution of grazing pressure to be of minimal benefit to vegetation compared to continuous grazing on rangelands.

    Authors are D. D. Briske,1 J. D. Derner,2 J. R. Brown,3 S. D. Fuhlendorf,4 W. R. Teague,5 K. M. Havstad,6 R. L. Gillen,7 A. J. Ash,8 and W. D. Willms9

    1 Professor, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2138, USA; 2 Rangeland Scientist, USDA-ARS High Plains Grasslands Research Station, Cheyenne, WY 82009, USA; 3 Research Scientist, USDA-NRCS Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003, USA; 4 Professor, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078, USA; 5 Professor, Texas A&M University System, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Vernon, TX 76384, USA; 6 Supervisory Scientist, USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 88003-0003, USA; 7 Head, Kansas State University, Western Kansas Agricultural Research Centers, Hays, KS 67601-9228, USA; 8 Program Leader, CSIRO, Sustainable Ecosystems, St. Lucia, Queensland 4067, Australia; and 9Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Lethbridge, AB T1J 4B1, Canada.

  437. Ashby Manson says:

    I’m curious how the BLM land is doing under the herds of wild mustangs. That might be a good reality check for this theory. I’d guess pretty well ’cause the ranchers complain they’re taking good land… Maybe they have cause and effect reversed.

  438. Grey Lensman says:

    Despite the ” Anti” sentiments this is a great post and perhaps to much to comment on in detail.

    My first rule, which applies to many things including “undocumented” natural cures is

    If it works, it works. or as my mother taught me, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    If you refer to Saharan petroglyphs dated to about 10,000 years ago, man has been herding animals for a very long time and the very surprizing thing is that despite tha,t he still seemingly has much to learn.

    Savory has two strikes against himself, one that he killed 40,000 elephants ( how many survive in Sri Lanka and Thailand), and that he uses the discredited Globull warming memes.

    From the responses here I see a continuation of that which afflicts humanity. science finds answers but does not get it to the people that can and do make a difference, the vast mass of poor and uneducated farmers. Its locked in libraries, hidden behind paywalls and a final line of defence, copyright and patent.

    Judging from the raft of excellent comments and science posted above, is it not to much to ask, stop griping, stop complaining, get the info and the action to the people. Use brains to use what works in what environment, it makes sense.

    Lastly do not forget the role of the humble gopher, that beast was the agent that made the American Midwest and Bisons so prolific. The success and performance factor yield increases show, beyond doubt, we can improve yields, improve the environment and make a positive impact on the climate, if the latter is possible.

  439. Grey Lensman says:

    Despite the ” Anti” sentiments this is a great post and perhaps to much to comment on in detail.

    My first rule, which applies to many things including “undocumented” natural cures is

    If it works, it works. or as my mother taught me, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    If you refer to Saharan petroglyphs dated to about 10,000 years ago, man has been herding animals for a very long time and the very surprizing thing is that despite tha,t he still seemingly has much to learn.

    Savory has two strikes against himself, one that he killed 40,000 elephants ( how many survive in Sri Lanka and Thailand), and that he uses the discredited Globull warming memes.

    From the responses here I see a continuation of that which afflicts humanity. science finds answers but does not get it to the people that can and do make a difference, the vast mass of poor and uneducated farmers. Its locked in libraries, hidden behind paywalls and a final line of defence, copyright and patent.

    Judging from the raft of excellent comments and science posted above, is it not to much to ask, stop griping, stop complaining, get the info and the action to the people. Use brains to use what works in what environment, it makes sense.

    Lastly do not forget the role of the humble gopher, that beast was the agent that made the American Midwest and Bisons so prolific. The success and performance factor yield increases show, beyond doubt, we can improve yields, improve the environment and make a positive impact on the climate, if the latter is possible.

    Environment and climate are both very complex. It is too simplistic to state ” climate causes deserts”. Both climate and environmental conditions do. Planting trees and grasses do recover deserts. Look at Dubai, as they greened the dessert, the place became wetter and the gren sreads even more.

  440. Hoser says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 9, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Hoser says:
    March 9, 2013 at 12:33 am

    And goatskins make great flight jackets. So let’s not kill off all the goats.
    http://www.gibson-barnes.com/page-293859/Types-Of-Leather.html

  441. TomR,Worc, MA says:

    You guys are obviously swimming in “Big Cattle Money”, ya poor demented things.

  442. davidmhoffer
    You said: “He then makes all manner of claims (like 6,000 cars co2 production being offset by a single hectare of grassland)”

    Well, NO HE DIDN’T SAY THAT! He said that:
    “burning a hectare of grassland gives off more and more damaging pollutants that 6000 cars. And we are burning every year in Africa more than one BILLION hectares of grasslands.”

    He’s not talking about sequestering in that case. Yes he’s talking about c02 production, and he’s talking about how damaging burning is to grassland because it leaves the soil unprotected.

    You may disagree with him about how many hectares are burned, or how much co2 is produced, but if the amount is anything close to what he’s saying then it certainly dwarfs anything the industrialized countries are doing. I personally don’t think the co2 makes a fig of difference, but the changes in micro to macro climates over such large areas certainly could, and the mechanisms he is talking about to improve the soil make a lot of sense.

  443. Grey Lensman says:

    Thank you Climate Ace, wonderful example of warmist hyperbole and mindless exaggeration. 30 billion indeed. lol

    Also which science is your god? Hide the decline, fire the editor, incarcerate the infidels…………!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Science is not an ends but a means, a journey as the excellent video above posted by John shows.

    The earth is still evolving.

    get it

    What is the correct temperature, how much desert should there be, how much tropical rain forest. You as a man of SCIENCE, must have the answers to those simple questions.

  444. Climate Ace says:

    GL

    ‘It is too simplistic to state ” climate causes deserts”. It is too simplistic to state ” climate causes deserts”. Both climate and environmental conditions do. Planting trees and grasses do recover deserts. Look at Dubai, as they greened the dessert, the place became wetter and the gren sreads even more.’

    I agree. Everything in a one hour presentation is over simplified. So are the responses.

    The basic statements I made stand:

    ‘Climate causes deserts’
    ‘Deserts affect climate.’
    Humans can expand or contract deserts by their activities at the edges.
    Deserts tend to persist because of feedback effects such as nutrient loss by wind and water. Deserts tend to persist because the rate of soil formation is less than the rate of soil loss. Deserts are created below certain rates of precipitation combined with certain rates of evaporation combined with year-to-year variability of precipitation.

    Particular comments also stand: what might work for cattle in savanna rangelands which previously hosted animals similar to cattle will probably not work in rangelands where kangaroos were the previously the main grazing animal. The impacts of cattle exclosure, deer exclosure and kangaroo exclosure are so different that a posture based solely on getting rid of exclosures to reverse desertification in all cases is simply untenable.

  445. anna v says:

    Sounds good, though it needs a lot of cooperation from owners of the cattle, good markings etc.

    I have bad experience with goats. I inherited from my father a half acre of a vineyard. The local goat shepherd broke down the fences to let the goats feed on the vineyard and after three years of this, the vines were dead. It means that no cultivation can happen where these herds are grazing. Strong fences are needed.

    Another point, sheep are used in olive groves for the purpose of fetilizing. Sheep are not destructive the way goats are. Goats eat anything they can reach, low lying branches and small tree shoots.

  446. anna v says:

    p.s. I do not like the title: “reverse climate change” as too much emphasis is given to CO2 in the talk. would prefer the Pielke pov of land change affecting climate, and it is not clear from the title.

  447. oakwood says:

    Its an impressive presentation, but then so was Al Gore’s. Its a good story, with plenty of drama – such as the before and after photos. But surely, you need to start with a degree of scepticism when the answer just sounds so simple.

    He makes a few basic misconceptions. He assumes that if the ground is dry the day after heavy rain, then its all either ‘run-off’ or evaporated. No, a good proportion will have infiltrated to add to the groundwater (1/3?). The dry river bed he shows (a wadi) very probably has significant amounts of groundwater flowing a few metres below the surface (not quite like a river since groundwater flows between the grains of rock/sand at perhaps 1 m/day). That groundwater will be feeding springs or streams somewhere, perhaps quite distant, and can be accessed by wells.

    He gives the impression that all desert is a result of desertification. In the Earth’s current climate scenario, a big proportion of the world is just desert. No amount of land management will change that.

    He answers the host’s question about where the livestock get food. But what about water? You can’t just put a few hundred head out to graze without water.

    His before and after photos? Well some land can change that dramatically each season, or between cycles of drier years and wetter years.

    I’m not saying I don’t believe, but I would need to research his claims more carefully before accepting them as ‘wow, that’s it!’. I will start googling.

  448. ntesdorf says:

    He lost my interest when he started talking about Global Warming and CO2. Much of the rest is covered previously by others without the CAGW references.

  449. Stacey says:

    It is so obvious why has this been missed?

  450. Climate Ace says:

    GL

    ‘Thank you Climate Ace, wonderful example of warmist hyperbole and mindless exaggeration. 30 billion indeed. lol’

    You are making a fool of yourself. You do it by the use of inane, useless, terms such as ‘warmist’. I have not used hyperbole. I have used plain, direct language. You get the numbers wrong by an order of magnitude. Check the post. I said between 20 and 30 ‘million’ and I provided a link.

    ‘Also which science is your god? Hide the decline, fire the editor, incarcerate the infidels…………!!!!!!!!!!!!’

    I appreciate good science, good literature, good wine, good food and good company.

    ‘Science is not an ends but a means, a journey as the excellent video above posted by John shows.’

    Savory’s particular experiences are worthwhile and some of his particular ‘lessons’ are, IMHO, worth applying within limited contexts. But they do not serve as a scientific basis for the sort of global extrapolations Savory makes. Savory’s views might help explain in a limited way why some of the world’s rangelands are turning into desert. They do not, and can not, explain the existence of most of the world’s deserts. Not even Savory would be able to graze cattle in the Atacama and turn it into grazing land because cattle do not eat gravel.

    ‘The earth is still evolving.’

    I don’t accept your premise that earth is a living organism. Therefore it cannot, in my view, be ‘evolving’.

    ‘get it’

    I get it that you are rude and lack intellectual rigour.

    ‘What is the correct temperature, how much desert should there be, how much tropical rain forest. You as a man of SCIENCE, must have the answers to those simple questions.’

    Why is it that when someone says that something is ‘simple’ I get a gut reaction that they are the ones who are both simple and wrong? Those questions are complex, not simple.

  451. Climate Ace says:

    anna v

    In relation to goats, I thought that Willis made an excellent point: goats are excellent climbers. Put them in an olive grove and they would do grievous damage to the olive grove.

  452. Mike Haseler says:

    I was really saddened by this video because it shows someone who had the humility to realise he had been wrong who had the intelligence to base his ideas on practical evidence … then totally ignoring the evidence about CO2 NOT BEING A PROBLEM.

    “I would go as far as to say it is a bigger problem than CO2 …”. With 92% of world governments (by emissions) thinking CO2 is such an insignificant problem that they need not control it in any way, he is saying this is not a problem.

    My gut feeling is that on the grazing he is right (seeing the evidence points that way). But how can you take anyone who is so deluded about CO2 seriously?

  453. Mike Haseler says:

    TomR,Worc, MA says: “You guys are obviously swimming in “Big Cattle Money”, ya poor demented things.

    Thanks! No doubt the Wikipedia tag-team will soon be calling him a denier of almighty CO2 climate god.

  454. E.M.Smith says:

    So sad that it took him 40,000 elephants murdered to figure out he was wrong. So good to see that he did have the courage to realize it.

    Animal “poo” and pee are an essential part of fertilizing land. I have some Amish ancestors and it is part of the tradition my Dad taught me. Cattle and other grazers to be rotated between fields (as others noted above per Holland) and “manure spreader” for things from the barns and pens.

    Absolutely nothing surprising to me in what he has learned. (What surprises me is that they didn’t know it.) Looking at that land near to desert, my first thought on ‘how to fix it’ was manure. Naturally delivered if possible, spread if not. (You can also do ‘green manure’ but that’s another topic… but possible to use hardy drought tolerant crops like some desert buckwheats to get the goats started…)

    When ground is too dry and hot, the answer is ‘cover it’. With growing desert hardy plants if possible. There are whole sequences of plants that are known. Some that move into bare and disturbed land. Others that follow. Let any plant get started, then start raising the manure rates and increasing soil tilth. (Tilth is a word that ought to be mandatory for anyone doing ‘land management’ to study and understand). All that talk of ‘soil carbon’… it used to be called tilth…

    Ah well, give them another 50 years and they might catch up with old time farmers. Maybe they all ought to be assigned an internship on an Amish farm…

    FWIW, in my back yard I have a “toy farm” agronomy system. An essential part of it was “some herbivore”. I have “free range bunnies” (they are hind gut fermenters) that take that role. I sometimes call them rapid self mobile compost piles… I was always taught that you need some livestock to keep the soil tilth up, and fertility high. My Dad learned that back before the great depression… from folks who had known it even longer.

    I have a system of ‘small fences’ and let the bunnies into a ‘square’ when it is time to graze it off. Just like he’s talking about with larger herds… You’d think they would have talked to a farmer or two at some time or other…

  455. Bob Mount says:

    I have no worthwhile comment to add, but simply say how much I enjoyed this brilliant presentation.

  456. A bridge to nowhere, Mr. Watts.
    Why would honest people need a bridge in a debate with charlatans, in the first place?

    You couldn’t find more unsavory character to build this bridge for you. Alan Savory is an epitome of everything that can go wrong in a scientist. He is an alarmist, there is nothing new in what he says (except for framing traditional methods in tasteless “holistic” language), his approach will never turn Sahara or Gobi into a green paradise, and any good methods of farming, however “enlightened,” are impossible to apply in countries lacking consistent application of private property laws and effective, rational land use regulations — that is, in most of the countries suffering from desertification.

    Alan Savory politicized science throughout his long career, serving a bloody dictatorship. Were I a believer, I would hope that souls of forty thousand dead elephants ravage him forever in a place where he soon should be spending the rest of eternity.

  457. Climate Ace says:

    AF

    ‘Anssi V. says:
    March 10, 2013 at 2:25 pm
    To Alexander Feht: I have always regarded you as a reasonable and very intelligent guy, but in this case I kindly suggest that you think again. I present you with just one simple point:
    1) Quoting from his wikipedia page (you may contest this but that’s another question): “When Savory made a public statement that if he had been born a black Rhodesian, he would have been a guerilla fighter and although he urged white Rhodesians to understand why he would feel this, Ian Smith denounced him as a traitor”

    And this proves me unreasonable — how? Traitor he is.
    Mugabe is a mass murderer who destroyed his people and his country.’

    Traitor to what? Traitor to Ian Smith who ran a self-proclaimed government which had an electoral franchise that simply excluded the vast majority of citizens? Traitor to a regime that could only maintain itself by force of arms? The closest analogy is that of the American patriots in the American Revolution who were fighting for no taxation without representation in much the same way as were the black Rhodesian who were fighting for their democratic rights. They were not traitors. They were democratic patriots.

    Using Mugabe’s subsequent career as an ex-post facto excuse is illogical.

    No-one then knew that the consequences of the colonial era, Smith’s illegal grab for power, the impact of a civil war, or of the treatment Mugabe got during his 11 years in prison for doing nothing much more than promote democracy. I had heard he was tortured but cannot find a link.

    No-one knew then that he would go on to destroy his country, starve his people, wreck an economy, and treat vast numbers of his people in much the same way the colonial forces, starting with Rhode’s invasion force, treated black Zimbabweans during the colonial era, and indeed the way in which Mzilikazi’s impis treated local Zimbabwean tribes before Rhodes.

  458. Mike Haseler says:

    Anthony.

    Like you, I am interested in what this person is saying and think it is important. However, he severely undermines his credibility by talking about CO2 and … we’re heard too many cranks with dreamt up schemes who tell us they have the solution.

    So, can he back it up? Can he demonstrate that the greening was not just a fortuitous coincidence. E.g. you are most likely to try such schemes when things are really bad. It is therefore extremely likely that things will get better naturally.

    However, he did show a number of apparently control experiments, but even so, I can’t personally endorse someone who talks so much rubbish about CO2 unless I’ve seen corroboration from other people.

    So, can his work be corroborated?

  459. Climate Ace says:

    EMSmith

    Humans have the capacity to change virtually any desert into a grazed or even a farmed landscapes. The great aerial shots of irrigated centre pivot crop circles surrounded by bare desert demonstrate this point completely.

    Humans can do this by adding water, energy, nutrients and propagules. In fact, humans can turn concrete inside a shed into ‘grazing country’ or ‘agricultural land’. In our farming circles we called this farming ‘out of a bag’. It is not generally sustainable, btw. Salinisation of irrigated desert lands, mining of fossil ground water, and the sheer uncompetitive costs of adding all nutrients, water, energy and propagules make the long run sustainability (economic and environmental) of turning the desert into farmland a questionable proposition.

    The issue here is whether one particular human action: adding more cattle and following a rotational grazing regime, will reverse desertification in rangelands and/or whether it will turn deserts into rangelands. There is no evidence at all for the latter. For the former, there is some trial and error evidence provided by Savory, but there is also some hard science that questions the trial and error evidence.

  460. Larry Kirk says:

    As I understand it, the key point being recognised and taken into account by Alan Savory is this:

    Herbivores and semi-arid or seasonal grasslands did not evolve as a simple two component system, and when our grazing practices, whether as nomadic herders, multi-million hectare rangeland farmers, treat it as such, then the system breaks down and ends in soil erosion and desertification.

    They evolved as components in a three-part system: herbivores, grasslands and PREDATORS, the predators being essential to keep the herbivores bunched together in large herds and to keep them MOVING, so that they do their work of trampling and fertilising, but do not stay on any one patch of pasture long enough to completely destroy it.

    The first thing that mankind has done anywhere where they have put down roots and farmed has been to eliminate the predators, and if Alan Savory is correct, then that is why our grazing practices have become unsustainable.

    The simplest and most cost effective answer then should be to re-introduce predators to keep the herds moving. And yes, limit their numbers: one pride of big cats can only eat so many weak or sickly cattle a year, plus the occasional slow-moving, elderly geologist. But put them back and restore the balance of nature in the grazing lands and, if Alan Savory is right, you will protect and restore the soils too.

    Australia must be a slightly unusual ecosystem in this context, as it had no major predators apart from us, as nomadic hunters, some rather scrawny-looking dingos, and the occasional wedge-tailed eagle. As a result of which the grazing fauna have had no need to swarm together in huge herds for protection, and have simply got away by moving fast across rocky/thorny ground for relatively short distances to escape from the occasional lone predator.

    Over the past 150 years though, at least here in the Western Australian rangeland grazing country, this ecosystem has been impacted destructively by the complete removal of those ‘predators’ that were on the land, the fencing in of vast enclosures, and the provision of unnatural supplies of bore water to support large flocks of introduced herbivores (sheep and cattle, but also enormous numbers of feral goats, camels, donkeys and wild horses).

    In the West Kimberley for instance, there are hundreds of thousands of feral donkeys. When I was working up there a few years ago on Diamond exploration, the mustering helicopters we were using had just spent a season culling an estimated 30,000 of them, in the in the vain knowledge that at least that number would be replaced by the following year. They cull them because they spread bovine TB amongst the cattle, eat the stockfeed and damage the soil, tracks, water tanks, troughs, etc.

    But how much more effective might it be to put some large predators on the ground that would then carry out this work for free? These would concentrate on the smaller donkeys and avoid the larger and far more dangerous Brahmin cattle, but might also remove the occasional brucellosis case that was coughing up blood in a corner somewhere, thereby improving the overall health of the herd.

    And what to introduce? Well, the last time I worked up in central Sumatra, there were still enough tigers around to worry you as you made your way back to camp, alone, along an overgrown jungle track at dusk. But there won’t be for very much longer with the rate at which the jungle is being consumed for timber and plantation land. So for my money, I’d establish half a dozen breeding colonies of them up in the greener, better-watered gulleys of the King Leopold Range and see how we go from there.

    I mean, there are already a couple of million large cats up in the Kimberley: huge spinifex-coloured versions of the domestic moggy of twenty generations ago (now straw coloured I am sure because the wedge-tailed eagles get all black and white or coloured kittens), but it’ll probably take them another ten thousand years before they are big enough to eat the donkeys.

  461. Galane says:

    Want to save the South American jungle and refresh land for food production? Turn loose large herds of livestock. Then till the soil three feet deep so the manure and dead plants get distributed throughout. That will make the soil able to hold water and enable tree roots to go deep. Huge swaths of that fertile yet thin soil aren’t all natural. The natives spread and tilled in charcoal as fertilizer, but they didn’t have the ability to till it deep. As their civilizations collapsed (for various reasons, and were near to defunct by the time Europeans arrived) the jungle growth rapidly spread, taking advantage of that thin, artificial layer of fertilizer.

    Slash and burn farming rapidly exhausts that ancient fertilizer, which had been constantly refortified by decaying plants and animal excretions and dead animals. The crops grow then are taken away, depriving the soil of nutrient replenishment.

    The “solution” from the enviromentalists has been to try to ban slash and burn and cut back on existing farming. By all means not ever increasing the number of livestock and a near violent reaction to any mention of any sort of fertilizing and especially against tilling to deepen the rich layer of soil.

    Their idea is that absent raising of crops and livestock, the “rain forest” will naturally take back the farmland. Nevermind that much of that jungle growth got its start by human intervention of artificial fertilization of what was formerly grassland, had been grassland stalked by animals like mammoths and sabertooths long before people came to the continent.

    Since so much of the South American jungle came about because of human intervention, isn’t the natural way to restore it the same sort of human intervention?

    Those old civilizations knew that thin soil just able to support grass couldn’t support the higher nutrient needs of crops suitable for human food, so they upgraded it. Let’s make it Soil 2.0 with today’s technology so we can have both more jungle and better land for crops.

  462. Climate Ace says:

    Larry Kirk

    Good one. You are right about the huge numbers of introduced large grazers and browsers and rooters (horses, donkeys, camels, goats and pigs) that are wrecking Australia’s rangelands and deserts. Incidentally, in Savory’s terms, they move big distances to get to new sources of food but they may also be concentrated for lengthy periods of time while dying in large numbers near isolated water holes.

    But, but, but… great big furry striped cane toads in the Kimberleys? Now, where did that go wrong the last time?

    http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/eserv.php?pid=UQ:12564&dsID=Grigg__Pople_Beard._1995._Movements_of_feral_camels.pdf

  463. Zeke says:

    “And terrifyingly, it’s happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes — and his work so far shows — that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.”

    It seems possible from the wording that they are talking about seizing cattle and relocating it for greening purposes elsewhere. Africa would be best served by having cheap and abundant coal power, and by expanded ability to sell and ship crafts and products worldwide on ebay.

  464. Stefan says:

    @Grey Lensman

    So that’s another bridge, between the ivory towers and the rural poverty. Maybe that’s the more important bridge. It is the “little people” on the ground who might make this work.

    Broadcast it by word-of-mouth (text message; lots of villages have a cheap mobile) and let people figure out if it works.

  465. wsbriggs says:

    Interesting to read the replys here. After 450+, just like Willis’ posts, there are people who clearly don’t read, don’t watch, and don’t think about what is being said. He isn’t proposing to irrigate the desert, he isn’t proposing to introduce ferilizers other than those produced by the animals themselves. He does have demonstrable proof that it works, at least in certain areas, and works quite well there.

    Good ideas and good science are independent of the political views of the propagator. You have to think about what is being said, not who is saying it. Linus Pauling was a pacifist, his contributions in Chemistry are exemplary, stop mixing up the message with the messenger folks!

  466. observa says:

    Savory is quite right about the status quo as you can tell by a recent ‘Green’ decision here-
    http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/article/2012/01/31/437171_latest-news.html
    although unlettered mavericks like Peter Andrews were obviously on the same wavelength and could demonstrate similar results in Australia-
    http://www.naturalsequencefarming.com/

  467. Anssi V. says:

    Holistic Management International has a set of freely downloadable materials (free registration required), giving a more detailed explanation of Savory’s decision making framework (one version of it, as it has evolved over time).
    http://holisticmanagement.org/free-downloads/

    There were a couple of common misconceptions when reading through the comments, which I would like to address:

    Savory is NOT suggesting that “rotational grazing” would be the only way to reverse desertification. Instead, he argues that without using the tool of ANIMAL IMPACT (which most commonly translates to controlled grazing, but not always) it is not possible to achieve positive changes in large enough scale. For example, what Geoff Lawton has done in Jordan is kind of cool, but try to make that kind of thing work over millions of hectares… The same applies to all mechanized tools to break up the hard top layer so that moisture can penetrate: Yes, it is definitely better to have something growing on the ground instead of leaving it totally bare, however this kind of system does not rebuild the soil very well – compare that with for example Joel Salatin’s farm, where topsoil is being built at a rate of inch per year on some areas.

    Savory also argues that unless land use and optimization of the four ecosystem processes is not deeply integrated into the decision making framework being used, decisions are unlikely to be financially, socially and environmentally sound, very possibly resulting in degradation in at least one of those areas. He has created the Holistic Decision Making framework to address the issue, but he is NOT claiming it to be perfect. It is definitely a big step in a right direction, IMHO.

  468. Pat Moffitt says:

    Paul Wanamaker says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm
    “And we are burning every year in Africa more than one BILLION hectares of grasslands……..He’s not talking about sequestering in that case. Yes he’s talking about c02 production, and he’s talking about how damaging burning is to grassland because it leaves the soil unprotected.”
    I’m interested in seeing the evidence that fire is categorically harmful to grasslands rather than an essential element. It is estimated approximately 50 million acres of North American prairie historically burned yearly (Assuming a 2.5 yr fire return for tall grass and 7.5 yrs for mixed and short grass prairies). And this figure doesn’t include the forest and savannah fires.
    Most people have grown up in the era of fire suppression—my question to you is – where is the billion hectare African burn rate derived and what was this burn rate 100-200 years ago?
    I’m also unsure how you describe this natural process (fire) as producing damaging pollutants. I see it as a natural process that transport bio-available nitrogen, mobilizes phosphorus, and a host of other critical system effects.
    It is estimated prehistoric California burned 4 million acres annually. The mountains of California were normally obscured from view by a haze of smoke until very recently. http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/Conservation/FireForestEcology/FireScienceResearch/FireHistory/FireHistory-Stephens07.pdf
    EPA is making it nearly impossible with its air quality standards to burn prairie land at the return rate needed to keep the land from seral change to shrub and brush. The narrative that fire is harmful to grassland will do to our remaining prairie what the old narrative did to elephants. I cannot emphasize enough that this “no fire” meme has immense negative cascading consequences.
    As the result of fire suppression and the CAA we in NA are living with the “cleanest” air quality in centuries if not thousands of year. If we take the historical emissions of prairie and forest fire we see that EPA’s reference conditions for PM2.5, NOx etc are a joke.

  469. R. de Haan says:

    What I liked:
    “One acre of land emitting the equivillnt of 6000 cars and we have over a bllion of acres emitting, “We incresed the grazing stock by 400%”
    What I didn’t like:
    Fossil fuels is bad, methane is bad, “I shot 40.000 elephants” by mistake.

    And all the posters here giving credit to a guy who really has the ability to adapt and improve himself but refuses to see the elephant in the room which is the fact that our huiman civiliztion burning fossil fuels, driving SUV’s, eating steaks is not the problem.

  470. Peter Wilson says:

    Allan Savory’s TED Talk was inspiring, although I did wonder how many cows it would take to re-vegetate the Sahara.

    The hour-long presentation at The Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability– which goes by the acronym of FEASTA (?)–was also inspiring, but given more time, the New Agey parts of his thinking are more salient. “In 1984 we discovered the “Holisticgoal” (no typo), etc.

    It was disturbing to read FEASTA’s promotional flyer for Mr. Savory’s speech, which used his words and photos to promote the same overgrazing myths that he has spent his life fighting:

    “According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, raising livestock contributes 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions in CO2 equivalent terms, if the forest clearance and pasture degradation to which it leads are included.”

    Under two photos that Mr. Savory uses to prove the benefits of livestock grazing, FEASTA writes the exact opposite:

    “This river (above) in Zimbabwe used to flow year-round. Then overgrazing by wandering livestock bared much of the soil in the surrounding area. Today the river flows only as flash floods following heavy rains. Biodiversity loss is severe, livestock are starving, and most wildlife has disappeared.”

    “This shot (below) of a nearby river was taken on the same day. It used to have similar problems but now it always has water and flows most of the year. Drought is rare, biodiversity is increasing, and wildlife has reappeared in large numbers.”

    Typical underhanded environmentalists.

  471. Anssi V. says:

    Alexander Feht – I did not mean to imply any unreasonableness on your part – just suggested that you would reconsider your position (something that reasonable and intelligent people can do).

    My point was that Savory was exiled and had thus used up all the leverage he had to influence the political situation in Zimbabwe. This does not imply that he would have condoned the actions of Mugabe.

    In some post-911 terrorist attack “ramblings” written by Savory (http://theconversation.org/archive/ramblings.html), he writes “I am not indulging in hindsight as many times on the public platform I said that Mugabe’s greatest allies were Ian Smith and his generals who, while waging a ‘war against terrorists’, were winning political victory for Mugabe and ensuring the end of democracy for years to come.” (there’s also a more detailed explanation about the guerrilla warrior statement in the text)

    He has worked towards his life’s goal, i.e. finding ways to reverse desertification, with what has been available to him. That might still make him a traitor in your book. I think we can respectfully agree to disagree.

  472. NikFromNYC says:

    Instapundit doesn’t usually link directly to WUWT but today he did, after I reported his initial link as being unrelated.

    “HOW TO GREEN THE WORLD’S DESERTS AND REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE by eating more meat! Well, sort of.”

  473. otropogo says:

    So, after watching 20+ minutes of video purporting to be evidential, I come away with the understanding that peer-reviewed research by well-trained, sincere, dedicated scientists created increased desertification while needlessly destroying 40,000 elephants, and so we must now abandon peer-reviewed science in favour of charismatic road-shows and join in a true-believer crusade in order to save the world.

    My conclusion: we are so screwed!

  474. John Tillman says:

    Larry, as you probably know, Australia used to have major reptile & marsupial predators, such as a giant, Komodo dragon-like goanna & this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsupial_lion

    But then humans arrived to assume the top predator role in this complex ecosystem & directly or indirectly caused the big carnivores’ extinction on the mainland if not always in Tasmania, where the thylacine “wolf” or “tiger” survived into the last century & the T. devil is fighting for its life against cancer.

    There are places in America where tabbies are evolving into bigger cats, too.

  475. gnarf says:

    “The simplest and most cost effective answer then should be to re-introduce predators to keep the herds moving.”

    I think what he suggests in this video is the most cost effective: farmers keep cattle moving according to a plan mimicking the effect of predators. It is cost effective because any farmer can buy some semi-desertic, desolated land for a low price, and turn it into productive green pasture assuming the proper technique is used.

  476. markx says:

    Alexander Feht says: March 11, 2013 at 2:18 am

    Gee, Alexander, you seem remarkably sure of yourself, absolutely certain you are correct.

    Hang on, is that not what you are criticizing in others?

    Are you not doing exactly that which you criticize? (albeit with the addition of considerable mouth foaming).

  477. mogamboguru says:

    Anthony,

    reverse global warming? You can’t reverse what’s not there, for a start.

    Also, I’d suggest that those people living in these semi-arid regions know absolutely best what to do and what to leave to keep their environment healthy – because that’s exactly what they are doing for centuries and generations, IMHO.

    More often than not it’s the implemenation of ill-perceived “western” agricultural methods, which is ruining these peoples’ lands and lives, rather than sticking to their own inherited, tried, tested and proven methods of living off the land..

    So rather than driving them into yet-another agricultural adventure of continental scales, I’d suggest to rather stop selling them western high-yield seeds, which need vast amounts of fertilizer, pesticides and water to thrive, but leave them alone and do what they know is best for them for millennia, already.

    And this goes for farmes, herders and nomands, alike.

  478. Jeremy says:

    Hah, If the phrase hasn’t already been coined… I’d like to:

    “It’s the land-use, stupid.”

  479. John Tillman says:

    IMO it would not be easy for an ordinary African rancher to do this. It would require substantial capital to buy the land & cattle, to carry the livestock over the rainy season, to herd & tend them & guard against rustlers & predators, plus the pastoralists’ society would need to recognize & defend property rights, as well as provide the necessary financial institutions, to include sufficient acceptable circulating cash, which is often in short supply in much of the world.

    A herd of 1000 head could start with perhaps 500 cows & 50 bulls. The amount of privately owned land needed depends of course on its eventual quality, but would also be substantial. The arithmetic is simple, based upon whatever assumptions you make as to the average acreage needed to feed 1000 head for a day, multiplied times roughly 240 days, depending upon actual dry season period, plus pasture for the rainy season, mainly summer in southern Africa.

    A co-op might work, with the cattle sorted by branding after the rotational grazing season. The governmental role should be kept to absolute minimum.

  480. Joe says:

    Skeptical genius says:
    March 10, 2013 at 7:16 am

    Can we please get back to science…. Jeez.

    http://www.srmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.2111/06-159R.1
    ———————————————————————————————-

    Seems to be the same synthesis paper used by wikipedia to support the quote provided by adrien in the post after yours that

    “Land management researchers have heavily criticized the concepts of holistic management [...] Virtually no active academic rangeland ecology researchers have come forward to espouse holistic management principles”.

    The problem is that, if you look at the entire paper (available here http://allenpress.com/pdf/i1551-5028-61-1-3.pdf ) rather than the abstract, you find the following quotes from the literature this paper references (table 2 of the paper):

    Sampson (1951, p. 21) ‘‘two fairly distinct viewpoints [exist] among range conservationists and operators regarding the merits of rotation or deferred-rotation grazing.’’

    Heady (1961, p. 191) ‘‘specialized grazing system has no advantage in live stock production over continuous grazing, at least with good or excellent ranges under comparable stocking rates and degree of care in other management practices; … other management factors
    are more important in the production of livestock than system of grazing.’

    Van Poollen and Lacey (1979, p. 253) ‘‘land mangers should place more emphasis on proper stocking intensity, and less on grazing system implementation.’’

    O’Reagain and Turner (1992, p. 43) ‘‘stocking rate is a major determinant of both range condition and animal production, and is possibly the most important management variable under the direct control of the grazer. Relative to this variable, the grazing system employed is of minor importance, with there being little apparent difference between continuous and rotational grazing systems.’’

    Given that these quotes have been elevated to “table” status in the introduction of the paper, it’s fair to assume that they’re the strongest reflection of the paper’s own conclusions that the authors could find. That’s fairly normal academic practice – introductions are generally the last part of a paper to be written and you may well refer to research that counters you conclusions but you sure don’t highlight it in bold on page 1!

    So, out of those quotes:

    Sampson(1951) [ https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/download/4410/4021&ei=FPQ9Ue7ROvGB7QbyuoHoCw&usg=AFQjCNEuLJN-rRp1YZONP7Rh_xrLbN60NA&bvm=bv.43287494,d.ZGU ] is, in it’s own words, an “incomplete resume of the literature” and is fairly non-committal in its findings, although it does give credence to the practical experience in favour of rotational grazing of stockmen actually working the land.

    Heady(1961) [ http://ojssandbox.library.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/download/13372/11410&ei=y_U9Uej8L47b7AbVmoDACA&usg=AFQjCNFax9SS7N8_fRR0hxpQDkWiG_R4Cw&bvm=bv.43287494,d.ZGU ] is focussed heavily, in the body and conclusions, on livestock production rather than land recovery. Indeed, it states clearly in its conclusions that there appears to be little difference “at least with good or excellent ranges” while allowing that several studies show benefits of rotation in recovery of poor pasture. The studies it reviewed also tend to relate to “conventional” rotation where areas are graze for a significant portion of the growing season at low stocking levels compared to wild herding.

    Van Poollen and Lacey (1979) [ https://journals.uair.arizona.edu/index.php/jrm/article/download/6946/6556&ei=Dvw9UarCI4eM7Abm74GIBQ&usg=AFQjCNGSFgYbRaLoJZjBx7XuIXtlhfJUCA&bvm=bv.43287494,d.ZGU ] fails entirely to effectively address the effect of high intensity, short duration grazing, The nearest it comes is in the paragraph immediately preceding the conclusions, where it states in relation to simultaneous changes of intensity and grazing duration, “These values can be added proportionately to account for the overall herbage response. It is assumed this would be an attitive effect”. What Savory is asserting is precicely the opposite – that the effects are NOT additive or linear. His assertion appears to be based on practical experience which, whether scientifically controlled or not, trumps assumption every time!

    OReagain and Turner(1992) doesn’t appear to be freely available but the abstract is here [ http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02566702.1992.9648297 ]. Note that in the abridged conclusions available, as well as the one selected above, they say ” regular seeding or vigour rests, or rests to accumulate fodder, appear essential.”

    I’m not going to spend time going through the other references in Briske et al because I’ve been doing this as a distraction from a troublesome Longines repair and can’t really justify more time right now.

    But the point should be clear – when “getting back to the science” be very wary of pointing at a paper without actually checking the claims it makes about previous conclusions! IPCC report anyone?

  481. vigilantfish says:

    Anthony,

    Thanks very much for this. It’s phenomenal and I’m disrupting my ‘regular programming’ in my environmental history class today to show the video you’ve linked. Definitely worth a top-up in flung funds to your website!

  482. François says:

    Well, if “people send you stuff”, it might be a good idea to tell us what it is all about (without having us linking to long and boring online conferences), and not make that unknown “stuff” the subject of a 482 comments item.

  483. Martin Rettig says:

    I’ve read about 100 replies, can’t read them all, has even one CAGW believer crossed the bridge?, Or was this a “Bridge Too Far” or a “Bridge to Nowhere”?

  484. highflight56433 says:

    Recall the slaughter of the midwest buffalo. The bad lands are missing the once large herds of buffalo. Areas that are grazed by cattle are green with grasses. Areas that are not continue to be just ugly bad. The Great American Desert is managed with crop rotation and irrigation and grazing animal herds.

  485. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Paul Wanamaker says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Well, NO HE DIDN’T SAY THAT! He said that:
    “burning a hectare of grassland gives off more and more damaging pollutants that 6000 cars. And we are burning every year in Africa more than one BILLION hectares of grasslands.”

    If he really said that he’s clueless. 6,000 cars run for how long? One year? Ten years?

    In addition, my numbers say no. Assuming 2,000 kg of net primary production per hectare per year for grassland, and a car going 20,000 miles and getting 20 miles per gallon, that works out to about 2,300 kg of fuel burned by the car.

    Now that’s ONE SINGLE CAR. With about the same weight of fuel as the hectare of grassland.

    What am I missing here? 6,000 cars? Is there a mistake in my math?

    w.

  486. Poop Lover says:

    Utter BS.

  487. Grey Lensman says:

    Sorry Ace, you said

    Quote

    Mimicing nature’ in a holistic way can not mean having a human population of 10 billion or 20 billion or 30 billion or wherever optimum human population it is that endless growth advocates think we should be aiming for.

    Unquote

    As I said, hyperbole.

    And you did not answer my question, which form of science is your god?

  488. Anssi V. says:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MOD14A1_M_FIRE

    The link provides a rough impression of the number of fires burning around the globe – might be useful for (coarsely) estimating the correctness of figures provide by Savory. Please note though, that the color of the “fire” pixels denotes the number of fires, and not their size.

  489. John in NZ says:

    Electric fence systems for controlling elephants ( or smaller animals) can be purchased here.
    http://www.gallagher.co.nz/electric-fence-systems.aspx

    There is no doubt that drylands can be turned into pasture. People are already doing it. The problem is there are political, economic and cultural obstacles.

    What I found amazing was that so many people in positions of power had no idea that rotational grazing is sustainable. I now have a better understanding why the greenies want us to be vegetarians. They think livestock are bad for the environment.

  490. John Tillman says:

    Re: “6000 cars”.

    My guess is that Savory based that comparison on somebody’s estimate of total CO2 emissions from all the worlds’ passenger cars. Here are some possibly questionable figures from Europe & the US:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_emissions#Carbon_dioxide_.28CO2.29

    I’d like to see his calculations for the hectare of grassland. There might be some order of magnitude errors either in the car or vegetation data. Without seeing his work, looks like possible decimal misplacement, even accepting the suspiciously high estimate of grassland acreage burned annually.

  491. Climate Ace says:
    March 11, 2013 at 2:23 am
    Using Mugabe’s subsequent career as an ex-post facto excuse is illogical.
    Only if you decide to be blind to the truth.
    Mugabe has been praised in the beginning as Mandela is praised now. The truth is, however, that both murdered innocent people to achieve their goals, from the very beginning of their political careers (not to mention that both were financed by the USSR). And that is all I need to know.

  492. @markx:
    I don’t remember criticizing anybody for being sure of themselves.
    Using foul language, breaking the rules of this blog with impunity — yes.
    Being sure of themselves? Hardly a sin.

  493. markx says:

    Joe says: March 11, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Re: http://www.srmjournals.org/doi/abs/10.2111/06-159R.1 (Briske et al … Rotational Grazing on Rangelands: Reconciliation of Perception and Experimental Evidence D. D. Briske et al)

    Nice work on Briske et al, Joe, and well worth doing apparently … I did for one did not drill down to the next level so I appreciate seeing that … quite astounding they would misrepresent to that degree, bringing the big hammer of combined status and authority down with scanty data … I guess academia likes to maintain the status quo…..

    I’d certainly like to believe Savory was on to something here.

  494. retiredranger says:

    The western U.S. and central Africa are very different. In Africa huge herds of grazing animals were present in the past. In the western U.S. huge herds of bison grazed in the central plains, but large numbers of grazing animals were absent in the intermountain and southwest areas of the country. Bison began retreating into higher elevations, in a limited number of locations, due to the hunting (slaughter) of bison that was being conducted in order to reduce the food supply of native Americans.

    Reductions in grazing animals on public lands have been shown to improve the health of the land, production of water, soil retention and wildlife numbers. Another benefit is the increase in recreation attributes when grazing numbers are reduced. Some lands in the west were not grazed by large animals prior to the arrival of European man. The fire regimes that existed prior to this are quite different now. Public land management agencies have a goal, within the constraints of human occupation and development, to return as much land to a more natural fire regime as possible.

    Overgrazing in the western U.S. began in the post Civil War period. It was unconstrained until some land was brought into better management near the turn of the 20th century in the form of national forests and national parks. Each have been reducing, or eliminating in the case of national parks, for decades. The results of the severe overgrazing post Civil War are still with us. Range science is considerably more complex than Allan Savory speaks to in this presentation. The science has established the need for reducing grazing numbers. As a retired forester, who studied grazing management in college, I have knowledge and experience to make my observations of range management more informed than those who do not know the principles of the science as well as working with range conservationists and watching landscapes change when grazing numbers have been reduced. Much of this knowledge has been very hands on as I’ve built some grazing improvements (water guzzlers, trick tanks, fences etc.) and walked and ridden a lot of ground. Reductions in grazing numbers on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada combined with the fencing of riparian areas has stabilized stream banks, increased water flows, retained soils and have benefited large mammal species such as deer and elk, fish numbers increasing in streams and other indicator species in ecosystems. I’ve seen the similar results on the Cibola and Inyo National Forests during my career with the U.S. Forest Service. The reduction of animal numbers and protecting riparian areas has worked all over the west on national forest land and the Public Land System managed by the BLM. Desertification can be traced back to the overgrazing in the late 19th century.

    So called “wild horses,” which are really feral animals existing in ecosystems that evolved after the North American ice sheet began to retreat 10-12 thousand years ago without the horse. These feral animals are causing reductions in the numbers of native animals such as big horn sheep, pronghorns, sage grouse and songbirds. The combination of excessive numbers of cattle and the introduction of the feral and exotic “wild” horse is causing ecological havoc. This is another factor in the decline of many western ecosystems.

    All of this is documented in scientific literature as well as long term observations of countless numbers of people. Mr. Savory appears to be the proverbial savior riding in on his big white horse. Much of his presentation regarding the western U.S. are opinions that don’t agree with the science and success of grazing management in that area.

  495. more soylent green! says:

    OT, but worthy of its own post:

    Bjorn Lomborg: Green Cars Have a Dirty Little Secret
    Producing and charging electric cars means heavy carbon-dioxide emissions.

    Electric cars are promoted as the chic harbinger of an environmentally benign future. Ads assure us of “zero emissions,” and President Obama has promised a million on the road by 2015. With sales for 2012 coming in at about 50,000, that million-car figure is a pipe dream. Consumers remain wary of the cars’ limited range, higher price and the logistics of battery-charging. But for those who do own an electric car, at least there is the consolation that it’s truly green, right? Not really.

    For proponents such as the actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, the main argument is that their electric cars—whether it’s a $100,000 Fisker Karma (Mr. DiCaprio’s ride) or a $28,000 Nissan Leaf—don’t contribute to global warming. And, sure, electric cars don’t emit carbon-dioxide on the road. But the energy used for their manufacture and continual battery charges certainly does—far more than most people realize.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324128504578346913994914472.html

  496. wikeroy says:

    “A bridge in the climate debate – How to green the world’s deserts and reverse climate change.”

    Okay….if measured temperature is a sine wave…..what’s his goal? Create a cosine-wave form?

  497. Chuck Nolan says:

    I’m not sure it matters which old goats take our money.
    Be it those in congress or the bankers or the ones being herded in the desert.
    cn

  498. William Abbott says:

    Privately owned grazing land in the great plains (where I’m most famiiar) is generally well-managed and more producive now than thirty years ago and the destructive practices of sixty to seventy years ago are almost entirely avoided. When you own the land you have every incentive to take care of it, to make it more productive & more valuable. The fragile Sandhills area in Nebraska is in top condition because of rotational grazing and other best practices. Private stewardship works so well, its so simple. Communal ownership is a huge problem because nobody is willing to take care of and invest in land they don’t own. Mexico’s communal ejido system is a disaster. By the way, you can still buy Tordon. You can buy it on Amazon. It is restricted as to the sites and applications that are permitted but it is still available as a general-use herbicide.

  499. Bill Parsons says:

    Cows need about 20 gallons of water per day, depending on the moisture content of their feed. They eat about 2.5% of their body weight per day. A thousand pound cow would need at least 25 pounds of grass.

    How many cattle does Savory lose in his first year grazing dense herds on totally grassless range land?

    My recollection of my granddad’s farm in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas was that his cattle needed a water tank. Despite a rather humid, lush, grassy environment, the stock tanks were kept full, and got plenty of business.

    Regarding Savory’s slide show, Zimbabwe gets upwards of 10″ of rain in (our winter) months of Dec, Jan and Feb, an amount which tapers off to near-zero in the summer months. It might be nice to know when he shot his pictures.

  500. Peter in Ohio says:

    Climate Ace says:
    March 11, 2013 at 2:23 am

    …”No-one knew then that he would go on to destroy his country, starve his people, wreck an economy,….”
    ————————————–
    Anyone taking even a cursory glance at the history of post-colonial Africa had a pretty good idea of what Mugabe’s Zimbabwe was going to look like.

    Be that as it may, Mugabe’s philosophy was NEVER one of peace and democracy. Even before he was imprisoned he was promoting the overthrow of the white government and to replace it with a dictatorial communist regime lead by HIM and his “peeps”…Shona I think. No one else was going to fare very well under Mugabe, black or white, so yes, anyone who looked at the man also knew how things were going to turn out.

    The rest of your post concerning Mugabe’s imprisonment for nothing more than promoting democracy is laughable.

  501. @ Bill Parsons, I think that you are confusing the two species (or sub-species) of cattle. There’s Bos taurus taurus, the ‘European’ cattle, best suited to more moderate climes, and then there’s Bos taurus indica, a breed of cattle best suited to hot, dry climes.

    From Wikipedia (I know) “Sanga cattle is the collective name for indigenous cattle of South Africa. They are sometimes identified as a subspecies with the scientific name Bos taurus africanus.These cattle originated in East Africa, probably western Ethiopia, and have spread west and south. Sanga are an intermediate type, formed by hybridizing the indigenous humpless cattle with Zebu cattle brought from Asia. Although the timeline for their history is the subject of extensive debate, some authors date Sanga cattle to 1600 B.C. They are distinguished by having small cervico-thoracic humps instead of the high thoracic humps which characterize the Zebu.”

    These cattle are thought to be a taurus/indica cross. They are able to survive where ‘European’ cattle would perish in days.

  502. Justus says:

    I think that the encroachment of deserts is a very real problem caused by humans, just like other climactic effects other than catastrophic warming, which I am obviously skeptical of.

    I don’t know. I think it would be beneficial to reverse desertification and perhaps even make new lands habitable. But, trying to play God with the climate just can’t end well. We should save lands that have been claimed by deserts, but we really shouldn’t go messing with the Sahara or any of that IMO.

    I want to bridge with the proponents of climate, but right now we’re way too far apart d the squabbling won’t end until there’s a technology that comes along that satisfies all parties involved. Even if we do agree that deserts should be reclaimed and made more green, it’s not going to change the debate in any meaningful way as no side is going to give in.

  503. Bill Parsons says:

    Stephen Brown says:
    March 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    You’re quite right about the difference between cattle. Generalizing shouldn’t work. So he should not have generalized – or maybe that is just part of the presentation that I tuned out. Finding the right species of cow for the right climate is no doubt part of Savory’s strategy. But he talks only about running dense herds across areas of African veldt without grass. Even with adapted breeds – hybrids of local indigenous cattle – I am skeptical. The moderator asked the same question – “how does that work the first year?” His answer left much to be desired.

  504. Larry in Texas says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Yeah, Willis, I’ve noticed that Mosher has been getting more smarmy these days, and it is more irritating than usual. He’s previously been a bit more fair-minded than that. While I don’t expect him to suffer fools as gladly as you do, he doesn’t have the kind of expertise that qualifies him to be more smarmy that most of the posters at this site. Perhaps he has caught the disease of the true believer.

  505. Paul Burtwistle says:

    So, eat more beef and save the world.
    That should get the greenies spewing.

  506. Climate Ace says:

    Peter in Ohio

    ‘…”No-one knew then that he would go on to destroy his country, starve his people, wreck an economy,….”
    ————————————–
    Anyone taking even a cursory glance at the history of post-colonial Africa had a pretty good idea of what Mugabe’s Zimbabwe was going to look like.’

    The time being focussed on was the self-proclaimed, quasi-dictatorial, militarily-enforced, minority invader-colonist government of the Smith regime. US War of Revolution pro-democratic patriots would have recognised the situation for what it was instantly.

    As for what was to happen in ‘post-colonial Africa’, in hindsight we are all pretty right, usually.

    OTOH, who would have been able to predict that nations cobbled together from European border disputes, economies based on extracting value for metropolitan powers, with no history of civil institutions, no history of democracy, and centuries of learning that might is right would suddenly behave just like middle-class western democracies?

  507. Climate Ace says:

    Bill Parsons says, ‘…cows need around 20 gallons a day.’

    While some of that wil be lost maintaining temperature control, a lot of it ends on the ground by way of being a component of urine and dung.

    OTOH kangaroos can survive off plant moisture.

    http://www.livescience.com/27400-kangaroos.html

    And as anyone who has had a look at fresh kangaroo dung can confirm, it contains very, very little moisture. In the desert, everything hangs on to what it get, moisture-wise and then tends to use it abstemiously.

    This goes to my point that one of the issues with Savory’s (shorter) presentation above is that he tends to use ‘desert’ and ‘rangeland’ interchangeably. What might work in African savannahs with regular rainfall would probably not work in Australia’s boom and bust deserts.

  508. Climate Ace says:

    Gary Lensman says

    ‘Sorry Ace, you said

    Quote

    Mimicing nature’ in a holistic way can not mean having a human population of 10 billion or 20 billion or 30 billion or wherever optimum human population it is that endless growth advocates think we should be aiming for.

    Unquote

    As I said, hyperbole.

    And you did not answer my question, which form of science is your god?’

    It is not me who is calling for a global population. I was merely reporting what pro-development people are promoting. If they are being hyperbolic, so be it. You have missed my point. You cannot run 100 billion people (or even 7 billion people) on planet earth by mimicing nature. You have to ignore nature and make your own rules. We are doing that. Therefore we are on our own.

    http://growthunlimited.blogspot.com.au/2006/12/happy-new-world-with-100-billion-people.html

    In answer to your question, there are no gods.

  509. Climate Ace says:

    William Abbott says

    ‘When you own the land you have every incentive to take care of it, to make it more productive & more valuable.’

    I agree with this statement but with an important proviso. The land has to be able to generate a profit. In Australia we have regrowth areas that were cleared and then abandoned because they became unprofitable to farm. (I believe that the Wildnerness area that featured in American Civil War battles was the same) . When capital has dried up, personal energy has dried up, so do maintenance of farm infrastructure, care for soils and care of biodiversity. (I should mention in passing that some of Australia’s regrowth areas are being re-cleared and are being farmed profitably using new farming techniques.)

    Right now we have farmers literally walking off the land in the eastern and north-eastern stretches of Western Australian wheatbelt because their climate is changing… drier, more variable rains, different seasonality of rains, and warmer. IMHO, these farmers would be amongst the most sophisticated dryland farmers in the world. They are masters at minimum tillage and soil moisture conservation.

    But they simply cannot make a buck any more. These farmers were the least likely sociological group in Australia to support AGW. Now they are openly discussing the possibility that ‘…something might be going on.’ And why wouldn’t they? They are now amongst the world’s first AGW refugees.

  510. Climate Ace says:

    John in New Zealand says:

    ‘What I found amazing was that so many people in positions of power had no idea that rotational grazing is sustainable. I now have a better understanding why the greenies want us to be vegetarians. They think livestock are bad for the environment.’

    I am not sure ‘greenies’ think. They seem to be some sort of hate-object for large numbers of WUWT posters. I have never seen a green-skinned person but when I do, I will ask them what they really think.

    One of the concepts of understanding energy and nutrient flows in both natural and anthropogenically-modified systems is that of trophic levels. Simplied, it says that if you eat grass to maintain yourself, you use less energy and nutrients to gain and maintain body weight. If you eat things that eat grass, including cattle, you use far more energy and nutrients to maintain the same body weight. If you eat eaters of grasseaters, say lions, then again you go up the trophic chain and you use extremely high amounts of nutrients and energy. (Amongst other things, this explains why the only eaters of eaters of grasseaters are small parasites).

    In the sense that cattle grazing, along with associated hydrology changes, along with associated land management changes such as the intentional and non-intentional introduction of propagules has a major impact of reducing wild genese by extinction or range contraction. If one way of looking at the environment is range of wild genese, then cattle are bad for the environment. Very bad.

    The concept of trophic levels has relevant applications. If you want to minimise the rate of loss of wild genetics by extinction, (or more usually, by contraction of range) then, logically, you would seek to obtain human nutrients from as far down the trophic chain as you get and in so doing reduce anthropogenic pressures and disturbances on nature.

    OTOH, if you are concerned that around 1 billion people a year go to bed hungry each night, one strategic solution would be to move human consumption of nutrients and energy as far down the trophic chain as you can get.

  511. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Anssi V. says:
    March 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/GlobalMaps/view.php?d1=MOD14A1_M_FIRE

    The link provides a rough impression of the number of fires burning around the globe – might be useful for (coarsely) estimating the correctness of figures provide by Savory. Please note though, that the color of the “fire” pixels denotes the number of fires, and not their size.

    Thanks, Anssi. It’s a fascinating link, but I’m not sure what it means. The most common orange color means on the order of 10 fires per 1000 sq. km per day, or one fire per 100 sq. km. That’s one fire per 10,000 hectares per day, or one fire per 25,000 acres per day …

    So how big are these fires, and how significant is this, if we have one fire per 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) per day?

    w.

  512. Willis Eschenbach says:

    John Tillman says:
    March 11, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Re: “6000 cars”.

    My guess is that Savory based that comparison on somebody’s estimate of total CO2 emissions from all the worlds’ passenger cars. Here are some possibly questionable figures from Europe & the US:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motor_vehicle_emissions#Carbon_dioxide_.28CO2.29

    I’d like to see his calculations for the hectare of grassland. There might be some order of magnitude errors either in the car or vegetation data. Without seeing his work, looks like possible decimal misplacement, even accepting the suspiciously high estimate of grassland acreage burned annually.

    They say 11,450 pounds of CO2 per passenger car (5190 kg). That’s about 3,100 pounds (1,415 kg) of carbon per car. Six thousand cars will produce about 18 million pounds of carbon annually … sorry, but that agrees with my figures. I figured more gasoline (US mileage and distance vs European), but the difference wasn’t large Something is terribly wrong with his numbers.

    w.

  513. Willis Eschenbach says:

    retiredranger says:
    March 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

    … [much good stuff] …

    Reductions in grazing numbers on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada combined with the fencing of riparian areas has stabilized stream banks, increased water flows, retained soils and have benefited large mammal species such as deer and elk, fish numbers increasing in streams and other indicator species in ecosystems. I’ve seen the similar results on the Cibola and Inyo National Forests during my career with the U.S. Forest Service. The reduction of animal numbers and protecting riparian areas has worked all over the west on national forest land and the Public Land System managed by the BLM. Desertification can be traced back to the overgrazing in the late 19th century.

    First, thanks for your experienced and considered views, much appreciated. And your point is well taken, that the original ecosystems need to be considered when looking at the effects of grazing.

    I’m curious as to the disentangling of the reduction in grazing versus the protection of the riparian areas. What are the different effects of each one applied separately?

    All the best,

    w.

  514. Tony Hansen says:

    People critical of the Savory presentation perhaps need to know that this video is only an introduction to a 40 hour (basic) course. (Stan Parsons and others run similar courses) The ideas are simple but a better understanding only comes with time and experience (such is life).

    Just a few points (and please note that I do not have any great understanding of the whole thing)
    1. Perhaps the most important idea is matching Stocking Rate to Carrying Capacity. People questioning how Savorys ideas could work in semi-desert environments need to note this.

    2. The best practitioners use Grazing Charts (A1 size). That is their grazing database (in some cases going back decades). The performance and production is well documented.
    I know two researchers (and have heard of a couple more) who wanted to do research on this stuff, however none were able to get funding. No funding means no research which means nothing in the literature. It tells us more about the grant makers than anything else.

    3. Rest for the pasture is critical, but is it too much or too little for the preferred pasture species and is it enough to break the life-cycle of ticks, worms etc. This rather depends on weather variations and whether you live in a brittle or non-brittle environment.

    4. Infiltration is essential for production. Run-off and evaporation are dead losses (except for where run-off is required for dam water).

    5. Succession in the pasture community is an indicator of the success (or otherwise) of the management practices employed. This can be and is monitored.

    The introduction of fencing started the demise of shepherds. I’ve often wondered what the shepherds knew but the fence builders did not. I very much doubt that this kind of knowledge is innate. We often see successional changes following periods of low prices or prolonged drought. The old timers decide that they have had enough and pass on or sell the farm/ranch. Most of them keep much (or all) of what they know in their heads. When they leave, or die, that knowledge is lost “like tears in rain”. How much of what our forbears knew (and probably learnt the hard way) has been lost to us?

  515. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Justus says:
    March 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I think that the encroachment of deserts is a very real problem caused by humans, just like other climactic effects other than catastrophic warming, which I am obviously skeptical of.

    Thanks, Justus. The great desert belts of the planet are located at ≈ 30° north and south of the Equator. The dry air from the tropics descends there, meaning little rainfall.

    Now, these desert belts are not fixed. They shift unpredictably polewards and equatorwards. As a result, some of what you call “the encroachment of deserts” is nothing more than these natural swings. So not all desert encroachment is “a very real problem caused by humans”. Some is, absolutely … but not all.

    w.

  516. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Larry in Texas says:
    March 11, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 10, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Yeah, Willis, I’ve noticed that Mosher has been getting more smarmy these days, and it is more irritating than usual.

    I wouldn’t go that far. But his constant attacks are wearying. He’s a smart guy, and insightful. I just wish he do that instead of trying to tear things down.

    w.

  517. D.B. Stealey says:

    Climate Ace says:

    “These farmers were the least likely sociological group in Australia to support AGW. Now they are openly discussing the possibility that ‘…something might be going on.’ And why wouldn’t they? They are now amongst the world’s first AGW refugees.”

    The world’s first climate refugees? That’s emotion talking. Ever hear of the Azteks?

    The climate is always changing. Always has, always will. Naturally.

  518. Francisco says:

    A key limiting factor to the amount of land mass that can be covered by vegetation is CO2. More than half of the current land mass on earth is relatively barren. If you want a lusher planet all over, you need much more CO2 in the air. This man seems to be attempting to cover a vast amount of land with vegetation for the main purpose of reducing CO2 concentration worldwide, which in turn would place even lower limits to the amount of vegetation that can be sustained. The required additional CO2 has to come from somewhere. Or else you will need to desertify other regions or at least put plants on a low CO2 diet somewhere else. There is some kind weird contradiction in these endeavors, as if someone were trying to increase something by reducing (or for the purpose of reducing) the amount of food available to sustain the very increase you are trying to obtain.
    Well, maybe if you bring atmospheric CO2 levels down enough, you may get the oceans to start regurgitating some of the carbon they hoard, but that’s a slow process. I think it’s great to want to green deserts. But you shouldn’t simultaneously get all excited about the prospect that, once those deserts they take from the air all the food they need to become green, there will be a lot less food available to keep them that way. This is what really excites him.

    One way or another you will need more CO2 to have more land covered by plants. If you give me a little toy desert, say in a greenhouse, and you tell me: “now green it!” The first thing I will ask is whether I can pump in some extra CO2, the more the better. I wouldn’t say that my goal is to have as little CO2 available as possible. Good lord!

  519. Climate Ace says:

    DB Stealey says

    ‘Ever hear of the Azteks?’

    Frankly, no. Are they related to daleks?

  520. davidmhoffer says:

    Climate Ace;
    OTOH, if you are concerned that around 1 billion people a year go to bed hungry each night, one strategic solution would be to move human consumption of nutrients and energy as far down the trophic chain as you can get
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Since the problem is entirely one of corrupt and ineffective governance rather than a shortage of food, this would solve precisely nothing.

  521. davidmhoffer says:

    My guess is that Savory based that comparison on somebody’s estimate of total CO2 emissions from all the worlds’ passenger cars.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The CO2 number is so unsupportable that I suspect the number was arrived at a different way. It is a technique (which I despise) frequently used in marketing strategies. Find some element that is produced in minute (the smaller the better, as long as you can measure it) quantities by gasoline and in larger (significant) quantities by burning grass. Both quantities could be completely meaningless, as long as the ratio is 6,000 to 1.

    I saw an advert on tv the other day claiming that two slices of bread contained a long list of vitamens and minerals. Why two slices? Wouldn’t one slice have the same? Turns out no. Some of the list occurred in amounts so small that they needed two slices just to have enough to measure and say it existed. So the list gets longer, but half of it is meaningless. This is the same thing, I’m betting they found something (ash maybe?) that barely occurs at all in gasoline and there’s 6,000 times as much…but still meaningless….in grass. Hmmm. Does gasoline produce THC? I bet grass produces at LEAST 6,000 times as much.

  522. mark ro says:

    The most important thing to remember with grazers in Africa might be this…
    http://www.dump.com/wildebeestcontemplate/

  523. markx says:

    Climate Ace says: March 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    “…… In Australia we have regrowth areas that were cleared and then abandoned because they became unprofitable to farm. …..
    Right now we have farmers literally walking off the land in the eastern and north-eastern stretches of Western Australian wheatbelt because their climate is changing… drier, more variable rains, different seasonality of rains, and warmer. IMHO, these farmers would be amongst the most sophisticated dryland farmers in the world. They are masters at minimum tillage and soil moisture conservation…..”

    Ace, should we also consider other factors in this which would have major impacts on profitability in marginal conditions?:

    1. Massive increases in fuel costs, and also associated logistics/transportation.
    2. Increased salaries for workers and great difficulty in getting workers – due to the mining boom.
    3. Increase government costs and much greater administrative requirements: GST +Carbon Tax.
    4. Bracket creep in taxation: A greater proportion of profit is paid in tax in the face of rising turnover and costs.
    5. Recent periods of high interest finance have eaten away cash reserves.
    6. The loss of the AWB single trading desk (Privatised!), and associated further exposure to the biased ‘free market’ concepts of (primarily) USA centric ‘big business’, loss of moderation of prices, and regularity and certainty of payment.
    6. Sociological changes … the younger generation with their different expectations of life are departing and not coming back: (loss of free labour and the incentive for continuity of ownership).

    I believe it oversimplifies the issue to simply blame “climate change” and I’m not sure we have the data there to ascertain the significance or normality of recent changes, although I’d agree that ‘government reaction to fear of climate change’ has probably played a significant role.

  524. markx says:

    mark ro says: March 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    The most important thing to remember with grazers in Africa might be this…
    http://www.dump.com/wildebeestcontemplate/

    Ha ha… Love it Mark!… A friend of mine (a cattleman) sent it to me recently saying “Ya gotta really know bovines and their thinking to get just how funny and true to life this is!”

  525. Chuck Nolan says:

    Climate Ace says:
    March 11, 2013 at 6:34 pm
    DB Stealey says

    ‘Ever hear of the Azteks?’

    Frankly, no. Are they related to daleks?
    ———–
    No, the Azteks, weren’t they an early Motown group from the late 50s?
    cn

  526. Pat Moffitt says:

    Over 500 posts and not one comment that Dr. Savory’s goal has as an end result the destruction of the world’s desert ecosystems and the massive extinction of desert species.

    While I fear this may be off topic- this comment thread begs for an answer. How many comments would we expect to pass before the first concern raised for desert species if :
    • Dr. Savory had not carefully framed deserts as the end result of destructive human action
    • Dr. Savory clearly and openly stated to achieve his desired goal we must destroy desert ecosystems and countless desert species.

    What would be the expected reaction if Dr. Savory postulated some great human benefit that was achieved by an “extractive process” rather than framed as a “green process”? Do these comments reveal we view desert and/or desert species as less valueable and worthy of protection?
    The psychology and value judgments at play here are fascinating.

  527. James Allison says:

    Heavens I’m late to this party – 529 comments. My little story – In a previous life I owned a deer farm in NZ and practised (as far as I can make out) some of the same techniques Allan S is advocating. It was an extremely low cost and efficient way of farming. In my case it was an intensive rotational grazing regime for 7 months of the year plus 1 month of open gate policy during spring across the whole whole farm while the delicate new grass shoots were emerging. The remaining months saw the roar (mating) and at the other end of the year the hinds were given space to give birth. One immediate benefit was that no supplementary feeding was necessary during the harsh winter months because pasture recovery was so efficient and fast. Also because the animals were continually moved onto fresh pasture they weren’t exposed to lung worms and other parasites meaning I didn’t need to drench – unlike neighbouring farmers. Savory mentions in one paper that the “golden” hooves trampled the standing straw which became water retaining mulch for the soil. Also that the intensive spread of urine and dung helped pasture recover. Meanwhile my neighbouring farmers appeared too busy burning up fuel in their large tractors pulling heavy implements to till and resow pasture and make hay/silage/bailage etc for winter feed to notice what was going on “over the fence”. The proof in the pudding were the top prices we got year after year at the annual yearling deer sale auctions.

  528. Jimmy J. says:

    This is very interesting. I remember reading an essay a few years back by a cattle rancher in Colorado about using the intensive rotational grazing technique. He used movable electric fences to create new paddocks and found the results provided better pasture even in dry years. I couldn’t find that particular piece, but I managed to find another from a cattle ranch in Arizona that has engaged in a very intensive rotation and review of their results. I don’t know if all ranchers, particularly Third World ranchers, would be so into the details, but this verifies that rotational grazing works in Arizona’s dry climate.
    http://doublecircleranch.com/sustainable-ranching-at-the-double-circle-ranch/rotational-grazing/

  529. James Allison says:

    I also worked on an outback cattle station up North West Queensland way – for anybody who knows the area the closest town was Cloncurry and closest drinking hole (1/2 way to Cloncurry) was a Pub called Quamby. These cattle stations predominately farmed a 2/3rds brahman and 1/3rd shorthorn cattle cross. Really wild buggers every one of em. My point is simply that this station and others like it may have benefited immensely by using Savory’s techniques. However it would have been problematic introducing intensive grazing regimes because, for example, on the station I worked on the house paddock where the brood mares were kept was 120 square miles. And it would take up to a week to muster a paddock both a helicopter and 4-5 stockmen including me.

  530. provoter says:

    If you watch the hour-long version of the presentation, not only will you get a much better feel for what this Savory guy is trying to say (and I think that at a minimum it merits a much closer look), but you’ll also be hard pressed not to conclude that the continuous flow of his climate change platitudes are driven at least as much by a marketing strategy as anything else. He’s convinced that confronting The Church head-on is biting off more than he can chew, so he attempts to soothe the beast by stroking its fragile paradigm (so to speak).

    Now, maybe he swallows The Church’s teachings wholecloth, maybe he doesn’t (seems almost certain he did at some point in his life, but that’s another story…), but his platitudes come across more as lip service than true belief. Clearly he sees all the attention and funding that go to the church, and clearly he understands that its teachings (“Gazillions more CATTLE? So people can EAT MORE MEAT? AAHHHH!!!”) is the single greatest obstacle to convincing some meaningful chunk of the world that his cause is worthy. There is no way in hell this project does anything but tremendous harm to the The One True Cause: not only does it not help the cause in any way, it also says that Gaia IS AN OMNIVORE! Livestock is an integral piece of the fragile whole, says Mr. Savory, the plain implication being that Earth cannot properly function without meat — lots and lots and lots of it! For this and many other reasons, the church truly IS his greatest obstacle, and it would be little less than shocking if Mr. Savory were sufficiently obtuse not to know this and know it well.

    If you see the church as the driving force that is keeping the world in the dark on an issue as important to said world as he believes his issue to be, you will soon swallow the kool-aid less automatically; you might even begin to look at the CGAW body of work somewhat — dare we say it? — skeptically! None of this is to say that Mr. Savory hasn’t willed himself to keep the CAGW faith, as surely he must know that it’s the less risky path to hold on to such faith in order to better blend and do business with the natives. But he knows his cause’s true enemy, and it’s highly unlikely he hasn’t yet realized that what he is dealing with in that enemy is Religion, first and foremost.

    FWIW.

  531. Climate Ace says:

    markx

    ‘I believe it oversimplifies the issue to simply blame “climate change” and I’m not sure we have the data there to ascertain the significance or normality of recent changes, although I’d agree that ‘government reaction to fear of climate change’ has probably played a significant role.’

    You quite rightly raise a whole raft of factors affecting farm profitability which would need to be considered in assessing why farmers are walking off their farms. However the factors you raise, assuming for the sake of argument that all the points you make are valid, affect all Australian grain farmers. But not all Australian grain farmers are walking off their farms: only the ones who are being belted by climate change. I notice that writers are using the term ‘drought’ in the context of the public discussion around the phenomenum. This does not make sense. In the south-west the old definitions of ‘drought’ no longer apply. Welcome to the new normal.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/farm-exodus-as-drought-sows-seeds-of-despair/story-e6frg8zx-1226590322090

  532. Climate Ace says:

    dmh

    ‘Climate Ace;
    OTOH, if you are concerned that around 1 billion people a year go to bed hungry each night, one strategic solution would be to move human consumption of nutrients and energy as far down the trophic chain as you can get
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Since the problem is entirely one of corrupt and ineffective governance rather than a shortage of food, this would solve precisely nothing.’

    Entirely? No price signal affected by supply and demand considerations? No hunger affected by price signals? None at all?

  533. gnarf says:

    When he says burning 1ha releases what 6000 cars release… he means what cars release during the time it takes to burn, not during entire car life.
    At least that’s how I understand it.

  534. Kerry McCauley says:

    Provoter, March 11 at 10:37

    Bravo! With no intention of getting your goat: admiration for your crafty genuflection to site policy. You do good preaching to the choir.

  535. Larry Kirk says:

    @ Climate Ace:

    “But, but, but… great big furry striped cane toads in the Kimberleys? Now, where did that go wrong the last time?”

    Um, yes.. we haven’t had a lot of luck with introduced amphibians have we, though the top predator is now manning our borders, armed with a beer and a cricket bat.

    But those big furry beasts breed at a much slower rate, and are a lot bigger and easier to spot. There would be no problem controlling them. As John Tillman noted later, large predators have never been any match for us: the Ancient Britons got rid of most of them where I come from, then the Romans finished them off; the villagers around the small gold mine that I worked on in West Java used to warn me: “Don’t go down into the jungle after dark: the Meong will get you!”, but the poor old meong had actually been wiped out by their grandparents, at about the same time as the ‘Tasmanian tiger’ in fact, and its few remaining cousins that I worked amongst in Central Sumatra were up against it from illegal logging, road and dam projects, pineapple plantations and the bounty that a villager could get for its claws as Chinese medicine and and private parts as an invirilating restaurant delicacy.

    Besides which, as a bush geologist, it is just an incredibly rare and special experience to be picking your way home along a jungle track at nightfall, in primal fear of whatever beast left raking claw marks seven feet up the tree that you just passed, with the acrid stench of a very large tomcat. It beats even being the lone early morning swimmer off some WA beach who has just seen a huge grey shape glide underneath him and is praying that it was a sea lion. You suddenly know exactly what you are. A meal armed with a small stick. Everybody should know that.

    @John Tillman:

    “Larry, as you probably know, Australia used to have major reptile & marsupial predators, such as a giant, Komodo dragon-like goanna & this guy:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsupial_lion

    Yes, there were many large predators here once, and a lot of large herbivores, upon which they obviously preyed. I am never quite sure how instrumental we were in their demise though. Most of the Pleistocene megafauna seem to have gone extinct worldwide over the same period of time, although smaller predators like the thylacine appear to have hung on in WA and along the Nullabor until a couple of thousand years ago, and lasted even longer in the higher rainfall areas of Tasmania until European farmers finally hunted them out in the 1930s..

    It is tempting to correlate the demise of all these species (wooly mammoths, sabre-toothed wombats, etc.) with the rise of human beings, but I am not sure that we were entirely to blame. There were large, quite rapid oscillations in climate and sea level during this period, accompanying the recent ice ages and interglacials, so it may be that accompanying rapid changes in rainfall and vegetation patterns extinguished the larger, less adaptable herbivores, along with most of the predators that hunted them, leaving only the most adaptable or best-suited species to survive, amongst them those wily, omniverous and infinitely adaptible scavengers: ourselves.

    It could be that, both here and in the northern hemisphere, only the very most adaptable species made it through this epoch of climatic disturbance, and we just happened to be one of them.

  536. A C Osborn says:

    Very odd that 40 years ago an Indian came up with a very similar result from a completely different method.
    See this post at Chefio’s forum.
    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/leucaena-leucocephala-collection-of-links/

  537. Jens Raunsø Jensen says:

    Further to the exaggerations of Alan Savory: in his TED talk at 19:35 he states “we are already doing so on about 15 Mha on 5 continents”. That’s a sizeable area. And who are “we” and what are we doing?

    I can not find any reference to the 15 Mha elsewhere. But according to his own information ( http://www.savoryinstitute.com/research-and-case-studies/ ) the socalled research and case study projects only covers approx 0.15 Mha on 3 continents (Zimbabwe, mid-western USA and eastern AUS). Where is the rest 14.85 Mha ? Did I miss something, or is Alan Savory exaggerating achievements by a factor 100 ? (OK, I know such numbers are difficult but one could expect that at least the order of size would be reliable).

    What a lot of nonsense about greening the worlds deserts. To begin with Desertification is NOT a fancy word for land that is turning to desert (as Alan Savory wrongly states in the beginning of the talk; NOT inserted by me). Desertification is a term coined for land degradation in dry land areas due to anthropogenic and CLIMATE factors and has nothing to do with deserts. And as I have mentioned earlier, the so-called desertification in the west-african Sahel area has later been found to be caused mainly by decadal climate fluctuations. The vegetation has now largely recovered because the rainfall has returned to more “normal” levels.The earlier belief of an anthropogenic caused desertification is a longlived myth.

    Pls do not misread me here. Land degradation is a very important issue, but while Alan Savory is advocating a holistic management approach focusing on livestock only, such approaches (and much more holistic for that matter, not only focusing on livestock) have for decades been applied in large-scale agriculture and natural resources management initiatives across the globe, trying to address the true complexity of balancing social, economic and environmental objectives, e.g. Sustainable Livelihood Approach, Community Forestry, Participatory and Integrated Watershed Development, Sustainable Land Management etc. Improved management of livestock is ofcourse a component here, and fine with me. But don’t let the tail wag the dog.

    And Anthony – yes, you were (momentarily) crazy when you posted this as a very important post. Better luck next time – and thanks for your efforts.

    best wishes … jens

  538. anna v says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 11, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    I’m betting they found something (ash maybe?) that barely occurs at all in gasoline and there’s 6,000 times as much…but still meaningless….in grass.

    I think you will win the bet, because when I first read his statement I immediately thought of smog which is very current here in Athens Greece. We got a lot about the submicron sized particles in smog, and smoke from fireplaces in the living rooms, being deadly for people.

    Due to the floundering economy they raised the tax on heating oil to such heights that people in towns ( including Athens) started using fireplaces which were just decorative in all the new apartments and as a result, when there is no wind the cities are covered in smog.

  539. John Tillman says:

    Re: Australian megafauna extinctions.

    Science can’t be sure when numbers of humans first arrived in Australia, but the currently accepted best date correlates strongly with likeliest period for extinction of the giant wombat, etc.
    Of course correlation doesn’t clinch causation, but the case for human contribution, arguably critical, is strong. Humans may not have hunted the big animals to extinction, but in combination with other factors, including their own dogs, associated rats & habitat alterations, our species probably made the difference, as I wrote, directly or indirectly.

    http://www.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@sci/@eesc/documents/doc/uow014698.pdf

    Abstract:

    All Australian land mammals, reptiles, and birds weighing more than 100
    kilograms, and six of the seven genera with a body mass of 45 to 100 kilograms,
    perished in the late Quaternary. The timing and causes of these extinctions
    remain uncertain. We report burial ages for megafauna from 28 sites and infer
    extinction across the continent around 46,400 years ago (95% confidence
    interval, 51,200 to 39,800 years ago). Our results rule out extreme aridity at
    the Last Glacial Maximum as the cause of extinction, but not other climatic
    impacts; a “blitzkrieg” model of human-induced extinction; or an extended
    period of anthropogenic ecosystem disruption.

    Ever since Paul Martin proposed his controversial “Late Pleistocene Overkill Hypothesis” in the 1960s, critics have attempted to falsify human causation for the apparently abrupt Quaternary Extinction Event in North America. It’s hard to do, since most of the big animals which disappeared from ~14,000 years ago had survived climate fluctuations at least as severe as those of the last deglaciation. For example, wooly mammoths had been through two glacial/interglacial transitions & varieties of the Columbian mammoth even more.

    Forest-dwelling mastodons survived into the Holocene. Latter surviving species of bison were seemingly wiped out by American Indians of the Archaic Period driving them over cliffs, as the Solutreans in France did horses (which of course survived in Eurasia).

    Unlike consensus climate “scientists”, Martin (recently deceased) welcomed criticism of his hypothesis & organized conferences on it with invited opponents. Not just climate but disease (in some cases associated with human arrival) & bolide impacts have been suggested as contributory factors, among others. The latest challenge comes from pushing back the date of first human arrival a few to several thousand years earlier than he assumed originally.

    The idea is that megafauna like elephants & rhinos survived in Africa because they were used to human predation, not naive like American mammoths, antique bison species, camel, horses & ground sloths, etc, & the carnivores which relied upon them. There is physical evidence of mammoth hunting, which some have interpreted as scavenging.

    Eurasia is an intermediate case, since megafaunal extinction there took place over a longer period (perhaps beginning with the wooly rhino), but is also associated with the arrival of anatomically modern humans & their development of advanced hunting techniques, combined with the pressure of changing climate & perhaps associated habitat zonal compression. Since it appears dwarf woolies survived on human-free Wrangel Island until 4000 years ago, they weren’t hunted to extinction. Aurochs eventually were, but only a few centuries ago (also hurt by forest clearance), & the European bison (wisent) just barely scraped by. Ibex (wild goats) remain in pretty good shape in their mountain fastnesses. The list of extinct (both locally & globally) big game & their predators is however long.

    Islands & island-like environments on larger land masses offer the clearest examples of human-caused or -abetted extinctions, with New Zealand an important case in point. Frequently both hunting & habitat loss contribute, along with human-associated rats & domestic animals. Australia in this sense is an island writ large, a very big yet still unusual & isolated ecosystem, suddenly disrupted.

    Humans don’t IMO have it in our power significantly to alter global climate (although obviously we create UHIs), but we are capable of wiping out species large & small in certain environments, & have apparently done so.

  540. SimonRoberts says:

    I’m a little confused about why people seem to be hailing this man. He makes some ludicrous statements early in the videos – why would we think that any of his later statements are sensible?

    He states Climate Change has already wiped out 20 civilisations. Pardon?
    He states that London was only viable because it was supported by Australia, the United States etc. Well, they’ve been independent for a while but last time I visited it, London was still there.

    If his views are this wrong on things we do know about, how reliable are his views on things we don;t know about?

  541. agricultural economist says:

    We have to be very cautious not to view something as true just because it sounds plausible. I worked in (organic) farming for a couple of years. I found the farming community littered with both vast and excellent practical experience, and completely detached nuttiness, often combined in the same, charismatic person.

    You can find similar charismatic guys talking about homeopathy with the same eloquence. But there is no scientific substance to it, Nevertheless, people love homeopathy (even though it is not even plausible, not even that).

    Whether to use rotational grazing or not, and, if yes, to what intensity was a continuous topic of discussion. In many climates you can do both, but humid conditions favor permanent grazing somewhat, at least in moderate climates. Often the way you graze just alters the species composition, so you just create a different ecosystem on your paddock which is nor better or worse than the alternative.

    So unless Savory can really prove that he found Columbus’ egg, I stay skeptical.

  542. Stephanie K says:

    The greater problem here, is that humans have demolished or greatly diminished entire species of natural herd grazers, such as buffalo, deer, giraffes, and elephants. Through habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, and culling, humans have created the problem! The solution would be to stop threatening these species and help their numbers increase by providing them safe habitat and enforcing strict no-kill rules.

    Allan talks about his concern for the millions of humans who are suffering and dying. What about the 10 billion livestock animals that are brutally slaughtered each year in America alone?! Does their suffering mean nothing? His view is a very human-centric one and does not take into consideration the delicate balance of all living beings.

  543. Larry Kirk says:

    @John Tillman, 8.01am re: Australian Megafauna Extnctions

    Thanks John, a very informative and interesting paper.

    I wasn’t being facetious by the way; I really have no clear idea whether or not we were the major factor in the world-wide extinction of so many of the Pleistocene megafauna. It would be terrible to think that we were such a force for species destruction, even that long ago, but certainly we were the first species to go around spearing and butchering anything that we could eat or that threatened our existence, and that might well have made a difference.

    I feel that what I should really do now to make up my mind’ is to research all the latestof the rapidly expanding knowledge of prehistoric human populations and migrations and then compare this to the most recent findings on megafaunal extinctions around the world, to see how well they actually do correlate. But it being 12.45am here in Western Australia and having to get to work in six hours time I should probably delay that project to another time!

    With regards,

    LK

  544. anna v says:

    Stephanie K says:
    March 12, 2013 at 9:49 am

    The greater problem here, is that humans have demolished or greatly diminished entire species of natural herd grazers, such as buffalo, deer, giraffes, and elephants. Through habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, and culling, humans have created the problem! The solution would be to stop threatening these species and help their numbers increase by providing them safe habitat and enforcing strict no-kill rules.

    I disagree on the solution because together with the herd grazers humans eliminated predators, wolves tigers lions in the same habitats ,and threatening others still surviving, like bears. Predators were natures cullers . Deer will eat up a whole forest if not culled as there are no wolves to check their numbers. Man has also to replace the function of predators. In this proposal, if it is viable, the herds will be moved and culled by humans, mimicking predators.

  545. Zeke says:

    Does anyone know what happened to the ivory from the 40,000 elephants?

  546. John Tillman says:

    Larry, I hope that when & if you do find time to study the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions, you might also be able to write up your conclusions. Anthony or his highly-skilled professional moderators in the pay of Big Oil would I assume find the subject a topic worthy of this blog, as relevant to life, science, nature & climate, etc.

    My opinion is that humans definitely hunted many bird species to extinction over the past several years, aided by habitat destruction & the depredations of our rats & dogs, especially on islands, like the moa & dodo, but also even widely distributed, vastly numerous North American species like the passenger pigeon, which suffered from hunting at the same time as its Eastern hardwood forest habitat was being cut down for wood & burnt to grow corn. So why wouldn’t people have done the same 10,000 years ago (except maybe for the size & danger of big game vs. small game)?

    New technology as well as invading new territory can also put pressure on big game populations. The Great Plains bison herds were doomed by firearms, whether wielded by market hunters backed by a government intent on rapidly depriving Indians of their livelihoods (not to mention the desires of settlers & railroads), or, after the introduction of repeating arms, more slowly by the Plains peoples themselves, who like the whites also preferred to shoot cows. (Muzzle-loaders were too hard to reload on horseback, so the adoption of firearms instead of arrows & lances for hunting was delayed.)

    Even 500 years after the demise of (nine?) moa species, Maori oral history preserved the memory of giant birds easy to catch, which the first settlers gladly slaughtered for want of other large animals until their pig population grew.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/287/5461/2250

  547. Zeke says:

    That above post is why domesticated animals and high yield crops are so important to human life and so beneficial to the environment. Countries who use the agricultural advancements first developed by Norman Borlaug have become not only self-sufficient, but net exporters of grain. And the forests and local wildlife are incidentally preserved as well because there is enough to eat and to make a profit.

    One of the indicators of a blessed and prosperous people/country are “wide pastures” and cultivated land. It requires peaceful conditions and a general safety from maurauders, theives, predators, environmentalists who are trying to get rid of the domesticated cow through methane legislation based on shoddy science, and from the activities of well-funded NGOs.Cattle belongs with people and people belong with cattle. It has been so for ages: Mithra, the arch angel of friendship, loyalty, and agreements made between people, is also the angel of “wide pastures.”

  548. Anssi V. says:

    Re: Willis Eschenbach March 11, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Willis, that graph is not going to provide answers your question about size and significance. I posted the link just for folks to see easily that agricultural burning is indeed taking place a lot in Africa – enough, at least for me, to justify a deeper look, but it’s not going to provide that just by itself. I’m trying to find more info about the size of these fires, but right now I’m quite busy with other matters (moving next weekend). If someone knows some dataset potentially shedding light to this, it would be nice to post it in here. There seems to be some burned area info in http://modis-fire.umd.edu/Burned_Area_Products.html but I don’t have time to look into it further right now.

    I have to say that I’m kind of frustrated about the scarcity of citations and references in Savory’s presentations, even more so because they often are related to his chosen marketing sidelines like “carbon” and “climate change”; a strategy that may very well backfire big time, if vagueness and unfounded assertions undermine his “main” message – which I find pretty solid and very important.

    One constructive way to address these issues could be to invite Allan Savory to answer a set of preselected questions in a WUWT article, many such questions have already been asked in this thread, this would also give him an opportunity to further elaborate his main points, and to provide citations and references.

  549. davidmhoffer says:

    Climate Ace;
    Entirely? No price signal affected by supply and demand considerations? No hunger affected by price signals? None at all?
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    You proposed decreasing livestock and increasing food crops to grow enough food to feed a billion people who are starving. I pointed out that there is already enough food, so growing still more won’t solve the problem. So you whine about price fluctuations. There will always be price fluctuation in individual commodities, that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough food to go around nor does it mean that smoothing them out will do diddly squat for the people who are starving since they are already starving at both the top and the bottom of the price fluctuation. You’re not interested in what the problem actually is though, so you just try and change the subject instead.

    BTW, your proposal to convert land from livestock feed to food production is a really good way to increase substantially the number of people starving in the world. The land used primarily for livestock feed is in general marginal for food crops. By converting it from something the land from something it is good at (livestock feed) to something it is not good at (food crops) you would be reducing the amount of food in the world. Do you think that will decrease starvation or increase it?

    And if you are wringing your hands about the starving people’s of the world, where is your voice on the matter of raising food and turning it into gasoline and burning it? If you are truly concerned about the world’s starving masses, I suggest you start there and fix a real problem that contributes to world hunger instead of pontificating on subjects you clearly know nothing about and proposing solutions that would make the problem worse due to your ignorance.

  550. James Allison says:

    There seem to be quite a few people posting negative comments. Putting aside the criticisms about how scientific his methods are can any of these detractors point me to an example where somebody has used Allan Savory’s farming techniques and failed?

  551. Ashby says:

    I have no doubt that there are many places currently considered unproductive near desert that would be helped by correct land management and find Savory’s presentation exciting. However, there are plenty of places around the world that exceedingly low levels of rain fall. (There are many such areas out here in California.) My reservation about Savory’s presentation is that there seems little detail in the way of minimum rainfall and water resources necessary for implementation. Death Valley isn’t going to be forested by managed herds of cows. I’m not negative on Savory at all, but I would like to see more studies validating his techniques and explaining the limits of the practice.

  552. Pat Moffitt says:

    davidmhoffer says:
    March 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm
    “BTW, your proposal to convert land from livestock feed to food production is a really good way to increase substantially the number of people starving in the world. The land used primarily for livestock feed is in general marginal for food crops.”
    Spot on. And these “marginal lands” require some large grazer to maintain the balance between grasses, forbs etc. And the efficiency of crop land is far outpacing population growth- or at least it was until we started turning food into fuel.

  553. farmerbraun says:

    “an example where somebody has used Allan Savory’s farming techniques and failed?”

    Surely the employment of rotational grazing does not guarantee sustainability. It depends what else you do.
    It might be premature to say this, but the dairy industry in Godzone, which really is the ultimate development of Voisin, is showing a few cracks. Pastures are lasting 3-4 years , and the replacement is no better; nitrogen inputs and NO3 losses to groundwater are both increasing; soil degradation from high-density stocking at critical periods (late winter) is causing both nitrate leaching and carbon losses; not to mention less drought resilience, and impaired structure leading to compacted soils etc. etc. I don’t need to go on because I guess you have witnessed this yourself.
    Definitely , they are going backwards in terms of sustainability, but failing? Just a few .
    Besides it’s going to rain next week.

  554. When something sounds too good to be true it usually is just that. Allan Savory is a charismatic speaker and he promise no less than to save the planet and at almost no cost. He has been giving this message for two decades now, and equipped with this before and after photos, his message seems almost irresistible.

    The problem is that he so far has failed to find any scientific support for his theories.

    However, that does not mean that there may be something true in his message after all, but he is clearly overselling it.

  555. Kay Wilson says:

    I thought that ammonia from cow’s (as a byproduct) was a big factor in global warming?

  556. John Tillman says:

    It’s not ammonia but the gas methane passed by flatulent cattle that so concerns Warmunistas. The effect of bovine methane on climate is even less significant than man-made carbon dioxide.

    Both greenhouse gases as CAGW threats are bovine excrement.

  557. farmerbraun says:

    Kay Wilson says:
    March 12, 2013 at 4:36 pm
    I thought that ammonia from cow’s (as a byproduct) was a big factor in global warming?

    FB says: perhaps you are confusing NH4+ (ammonium) with nitrous oxide (N2O).
    Relax. James Hansen says nothing to worry about.
    Or perhaps you are confusing NH4+ with CH4(methane).
    Relax. James Hansen says not worth worrying about; besides, it has a short life in the atmosphere and rapidly breaks down.

    But which global warming did you mean? The gradual warming since the Little Ice Age?
    Don’t worry; it’s all good.

    Perhaps the cyclical warming between 1975-2000? Relax. It happens and in the other half of the cycle there is cooling.
    Look at the link below ; it explains the cyclical warming/cooling overlying a gradual warming for the last 150 years.
    Relax; it is all under control (just not human control).

    http://joannenova.com.au/2013/03/has-the-world-started-cooling-hints-from-4-of-5-global-temperature-sets-say-it-might-have/#more-27430

  558. farmerbraun says:

    Whoops! The subconscious slip. Don’t laugh when composing. That should be nitrogen dioxide NO2 ; not nitrous oxide (N2O)- laughing gas.

  559. Galane says:

    He’s failed to find support because like CAGW, the anti-grazers and vegetarians and vegans (who are also full of anti-scientific BS, humans are omnivores) have a personal investment in their completely wrong “facts” and theories on land management.
    If they admit they are wrong, all that power and prestige and government grants and donations from the gullible members of the public vanishes.

    I never knew that it was just one person responsible for the African elephant becoming an endangered species. ‘Course the leftists that have been running public education for so long would never admit this truth, even though Dr. Savory has.

  560. Macbeth says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    March 11, 2013 at 9:49 am

    If he really said that he’s clueless. 6,000 cars run for how long? One year? Ten years?
    In addition, my numbers say no. Assuming 2,000 kg of net primary production per hectare per year for grassland, and a car going 20,000 miles and getting 20 miles per gallon, that works out to about 2,300 kg of fuel burned by the car.

    Nope. Seems that the EPA kool-aide has been drunk concerning CO2 being a dangerous pollutant. Quote: “more damaging pollutants that 6000 cars”

    Those would be particulates, aerosols and VOC.

  561. Anssi V. says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    “an example where somebody has used Allan Savory’s farming techniques and failed?”
    ….
    It might be premature to say this, but the dairy industry in Godzone, which really is the ultimate development of Voisin, is showing a few cracks. …


    Is Godzone actually a valid example of Savory’s techniques? Because it does not translate directly to “rotational grazing”.

    To “qualify” as a proper example,
    1. It would need active involvement of every “decision maker” within that particular (clearly defined) whole,
    2. ..who would together have created a proper holistic goal (or more presently called holistic context, which covers quality of life, forms of production and future resource base) to support and guide any significant decision making and planning
    3. The four ecosystem processes (water and mineral cycles, solar energy flow and community dynamics) would be systematically considered in the making of every goal (including the holistic goal mentioned above) and in every significant decision
    4. It would be ensured that ALL the tools available (money and labor, human creativity, rest, grazing, animal impact, fire, living organisms, technology) would be considered, when making plans and decisions concerning managing resources.
    5. Every significant decision would be tested using seven filter questions – cause and effect, weak link, marginal reaction, gross profit analysis, energy/money source and use, sustainability, society and culture (these are also called root cause, weak link, comparing options, gross profit analysis, input analysis, vision analysis, and gut check)
    6. In general, but especially when dealing with complex living systems, the decisions are anyway assumed to be WRONG, and possible unintended consequences are carefully considered, and earliest indicators to monitor the situation are determined. Decisions and plans are then monitored for earliest signs of change using a feedback loop Plan -> Monitor -> Control (and take action if necessary) -> Replan (if necessary)
    - The above list is by no means complete, but without at least these, a system cannot be said to be using Savory’s techniques

    Has the dairy industry in Godzone been using these techniques, and if so, for how long?

  562. Anssi V. says:

    Re: Jan Kjetil Andersen on March 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    Could you please provide a some kind of citation/quote that has Savory saying that his solution can be implemented “at almost no cost”? Nowhere have I ever heard/read him claim this.

  563. Anssi V. says:

    Re: Galane on March 12, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I would perhaps add that there are very powerful economical interests involved, not just personal ideologies. Assuming (for the sake of argument) that Savory’s approach would prove to be feasible, most agribusiness giants would have nothing to gain and a lot to lose should these practices become more widespread. They would (and will) likely use every trick in the bag – regardless of ethics – to resist that kind of development. For example, I know Monsanto has been influencing nutritional recommendations (and even nutritional science itself) in order to create market need for its certain products. I would be very surprised if this kind of influence didn’t extend to law, science, recommendations and policies concerning land use and food production in general. Or perhaps it is merely a coincidence that Joel Salatin has written a book called “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal” :)

    Btw, Regarding the elephants, I’m not sure what you meant, but Savory’s story about culling the elephants; that took place in late 50′s and/or early 60′s, and there were way more elephants back then, this incident does not have much to do with their current status.

  564. Anssi V. says:

    farmerbraun says:
    March 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    “an example where somebody has used Allan Savory’s farming techniques and failed?”
    ….
    It might be premature to say this, but the dairy industry in Godzone, which really is the ultimate development of Voisin, is showing a few cracks. …


    Hmm..is Godzone actually a valid example of Savory’s techniques? Because it (even “farming technique”) does not translate directly to “rotational grazing” – that is only one tool in the bag – certainly the most famous one but still just a tool.

    Because to “qualify” as a proper “Savory’s technique” example,
    1. It would need active involvement of every “decision maker” within that particular (clearly defined) whole,
    2. They would together have created a proper holistic goal (or more presently called holistic context, which covers quality of life, forms of production and future resource base) to support and guide any significant decision making and planning
    3. The four ecosystem processes (water and mineral cycles, solar energy flow and community dynamics) would be systematically considered in the making of every goal (including the holistic goal mentioned above) and in every significant decision
    4. It would be ensured that ALL the tools available (money and labor, human creativity, rest, grazing, animal impact, fire, living organisms, technology) would be considered, when making plans and decisions concerning managing resources.
    5. Every significant decision would be tested using seven filter questions – cause and effect, weak link, marginal reaction, gross profit analysis, energy/money source and use, sustainability, society and culture (these are also called root cause, weak link, comparing options, gross profit analysis, input analysis, vision analysis, and gut check)
    6. In general, but especially when dealing with complex living systems, the decisions are anyway assumed to be WRONG, and possible unintended consequences are carefully considered, and earliest indicators to monitor the situation are determined. Decisions and plans are then monitored for earliest signs of change using a feedback loop Plan -> Monitor -> Control (and take action if necessary) -> Replan (if necessary)
    - The above list (adapted mostly from his book Holistic Decision Making) is by no means complete, but without at least these, a system probably cannot be said to be using “Savory’s techniques”, IMHO.

    I wonder if the dairy industry in Godzone has been in fact using these techniques, and if so, for how long?

  565. Anssi V. says:

    re: Macbeth on March 12, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    He certainly does NOT refer to carbon, because he mentions carbon separately – here’s the exact quote: “.. To prevent that, we have traditionally used fire. But fire also leaves the soil bare, releasing carbon, and worse than that, burning one hectare of grassland gives off more, and more damaging, pollutants than 6,000 cars. And we are burning in Africa, every single year, more than one billion hectares of grasslands, and almost nobody is talking about it.”

    Yes, it’s annoyingly vague, but I think he refers to 6000 cars when compared side by side with the burning grass, for example 1 ha of burning grass compared with 6000 cars in a traffic jam in a large city. So the duration is not a year, or ten years, but the duration of the fire – which I would guess would be measured in hours?

    Let’s assume a figure of 3 hours for the fire (per hectare) to get some ballpark figures. So that would translate to 18000 car-hours. A typical european car consumes about 1l/hr in traffic jam conditions, so let’s use that. This would mean about 18000 liters (about 14000kg) of gasoline consumed – I’m excluding diesel engines for simplicity’s sake.

    In this link:
    http://www.farmersweekly.co.za/article.aspx?id=33151&h=-Blazing-or-grazing-%E2%80%93-the-great-fire-debate
    Prof Winston Trollope says that “a grass fuel load of >4 000 kg/ha has sufficient fuel for a fire”, so I’m using 4000kg of grass fuel to compare this against.

    So Savory’s claim would then become: “4000kg of grass fuel, burned in an open fire over an area of hectare, gives off more, and more damaging, pollutants than burning 14000kg of gasoline in 6000 car combustion engines”. That seems quite possible – at least the figures are in the same ballpark.

  566. farmerbraun says:

    “I wonder if the dairy industry in Godzone has been in fact using these techniques, and if so, for how long?”

    What is the “dairy industry”?

    The individual discrete resource units, commonly known as farms , where the unique expression of each locality/eco-niche/ soil-plant-animal-human association occurs?
    In that case , yes, and for a very long time; these were (exclusively) pastoral farms where the rotational grazing aspects of Voisin’s/Savory’s work were refined in the 1950s and 1960s.

    The monolithic “cooperative” controlling 90% of the milk in Godzone?
    Obviously not; FB doubts that this kind of top-down control, either by central government planning or by board of directors edict , was what Savory envisaged as the entity which would practice wholistic resource management (although of course it is not prevented from doing so). How would the great diversity of geographic situations be managed wholistically by central control?
    FB admits that he did read Savory a very long time ago. Perhaps he misread it.

  567. Re: Anssi V. on March 13, 2013 at 2:40 am
    Re: Jan Kjetil Andersen on March 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    Could you please provide a some kind of citation/quote that has Savory saying that his solution can be implemented “at almost no cost”? Nowhere have I ever heard/read him claim this

    To me it seems pretty obvious that a solution based on the simple means he describes will have a very low cost. The herding technique can be done by local people with minimal investment and training. This could even be cheaper than to feed cattle with harvest from fertilized cropland.

    Of course will even an eventual very small cost for each farmer add up to a substantial sum when the entire globe is concerned, but I cannot imagine otherwise than that the cost for this has to be negligible in comparison to other cost estimates on for instance CO2 reduction.

    And, no, he does not say with his own words that this can be implemented at almost no cost, as well as he does not say with his own words that he can save the planet either; that was my interpretation.

  568. farmerbraun says:

    @Anssi.V @3.10 am

    It is possible that a small subset of the Godzone dairy farmers, who are practising sustainable agriculture (USDA NOP Certified farmers) satisfy your criteria (especially your point 2.) for adherence to “Savory” doctrine in that they have as their basic principles the items that I posted earlier (which so upset Geoff Sherrington). Here again are the offending principles:

    ‘To work as much as possible within a closed system, and draw upon local resources.
    To maintain the long-term fertility of soils.
    To avoid all forms of pollution that may result from agricultural techniques.
    To produce foodstuffs of high nutritional quality and sufficient quantity.
    To reduce the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to a minimum.
    To give livestock conditions of life that conform to their physiological needs and to humanitarian
    principles.
    To make it possible for agricultural producers to earn a living through their work and develop
    their potentialities as human beings.

  569. farmerbraun says:

    “Savory’s technique . . . does not translate directly to “rotational grazing”.

    That is accepted.
    Voisin , should , if anybody other than some 18th century Scottish sheep farmers, be credited with the description of “rotational grazing”
    It is doubtful that Savory’s description of wholistic resource management was any thing other than a modern information science description of the way that all true farmers (up until about 60 years ago i.e. post WW2) have always operated, but it was useful none the less.

  570. Anssi V. says:

    Re: farmerbraun on March 13, 2013 at 11:52 am
    -
    FB says:
    “these were (exclusively) pastoral farms where the rotational grazing aspects of Voisin’s/Savory’s work were refined in the 1950s and 1960s.”

    That would then have to be asked from Savory himself, though he has mentioned specifically – I think it was in that Feasta lecture linked by Anthony – that his earlier work (before 1984 or so) included both spectacular successes and spectacular failures, and that only after refining the holistic Decision Management concept enough, did he start to get consistent results. So his opinion about Godzone would need to be asked from him in person (I mentioned in an earlier comment that it would be a good idea anyway to invite him over to answer questions :)

    FB says:
    “How would the great diversity of geographic situations be managed wholistically by central control?”

    I’m not sure what exactly you mean by “central control”, but his solution to manage diversity would be to define “wholes within wholes”, i.e. smaller, more manageable wholes within a greater whole.

    Quoting Savory’s own words (page 65 in his book Holistic Management – A New Framework for Decision Making): “If the group of people you have included in the first part of your whole is very large, and if the enterprises engaged in are very diverse, or if members are separated from each other geographically, it often becomes impractical to manage the entity as a single whole. One reason why is that it becomes more difficult to make the holistic goal specific enough, even over time, to inspire the degree of commitment needed by everyone to bring it about. In these cases, it makes more sense to create smaller, more manageable wholes within the greater whole.”

    Each of the smaller wholes would need to satisfy certain “minimum whole requirements”, such as 1) an identifiable resource base, 2) money available and/or money that can be generated from the resource base, 3) includes people who are directly responsible for making management decisions.

    In Godzone’s case, obvious wholes would be the individual farms, perhaps some families might be managed as wholes (slightly overlapping with the family business, i.e. the family farm whole), then the cooperative could be managed as one whole, or as a set of smaller wholes within a greater whole – the farms would be contained by this larger whole, or largely overlapping.

    Generally speaking, a whole can be as small as an individual or a family, as big as a whole nation, or pretty much anything in between. Wholes can overlap, and/or contain smaller wholes and/or be contained by a larger whole. “Central control” in the traditional sense does not exist as such in his model, but instead appropriate care would be taken, again quoting Savory’s own words, “that core values and cohesion are maintained within the holistic goals formed in each whole.”

    Savory further discusses the advantages of this approach: “If having these smaller wholes managed by their own eases management of the greater whole and leads to people having greater motivation and greater freedom for creativity, it would only make sense to create this opportunity, as many quality-conscious corporations have already found. Although the organizational structure would not be radically different from that of most well-run companies, the attitudes and commitment of the people would be.”

    Obviously I am leaving out many important details; there are many guidelines and advice on dealing with specific situations and avoiding common pitfalls. It takes some time (days) to really get a grasp on his model, but I personally think it is well worth it.

  571. Anssi V. says:

    Re: farmerbraun on March 13, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Thanks, an interesting set of principles, and I think I could personally agree with most of them.

    Some of those could fit very well into a “Savory-style” holistic goal, some could be included with minor tweaks, and some would be against the basic forming guidelines. For example, “reducing fossil fuel use to a minimum” principle would/should not go into a holistic goal, because it would go against at least these two guidelines:
    - “Do make your holistic goal 100 percent what you want and have to produce, and 0 percent how it is going to be achieved.”
    - “Don’t allow any prejudices against future tools or actions to appear in the holistic goal.”

    Moreover, a holistic goal always includes
    1) A quality of life statement, i.e. how you want your life to be in the whole you have defined (can include e.g. statements about financial well-being, physical well-being, relationships, challenge, growth and purpose),
    2) Forms of production, to meet the needs for the stated quality of life and stated purpose
    3) Future resource base – a long term vision that almost always includes the land (its health and its use), and often includes the people, the community one lives and works in, and the services available within this/these communities.

    Perhaps the most important defining aspect is that one actually USES the goal, i.e. tests significant decisions using the goal (point 5.) and monitors the decisions (point 6.). Obviously, if the goal is not actually used, then it is not going to be very useful (a rather common situation with corporations listing their “values” and “principles” – more often than not they are crafted by the marketing deparment..:)

    So while it’s actually very interesting what these farmers are doing, I wouldn’t necessarily see their possible difficulties as speaking against Savory’s (current) model. I do wish the best for them.

  572. farmerbraun says:

    For example, “reducing fossil fuel use to a minimum” principle would/should not go into a holistic goal, because it would go against at least these two guidelines:
    - “Do make your holistic goal 100 percent what you want and have to produce, and 0 percent how it is going to be achieved.”
    - “Don’t allow any prejudices against future tools or actions to appear in the holistic goal.”

    FB says : that is not immediately obvious. Farmers produce hydrogenated carbons , let us say.
    It improves efficiency to use as few hydrogenated carbons in that process as is possible. No more than that needs to read into the idea of ” reducing fossil fuel use to a minimum”.
    It is simply good economics , is it not?

  573. farmerbraun says:

    re Godzone dairy industry.
    Anssi V. says; ” I wouldn’t necessarily see their possible difficulties as speaking against Savory’s (current) model.”

    FB says: quite so. The gradual disintegration of the whole is the inevitable consequence of joining together some disparate interests , some of those interests (about 50% in most cases) having voted against a merged whole , and then being subjected to hostile take over, or being pressured into acceptance for the “greater good”. Now the process is reversing.

  574. gad-fly says:

    Richrd G over at Maggies Farm nailed Allen Savory’s logic problem:

    On the whole very good. Never the less, at 50:30 of the longer (not TED)film Savory is explaining the Holistic Framework, culminating in the statement “and then we assume we are wrong and we complete the feedback”. Advice to Allan Savory: listen to your own advice. You need one more epiphany.

    CO2 is the chemical feedstock of all biological growth starting with plants. Carbon sequestration is so wrong headed it makes my head hurt. Desertification was happening long before the industrial age and the carbon scare. CO2 is not the problem, it is a part (holistic) of the solution. If more plant growth is desired, more CO2 is needed. The results of numerous FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) experiments prove that the benefits of increased CO2 across the botanical spectrum include increased biomass crop production and increased water use efficiency (drought tolerance). I guess being shunned for heretical views about animal husbandry was traumatizing. Who wants to be banished again over CO2 heresy. To quote the film again: “birth, growth, death, decay.” CO2 is recycled through the ecosystem. Hooray for decomposers.

  575. Anssi V. says:

    Re: farmerbraun onMarch 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    FB says : that is not immediately obvious. Farmers produce hydrogenated carbons , let us say.
    It improves efficiency to use as few hydrogenated carbons in that process as is possible. No more than that needs to read into the idea of ” reducing fossil fuel use to a minimum”.
    It is simply good economics , is it not?

    That is all quite correct. I was just explaining some of the principles and guidelines involved, when forming the holistic goal. In Savory’s system, the “hows” are excluded because their proper place is in the decisions to be tested. The end result will likely be exactly the same, but the holistic goal will be much cleaner, and therefore easier to use with wide variety of decisions – some of which might have nothing to do with, say, fossil fuels (for example related to some social aspect of the whole).

    Maybe an elaboration of that guideline I mentioned will clarify:
    Savory wrote:
    “- Don’t allow any prejudices against future tools or actions to appear in the holistic goal. You wouldn’t, for example, mention “organic farming” in your holistic goal because it is a prejudice against chemicals. There may come a time when the only way to save the situation is through the use of a chemical and thus the use of any chemicals should be left where it belongs–in the testing of decisions. It is perfectly all right, however, even necessary, to reflect how you want to live based on the values expressed in the word organic, such as clean air, water, and food, healthy bodies, or land that is rich in biological diversity.”

  576. Anssi V. says:

    Re: gad-fly on March 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Yes, carbon sequestration (AWAY from the atmosphere) for its own sake is admittedly one of the dumbest things being actively promoted by the “environmental” crowds, one that shifts attention away from real issues.

    However one of those “real” issues is precisely that carbon sequestration (INTO the soil) is in many cases actually essential for soil health and productivity. Healthy growth needs carbon both in the soil (in the form of decomposing organic matter, to maintain the crumb structure and to hold nutrients) AND in the air (as CO2).

    Environmental crowds are, IMHO, doing a huge disservice to their cause by emphasizing the away-from-the-atmosphere aspect. And Savory, I’m sad to say, by staying in that bandwagon (the away-from-the-atmosphere one) is shooting himself in the foot with a SA80 assault rifle. His ideas do not NEED any of that, it’s simply a marketing strategy (trying to ride the wave of the CO2 scare), and one that is quite possibly doomed to failure, if he does not distance himself from it in good time.

  577. farmerbraun says:

    “Savory wrote:
    “- Don’t allow any prejudices against future tools or actions to appear in the holistic goal. You wouldn’t, for example, mention “organic farming” in your holistic goal because it is a prejudice against chemicals.”

    FB chortles ; that’s quite funny. A prejudice against “organic” farming. A method of farming which utilises all manner of elements and compounds of a chemical nature. Never let the facts get in the way of your prejudice , right. Savory’s foot has got to be hurting from that one.
    Still this thread has demonstrated that Savory is not alone in knowing virtually nothing about the practices of farmers who have USDA NOP certification, or any other of the national “organic” certifications which all REQUIRE the use of a variety of “chemicals” for both soil and animal treatments.
    It is always better to ask some armchair theoretician who has never stepped onto a real farm, than it is to actually go and see what the farmer does ; if one wants to maintain one’s prejudice, that is.
    The fact is that there is some good basic science behind sustainable agriculture. But nobody needs to do anything about unsustainable agriculture because , in the fullness of time, it goes away all by itself. That’s a truism.

  578. profitup10 says:

    It is now over for the climate folks – water will be flowing to the arid sections of the planet and C02 will be in short supply as the earth greens and the rains increase – oh my God what will they do?

    http://www.thedailybell.com/28826/Shocker-Desalinization-Breakthrough-as-Memes-Fall-One-by-One

  579. Anssi V. says:

    Re: farmerbraun on March 14, 2013 at 11:55 am

    FB, I think there was some serious word-twisting in what you wrote. The context of that quote was how to create a holistic goal. The point, which I tried to elaborate by example, was “don’t allow prejudices against future tools or actions to appear in the holistic goal.” Another way of saying this is “only define WHAT needs to be done, not HOW it is going to be achieved.” And the reasoning behind that is, that one should not restrict one’s future options needlessly.

    Is your chosen interpretation of “chemicals” correct in this context? Savory was NOT talking specifically about USDA NOP farmers, he was talking about “organic farming” which has several definitions and interpretations. For example EU has its own definition, so do many individual countries. Here’s the EU definition – I chose to link the simple bullet-point presentation, not the official definition (but you can find that in those pages too): http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/organic/organic-farming/what-organic_en

    Therefore, in the context of “organic farming”, I think that most people would interpret “chemicals” referring to synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, synthetic antibiotics and food additives – which are all heavily restricted in most organic standards that I know of (and I believe this was Savory’s interpretation too). Your interpretation of what Savory refers to appears to be instead “all manner of elements and compounds of a chemical nature” – an interpretation that is more common to eco-hippies who are ignorant of even basic chemistry. So are you trying make Savory appear as an ignorant eco-hippie, or what was your motivation behind this interpretation?

    Indeed there is some good basic science behind sustainable agriculture. And there is no doubt that, by definition, in the fullness of time, “unsustainable agriculture” will go away all by itself. However I think one might reasonably ask, what else will go away with it.

  580. farmerbraun says:

    ” I think that most people would interpret “chemicals” referring to synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, synthetic antibiotics and food additives – which are all heavily restricted in most organic standards that I know of “.

    That might be true, but misses the point-
    1. these things are increasingly restricted in “conventional” agriculture

    2. these things are used in “organic ” agriculture when necessary or no substitute is available

    FB is familiar with all organic standards , and they are all very similar.
    The difference is what happens to the soil/plant/animal after the “chemical” has been used. The “organic” protocols all have strict quarantine/isolation/retirement procedures to contain the possible side-effects of the “chemical” .
    And of course the traceability documentation is rigorously enforced to avoid “contamination ” scares.
    The difference between “conventional” and “organic” is essentially about quality assurance and traceability, and secondly the intent to farm sustainably, according to those principles above -mentioned.

  581. Great post. I had not heard of Allan Savory’s work and was glad to learn about it here. Building topsoil is win-win. It has manifold benefits for climate and other issues. I can think of no downsides. Allan Savory has some great ideas on HOW to build topsoil. For another discussion of WHY building topsoil is a good idea for the climate see Freeman Dyson’s comments here:

    http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html

    One short quote: “To stop the carbon in the atmosphere from increasing, we only need to grow the biomass in the soil by a hundredth of an inch per year. Good topsoil contains about ten percent biomass, [Schlesinger, 1977], so a hundredth of an inch of biomass growth means about a tenth of an inch of topsoil.” As noted in other comments, Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia has been able to grow as much as an inch of topsoil per year using intensive livestock farming.

    Another quote from Dyson: “I conclude from this calculation that the problem of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a problem of land management, not a problem of meteorology. No computer model of atmosphere and ocean can hope to predict the way we shall manage our land.” If you aren’t familiar with Freeman Dyson, the New York Times Magazine had a long and fascinating article about him in 2009:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html?pagewanted=all

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