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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March 8, 2013 11:48 pm

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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 12:06 am

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

March 9, 2013 12:06 am

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

March 9, 2013 12:07 am

Amazing…

Eyal Porat
March 9, 2013 12:16 am

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

Rick
March 9, 2013 12:23 am

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.

Harris
March 9, 2013 12:27 am

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

tobias
March 9, 2013 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 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.

Mike Bromley the Canucklehead in Cowburg
March 9, 2013 12:28 am

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

Lew Skannen
March 9, 2013 12:28 am

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.

fred
March 9, 2013 12:29 am

That talk is brilliant!

Hoser
March 9, 2013 12:33 am

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.

March 9, 2013 12:33 am

Cows, not wind turbines.
I’ll have some of that!

Stephen Skinner
March 9, 2013 12:36 am

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?

March 9, 2013 12:37 am

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.

March 9, 2013 12:41 am

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

Keitho
Editor
March 9, 2013 12:42 am

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.

dave38
March 9, 2013 12:45 am

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)

Michael
March 9, 2013 12:46 am

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

March 9, 2013 12:51 am

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.

james griffin
March 9, 2013 12:52 am

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.

March 9, 2013 12:55 am

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

tommoriarty
March 9, 2013 12:58 am

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/

March 9, 2013 1:02 am

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.

DirkH
March 9, 2013 1:13 am

Absolutely wonderful.

Elanor
March 9, 2013 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?

March 9, 2013 1:18 am

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

Frosty
March 9, 2013 1:29 am

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/

Kasuha
March 9, 2013 1:35 am

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.

Leg
March 9, 2013 1:40 am

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.

AB
March 9, 2013 1:48 am

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

ScottD
March 9, 2013 1:48 am


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.

NikFromNYC
March 9, 2013 1:49 am

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.

mwhite
March 9, 2013 1:58 am

“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”.

Dodgy Geezer
March 9, 2013 2:00 am

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…

Leg
March 9, 2013 2:02 am

@ 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.

Jimbo
March 9, 2013 2:06 am

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.

ColdOldMan
March 9, 2013 2:16 am

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.

March 9, 2013 2:20 am

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…

Jens Raunsø Jensen
March 9, 2013 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

seth
March 9, 2013 2:25 am

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

Jimbo
March 9, 2013 2:26 am

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.

Peter Whale
March 9, 2013 2:27 am

Absolutely, brilliantly simple, give him the warmist funding.

Stephen Richards
March 9, 2013 2:28 am

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

Stephen Richards
March 9, 2013 2:31 am

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.

Geoff Sherrington
March 9, 2013 2:32 am

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.

Lawrie Ayres
March 9, 2013 2:33 am

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.

Matthew Carver
March 9, 2013 2:37 am

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.

Jimbo
March 9, 2013 2:39 am

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.

Peter Plail
March 9, 2013 2:47 am

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.

March 9, 2013 2:53 am

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

Mike M
March 9, 2013 2:59 am

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.

Lawrie Ayres
March 9, 2013 3:06 am

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.

March 9, 2013 3:22 am

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.

Gerard
March 9, 2013 3:23 am

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.

Kerry McCauley
March 9, 2013 3:32 am

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.

johnmarshall
March 9, 2013 3:34 am

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.

March 9, 2013 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. 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

mwhite
March 9, 2013 3:42 am

“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.

Patrick
March 9, 2013 3:47 am

“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

3x2
March 9, 2013 3:53 am

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.

March 9, 2013 4:01 am

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.

Joe
March 9, 2013 4:18 am

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!

March 9, 2013 4:26 am

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.

Ian W
March 9, 2013 4:34 am

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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 4:47 am

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?

Editor
March 9, 2013 4:50 am

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/

FerdinandAkin
March 9, 2013 4:52 am

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.

March 9, 2013 4:54 am

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.

March 9, 2013 4:56 am

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.

FerdinandAkin
March 9, 2013 5:00 am

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.

JDN
March 9, 2013 5:09 am

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.

Chris Wright
March 9, 2013 5:17 am

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

rpielke
March 9, 2013 5:25 am

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

Stephen Wilde
March 9, 2013 5:26 am

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.

March 9, 2013 5:31 am

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!

apachewhoknows
March 9, 2013 5:34 am

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.

Robertv
March 9, 2013 5:41 am

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

Dub
March 9, 2013 5:46 am

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.

Beth Cooper
March 9, 2013 5:56 am

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.

March 9, 2013 5:57 am

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.

March 9, 2013 5:59 am

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

Thisisgettingtiresome
March 9, 2013 6:00 am

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

Alvin
March 9, 2013 6:08 am

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?

jjs
March 9, 2013 6:08 am

I knew it – Vegetarians are causing global warming.

Alvin
March 9, 2013 6:09 am

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

Rick Bradford
March 9, 2013 6:09 am

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.

March 9, 2013 6:14 am

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.

Robertv
March 9, 2013 6:21 am

Dust Bowl Classic: “The Plow that Broke the Plains” 1936
http://youtu.be/bpi_rJZTM44

Chris D.
March 9, 2013 6:22 am

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.

michael hart
March 9, 2013 6:28 am

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.

mike kelter
March 9, 2013 6:32 am

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.

Alvin
March 9, 2013 6:32 am

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

rpielke
March 9, 2013 6:37 am

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

March 9, 2013 6:40 am

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.

March 9, 2013 6:41 am

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

Alexander Harvey
March 9, 2013 6:52 am

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.

Lars P.
March 9, 2013 6:56 am

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.

SandyInLimousin
March 9, 2013 7:04 am

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?

bernie
March 9, 2013 7:04 am

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.

March 9, 2013 7:05 am

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.

jjs
March 9, 2013 7:09 am

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….

Gerry Parker
March 9, 2013 7:11 am

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

Tom in Florida
March 9, 2013 7:17 am

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.

jim2
March 9, 2013 7:22 am

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

Juan Slayton
March 9, 2013 7:33 am

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

Jean Parisot
March 9, 2013 7:33 am

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.

Pamela Gray
March 9, 2013 7:35 am

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.

Richard M
March 9, 2013 7:39 am

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.

jim2
March 9, 2013 7:41 am

” 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.

tommoriarty
March 9, 2013 7:48 am

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?”

davidmhoffer
March 9, 2013 7:55 am

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.

March 9, 2013 7:56 am

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!!!

davidgmills
March 9, 2013 7:57 am

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.

Luther Wu
March 9, 2013 7:58 am

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.

eco-geek
March 9, 2013 7:59 am

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.

Ian L. McQueen
March 9, 2013 8:00 am

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

Steve in SC
March 9, 2013 8:01 am

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”

March 9, 2013 8:12 am

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.

wws
March 9, 2013 8:13 am

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.

John in NZ
March 9, 2013 8:15 am

I don’t have time to watch this now. I have to go milk the cows.
Will watch it later though.

Stephen Wilde
March 9, 2013 8:20 am

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.

Bruce Cobb
March 9, 2013 8:27 am

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.

March 9, 2013 8:28 am

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.

SteveC
March 9, 2013 8:34 am

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

March 9, 2013 8:38 am

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.

Rob Potter
March 9, 2013 8:39 am

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.

John B
March 9, 2013 8:39 am

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.

David L. Hagen
March 9, 2013 8:41 am

Brilliant insight and marvelous pragmatic holistic stewardship.
See further resources see: The Savory Institute
Papers
Video library
Research and Case Studies

March 9, 2013 8:43 am

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

The other Phil
March 9, 2013 8:53 am

Very impressive.

March 9, 2013 8:59 am

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/

davidmhoffer
March 9, 2013 9:00 am

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.

Kaboom
March 9, 2013 9:01 am

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.

Gary Pearse
March 9, 2013 9:01 am

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.

James Ard
March 9, 2013 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.

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

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.
~~~~~~~

davidmhoffer
March 9, 2013 9:17 am

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.

Matthew R Marler
March 9, 2013 9:17 am

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.

Bruce Foutch
March 9, 2013 9:19 am

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/

Matthew R Marler
March 9, 2013 9:22 am

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.)

john robertson
March 9, 2013 9:23 am

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.

March 9, 2013 9:24 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 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.

Jim Strom
March 9, 2013 9:25 am

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.

March 9, 2013 9:31 am

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

Craig
March 9, 2013 9:35 am

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.

Michael J
March 9, 2013 9:38 am

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.

Judy F.
March 9, 2013 9:38 am

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.

March 9, 2013 9:39 am

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.

janama
March 9, 2013 9:40 am

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.

Stefan
March 9, 2013 9:46 am

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?

Bruce Cobb
March 9, 2013 9:48 am

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.

jorgekafkazar
March 9, 2013 9:48 am

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.

March 9, 2013 9:52 am

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.

March 9, 2013 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”]?
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.

Jeremy
March 9, 2013 9:59 am

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.

davidmhoffer
March 9, 2013 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. 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.

markx
March 9, 2013 10:07 am

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.

BarryW
March 9, 2013 10:09 am

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?

Fred
March 9, 2013 10:09 am

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

Justthinkin
March 9, 2013 10:15 am

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.

Chucker
March 9, 2013 10:19 am

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.

Graham R.
March 9, 2013 10:21 am

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.

OssQss
March 9, 2013 10:22 am

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

Jimbo
March 9, 2013 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.

Paul Westhaver
March 9, 2013 10:30 am

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.

March 9, 2013 10:33 am

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

Thon Brocket
March 9, 2013 10:42 am

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.

March 9, 2013 10:47 am

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.

Reed Coray
March 9, 2013 10:50 am

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.

March 9, 2013 10:54 am

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.

Alan S. Blue
March 9, 2013 10:55 am

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.

Jens Raunsø Jensen
March 9, 2013 10:57 am

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

Joe
March 9, 2013 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….”..
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!

SAMURAI
March 9, 2013 11:07 am

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.

cdw
March 9, 2013 11:08 am

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.

Jerry from Boston
March 9, 2013 11:14 am

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.

jim2
March 9, 2013 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.

Bernal
March 9, 2013 11:19 am

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.

John Phillips
March 9, 2013 11:22 am

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.

NorthStarState
March 9, 2013 11:23 am

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.

Ken Harvey
March 9, 2013 11:23 am

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.

Keitho
Editor
Reply to  Ken Harvey
March 10, 2013 12:41 am

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.

March 9, 2013 11:25 am

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.

Rune
March 9, 2013 11:33 am

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.

Gary Pearse
March 9, 2013 11:33 am

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.

RockyRoad
March 9, 2013 11:34 am

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.

Björn
March 9, 2013 11:41 am

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.

March 9, 2013 11:46 am

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

RockyRoad
March 9, 2013 11:52 am

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”?

March 9, 2013 11:53 am

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.

TRM
March 9, 2013 12:02 pm

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.

Latitude
March 9, 2013 12:11 pm

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

Louis
March 9, 2013 12:11 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 12:28 pm

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.

Steve from Rockwood
March 9, 2013 12:45 pm

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

March 9, 2013 12:47 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 1:00 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 1:03 pm

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!

March 9, 2013 1:07 pm

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.

Fred Harwood
March 9, 2013 1:11 pm

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.

Don
March 9, 2013 1:17 pm

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!

Austin
March 9, 2013 1:20 pm

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.

Austin
March 9, 2013 1:24 pm

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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 1:33 pm

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.

Billy Ruff'n
March 9, 2013 1:34 pm

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.

noloctd
March 9, 2013 1:34 pm

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

Cornfed
March 9, 2013 1:40 pm

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.

Latitude
March 9, 2013 1:46 pm

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

March 9, 2013 1:57 pm

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.

Michael Cohen
March 9, 2013 1:58 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 1:59 pm

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.

RossP
March 9, 2013 2:02 pm

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) .

March 9, 2013 2:09 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 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.

Michael Tremblay
March 9, 2013 2:24 pm

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.

TRM
March 9, 2013 2:30 pm

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.

Cromagnum
March 9, 2013 2:32 pm

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.

Berényi Péter
March 9, 2013 2:32 pm

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.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Os-ujelkgw?rel=0&w=480&h=360%5D

AlexS
March 9, 2013 2:36 pm

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…

RS
March 9, 2013 2:37 pm

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

March 9, 2013 2:45 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 2:46 pm

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.

Wu
March 9, 2013 2:46 pm

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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 2:53 pm

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.

TRM
March 9, 2013 2:59 pm

” 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.

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 3:08 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 3:10 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 3:11 pm

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?

Manfred
March 9, 2013 3:12 pm

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.”

Heidi
March 9, 2013 3:17 pm

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!

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 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.

March 9, 2013 3:19 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 3:22 pm

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.

François GM
March 9, 2013 3:32 pm

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 ?

March 9, 2013 3:37 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 3:37 pm

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.

John Kaye
March 9, 2013 3:43 pm

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’).

Chuck Nolan
March 9, 2013 3:47 pm

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

March 9, 2013 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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 4:17 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 4:17 pm

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

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 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.

Paul Westhaver
March 9, 2013 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.

Paul Westhaver
March 9, 2013 4:36 pm

@ 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!

Crispin in Waterloo but actually in Yogyakarta
March 9, 2013 4:52 pm

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.

davidmhoffer
March 9, 2013 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….

Paul Westhaver
March 9, 2013 4:56 pm

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.

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 5:10 pm

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

Editor
March 9, 2013 5:11 pm

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.

Macha
March 9, 2013 5:15 pm

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.

Gary Hladik
March 9, 2013 5:32 pm

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… 🙂

Editor
March 9, 2013 5:46 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 5:50 pm

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.

Editor
March 9, 2013 5:53 pm

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.

Stu Miller
March 9, 2013 5:55 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 5:55 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 presume in many cases you could change land by changing the land adjacent to it.

March 9, 2013 5:57 pm

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.

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 5:59 pm

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 🙂

March 9, 2013 6:03 pm

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?

geran
March 9, 2013 6:12 pm

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.)

commieBob
March 9, 2013 6:15 pm

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.

March 9, 2013 6:16 pm

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.

farmerbraun
March 9, 2013 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.

March 9, 2013 6:30 pm

““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.

davidmhoffer