What Do You Think of Holistic Management?



Okay, this is Q&A, week 19, so we're really getting through it. Our first question is from Annemiek. What do you think of holistic management in terms of solutions for
grasslands and desertification? Is it the ultimate
solution for global crisis that Savory makes it sound
like it is in his TED talk? Secondarily, are you familiar
with the holistic management decision-making framework? Apparently this is not
published on the web anywhere. You have to buy the
book and when I've asked related questions I've been told you need the whole
framework to understand, which as I mentioned can only
be obtained by buying in. This would be called mal educato in Italy. Well, nice terminology. This is a cattle cell. We're in a cattle cell right now and these are some of my beef cows. In the cut those are dairy cows and some of the young
calves coming through. We use a cell grazing method
like holistic management and it works great. It's a great system. It's ideal where you have
grasslands, savannas, and prairies where you
had large herds of animals moving very quickly,
tight pack by predators, where they eat everything
off to the ground, imprint the ground with their hooves, drop massive amounts of
manure, and then move quickly. And maybe don't return
for one or two years even. And that's what built those
prairie and savanna soils. Ideal in that situation, but we're in the subtropics. There are systems there that are useful. This is a cell grazing system
that improves the soil. So you can look at that as a technique with a principle of how
it repairs the land. So we graze off here. They imprint the ground. They drop quite a lot of
manure, and we move 'em, and we bring 'em back before
the tall clumping grasses start to seed. It's a system that
actually improves the soil. These are systems that work and you can employ these systems
through different climates. But you can't say it's the only thing that is going to actually
repair the global, what are we saying here, it's the solution with
grasslands and desertification. Well if you're saying that the grasslands are turned into desert and
you can bring them back with cell grazing, yeah, that's right. But it's not the only thing that works. You can't say that grazing animals are the only part of the
ecosystem we need to manage. It's all about balance
and interactive diversity. We can say that humans are the only things we have to manage. But it's not, that's not true. It's a complete combination of elements that we need to manage. There are multiple elements
that need to come into balance. I mean, we design your toilets. We design your local economics. We design your aquaculture system. And most of those things
won't be benefited by cows grazing the right way or any grazing animals
grazing the right way. I love these systems. I love all these wonderful systems. They work wonderfully well and as long as they're applied with ethics they work with permaculture,
they're fantastic. But it is true, we need a holistic design. Now as far as our principles, there are many, many principles out there in many systems, and they all work fine. But, dropping a bit of paper here. If you look at Permaculture Two, the book Permaculture Two, chapter one, Bill outlines permaculture principles. And they're very similar. The cameraman's getting knocked around by one of the young bulls here. This is Big Boy and he's
not going to lie over and he's certainly having
a bit of fun with us here. This is cell grazing for you. It's his territory and I'm in it. And so is the cameraman so
bear with us here a minute. This is the funny start to
Q&A number 19 but nevermind. Permaculture principles as quoted in Permaculture Two by Bill Mollison, and listen at the similarity here. And I know that Bill
said many times to me, Jeff, don't worry so
much about principles. Worry about how you convert principles into directives to act. Convert your principles
into directives to act and go into action, 'cause
you can argue forever about which principle,
which set of principles, it doesn't really matter. Do they go into action and get a result that's truly beneficial and sustainable and benefiting all life systems, not just grazing systems but all systems? Now let's listen to this. Permaculture principle of
Permaculture Two, Bill Mollison. Number one, introduction. Relative location. Each element performs many functions. Each important function is
supported by many elements. Efficient energy planning. Using biological resources. Energy cycling. Small-scale intensive systems. Accelerating succession and evolution. Diversity, edge effects, and
attitude in all principles. And then he goes on at
the end to say references and further reading
because he knows there are, and we should all know,
there are many ideas about what set of
principles should be used. And they probably all work. This is the thing. They all work. All these different elements that are, hello big boy, this is my young bull here coming to maturity and
still quite friendly. Hopefully she stays friendly. And he doesn't charge me
right now in front of you. As long as they're ethical, they work. This is the thing about permaculture. It works with all of these systems. Biodynamics, key line, range management, holistic management, soil food web. All brick minerals. I think I've said
biodynamics, they all work. What you need is an integrated plan that gives you a diversity
that connects it together as a holistic system of design.

23 thoughts on “What Do You Think of Holistic Management?

  1. All available online . . .

    The Holistic Planning Framework online:

    https://www.mbequineservices.com/holistic-management-horses-ecosystem/

    https://youngagrarians.org/getting-started-with-holistic-management/

    https://holisticmanagement.org/blog/hmi-holistic-management-framework-review/

    http://eco-pioneers.org/permaculture-diploma/project-4-holistic-goal/project-4-analysis/

    Lots of planning guidance:

    https://onpasture.com/2013/10/21/so-ya-got-a-blank-grazing-chart-now-what/

    The Holistic Planned Grazing Chart available free online (*.jpg version, *.pdf and Excel version):

    https://holisticmanagement.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Grazing-Plan-Control-Chart-2016.jpg

    https://onpasture.com/2013/03/19/get-your-grazing-chart-here/

    https://onpasture.com/2018/02/05/the-2018-grazing-charts-are-here-dust-off-your-grazing-plan-and-create-personal-resiliency/

  2. Holistic Management is not different from permaculture, it's a management planning process that guides you to the best action for the time, place and environment. Permaculture is one of those potential actions and can be complimentary to Holistic Planned Grazing in the right circumstances. In tropical, sub-tropical or other non-brittle environments, all systems 'work' to a greater or lesser degree. However, in the semi-brittle and brittle grasslands of the earth, then grazing herbivores are key to maintaining soil health. Holistic Management focusses on these regions because they're the ones susceptible to desertification and where most of us ranchers are working.

    The Holistic Planning framework is available online in many places, the book just adds historical detail and guidance for those not familiar with reactive planning systems. Google 'Combat Estimate Process' or 'Combat Planning Process' and you get the generic version that Allan Savory translated into the 'Holistic Management' planning process. The only thing unique to Holistic Management is the Holistic Planned Grazing chart, available from many suppliers or easy to replicate using Excel or a similar spreadsheet program.

    If you've been an officer or SNCO in any western or Commonwealth military, just dig out your operational planning aide memoir and use it as your business planning process. Include ecosystem processes, financial planning, human resources and community/cultural impact in your considerations and you've just replicated Holistic Management.

  3. Other than your ideals being smart, one of the reasons I like you Geoff; is because you respect HUMANS and animals. So many people in permaculture or any other organic type of husbandry/farming, are bashing the human race with every other breath. You seem like a kind individual and that matters. Be kind to the earth, animals, AND humans.

  4. SELECTIVE versus NON-SELECTIVE grazing.

    • There is confusion between SEVERE grazing and OVERgrazing.
    Overgrazing is related to the time a plant is allowed to recover after severe grazing.

    Continuous SELECTIVE overgrazing at low animal impact is the problem with conventional management that has to be addressed.

    • There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that non-selective grazing results in a lower level of nutrition and poorer body condition.

    There is also no doubt about the fact that improved grass utilisation occurs (higher stocking rate) and that plant species composition changes in favour of more productive (higher stocking rate) and more nutritious plants (alleviates poor condition).

    • Most protagonists of intensive grazing advocate “grazing the top third of plants” to allow animals an improved nutrient intake.

    What is the chance of my cattle only eating the top 1/3 of ALL grass species and leaving 2/3s behind?..ZERO

    Notice that even under UHDG they leave most of the very unpalatable Palens grass and graze the rest of the species almost 💯 pct..
    .
    There is no way that grazing the top third of all plants in a diverse community of plants can be achieved, unless animals are trained or bred to do so.

    Any animal will graze selectively if given the choice. Therefore, instead of grazing the top third they will selectively graze a third of the material on offer – some individual plants will be grazed to a varying degree and some will be left ungrazed.

    The ultimate result is better body condition at the expense of stocking rate and species composition.

    • A far better option is to address body condition via genotype (high relative intake), rumen supplementation (minerals, protein, urea and probiotic), synchronising production with natural nutrition (calve, breed and wean during the period of best nutrition) and shorter grass recovery (higher nutrient concentration) at critical times.

    In regard to a shorter recovery period this applies more to low octane grazing. Deliberately shortening the recovery periods must be done with the provisos of grazing “non-selectively” and alternating these intensively grazed areas with long recovery in the long term.

    Non-selective “overgrazing” in combination with high animal impact and alternate longer recovery results in good species composition and maximum profit / unit of land.

    There is a serious disconnect in the Holistic Management group between cattle and grass.

    References: Johann Zietsman and Jaime Elizondo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jeuRyDLnPsw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJinY9-FBic

    http://profitableranching.com/Profitable_Ranching/THE_Book.html

  5. Geoff Lawton I have learned from you, Bill, John Kholer and Richard perkins. Perkins said about Savory. I was already seeing the pieces fit. Savory added where little was missing but a lot was unseen by me. The big picture came into view. After I had an Epiphany. Where I relised how things clicked into place. My life Will never be the same. If I could accomplish a fraction of what I see is posibule. Just wanted to say Thank you for all you do. you just said in this video what I've been outlineing for the last year. and started this year. one acre, my start. 250 hector, my goal. if I don't make it, I'm going to have fun trying. This is my first public statement of this fact. shoot for the stars. if you aim low you have nowhere to go. aim high and if you fall short. you still made it further than the ground at your feet.

  6. in a seasonal humid environment (where the land is prone to desertification) grass has to be broken down biologically once every year, the old growth needs to go to make room for new, and only ruminants are able to do that, so thats the reason why planned grazing is the only solution to regenerate these types of ecosystems.

  7. Hi Geoff. Thank you for your thorough answer about holistic management. I was very curious about your thoughts on Alan Savory’s work. Your answer seems so obvious.

  8. In the end its about getting our heads around the ecology and acting accordingly. Also Frans Vera is a mind to wrangle with in conjunction with Allen Savory.

  9. I don't think that the letter writer listened to the TED talk closely enough. Alan Savory was talking about dry grasslands specifically. He never spoke about any other type of climate or terrain management and made a very good point about the large proportion of dry grasslands that are desertifying.

  10. Methodologies such as Biodynamics may work, but it doesn't work for the reasons that devotees claim and involves extensive labor, expensive products and mysticism where there should be science and education.

    Permaculture is the sole field to recognize systems science and apply natural principles with minimum anthropocentric bias.

  11. Great response to this question. There are many resources out there so much great information to learn from…. Yes ACTION is what we need!

  12. Well said.. sounds like a case of analysis paralysis. I dunno if it was Tim Ferris who said it first, but… “The good system you stick with, is better than the perfect one you don’t”

  13. There are many of videos on YouTube and articles online that explain the Holistic Managment decision making process. While it is very helpful to read the book or take a training, those aren't the only way to learn about it.
    It almost sounds like the questioner was looking for reasons to dislike it.

  14. It’s junk science.
    Here’s why:

    http://www.thewildlifenews.com/2013/11/12/allan-savory-myth-and-reality/

  15. The claim’s of Savory have been thoroughly debunked. It sounds wonderful but the evidence simply does not support his claims.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/georgemonbiot/2014/aug/04/eat-more-meat-and-save-the-world-the-latest-implausible-farming-miracle

  16. I'd say with your composting and chop-n-drop you're the cow! What is a cow but a self-harvesting composting chop-n-drop unit that self-replicates?

  17. It's important to keep in mind that the HM decision-making process is a set of seven tests for best outcomes in every field. It's not about cows. He uses cows and right grazing management only as an example.

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