Harvey's 100% Grass Fed Beef – Series – Part 2

holistic management - reviving life

holistic management – bringing grassland to life

Holistic Management – Mimicking Nature To Heal The Earth

In the first part of this series  – ‘Nature’s Perfect Context’ on Keith Harvey’s 100% Grass Fed beef, I wrote about why this is such a special farm and a special, unspoilt region.
Keith Harvey farms according to Allan Savory’s philosophy and farming system called Holistic Management.
From the very start, I have to make this distinction. Agriculture is a way of farming that is man-made. Man takes over a section of land and uses it for a certain purpose, most often it has been for growing mono-crops of grains but agriculture in itself is a man-made system of producing food in large volumes. When we talk about family run farms, or small, traditional farms, we don’t really talk about agriculture. A small farm is generally an organic model of holism, everything works together. Once things get larger than this and more structured and focused more on one type of farming rather than the biodiversity of a farm, we’re talking about agriculture.
Organic agriculture is a way of farming that is more natural, that uses more traditional methods of farming to improve and retain soil fertility and to grow things more naturally, manage pests using natural methods, etc, it is a superior form of agriculture.
Holistic management goes way beyond this. It is organic but more broadly applied so that the entire ecology of a region is healed and supported. Rather than an agricultural method, it is a system of farming that more attempts to mimic a natural system. It is modelled on wild nature, not on tempering nature.
Conventional agriculture causes harm to the soil, it isn’t a natural process. What is so incredible about Allan Savory’s method is that it is a method of mimicking nature to heal not just the soil but the whole ecology of a region.
It is so powerful, that where the border of Keith’s farm sits with his neighbour – deep in the bush – we’re talking vast tracts of land on either side of this, Keith’s farm is alive with grassland (veld in SA terminology), bushes, shrubs and life – right next door, the neighbour’s land is dry and dead with little grass, not anywhere near the same amount of life.
There are farms in the Karoo that will show you before and after pictures that are as powerful. This picture in this article shows a border of a farm in the Karoo where one farmer has used principles of holistic management to heal the soil and the other hasn’t. It is as drastic as this, and I’ve seen exactly the same thing on the border of Keith Harvey and his neighbours farm. Farms that used to have dead, deserts of land that after using Allan Savory’s principles of mimicking nature to heal the land, their soil is fertile again, grasses, shrubs and plant life and the ecology and biodiversity that comes with this returns. It is incredible.
In nature’s system, herbivorous animals moved through-out savannahs in large grazing herds. As they did so, there was a symbiotic interplay between the soil and the animals which ensured the fertility of both. It is evidence of the symbiotic relationships that characterise nature’s cycle.  The manure, urine and grazing of the herd and their stomping the nutrition into the soil, kept the land alive and nourished. It kept the top-soil alive.
Once we lost this and man instead took over with agriculture, soil fertility was lost, large and vast sections of soil globally turned to desert.
Where we have no top soil, we also have lost the earth’s ability to process and absorb carbon, contributing greatly towards climate change.
What happens when we return herbivorous animals to pasture on their natural grazing lands is that the soil heals and as a result, the bush or grassland comes back to life. As does biodiversity, the return of bees, birds, insects and animals that are a part of that particular ecology. As does our health when we eat food naturally reared like this.
It is something incredible and to be able to sell meat from a farming system like this able to achieve healing ecology while rearing animals humanely in their most natural conditions, is one of the most hopeful practices I’ve seen that can make a large difference to climate change.
It goes way beyond organic.
There is so much to this topic that I’m going to have to write this in series. Before the next piece, here is an overview on what holistic management is taken directly from the Savory institutes website. Please have a look at their website if you want to study this further, watch videos of footage on this topic, see pictures of how this method of farming heals soil and grassland and why I’m so honoured to be involved with Kalahari Grass Fed beef and a farmer of this calibre – Allan Savory Institute…

“Holistic Management Overview

Holistic Management is based on a decision-making framework which results in ecologically regenerative, economically viable and socially sound management of the world’s grasslands.
It was first developed over 40 years ago by Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist, game ranger, politician, farmer, and rancher, who was searching for ways to save the beautiful savannah and its wildlife in southern Africa.

How It Works

Holistic Management teaches people about the relationship between large herds of wild herbivores and the grasslands and then helps people develop strategies for managing herds of domestic livestock to mimic those wild herds to heal the land.

Principles of Holistic Management

Holistic Management is based on four key principles that highlight the symbiotic relationship between large herds of grazing animals, their predators and the grasslands.

Benefits

Holistic Management embraces and honors the complexity of nature, and uses nature’s models to bring practical approaches to land management, and restoration. The planning procedures embedded in the Holistic Management approach are designed to incorporate this complexity and work with it.It does take time, skills and discipline to use this decision-making framework successfully – but the economic, environmental and social benefits are enormous.

A Look at Desertification

For many years, large areas of grasslands around the world have been turning into barren deserts. This process, called desertification, is happening at an alarming rate in vast areas of the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries.  An estimated one-third of the Earth’s surface is covered with grasslands that are facing the threat of desertification. One of the major causes of desertification is agriculture — or more technically, the production of food and fiber from the world’s land and waters by human beings for human beings.

Wild Herd Activity

In the past, large wild herds of herbivores such as caribou and buffalo migrated over the land to find food and avoid predators. These herds grazed, defecated, stomped and salivated as they moved across the grasslands, building soil and deepening plant roots. Once these herds had migrated onward they would not return to an area until it had recovered.
Unfortunately, over time, the wild herds disappeared and were replaced by small numbers of domestic, sedentary livestock. Without the timely stomping and excrement of large numbers of animals, the cycle of biological decay in these grasslands was interrupted and the once-rich soils turned into dry, exposed desert land.

Agricultural Models

In addition, agricultural models have undergone a dramatic shift over the past 50 years. Millions of farmers have left the land and those that remain are moving away from producing a multitude of different foods and fibers from carefully managed human-scale operations to producing a limited range of products – often a single species – from ever larger industrial-scale operations. This fossil fuel based agriculture model produces more tons of eroded soil than of food or fiber.”
Next in the Series – Part 3 – Holistic Management – The Significance of Kalahari Grass Fed Beef For The Future…
 
 

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