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    New Zealand Avalon Member Carmen's Avatar
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    Default Holistic Farming

    A couple of years ago I came across a site on the Internet that taught about healing the earth through large animals. I was intrigued as it made a lot of sense. They showed pictures of what they had achieved with lifeless, bare mounds of mine tailings. After cattle were confined to the area and fed hay. Grass seed was also broadcast. After a season of this management, grass covered this previous barren site. The Internet site is ManagingWholes.com.

    I recently started researching the subject again as I am to attend a lecture next month by a man called Greg Judy. This guy is a farmer from USA who farms cattle and sheep. His land has no fertiliser applied apart from the manure his stock provide. He has no health issues in his stock and does not drench for parasites. Every year his land becomes more and more fertile. His waterways are clean and bird life thrives. All in all the ecology of the farms he runs improves every year. He makes a good profit and he has been able to increase his herd.
    Last edited by Carmen; 31st July 2012 at 05:04.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    The reason why this holistic method works is that these farmers mimic how nature worked on the great plains of America and also the savannahs of Africa. Back in the days when vast herds of animals occupied the great grasslands of the world, the animals (often several thousand at a time consisting of many types of animals) would move as a herd into a grassed area. They would graze, trample, poo and pee, then the predators would appear and start picking off the weak and the old. The herd would then move on to the next area of standing mature grassland. They would not return to the first site for several weeks or months. Not until the grasses had completely recovered. this is how the deserts and dry lands of the planet can be brought back to useful production and waterways can be replenished and cleaned. Many area that are now shut off from grazing animals are degenerating to desert.

    I refer you to the work of Alan Savory, Ian Mitchell-Inness and many others. The before and after pictures of this managed grazing is astounding and very inspiring. Just google the names to see the evidence.

    I am about to start using this method on my own farm and I'm really excited about the possibilities.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    For quite some time I have despaired about the state of agriculture throughout the world. Farms drenched with poisons, fertilisers, nitrates leaching into waterways. Animals confined to small spaces and forced to live out their lives caged and sick. Agriculture land getting progressively drier and irrigation compromising rivers and aquatic life. This holistic method gives me huge hope for the future of agriculture. Conventional farming has always argued that organic agriculture could not feed the world. With farmers changing their minds and researching and applying this method of farming, I see a huge turn around in the production of food.

    But, until it's applied in my own case it's just a theory for me. I am learning as much as I can to apply it to my own farm. I currently run a few cattle, sheep, horses and three pigs, plus hens. Ultimately they will all be run together and rotated round the entire farm. Oh, I forgot, no hay is made either, so you see it's not a great outlay to make a start, just electric fencing.

    Google Papanui Free Range Hens. That's a great example of this method.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    I've noticed that the horses and cattle I've had overwintering together on a twenty acre hill like to hang out together. They don't segregate. Also one of the pigs is best friends with our big pet wether so different species seem to like being together. Herds of different species seem quite natural. Greg Judy does not wean his heifer calves off their mothers and it's not a problem with running the bull with the mob. The heifers do not seem to cycle early when they remain with mum hence no too young mothers!

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    One of the surprising and best features of this holistic way of farming is that waterways improve and run all year round in dry areas and water quality increases. One year on Emmerdale Farm (my place) we had a wet summer for us and springs appeared where they hadn't been before (to my knowledge). I'm really hoping that this happens again when I allow pasture the time it takes to really regenerate by not set stocking.

    I'm a bit nervous tonight, it's been pissing down with rain all day and night and the cow is getting set to calve. She is a really big friesan and I want her to calve without complications. She is too big for me to handle by myself!! It's night here, I should know by tomorrow. My daughter France's is the cowgirl, she is going to check her early tomorrow. She may be having twins as she is very big in the belly! Hope they are girls if they are twins.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Did you know that if you have 25 earth worms per square foot in your soil they can generate 100 ton of worm castings per acre! Seems incredible! Must check that one out. Worm castings have a ph of 7, seemingly, which is perfect for plant growth.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Quote Posted by Carmen (here)
    Did you know that if you have 25 earth worms per square foot in your soil they can generate 100 ton of worm castings per acre! Seems incredible! Must check that one out. Worm castings have a ph of 7, seemingly, which is perfect for plant growth.
    7 PH is exactly "neutral" and only good for plant growth that desires that PH

    however the rest of your thread rings very true, rotating crops, farming from a view point of the old knowledge is very key I M O! a great topic for exploration for sure.
    Hard times create strong men, Strong men create good times, Good times create weak men, Weak men create hard times.
    Where are you?

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Thanks Target. Maybe a ph of seven is the ideal for growing grass? I have much to learn on this topic and I guess much learning will be derived from the mistakes I make! I am very much under stocked on my farm so I am in quite a good position. The ground is well covered everywhere but I need much more stock to trample the old grass in. I will probably graze my neighbours ewes when he weans the lambs. I was planning to lease half of my farm to him but I've changed my mind! He may not be too pleased but at least I can graze some stock for him.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    You can drag to trample the old grass in. A discarded piece of chain link fence maybe five feet long, throw a old tire on it to weight it down, and hook it up with a chain to any vehicle that you don't mind rushing all over the fields with. That also spreads manure piles each individual animal leaves behind too if you don't already drag for that.

    Not entirely holistic at first but once you get a good drag down on the pasture/ field you can do it with a horse.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    ph 6.4 - 6.8 is best for plant nutrient uptake , as far as I recall.....

    great thread...

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Yeah, I can do that 9eagle9, but animals, mob grazed, do it better. Hoofs penetrate and bury the seeds of the old plants. We've been very dry here, but we have just had four inches of rain. It's quite ideal really. Might chuck some seed out when I shift the stock next. I want to learn how it works with horses. After all there are zebras mixed in with the wildebeest and other savannah animals. Bet they never foundered on grass! I wonder if Indian ponies foundered?

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Quote Posted by Carmen (here)
    The reason why this holistic method works is that these farmers mimic how nature worked on the great plains of America and also the savannahs of Africa. Back in the days when vast herds of animals occupied the great grasslands of the world, the animals (often several thousand at a time consisting of many types of animals) would move as a herd into a grassed area. They would graze, trample, poo and pee, then the predators would appear and start picking off the weak and the old. The herd would then move on to the next area of standing mature grassland. They would not return to the first site for several weeks or months. Not until the grasses had completely recovered. this is how the deserts and dry lands of the planet can be brought back to useful production and waterways can be replenished and cleaned. Many area that are now shut off from grazing animals are degenerating to desert.

    I refer you to the work of Alan Savory, Ian Mitchell-Inness and many others. The before and after pictures of this managed grazing is astounding and very inspiring. Just google the names to see the evidence.

    I am about to start using this method on my own farm and I'm really excited about the possibilities.
    I recently witnessed a mere accident that was working itself out in the high deserts of Nevada.
    One lone house had a corral with a few horses, the environment is terribly hot, particularly this year... I was taking a short walk on this hot day and I was stopped in my tracks by a pack of wild horses. The corral of horses had attracted more horses, enough that the owner left a few water troughs outside the fence...
    After looking around I realized these horses had been going back n forth for months-weeks, who knows! They had completely transformed the landscape, when I took a closer look I saw how the horses hooves stomped deeper ruts for more water and their pooping fertilized the desert plants. The horses constant nibbling had caused some of the perennial desert shrubs to re-grow more rapid.
    Even on this horribly dry year, many types of native perennials were setting up for an august bloom. The hot soil was no longer hard as concrete I could push my hand right in.(which would almost burn you in the day heat)
    Within a a few weeks with a bit of luck we had thunderstorms that brought some rain. ~The process continues~Nature knows best.

    So after seeing this I must say that I back what has been said here, in the western US the horses are rehabilitating seemingly uninhabitable lands. Perhaps I will help them.
    Why not now?

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Please Google the names of some of the people I have mentioned if you are interested in this. You will be absolutely flabagastered at the results they are getting with using live stock in mobs to regenerate dry land and desert. It's the most exciting outcomes I've seen. Cattle do not belong in feedlots! They can be regenerating land! If gives me hope for agriculture and the planet. Deserts can be brought back to grasslands. Water can come back also! I'm sorry I'm so useless at posting pictures! If I could I would. My iPad is not really picture friendly. Not for me anyway.
    Last edited by Carmen; 1st August 2012 at 10:31.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Savoryinstitute holistic management worldwide

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Took a six inch square spade of earth from my paddock today and found 'one' earthworm!! Oh dear, have a long way to go but I guess I have to start somewhere? The farm is generally really well covered with grass so no desertification here. I would love to find another spring for my house water. I'm rather fed up with the spring site not being under my control. Cows given free access for weeks has not enhanced my water supply!! Arrrh!!

    My horses and cattle are getting used to electric fencing though which is good. The best site for the amount of info about holistic management is www.ManagingWholes.com. Just so much information there.

    The current drought in the USA is largely man made, through the farming practices used predominantly! Bare ground does not hold water, it runs off straight away, hence flooding when it does rain. It also evaporates very quickly. Grasslands grazed the way nature intended for them to be holds water and is drought proof. Go to the web site I have listed and see for yourself.
    Last edited by Carmen; 2nd August 2012 at 07:30.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Whatever we focus on is what we manifest. Endlessly focussing on what is wrong in, and with,the world, tends to replicate the same ol same ol, stuff. If we understand the problems but then start focussing on solutions, they start to come, and when we are inspired to do something that makes a difference, that leads to the next solution. And on and on!

    This holistic management of grazing land is one really good solution for global warming. Good grazing land holds the greatest amount of carbon next to the sea. Covered ground holds water and replenishes our underground aquifers.

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    The only time I've known equines to founder on grass is when they were abruptly turned out into very rich new growth spring grass and gorged on it after a winter of grain and hay.

    It's super dry here,too, mob grazing doesn't leave a dent in the hard pan dirt and the seeds get blown off. I was thinking the same thing, scatter after a good soak (or during) and herd everyone into the same area to mill around. The dragging though spreads the seeds left in manure (if there's any seeds left...lol) And spreads the manure. Having to throw hay out in the middle of summer which I hate doing at least serves to spread some of the seed in the hay and introduce some grasses that we would not otherwise have.

    Hoping for a very wet fall.



    Quote Posted by Carmen (here)
    Yeah, I can do that 9eagle9, but animals, mob grazed, do it better. Hoofs penetrate and bury the seeds of the old plants. We've been very dry here, but we have just had four inches of rain. It's quite ideal really. Might chuck some seed out when I shift the stock next. I want to learn how it works with horses. After all there are zebras mixed in with the wildebeest and other savannah animals. Bet they never foundered on grass! I wonder if Indian ponies foundered?

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Great thread Carmen. Here in the states I love Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm. Their practices and concepts are much like you said. I have used his methods for many years now and have even attended his workshops, as well as, sent several apprentices who worked with me on my organic farms.

    As an herbalist and holistic/eco farmer I love to watch which “weeds” come up in certain areas of my farms. By watching what Mother is using to heal the land, I can know what micro nutrients the soil needs and either help her along by providing those minerals and nutrients or letting mother nature take care of it by the weeds and plant life that somehow magically appear.

    http://http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Interesting thing about earthworms; they are not a native species where i live and believe it or not they are upsetting the natural balance of our forests because of how they alter the soil.

    I've seen a program where in Europe there is an invasive flat worm that is consuming all the earthworms. This is causing the sheep yards to turn into swamps because the sheep compact the soil with there hooves. The earthworms effectively aerate the soil thus improving the soil drainage.
    “Bundinn er bátlaus maður”

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    Default Re: Holistic Farming

    Quote Posted by blufire (here)
    Great thread Carmen. Here in the states I love Joel Salatin and Polyface Farm. Their practices and concepts are much like you said. I have used his methods for many years now and have even attended his workshops, as well as, sent several apprentices who worked with me on my organic farms.

    As an herbalist and holistic/eco farmer I love to watch which “weeds” come up in certain areas of my farms. By watching what Mother is using to heal the land, I can know what micro nutrients the soil needs and either help her along by providing those minerals and nutrients or letting mother nature take care of it by the weeds and plant life that somehow magically appear.

    http://http://www.polyfacefarms.com/
    I didn't recognize Joe's name until i look up the title of his book "Folks This Ain't Normal".

    I listened to a radio interview with him; i like his attitude and what he is promoting (haven't read the book yet though).
    “Bundinn er bátlaus maður”

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