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Question for Allen about TED talk  RSS feed

 
Brent Rogers
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Allen,

You're work is truly saving this planet and I hope people catch on soon! In your TED talk you said that some of the land you worked with originally had no vegetation. I recall one where nobody could find a blade of grass on a 100 mile drive. You spoke of the Sigmoid Curve, but without grass what are you applying that to? I can understand starting the livestock on low feed and rotating often, but I simply can't wrap my head around how it is possible to have this sort of impact on the land without feed. What you have accomplished is amazing!
 
Allan Savory
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Brent I responded to an identical question from Alex earlier. I am unfamiliar with how this site works so will just repeat it here for you.
Alex this bothers many people and was a major question following my TED talk. the answer is simple so let me explain.

I have never, even in the worst situations come across land with absolutely no feed in the form of sparse grass, leaf fall and twigs from trees or browse on small desert bushes, etc. The exception being true desert with no rainfall which we do not try to change, or mine reclamation where there are relatively small totally bare areas. In the latter (mine reclamation) we do use brought in feed in the form of the cheapest nastiest hay we can find full of seed of weeds, annual grasses or anything to provide some feed but mainly litter.

On the land with larger areas as I say there is always something there supporting usually pathetically few poor animals. So there we begin and we use the simple principle that all biological functions follow an S shaped or sigmoid curve. i.e plants grow slowly and gradually accelerate till full grown and we want them to be allowed to get past the slow initial growth rate to the fast growth rate or steep part of that curve so we need to buy time for that to happen once they germinate.

If we take any area of land as time not area is what matters most - that area of land can say presently only carry X number of animals (goats, cattle, donkies or whatever) but it can carry them for a year. So therefore if we divide that land into two it can carry X for about 180 days on half the land. And that leaves any plants establishing on the other half 180 days to grow unimpeded if they germinate. So if we divide the land into four then a quarter of the land can carry X for about 90 days - so that leave plants establishing on the bulk of the land about 270 days of unimpeded growth. Hope you get the idea. Now if we can also increase the animals and change their behaviour to more bunching behaviour we can overcome the greatest problem with such desertifying land (over resting the land) by increasing the animal impact (hoof action, breaking soil capped surface, dunging and urinating) and through this get more plants germinating and establishing. Any plants are needed to begin providing both more feed for animals and more litter for soil cover.

So with this principle in mind I first tested this out before going public. We chose the worst land we could find in the driest and most desertified part of Zimbabwe. Land on which perennial grassland had disappeared and we had not one single plant we knew of in over 100 miles drive. Taking the worst piece we could in that area (a 4,000 acre piece of it) we divided it into 30 using fencing at that time (1960's) Now I would not use fencing any longer as we can do it more effectively with herding at lower cost. Anyway on that land we doubled X (the number of animals it was carrying) and that proved too little so by end of first year we went to 3X. And that with holistic planned grazing resulted in the animals on average being on any unit of the land for one to two days only with enough existing feed for so short a stay. And they did well on the available forage (mostly initially twigs, leaf fall and a few small shrubs as there was no grass at all). And through the greatly increased animal impact (3 x numbers on only a thirtieth of the land) plants, or many species, began to germinate and most with recovery periods of uninterrupted growth of between 30 to 60 days established well enough to be grazed or browsed without overgrazing or overbrowsing. We found this led very quickly to solid perennial grassland developing. No feeding and no need to reseed or plant grass, shrubs or trees. All began establishing themselves.

We began immediately in the dry season because I was trying to see if I could cause holistic planned grazing to fail and pushing it to extremes no rancher would in their right minds do. We could not cause it to fail and it simply got better and better year after year. Normally because ranchers do not have my experience and thus confidence I suggest they do not start healing such land in the dry season but begin at the beginning of the humid or growing season as they gain confidence. I hope this helps you get the idea.

 
I'm so happy! And I wish to make this tiny ad happy too:
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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