Livestock can improve land health, rejuvenate soils, and reduce pollution runoff. Granted that is not what we typically see. Most grasslands and pasture are currently overgrazed, compacted and dry but by using Keyline plows and intensive rotational grazing the land can be re-hydrated and topsoil can be built quickly.
This common overgrazing of plants and damage has less to do with the number of animals on the land, and more to do with the amount of time the plants and soils are exposed to animals. Intensive rotational grazing developed by Allan Savory of Holistic Management International seeks to mimic grass land regeneration created by the behavior, grazing and soil disturbance of wild herds. Popularized and made economically successful by Joel Salatin of Poly Face Farm in Virginia, holistic farm design and management is gaining widespread recognition.
The common farm layout and paddock structure we see across our landscapes today, whether beef, dairy or equine, support spread out continuous grazing. This continuous grazing does not allow sufficient time for forage regrowth, reduces palatable species, and cuts short the nutritional needs of the animal. By grouping animals into a herd, creating a series of temporary paddocks, short term intense grazing allows stem regrowth to where optimal nutritional levels peak. Combine Keyline planning and even the most degraded farm land can be regenerated in as little as three years.
Keyline planning is based on the natural topography of the land, it uses the form and shape of the land to determine the layout and position of dams, irrigation areas, roads, fences, buildings and tree lines.
A key tool in Keyline planning is the Keyline plow. It is a unique water harvesting implement that deep rips soils on contour allowing rain water to seep evenly into the landscape. This amplified contour ripping de-compacts soils to increase water holding capacity, builds organic matter, and prevents erosion and pollution runoff. The benefit to farm land and extended landscapes is multifold in that it increases forage production, drought proofs the landscape and prevents runoff pollution.
The Keyline plow does not cultivate the soil but rather deep rips with a series of thin shanks that closes after the pass of the plow, making it safe for pasture animals.
Ecologia uses Holistic Management® strategies and Keyline Design practices to build healthy soil and profitable farms.
- Salatin, Joel, ‘$alad Bar Beef’
- Yeomans, P.A., Water for Every Farm, (www.keyline.com.au)
- Savory, A. & Butterfield, Holistic Management
Posted In: Edible and Ecological Landscape Design