We've compiled some of our favorite resources for you to dig in and learn more about Holistic Management and the Savory Global Network.

Table of Contents

Peer-reviewed papers

Below are just a few of the many peer-reviewed journal articles in our science library that detail the positive effects of Holistic Management and other related research.

  • Gosnell 2020 – This comprehensive literature review outlines a half-century of Holistic Management research, including the main tenets behind the decision-making framework and historical academic debates that stem from a narrow industrial paradigm before social-ecological frameworks were developed. It furthermore provides a meta-analysis of the multidisciplinary evidence, including the less-studied social, cultural, and psychological aspects, and offers a new lens for researching rangelands in holistic, integrated ways.
  • Hillenbrand 2019 – Evaluation of ecosystem processes on a holistically-managed bison ranch in South Dakota’s shortgrass prairie compared to continuous grazing practices. Results indicate increased fine litter cover, improved water infiltration, two to three times the available forage biomass, improved plant composition, decrease in invasive plants, decrease in bare ground, and higher infiltration with Holistic Planned Grazing on soils having higher permeability but not on soils having a high clay content.
  • Xu 2019 – Compared ecological outcomes on 44 properties in Argentina using both established/quantifiable metrics and the new Ecological Health Index (EHI), a component of Savory’s Ecological Outcome Verification protocol. Strong correlations demonstrate that EHI can be a useful methodology for measuring ecosystem function of grazing lands.
  • Gosnell 2019 – Analyzes experiences of Australian farmers who have sustained transitions from conventional to regenerative agriculture, the majority of whom are Holistic Management practitioners. The authors conclude that transitioning to regenerative agriculture involves more than a suite of ‘climate-smart’ mitigation and adaptation practices supported by technical innovation, policy, education, and outreach. Rather, it involves subjective, nonmaterial factors associated with culture, values, ethics, identity, and emotion that operate at individual, household, and community scales and interact with regional, national and global processes.
  • Teague 2018 – Mostly an overview of the state of grazing research. On page 4, he presents a chart showing various C-sequestration rates from multiple sites using Holistic Management. Rates range from 0.5-7 tons-C/ha/year (with ~3 being the most commonly observed).
  • Stanley 2018 – This paper conducts a lifecycle assessment, including direct measure of carbon flux, on various livestock finishing systems and shows that properly-managed livestock create an ecosystem that is a net carbon sink instead of net carbon emitter.
  • Peel 2018 – Case study analyzing vegetation and landscape function at the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe. “HPG yields positive long-term effects on ecosystem services (soils and vegetation) and points to the HPG approach enhancing the sustainability of livestock and wildlife in this environment.”
  • Teague 2017 – This paper is an overarching discussion on various types of grazing management and the potential for proper (holistic) management to regenerate ecosystem function and grazingland livelihoods. It also dives into the shortcomings of most grazing research that reduces whole ecosystem complexities into individual factors.
  • Cassidy 2017 – This paper quantified and compared bird abundances on pastures that were subject to continuous grazing, minimal rotation, or Holistic Management. “Holistic resource managed pastures had 1.5 and 4.5 times higher average abundances of obligate grassland birds than minimally rotated or continuously grazed pastures, respectively.”
  • Lalaampa 2016 – This paper studied the effects of holistic planned grazing on milk production, weight gain, and visitation to grazing areas by livestock and wildlife in Laikipia County, Kenya. Results found that, with significantly higher numbers of grazing animals, the number of wildlife more than doubled, average milk yields increased, and animal weight gain nearly doubled compared to traditional grazing areas.
  • Teague 2016 – This paper determined that properly-managed grazing, if applied on 25% of our crop and grasslands, would mitigate the entire carbon footprint of North American agriculture.
  • Rowntree 2016 – “From this data, we conclude that well-managed grazing and grass-finishing systems in environmentally appropriate settings can positively contribute to reducing the carbon footprint of beef cattle, while lowering overall atmospheric CO2 concentrations.”
  • Machmuller 2015 – This paper studies three farms converted from cropland to management intensive grazing (note: this is not the same as Holistic Management, but we include this paper to show the positive effects of converting croplands back to pasture).“Farms accumulated C at 8.0 Mg ha−1 yr−1, increasing cation exchange and water holding capacity by 95% and 34%, respectively. Thus, within a decade of management-intensive grazing practices soil C levels returned to those of native forest soils, and likely decreased fertilizer and irrigation demands.”
  • Ferguson 2013 – Compared the sustainability of 18 conventional and 7 holistic, dual-purpose ranches in Mexico, finding that the ranches managing holistically had greater yield ratios, higher soil respiration, deeper topsoil, and increased earthworm presence. The authors conclude that “Holistic Management strategies are leading to greater ecological and economic sustainability.”
  • Weber 2011 – Paper discussing grazing systems utilized by pastoralist societies, the resulting desertification, and the need for these grazing systems to supplanted by more inclusive planning processes that better manage the spatio-temporal aspects of grazing.
  • Stinner 1997 – Interviewed ranchers using Holistic Management. Ninety-five percent reported an increase in biodiversity, 80 percent reported an increase in profits, and 91 percent reported improvements in quality of life. All reported that biodiversity is now an important consideration in managing their land, whereas only 9 percent felt so prior to exposure to Holistic Management.

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