Science Library

The Science Library is packed with inspiring peer-reviewed science backing the multiple benefits of Holistic Management and regenerative agriculture.

Tag: Ecological Indicators

A Multi-Year Retrospective on Lessons from the Savory Global Network
This paper by Dr. Rattan Lal detailing the scope of nature-based climate solutions, including but not limited to grasslands and soils. Findings show that "the soil C sink capacity, between 2020 and 2100, with the global adoption of best management practice which creates a positive soil/ecosystem C budget, is estimated at 178 Pg C for soil, 155 Pg C for biomass, and 333 Pg C for the terrestrial biosphere with a total CO2 drawdown potential of 157 ppm."
This paper provides an overview of opportunities to increase regenerative grazing in the Upper Midwest of the United States, specifically in the Upper Mississippi River Basin (UMRB). With a growing body of research complemented by anecdotal evidence, this approach is increasingly understood to be a “win-win-win” for farmers, society, and the environment.
The aim of this study was to determine the mid-term effect of regenerative grazing in Basque country of Northern Spain on soil ecosystem services and evaluate their synergies and trade-offs. Regenerative rotational grazing achieved 30% higher springtime grass production and 3.6% higher topsoil carbon storage than conventional rotational grazing.
This paper conducted a whole-farm life cycle assessment (LCA) of a multi-species pasture rotation (MSPR) farm in the southeastern United States that was originally converted from degraded cropland. Results showed an average of 2.29 Mg C ha−1 yr−1. Incorporation of soil C sequestration into the LCA reduced net GHG emissions by 80%, resulting in a footprint 66% lower than commodity production systems.
The authors avoid the usual debates on whether or not Holistic Management, Holistic Planned Grazing, or any its many derivatives deliver outcomes as claimed by practitioners, and instead focuses on their contribution to managing complexity. Holistic Management’s biggest acknowledged contribution to the grazing world is (arguably) its emphasis on adaptivity, strategic decision-making, goal-setting, and ability to manage complexity. Based on data gathered from educators in American and Canada who have trained many farmers and ranchers, the authors conclude that Holistic Management represents systems thinking in practice.
South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council completed this study over a 6-year period comparing the Africa Centre for Holistic Management’s land at Dimbangombe under Holistic Planned Grazing (HGP), to nearby communal areas where HPG was not practiced. The researchers concluded that 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.
This paper is a literature review on the ecological impacts of grazing, and finds that where managed properly (employing a “whole-systems approach” and “adaptive, goal-directed grazing methods”) livestock are essential to ecosystem service sustainability and improvement. Soil organic matter increases were sufficient to yield a net sink of 2 tons of carbon per hectare per year.
This paper argues that the infusion of holistic decision making into the practice of planned grazing, or “regenerative ranching,” results in a suite of ecological, economic and social benefits that are the main factors keeping adherents on the regenerative path. Climate change mitigation is only a ‘co-benefit’ or after-thought. The use of holistic decision-making in the implementation of managed grazing amplifies its effects and increases regenerative potential, and, by extension, climate change mitigation potential.
This paper describes the main tenets of Holistic Management and addresses the longstanding and unresolved controversy over its legitimacy. The authors then provide a meta-analysis that not only gives an up-to-date review of the multidisciplinary evidence and ongoing arguments about HM, but also provides a novel explanation for the controversy—that it is grounded in epistemic differences between disciplines associated with agricultural science that rule out any chance of resolution.
This paper analyzes the experiences of farmers in Australia who have undertaken and 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.
Paper assesses Holistic Planned Grazing outcomes in shortgrass prairie of the Northern Great Plains of North America. Researchers compared key ecosystem functions on the ranch of long time Holistic Management practitioner Mimi Hillenbrand who grazes bison, with those on neighboring cattle ranches using using set stocked light continuous (LCG) and heavy continuous grazing (HCG). Positive results with Holistic Planned Grazing (referred to here as Adaptive Multi-Paddock or AMP grazing) include: increased fine litter cover (P < 0.05), improved water infiltration (P < 0.06), two to three times the available forage biomass (P < 0.001), improved plant composition (P < 0.05), decrease in invasive plants (P < 0.05), and decrease in bare ground (P < 0.05).
Peer-reviewed study demonstrates the efficacy of the Ecological Health Index––a component of the Ecological Outcome Verification protocol––for quickly and affordably measuring grazing land function.
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.
In this paper, Dr. Richard Teague examines the shortcomings and inaccuracies of his colleague Dr. David Briske's claims against Allan Savory's methods.
This study compared the carbon (C) balance reported by (i) national inventories that followed the simplified method (Tier 1) of IPCC (1996/2006), with (ii) an alternative estimation derived from the meta-analysis of science-based, peer-reviewed data. Results show that the potential for grasslands to sequester carbon is large and unaccounted for in standard IPCC models.