Just in case….

by David

We’ve always been skeptical of the “global warming” scenario though our recent un-winter and early spring has moved us closer to the agnostic column.  Still we’ve always managed Thistle Hill as though the environmental alarmists are right.

There’s no question, based on our own observations, that clean water and chemical-free land is better for our animals and for us.  And the cost savings in not spraying pesticides, not spreading fertilizer and not mowing fields is considerable.  Managing your land that way  not only cuts way back on energy consumption, it also keeps carbon out of the atmosphere and in the ground where it does the most good.

This is why Thistle Hill has been one of the local farms taking part in a Holistic Management International pilot project.  Ian Mitchell-Innes of South Africa has been to our farm, lectured to the group, and his insights are as close as an email.  Another friend and mentor is Dave Pratt of Ranching for Profit.  In his latest newsletter he has a practical take, too, on global warming.

Regardless of your position vis-à-vis the impact of human activities on the climate, what’s good for your ranch is good for the climate. Cell grazing can sequester carbon and increase organic matter in the soil.

Increasing organic matter improves fertility and increases the effectiveness of rainfall by increasing the infiltration rate and moisture holding capacity. That makes the land more productive without spending money. It also has the potential to take millions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.

Given the cost of energy these days, finding alternatives to anything that burns gas and oil makes economic sense. Oh yeah, it also puts less carbon into the atmosphere.

As regular readers may recall, we recently did soil tests on about half our pastures and found that holistic practices in just a year have made a significant impact in the amount of organic matter on our pastures.  Fertility, which has been good because natural treatments in the past, has remained steady without any inputs.

We’re still experimenting with the optimum size herd to achieve our goals but there’s not much doubt we’re on the right path.