Many of us who maintain a keen interest in sustainable agriculture have been impressed by the apparent success of holistic/cell/rotational/mob grazing in rapidly improving the quality of soils by sequestering carbon, improving water retention, improving quality of forage, fertility, stocking capacity etc. etc. It has been hailed as a method which could rapidly reverse the loss of carbon to the atmosphere and therefore reverse the effects of climate change.
I have personally met a local farmer who has practised these methods for around 10 years. She said there were noticeable improvements even in the first year and that there have been improvements in their pastures every year since. She said “If it didn’t work, we wouldn’t do it.”
However there are many scientific studies which cast considerable doubt on the effectiveness of these grazing methods. The purpose of this post is to expose readers to different viewpoints so that they may be well informed on this subject.
Even though many of the studies dispute any advantage of holistic grazing systems it becomes clear that there is little doubt that well managed grazing systems (when compared with unmanaged systems) of all types do improve the soil and they do sequester carbon, albeit at a much lower rate claimed by advocates of holistic grazing.
A $1 million, four-year study funded by the MLA and CSIRO and conducted by Queensland’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation has found that different grazing systems delivered nearly indistinguishable results. The study found no statistically significant differences between the systems – the choice of system being relatively unimportant for land health and productivity.
For more information on the CSIRO Research Article, click on the link below: A comparison of stocking methods for beef production in northern Australia: pasture and soil surface condition responses https://www.publish.csiro.au/rj/RJ13075
Other articles which query the value of holistic grazing include:
This finding is disputed by Carbon Farmers of Australia and other organisations and individuals.
Another CSIRO study came to quite a different conclusion from the Research Article mentioned above: http://www.publish.csiro.au/sr/SR07220
For more information, click on these links:
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