The term holistic management as developed by Allan Savory of the Savory Institute www.savoryinstitute.com emphasizes the interconnectedness of everything in the universe. Because of this interconnectedness, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We use this model when making management decisions at White Clover Farm. We take into account the effects our decisions will have on the environment, water cycle, carbon cycle, mineral cycle, cattle, wildlife, soils, plants, and the human community.
Following is an example of using holistic management on our farm.
Problem: Poor soil fertility in a pasture.
Option 1 - Use synthetic chemical fertilizers.
Drawbacks: Fertilizer is manufactured using fossils fuels which are a non-renewable resource and pollute the air. These soluble fertilizers pollute surface water thru runoff and groundwater thru leaching. Synthetic nitrogen also burns off soil organic matter and is harmful to soil biology.
Option 2 - Mow the field
By leaving the grass clippings on the surface to slowly decay, they feed the soil biology and increase soil organic matter.
Drawbacks: Slow process and requires diesel fuel to mow.
Option 3 - Holistic Management
An Amish farmer had recently moved in down the road. He did not have enough pasture for his Belgian draft horses. I offered him the opportunity to graze this pasture free of charge. This decision helped my neighbor by providing free forage for his horses, while providing me with free manure as a source of organic fertilizer. This increases soil organic matter and feeds the soil microbes. Horses clip the pasture very short, opening up the canopy so I could frost seed clover with good seed to soil contact. Clover is a legume which fixes nitrogen from the atmosphere( thru the symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria in the soil) thus adding an additional 75-100 pounds per acre of organic nitrogen.
As you can see, this holistic approach to management decisions benefited everyone.