• DEFRA SFI Janet Hughes “ask me anything”

    Janet Hughes, Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme in Defra will be on The Farming Forum between 7pm-8pm this evening to answer your questions about our work including the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Farming in Protected Landscapes, and our test and trials - ask your questions here or vote on the questions you like the most

"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

Yeah, I hope we can get the BS side of it demystified fairly quickly, a lot of folk can make posting a letter look like launching a boat IMO and a lot of the "labelling" doesn't help anyone much.
Much of the terminology used is really helpful though, still similar but helps us look at things in what I would call a 'better' way.

There isnt really much bs. Its all down to how you interpret it. The word Holistic has implications but think. Whole-istic management and think of it as a structured decision making tool and it is a lot more comfortable to understand.

We make the decisions. We consider the implications of the decisions from a few angles (more wholly as it were) and then we review our decision within the context if that. Savory (my interpretation) has used this toolkit to make grazing decisions and generally it appears to pay off but it is imperfect. Hes influenced a lot by Vosiin and Smuts. You can add your own layers to it as well as you need to make it work for you financially and socially and for your patch of land.
 

Agrispeed

Member
Location
Cornwall
I would recommend Joel Salatins books too. They are probably less informative, but are somehow written in the way he talks which is quite amusing. His passion of the system comes through well which makes them quite a good read.

I recently read Man, Cattle and Veld by Zietsmann and although clearly in a completely different ecosystem it gave me some quite good ideas, as did a dairy farming book from 1946, which had lots of 'modern' holistic management practises demonstrated and described.
 

Agrispeed

Member
Location
Cornwall
Here are some pics from this evening of one of my herbal leys. Its a bit boring and conventional this year as I have been stuggling with poor growth so far this spring (1 month at <10kg/Ha).

This is currently a bit bare at 2540kg/dm, but is currently growing at 100kg/dm/day. I'm grazing it down to 1500, as its easier to limit intakes for dry cows but Ive found the leys respond really well to being hammered down but back fenced tight. This will also be irrigated with 4000l/Ha dirty water through a K-line (running for 30 mins each end of the day) over the next week or so.


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58 dry cows in this mob currently feeding 8.5-9kg/head.

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The plan will be to gradually build the covers up over the season, so that we can go into winter with significant grass stocks, in preference to cutting off the platform.
 

ISCO

Member
Location
North East
I will be following this thread with great interest as I am keen to learn more about holistic grazing. I have to catch up with the webinar from Sheila Cook as not had time to watch it yet and I am very much a beginner.
I just think the way we currently farm is not sustainable long term due to the various pressures that are currently mounting.
I have followed @kiwipete's posts on other threads with great interest although know little about the whole holistic movement.
 

Blaithin

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Alberta
I would recommend Joel Salatins books too. They are probably less informative, but are somehow written in the way he talks which is quite amusing. His passion of the system comes through well which makes them quite a good read.

I recently read Man, Cattle and Veld by Zietsmann and although clearly in a completely different ecosystem it gave me some quite good ideas, as did a dairy farming book from 1946, which had lots of 'modern' holistic management practises demonstrated and described.
I prefer Salatins writing as well. It’s not as dry. Harder to put his books down. Some other authors can be hard to get your head into.
 

The Ruminant

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Hertfordshire
Well I did a Travel Fellowship on it a good few years back and went to meet a few practitioners of it in the USA and in Oz. I did a blog on it and it may still be online. I never met Allan Savory though which was a deliberate decision - I more wanted to see how farmers were trying to interpret it all. I've read the Holistic Management book quite a bit and there is other good literature about to get other feels of things too.

My feeling from it all is that fundamentally its all about planning. Allan Savory amongst other things used to fly planes and I think when you fly you always go through a checklist and that is pretty much what he has tried to develop with Holistic Management. A planned checklist to aid decision making for land management. So you ask the question - if I do this, what happens elsewhere? It surprising how infrequently we make those decisions especially with regards to issues like flooding, tillage, trees, social issues etc.

Farm business' are especially important because of environmental implications of economic decisions. Furthermore brittleness is important - the brittleness of your environment can mean your decisions are different to another climate.

Don't get to into the mob grazing per se thing in my view. Its fascinating, but Savory wanted Holistic Management to be a decision making technique more than a grazing technique. I'm a no tilling pesticide using farmer but I'm also a conservationist and an amateur holistic manager!

p.s. the book can be a tricky read at first. When I first read it I thought it was very deep and beyond me but as I've got older I've realised I'd misinterpreted some of it. Remember to think for yourself when reading it ie Savory draws on his experience because he has no choice but remember his climate/geography/ lifestyle etc. is different to your own so don't bend what he says to fit you. He's an inspiration though, now and again people come along in life and show you how to think differently and be more thoughtful. I'd say Jordan Peterson is one of those at the moment and for a lot of landowners Savory would be too.
I didn’t know you or anything about you Will, back then, but it was reading your blog in 2010 that first made me aware of mob grazing, holistic planned grazing, holistic management etc. As you know, that led to a Nuffield Scholarship and ultimately to where I’m at today. So thank you!

I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss mob grazing per se either. It’s an easy-to-understand entry point for people to start to get to grips with a different way of farming. A significant number then move on to take an interest in soil, the environment, their wider impact and ultimately holistic management itself.
 
I didn’t know you or anything about you Will, back then, but it was reading your blog in 2010 that first made me aware of mob grazing, holistic planned grazing, holistic management etc. As you know, that led to a Nuffield Scholarship and ultimately to where I’m at today. So thank you!

I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss mob grazing per se either. It’s an easy-to-understand entry point for people to start to get to grips with a different way of farming. A significant number then move on to take an interest in soil, the environment, their wider impact and ultimately holistic management itself.

Fair point. I wouldnt say im dismissing it I think id say as im not a practitioner im not qualified enough to comment on it enough to be able to say anything i could stand by. But equally my own feeling is that HM isnt mob grazing per se. I love the whole planning side of HM ie forcing you to think about how you want to approach your land management but also fitting in with ones aims. For example how does HM deal with our land management aims with our need to grow annual combinables (for even though wr may grow too much of them we do need to grow some)
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
There isnt really much bs. Its all down to how you interpret it. The word Holistic has implications but think. Whole-istic management and think of it as a structured decision making tool and it is a lot more comfortable to understand.

We make the decisions. We consider the implications of the decisions from a few angles (more wholly as it were) and then we review our decision within the context if that. Savory (my interpretation) has used this toolkit to make grazing decisions and generally it appears to pay off but it is imperfect. Hes influenced a lot by Vosiin and Smuts. You can add your own layers to it as well as you need to make it work for you financially and socially and for your patch of land.
I am bloody pleased you are here.
I have tried to convey the overall "message" before using how the government manages :rolleyes: a complex country and all that goes on within it, as a bit of an example... obviously sometimes a different perspective entirely is more useful as an example.

It is a great example really, because they don't get any training in holistic planning, they usually make a decision based on one "thing" that impacts heaps of other things (and people) in the process.
Seldom do government depts make popular decisions..... even though the politicos are in the very business of being re-elected....
 

Kiwi Pete

Member
Livestock Farmer
Hes on facebook. He's trained in HM and is a kiwi. Big on succession planning.

Ill find his page tomorrow
Gave that a little more thought, and I know who you mean now!
The "Succession" guy.

Found this little pearl too -http://blog.ranchmanagement.com/the-3-secrets-for-increasing-profit/ and strangely enough it doesn't tell us "which beef breed" or "what pickup" is going to help us succeed :whistle::hilarious::hilarious:

Any links to your blog, Will?
 
err, for starters . . .

im not a grazier

I don't own any livestock ( apart from a 7 yr pet old Santa Gertrudis bullock ), am just an arable farmer & not a very good one at that

However, it is clear that holistic grazing is FAR more than just cell / mob / rotational grazing.
First & foremost, it is observing, understanding & acting accordingly on, your animals, your soils, your plants, your land, your resources & ultimately yourself. One thing it most definitely is NOT, is a prescription or recipe written out by someone else for us to follow to the letter

It pisses me off when people don't like or dismiss the term "holistic", or think of it as some hippy feel good ideal.
I love the word holistic, we should embrace it in ALL aspects of our life. Personal, relationships, financial, production, health etc. More so, ALL these aspects of our lives are inter related, it is silly to focus on one in isolation
Holistic grazing is just one aspect of a holistic business model, which is just one aspect of our holistic approach to everything in our lives. There is no SINGLE aspect of our farms, businesses or lives which can be treated in isolation. However, modern agriculture is very much focussed on prescriptions, "silver bullets", a bag or a drum, a reductionist attitude of looking at every "problem" in isolation

anyway, ill pull my head in now & just sit back & observe for a while
 
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ps - big fan of Alan Savory's approach, not just to grazing, but to decision making & management in general

for anyone interested ( & following on from Petes hunting, fishing resource management comments earlier ) have a read of Aldo Leopolds " A Sand County Almanac ". Written in the 1940's USA, there isn't a lot of relevance to farming today, but it really does open your eyes to a holistic approach to land management.
I'd highly recommend it to anyone.
potentially life changing even :)
 
pps - I have seen as many problems / mismanagement with cell or rotational grazing as I have seen with continuous set stocking
the problem was, they weren't thinking 'holistically', but with a reductionist approach, looking at one or two things in isolation. They were focussed on moving mobs every ' x ' days, for example, rather than observing plant growth & recovery

ok, enough said, im taking the overweight Italian for a ride today. catch ya
 
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CornishTone

Member
Location
Cornwall
err, for starters . . .

im not a grazier

I don't own any livestock ( apart from a 7 yr pet old Santa Gertrudis bullock ), am just an arable farmer & not a very good one at that

However, it is clear that holistic grazing is FAR more than just cell / mob / rotational grazing.
First & foremost, it is observing, understanding & acting accordingly on, your animals, your soils, your plants, your land, your resources & ultimately yourself. One thing it most definitely is NOT, is a prescription or recipe written out by someone else for us to follow to the letter

It pisses me off when people don't like or dismiss the term "holistic", or think of it as some hippy feel good ideal.
I love the word holistic, we should embrace it in ALL aspects of our life. Personal, relationships, financial, production, health etc. More so, ALL these aspects of our lives are inter related, it is silly to focus on one in isolation
Holistic grazing is just one aspect of a holistic business model, which is just one aspect of our holistic approach to everything in our lives. There is no SINGLE aspect of our farms, businesses or lives which can be treated in isolation. However, modern agriculture is very much focussed on prescriptions, "silver bullets", a bag or a drum, a reductionist attitude of looking at every "problem" in isolation

anyway, ill pull my head in now & just sit back & observe for a while

I know you’ve toyed with the idea of introducing stock into your arable rotation, not sure how far you’ve got with it (not far if one tame Santa Gertrudis bullock is it) but how do you see a rotation with livestock and arable looking like on your country?

And further to that, how would you envisage the transition unfolding?
 
Fair point. I wouldnt say im dismissing it I think id say as im not a practitioner im not qualified enough to comment on it enough to be able to say anything i could stand by. But equally my own feeling is that HM isnt mob grazing per se. I love the whole planning side of HM ie forcing you to think about how you want to approach your land management but also fitting in with ones aims. For example how does HM deal with our land management aims with our need to grow annual combinables (for even though wr may grow too much of them we do need to grow some)

This is pretty much where I am coming from ( being an arable farmer, not a stockman )
 

Ukjay

Member
Location
Wales!
Well my other book arrived yesterday late afternoon, more of a purchase to hopefully help me get some understanding of grass and grazing, which I believe I will have to read both books a couple of times to gain some insight as it is a completely new platform I am working with here, but hey - gotta be done:

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Now, below is one paddock after harrowing, needed to get it done to help spread the sheep much as it was still stiing there staring at you, plus helped by lifting a lot of thatch etc - so hopefully the route will become more visible the more I get involved with the land / animals etc:

Just a few shots of what we have now:

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These are some close ups of the current grazing:

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So for now - gotta lot of reading to get on with, also investigating sheep options further, Chickens are on the cards for one area that is no use for anything else really - so hopefully they could help clear the area of land for me.
 

Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

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Speculative coverage on the gene editing consultation response

Written by Defra Press Office

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There has been coverage today in the I and the Guardian, reporting on speculation around the upcoming government response to the recent Gene Editing consultation, which closed on 17th March.

A full government response, which will include a thorough analysis and summary of the responses to the consultation and which will set out our next steps, will be published in due course.

Gene editing has the ability to harness the genetic resources that mother nature has provided, such as breeding...
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