Environmentalist Allan Savory Asks No-Till Farmers to Open Minds to Thinking in a "Holistic Context"Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:23:55 CST
Allan Savory, renowned Zimbabwean ecologist, livestock farmer, environmentalist, and president and co-founder of the Savory Institute, delivered the keynote speech as the 22nd Annual No-Till on the Plains Winter Conference in Wichita, Kan., Tuesday. Savory delved into the concept of holistic management, a systems thinking approach to managing resources which he originated nearly fifty years ago and has continued to further develop over the decades. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn was there and had the opportunity to ask Savory several questions about his theory during a press conference following his presentation. Savory summarized his ideas as a school of thought, one in which management decisions are made within a “holistic context.”
Listen to Savory expound on his theories during the press conference, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“That really means just having as the reason for all your management actions - the reason or context - not be reduced in the complexity we’re dealing with, to meeting our needs, our desires and solving problems, which is what 99 percent of management does today,” Savory explained. “That has led us to terrible desertification and climate change. I’m proposing that you can turn all of that around if you make two basic changes.”
The first change, Savory says, is to not reduce the complexity of a problem or situation, because that fact cannot be divorced from reality. He says to face it, and embrace it. By considering all the contributing factors and elements in a situation and then establishing the potential effects of what each possible decision to solve the issue will have on the situation as a guide to achieving the desired outcome - a producer can operate within his definition of holistic context.
However, the thought process involved here goes against our learned way of thinking, he says. Therefore, the second change that must be made is for people worldwide to open their minds to thinking and problem solving in a different way.
Regarding sustainable conservation of the land and soil, the issue that must be grasped is that machines and technology cannot replace or mimic the essential function of large animals. Using livestock as a tool to maintain a sustainable agricultural system, in his mind is the only option for humanity to fight the eventual loss of land to desertification through the continuous degradation of soil erosion. For this, he says he has been widely criticized by mainstream academia, yet he claims to have never been disproven in over half a century since his first introduction of these principles.
At this point, though, Savory says to their detriment, most people are not yet ready to accept his point of view.
“You’ve been told that American agriculture is feeding the world. That’s propaganda. It’s bleeding the world. We’ve never had a more destructive, costly agriculture in the history of the world,” he argued. “When you get enough people thinking that way, our institutions can change.”
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