Savory Student Julie Mettenburg - A Farm's Human Resources is at the Heart of Holistic ManagementThu, 01 Feb 2018 12:40:34 CST
Farmers attending the No-Till on the Plains Winter Conference this week in Wichita, Kan. had the opportunity to learn about how to manage their operations in a “holistic context,” a concept developed by renowned environmentalist Allan Savory, president and founder of the Savory Institute. Savory himself, presented on the subject during the conference, but he was also joined by his associate, Julie Mettenburg, a producer from Kansas and Savory Hub leader who has turned her family’s farming operation into an outpost for the Savory Institute to spread its message and to teach environmentally conscious agriculturists how to utilize the holistic principles their institution promotes. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Associate Farm Director Carson Horn was in attendance this week and took a moment to get Mettenburg’s perspective as a producer who has successfully applied Savory’s theories.
You can hear Horn’s complete interview with Mettenburg, by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“Holistic management is a framework that really has several different processes that allow us to use a holistic point of view when we farm or manage any system of complexity,” Mettenburg explained. “It is really about (a family or manager’s) quality of life and the resource base they are trying to create. That is then what drives all further holistic decision making in the other processes such as financial planning, grazing and crop planting.”
During the conference, Mettenburg presented during a break-out session focusing on the human resources aspect of holistic management as it relates back to farmers and their operations.
“We don’t actually think about it, but really it underlies everything because everything we do is about decision making, and humans have to make the decisions,” she said. “So, when you talk about human resource management on a family farm - how are multiple people in our family going to stay in farming… what if nobody wants to stay in farming… We have to make a lot of decisions. This holistic framework can help us make these decisions effectively.”
The process of thinking holistically, begins with a family or company sitting down and developing a document that basically takes into account who they are, what they represent and what they hope to do - a mission statement essentially. From there, Mettenburg says all future decisions can be weighed against that benchmark to determine which known options advance that mission. She insists, too, that holistic management is not about achieving any certain goal, but rather maintaining a continuous course of improvement on your operation via trial and error in some cases.
“It’s just an incredible journey and it really is about the journey more than the destination,” she described. “Holistic management is about creating that journey of your own life and it gives you this framework when you’re dealing with so many complex issues to really make it your art. Farming becomes your art; your science. So, for us, it’s been life changing to be a part of it.”
Once you have mastered that balance in your life, your operation and your decision-making process - the success and profitability of your business will begin to accelerate, she says.
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