Soil Your Undies: The Cotton Test

Gail Fuller shows the biomass he can grow with his cover crop seeding.

Gail Fuller shows the biomass he can grow with his cover crop seeding.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs recently had an article about how people are burying their cotton underwear in the soil to determine amount of biological activity in the soil. The idea is that the more microbes in the soil, the more they will munch on the undies. When they checked the underwear after 2 months, they found that the fields that had cover crops were more biologically active and hardly anything remained of the underwear. The conventionally grown soil did not have so many microbes so the underwear was pretty much in one piece when it was pulled out.

To learn more about the process visit this Youtube video.

To learn what happened in an area that has cover crops, view this Youtube video.

To see what happened on a conventional cropfield, view this Youtube video.

If you want to learn more about what Holistic Management practitioners have been able to do with cover crops, check out Gail Fuller’s case study.

Grassfed Exchange Conference

GabeBrownSunflowerThe Grassfed Exchange Conference is just around the corner on April 27-29, 2016 in Perry, Georgia.

There will be a lot of great speakers, including Holistic Management practitioners like Gabe Brown, Doug Peterson, Josh Dukart, Wayne Rasmussen, and Will Harris, as well as folks like Ray Archuleta, Fred Provenza, Burke Teichert, and Joseph Mercola.

To learn more and register, click here.

Climate Change and the Bundy Standoff

Happy cows moving into new cover crop salad bar at SG&R Farms.

Happy cows moving into new cover crop salad bar at SG&R Farms.HMI’s Board member, Kevin Boyer, wrote a article titled “Why Cattle Grazing Does Not Have to Be a Climate Disaster” that was a response to a post by Ben Adler on the GRIST website titled “Cattle Grazing is a Climate Disaster and You Are Paying for It.”

Kevin does a great job of explaining why grasslands are superior carbon sinks to forests and how effective grazing makes for improved land health and carbon sequestration. Likewise, federal lands could be a great resource for community economic development as well as improving the climate if we have good grazing management on them.

From my perspective, Adler uses the Bundy standoff as a red-herring about raising livestock or grazing leases that once again clouds many issues about the livestock industry and misses the critical point of soil health being key to addressing climate change challenges.

As Kevin so eloquently states: “Ultimately, ranchers and agriculturalists are the stewards of the majority of our land, and to alienate them is to create an enemy out of a potential ally, while setting back the progress of those who have built bridges and are making a positive environmental impact on managed lands.”

Sorghum Proclaimed The New Wonder Grain

A recent article in The Guardian reports how sorghum is being touted as better than quinoa which has begun to take more market share as one of

Sayan Samana©

Sayan Samana©

the ancient grains that is gluten free and high protein. Sorghum is one of the the top five grains grown in the world, but it has been largely ignored in the U.S. until recently. From a farming perspective what is particularly attractive about sorghum is that it is drought-tolerant and uses/needs less water. As always, when looking at a new enterprise, do a gross profit analysis and run it through all the testing questions. If you haven’t downloaded our free Introduction to Holistic Management manual that steps you through the testing process, you can download it for free.

Mexican Holistic Management Workshop January 15-16, 2016

Gerardo Bezanilla

Gerardo Bezanilla

Environmental Services on Holistically Managed Chihuahuan Desert Grasslands
January 15-16, 2016

Ascension, Chihuahua, Mexico

Local Livestock Association Ascension Building

10 am- 5pm

HMI is excited about partnering with Border 2020 Project to help deliver and support this workshop and training in Chihuahua, Mexico. This workshop will demonstrate how Holistic Planned Grazing can restore the health of the natural processes of pastures even in arid areas.

During the workshop, presenters will include livestock specialists dealing with different environmental variables who manage more than 65,000 hectares, including 9 cattle ranches in grasslands of the Chihuahuan Desert (8 in Mexico and 1 in USA). These environmental variables are a) concentration and carbon change on the ground, b) fluctuating groundwater levels, c) air pollution by dust particles of wind erosion, and d) ground cover.


January 15th
10:00 Gerardo Bezanilla, Border 2020 Project, Holistic Management
11:00 Dr. David DuBois, New Mexico State University, The Effects of Dust
1:00 Lunch on your Own
2:00 Peter Donovan, Carbon Coalition, Carbon Monitoring
4:00 Dr. Carlos Ochoa, Oregon State University, Watershed Management and Riparian Hydrology in Arid Lands

January 16th
This field day will be held from 8:00 am on Rancho Las Lilas, located 25 minutes from Ascension City to Ciudad Juarez, where attendees can see in practice, some of the activities to be undertaken in the project ranches and learn how they can adopt new management practices to restore grasslands.
This workshop is free and the doors are open to anyone who wants to learn. For more information please contact Gerardo Bezanilla, gbezanilla(AT)hotmail(DOT)com, Cel. Mexico (614) 184-1853, Cel. USA (361) 460-8266

The Power of Roots

"There is hope for all of us! I can make this happen." - former program participant

If you ever needed proof on the powerful tool roots are in the ground, look no further than this article from National Geographic. These photos help people visualize better what is happening underground. Roots twice as tall as an NBA player gets people attention of just how far down the roots grow. What this article points out is the importance of perennial grasses and their roots in a resilient ecosystem.


Livestock, Livelihoods, and Carbon Sequestration

Constance Neely, a Holistic Management Certified Educator who also works for the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi, Kenya and consults for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO), wrote recently about the need to look at livestock as a vehicle to provide livelihoods for the earth’s population that is hardest hit by climate change and desertification. This land degradation comes at the cost of $42 billion USD of income that is lost every year. One billion people depend on livestock and the majority of the world’s poorest depend on livestock for at least a portion of their livelihood.

But we are losing grasslands both to other uses like crop production at an alarming rate (see graph below) as well as production of those grasslands because of desertification. In fact, grazing-induced desertification in drylands has been estimated to emit as much as 100 million tons of CO2/year.

Conversion of grasslands to croplands and other uses


What is the Cost?

If we look at the investment:benefit ratio of mitigation measures we see that improved grazing land management has the second highest technical potential for mitigating emissions. With planned grazing you can promote carbon sequestration through deep rooted perennial species and full ground cover while also addressing a host of other issues related to the ecosystem processes. Given that drylands store approximately 46% of the global carbon share, and the carbon gap that has been created by degradation, the ability to improve these soils holds great potential.

Focus on Livelihoods

Dr. Neely notes that while we got excited about carbon credits and went running off in that direction, the take home message is really about improving people’s livelihoods so we need to keep food security and poverty alleviation as the main aim. Livestock are and will continue to be an irreplaceable source of livelihoods for the poor, and pastoralism remains perhaps the most rational strategy for marginal areas. The associated co-benefits (increased soil organic matter, productivity, water capture and retention, and biological diversity) provide vital adaptation strategies.  So the question remains, “Will climate change be the ultimate incentive to do what we have meant to be doing all along?”  Let’s hope so.

To learn more about these issues and how Holistic Management is helping to improve land and livelihoods, subscribe to HMI’s IN PRACTICE journal at:

Presentation: Holistic Management and Soil Carbon

This is a Powerpoint Presentation presented to the First Annual Forum of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Queretaro, Mexico.  This was presented by Frank Aragona on May 21st, 2010.  The presentation deals with the technical and market aspects of carbon trading for farmers and ranchers, with a focus on the Chicago Climate Exchange.  This presentation is in Spanish.

Esto es una presentación Powerpoint presentado al Primer Foro Anual de la Reserva Natural Sierra Gorda en Querétaro, México.  Esto fue presentado por Frank Aragona el día de 21 de Mayo, 2010.  La presentación trata de los aspectos técnicos y financieros sobre el Mercado de carbono para rancheros y agricultores con un enfoque en el Chicago Climate Exchange.  La presentación es en Español.

Download the Presentation by Clicking Here.  Bajar la presentación aquí.