This week Weather.com had an article titled: “Bison: The Latest in Carbon Capture Tech.” The story was about Holistic Management practitioner Mimi Hillenbrand and the 777 Bison Ranch in South Dakota with its 2,000 bison. The sub-title of the article explains: “A controversial grazing philosophy may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the primary driver for global warming.”
The article notes how the once 60 million bison in North America are a mere 400,000 now. It also notes that projections of greater droughts and higher temperatures through the turn of the century may mean a reduction in livestock numbers resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in the livestock industry. Increased temperatures also result in the reduction of protein in grass which influences animal growth.
But, with Holistic Management there can be improved grass production and quality as Mimi notes from her experience over the last 30 years with Holistic Management at the 777 Bison Ranch. Not only do healthy grasslands sequester more carbon, but they can also sequester more methane, the curse of the livestock industry according to those that see all livestock as contributors to greenhouse gases. Of course, not all livestock production is the same, and how livestock are produced makes a huge difference in the production of methane as well as the ability for soil to sequester it. For example, the Weather.com article notes a recent study in the New Scientist that shows that antibiotics actually increase methane emissions in animals so those grassfed or organic livestock not given antibiotics would have less of a “methane footprint.”
While Mimi can’t speak to how much methane the 777 Bison Ranch is sequestering, she has done extensive monitoring and notes: “In those 30 years, we have built topsoil, our diversity has increased. We have healthy animals and we have healthy plants…It’s amazing what happens using bison as a tool to fertilize with their dung and urine. Their hooves break up the soil that needs to be broken up and they put down litter that covers bare soil, and with climate change, as you know, bare soil is the worst thing ever.”
Applied Ecological Services did additional monitoring and found that the 777 Bison Ranch had twice as many native grass species as their neighbors and that they had developed several inches of top soil in the 30 years of practicing Holistic Management. They had also improved their water infiltration rate and dung beetle population with over 10 species.
To learn more about the research explaining how Holistic Management improves soil health and carbon sequestration, read “The Science Supporting Holistic Management” and visit our Soil and Conservation page.
A Season of Giving
At this time of the year, we often find ourselves counting our blessings while appreciating the gifts that we’ve been given.
Here at Holistic Management International, we’re no different. Here are just a few of the gifts that we’re grateful for:
The Gift of Healthy Land
Your gifts have put us on track to reach our 20/20 vision of 20 million additional acres of healthy land by the year 2020.
The Gift of Healthy Food
We have seen the Holistic Management community grow, supporting the work of creating healthy lands while producing the nutritious food that will feed communities across the globe.
The Gift of Knowledge
Your generous gifts have also allowed us to provide over $50,000 worth of scholarships since 2014.