Livestock’s Role in Reversing Land Degradation

It’s positively refreshing to see a discussion on the plight of threatened grasslands, world hunger and political unrest have a tangible, though only partial, solution. What’s more, livestock production has been criticized by environmentalists as too water intensive and hard on delicate ecosystems to be sustainable. A recent presentation, however, is turning this notion on its head, and has singled out livestock as a solution to the very problem its been accused of causing.

Allan Savory recently gave a TED presentation that starts out rather dire, but ultimately comes to a rousing conclusion: livestock and intensive, managed grazing is actually the solution to reverse desertification — the drying and dying of whole ecosystems. Turning land from bare and unproductive to green, lush and productive is also the first step, Savory attests, to providing economic and political stability in some of the world’s most violent regions.

This video is very long by’s standards, I know, and not everyone is going to agree with his take on climate change and humans’ role in it, but if you have cattle or grain, or have ever traveled to impoverished and desolate places, this video is a must-watch. In fact, I’d argue it’s a must-watch for anyone with pasture or grassland under their management. Intensive, whole-life cycle pasture management benefits farmers, ranchers and the soil — this can’t be over-stated.

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.



Lyndsey Smith

Lyndsey Smith is a field editor for RealAgriculture. A self-proclaimed agnerd, Lyndsey is passionate about all things farming but is especially thrilled by agronomy and livestock production.


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Tamara Leigh

When I was in Kenya on the Exposure-4-Development tour, we visited a pastoralist field school where they were teaching the Massai herdsmen and their families about holistic range management based on Allan Savory’s work. Thanks for this post, Lyndsey. I think there’s great hope in the work they are doing.

Lyndsey Smith

Would love to hear more about your trip, Tamara. And see photos of course! I’m glad to share how agriculture can be a powerful tool for positive change

Lisa Guenther

Lyndsey, have you talked to Martin Entz at the U of M about his research? I think it would tie in well to this topic. I interviewed him a while back, and he’s researching livestock integration, among other things.


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