Managing the Ranch as a Business: Key Insights.

By Dr. Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume, President & CEO, Land & Livestock International, Inc.

Resistance to Change 

Even trained scientists can never be objective about new information. When Alan Savory and Stan Parsons first set up shop on this continent (at San Angelo, Texas during the 1970s), they did business under the banner of the “Savory Grazing Method (SGM).”

Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision MakingThey immediately ran into stiff and determined resistance to acceptance of their “method” amongst both conventional range managers and traditional ranchers alike. Alan once said that it would take 50 years to fully effect a basic paradigm change in the field of range management. I disagree. It will take at least 100, if not more. Although tremendous progress has been made, that resistance lingers today and for the same reason it always did—a lack of understanding.

For the next few days, I hope to improve on that understanding some.

The Four Key Insights 

In large part, by watching how wild ungulates use the land in Africa, Alan Savory, over a period of several years, developed four key insights that contradicted long-held beliefs about what causes environmental deterioration. Taken together, these four insights slaughtered a multitude of sacred cows so resistance is the perfectly predictable reaction.

Savory’s four key insights are:  

1) The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts: Contrary to the long held notion that the world is like a machine with individual, separate parts that can be isolated for study or management, the world is made up of patterns that function as wholes. These patterns cannot be deciphered or described by studying any single part in isolation.

2) A New Way of Viewing Environments:  Environments can be classified on a continuum based on how moisture is distributed throughout the year and how quickly dead vegetation breaks down. On opposite ends of this continuum are two broad categories of environments (brittle and non-brittle) that will respond differently to the same treatments.

3) The Role of Predator-Prey Relationships: Much of the deterioration was initiated by the severing of the essential relationship between herding animals and their pack-hunting predators.

4) The Role of Time: Damage from overgrazing and trampling has little relationship to animal numbers. Instead, the important factor is the time that plants and soils are exposed to the animals.

Over the next four days, I will cover each of these four insights in greater detail.

Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume [send him mail] is President and CEO of Land & Livestock International, Inc. 

Copyright © 2013 by Land & Livestock International, Inc. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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2 Responses to Managing the Ranch as a Business: Key Insights.

  1. Pingback: Cell Grazing: Part I. Introduction | Land & Livestock International, Inc.

  2. Pingback: Cell Grazing: Part III. Why More Pastures? | Land & Livestock International, Inc.

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