A Virginia farmer named Joel Salatin shares his vision for a more sustainable agriculture. His well-considered pasture management practices prevent overgrazing and minimize the use of additional feed. How? By utilizing cattle rotation, carbon sequestration and natural fertilization of pasture land.
The herd is an organism, a mob¹, rather than a group of individuals. In nature this is created by predation pressure. Here we use an electric fence, which we move every day.
Stocking² means placing animals in a specific place for a specific time. These herbivores³ are the catalyst of this solar collection/biomass system. Their eating and defecating stimulate plants to grow.
This field runs on real time sun energy, not stored carbon like petroleum. The best solar collector ever invented is still photosynthesis. It converts⁴ solar energy into vegetative, decomposable biomass (that’s what runs the earth’s ecosystem).
Lignin is the glue that holds plant cellulose together; as a plant matures lignification leads to a stronger cellulosic structure. Nature does not do green manuring. Nature does not let biomass drop to the soil surface until it’s brown-lignified⁵. This happens when animal meets plant. Brown cellulose burns-it’s energy-and drives the soil food web.
Plants create bilateral symmetry at the soil horizon. When grazed they voluntarily prune off an equivalent amount of root biomass to maintain symmetry. This “pulsing” occurs exponentially as plants achieve their juvenile growth spurt. This root biomass leaves the carbon in the soil rather than exhausting it into the atmosphere.
This routine dumping of organic matter into the soil feeds the soil biota (earthworms, for example).
Joel Salatin is a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-Farmer” who produces high-quality meats raised using environmentally responsible, ecologically beneficial, and verifiably sustainable agricultural methods. Joel considers his farming a ministry and condemns the negative impact of what he claims to be an increasingly regulatory approach taken by the United States government agencies toward farming. When not working his fields Salatin lectures at colleges and to environmental groups around the USA.