MOB STOCKING

GRASS FARMER: IN HARMONY WITH THE LAND

 

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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.

Mob Stocking
Polyface Farm
Swoope, Virginia
15 July 2010

MOB¹ STOCKING² HERBIVOROUS³ SOLAR CONVERSION⁴ LIGNIFIED⁵ CARBON SEQUESTRATION⁶ FERTILIZATION⁷


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).

OTHER RELATED TERMS

Carbon Sequestration
The long-term capture and storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon in the soil using agricultural methods, with the purpose of mitigating or deferring global warming.
 
Cattle Rotation
Also known as rotational grazing, involves dividing a given range into several pastures and then grazing each in a certain sequence. This improves livestock distribution while allowing a rest period for new forage.
 
Mob Stocking
Confining livestock to a particular area so that it may be intensively grazed.
 
Agro-ecology
A scientific discipline that employs ecological theory to study, design and manage agricultural systems. It is concerned with the maintenance of a productive agriculture that sustains yields, optimizes the use of local resources and minimizes the negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of modern technologies.
 
Artificial Fertilizers
Minerals that are produced through chemical processes to nurture the soil and aid in the growth of one or more plants.
 
Chicken Tractor
A movable chicken coop with no floor which allows for chickens to graze on new pastures while still providing shelter.
 
FBC- Farming for a Better Climate
A plan to help cut greenhouse gas emissions from across the agricultural sector funded by the Scottish Government and hosted by the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC). It offers advice of cost-effective ways to benefit business and the environment.
 
Grass Fed
Livestock that forage freely on grass and legume pastures as oppose to being fed corn and grains in confined feedlots.

 

ABOUT JOEL SALATIN

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.

ADDITIONAL WEBSITES OF INTEREST

The Cornucopia Institute

Polyface

Polyface Farm Facebook Page

No Bar Code by Michael Pollan (in Mother Jones Magazine)

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The Omnivore’s Next Dilemma

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