A guest post by DB Brown.
Down With Farmer Bashing Nonsense.
We’ve all heard (at least in the NZ version of events) about how cows and farmers are to blame for climate change and that’s simply not true. For oil and agricultural giants to shift blame onto (mostly) hard working farmers is scummy behaviour indeed. These same people have also shifted the onus onto you, the consumer, as if you recycling and eating tofu is going to cut it. Meanwhile they continue to drill, dig and gaslight our planet.
Don’t get me wrong, every bit of pollution reduction helps at this stage of the game, we should all be decreasing our consumption. But agricultural giants are still destroying rainforest to bring you soy for your latte, while many local farmers have joined the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.
As a wiser person than me once said: It’s not the cow, it’s the how.
Ruminant animals are an integral part of Savannah, Grasslands, Plains and Prairie biomes. They naturally mob together to avoid predators and through this graze and trample down grasses and forbs* in one area. Then, due to lack of feed, they move. This is nature, nature practising rotational grazing.
The cows/bison/wildebeest/add grazers and browsers here… pass and the plants and microbes get to work. The plant wants to rebuild and so it sends carbon in the form of simple sugars down to the root system where it is consumed by bacteria and fungi in exchange for other nutrients. The soil biota sequester large amounts of carbon (raising soil fertility in the form of humus and food web nutrient cycling) as the plant rebuilds above ground.
The litter left on the ground is food for insects and microbes. Grinders and shredders break it down as microbes and fungi colonise surfaces – this in turn attracts worms, some that work in the litter, some that drag organic matter down into the soil. The soil gets enriched and aerated.
Roots get deeper and deeper, biodiversity increases leading to better overall growth through shifting seasons. Ground cover increases leading to some protection from drought. Water infiltration increases leading to some protection from flood.
Another wise person said of all this: It is not man, but management.
The closer we get to understanding and imitating natural cycles the less work we need to do to get a product. As added bonuses we increase both fertility and resilience on our farms.
Trees are also an integral part of agro-eco systems, but that’s another post.
While some of our farmers have chosen climate denial and blaming Labour for their difficulties, many others are leading the charge in creating eco-conscious systems that will help us not only survive, but thrive into the future.
If you’re looking for targets to vent your spleen at, leave farmers alone unless they’re dirty practitioners like those running feedlots.
It’s not the cow, it’s the how.
*forbs are herbaceous flowering plants other than grasses.