Holistic Ranching

Harmonizing People, Place, and Profit with Biology

Land is to be Loved

Humans share the earth. We can only protect the land, not own it.

Chief Seattle

A holistic approach to ranching relies on biologically based practices to build dense, diverse plant cover, to harvest solar energy, and to increase photosynthetic activity creating sugar/carbohydrates for soil microbes, in exchange for minerals brought to plants.

The ingredients in this recipe are sunlight, plants, air, water, microorganisms, herbivores, and soil.

It starts with a bite of a plant.

Root matter dies off, it decomposes into food for the micro-critters and creates pathways for movement of air, nutrients, and water. These microbes are small, only one billion per teaspoon of fertile soil, but since there are a lot of them, the impact is enormous in an acre, much less hundred or thousands of acres, if they are supported.

At Elster Ranch sixteen irrigated and dryland pastures are subdivided into grazing paddocks of two to six acres each where livestock are grazed for limited time, then moved to another paddock, leaving an extended period for plant recovery. Animal impact knocks plant material to the ground, where by animal hoof action it is incorporated with dung and urine, serving as a food source for organisms building organic matter to feed plants.

Ranching with biology delivers many benefits to ranchers, their communities, countries, and our mother earth as shown in Allan Savory’s TedTalk and the film Soil Carbon Cowboy produced by Carbon Nation in association with Arizona State University and the World Bank.

Aldo Leopold

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”