Jul 10, 2017, 3:43 PM
The first bit of knowledge that I would suggest as critical to ranch managers is that all agriculture, ranching included is a biological rather than an industrial process. The ranch most likely to be both profitable and sustainable will be the one that best mimics the complex web of relationships between soils, vegetation, grazers and predators that nature has used to create the productive and stable grassland communities that existed in various parts of the world prior to human intervention. This program of natural management evolved over eons of time and is based in the fact that anything that is detrimental – in the long run – to any part of a functioning system is harmful to the entire system. It does not produce the most pounds per acre of animal life or the most pounds of grass but rather a system that is highly resilient and effective in converting solar energy into biological energy over long periods of time. The closer we can keep our management to this model, the more apt we are to build ranches that are ecologically, financially and sociologically sound. The major difference should be that humans assume the role of primary predator. This allows humans to benefit – take subsistence and create wealth – but it also means that we must take on the functions performed by predators: control numbers to suit conditions (set stocking rates); prevent abusive grazing (keep animals concentrated and moving) and maintain genetic fitness in the grazing animals by selection and culling.