This week on Rootstock Radio, host Theresa Marquez speaks to Allan Savory. Allan is the co-founder of the United States based Savory Institute and the Africa Centre for Holistic Management. He is also a farmer and game rancher in Zimbabwe.

Much of the work Allan is doing with holistic land management started with the desertification of land. Desertification is land degradation in a form so extreme that it creates desert. He noticed that the areas where the land was healthiest was where there was livestock grazing, contrary to the belief that heavily grazing livestock with cause the land degradation. The soil plant an animal life had to co-evolve, so it wasn’t the animals ruining the land but poor land management. Allan, along with  farmers and rancher in the area, began to experiment with grazing animals and came up with a plan for holistic land management. Since it was devised, his plan has helped farmers all over the world, and, as long as people follow the process exactly, he can almost guarantee the results they will see.

Allan explains that intensive animal concentration helps soil because the grass plants that grow in seasonal rainfall areas can’t shed their leaves. So the grass has to have something to remove the leaf for them to stay alive.  “Before, grasslands would be burned to keep them healthy… but adding more animals can do the same thing,” says Allan. Rain causes the bare ground to seal and get covered with algae and lichens and a crust. And this makes it difficult for grass to germinate. You need something to break the crust and put organic matter on it to help break it down. They would get large machines to do this, but animals can do the same thing if they bunch up, break the soil surface and “garden it.”

Listen to the interview above, and we also recommend watching his excellent TED talk: