Time II


Time as how it relates to the grazing of livestock is the most important discovery ever made about the cause and cure of desertification and global warming.

It is time we wake up, read, study, learn, understand and apply the knowledge we possess.
In the 1950’s a French Bio-chemists, Andre’ Voisin, observed how his cows on pasture grazed he did research and wrote the book titled Grass Productivity. This book was allowed to go out of print but by the efforts of Island Press production of conservation classics has been updated, reprinted and available to us. Alan Savory in his introduction of the book sums up the riddle of time. I quote:


“Voisin had already solved the riddle of time. He had proven that over grazing had little relationship to the number of animals but rather to the time plants were exposed to the animals, the time of exposure being determined by the growth rate of the plants. If animals remained in any one place too long, or returned to it too soon, they over grazed certain plants. Suddenly I can see how trampling could also be good or bad. Time determined that too. The disturbance needed for the health of the soil became an evil if prolonged too much or repeated too soon.”


To further understand I offer this example. One cow grazing on a 10 acre paddock all season (7-8 months) will kill thousands of plants (this is an example of over grazing and under stocking) but one thousand cows grazing the same 10 acre paddock for one day will not kill a single plant. (this is the way grazing occurred in nature before mankind took control)

A second quote by Alan Savory:


“in discovering that time was key in grazing management Voisin contributed more to science than he realized, for that discovery has helped us understand the causes of desertification—one of the greatest problems mankind now faces—and given us vital clues about how to combat it.”


Again for further explanation we must understand that to manage grazing of ruminant livestock we must also manage the microbes in the soil, let us say soil life (dung beetles and earthworms to bacteria and fungi even prions and all in between). We must look at this soil life as our second herd of livestock. In nature the soil life mines the nutrients from the soil needed by the plant. The plant by virtue of photosynthesis produces sugars needed by the soil life and trades with them. Energy for minerals or another way to state, solar energy collected by the plant traded to the soil life for nutrients needed for solar energy collection (photosynthesis).

Simple enough! How do the livestock fit in? As plants grow they reach a climax period (mature seed production) then the plant growth slows way down. The trading (sugars for minerals) slows or ceases. The stems and upper part of the plant dies and begins to oxidize (slow burn) releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere. This old oxidizing part of the plant shades and prevents new plant growth. shade=no sunlight=no energy=no sugar manufacturing=no trading for minerals=bare ground=soil temperature extremes=soil life death=erosion=desertification.

Livestock to the rescue. For roughly 10,000 years mankind has made the above seniero worse by the under stocking and over grazing–too few livestock kept too long in one place. Remember one cow all season. Besides fostering fiberous, less nutritional plants maturing on their own this management has killed thousands of more nutritious plants. When we apply Andre’ Voisin rational grazing that is large numbers of livestock in one place for a short period of time we accomplish the following:

1. The livestock consume the top 1/3 of the plant. This is the most nutritious, more sunlight, more energy, more nutrition.
2. The concentration of the livestock causes competition therefore they consume the top 1/3 of most all plants causing a more even graze.
3. The livestock trample approximately 1/3 of the plant to the soil. This provides nutrients to the soil life. The livestock are fed 1/3, the soil life is fed 1/3 and the remaining 1/3 of the plant is highest in protein and allows the plant to quickly regrow. Besides the trampling and feeding the soil life the action of the livestock tills the crust of the soil preventing capping. Their hoof action provides a small catchment formation providing area for seed, water and the wall to cave and cover.* The livestock also spread and incorporate urine, fecal material, hair, dander and saliva in the soil.

On our acres we move at 12 or 24 hour increments. We never stay over two days for it is the third day that most plants shoot out regrowth, some a little, some a lot. The livestock savor that regrowth. We move because we do not want that second bite to be taken, it weakens and slows the plants recovery.


1 day grazing-38 day rest-5530 lbs/ac forage
3 days grazing-35 day rest-3390 lbs/ac forage
2,140 lbs increase forage per ac or 38% increase


By applying this rational management we can in 2-3 years double our capacity and in 3-5 more years can double again. Our area has a huge variation in rainfall and therefore a huge variation in forage production. As we graze rationally we increase the organic matter in our soil a one percent increase in organic matter will hold approximately 1-1 1⁄2” of rain. Rational grazing is one way to drought proof your acreage.

A final quote of Alan Savory:


“water is the Achilles Heel of modern industrial and post industrial civilizations, and it’s quantity and quality are determined by the state of the land on which it falls. These water “catchments “ are to a large degree grasslands. In managing them as Voisin would have us, we ensure our own survival. When the world awakens to that fact, the debt of gratitude owed Andre’ Voisin by billions of people in all walks of life can be paid.”


In conclusion mankind has caused desertification which in turn has in my opinion caused global warming by mismanagement of our grazing and farming practices. By applying the principals of rational grazing derived by and from Andre’ Voisin, Alan Savory and now many others we stop desertification, reverse it and reclaim it thereby reversing global warming. I have personally been involved in reclaiming abandoned coal pit land, rational grazing worked very well.

Rational grazing works, we have two extremely important reasons to do it. 1. it is profitable, it makes money. 2. we by saving and improving our soil just might save mankind. Pearl S. Buck said in her book, “The Good Earth” “the wealth is in the land” and if I may add, our wealth and health are in the land.