Saturday, August 29, 2015

How livestock grazing can fight desertification and climate change

How livestock grazing can fight desertification and alleviate climate change

About a year ago, I was reading a journal article written by Allan Savory on how calculated, systematic grazing by livestock could halt the rampant increase of desertification and possibly reverse climate change. (I also managed to find his talk on and attached it below)

Two of the most common pre-conceived notions about desertification that the majority of people understand are:

1. The traditional practice of livestock farming is the main contributor of desertification due to overgrazing and excessive stampedes that can prevent grasses or plants to grow, leaving the soil bare.

2. Desertification, resulted from livestock farming, exacerbates climate change due to the high emission of carbon and methane released from animal's manure and decaying grass/plant organic matters.

However, Savory challenged this idea and stated that "the only chance left for humankind to reduce desertification is through livestock grazing". In the past, grazing animals in the wild lived together with ferocious predators. In order for these herbivores to survive, they congregated to form herds where they would then defecate/urinate the land, and keep moving to different places in order to find better grazing spots and avoid predators. These movements subsequently allowed grass to grow, and provided good cover for the soil. Savory then proposed this same concept of mimicking prey-herd relationship to restore deserted land through livestock grazing, where farmers can periodically move their herds from one place to another at different timings. 

However, I feel that this idea is overly idealized and is difficult to be achieved taking into account that almost 2/3 of the earth's land is undergoing a rapid rate of desertification. During the discussion, I realized that there is one major difficulty that will be faced when implementing this method.

Due to the rapid increase of the world's population, the demand for food (meat and crops) will inevitably increase as well. In order to supply adequate amount of food, agricultural practice needs to be efficient in utilizing minimal land/resources to supply enough food. Livestock grazing, however, is a traditional agricultural method that is both inefficient and ineffective due to the fact that it requires a relatively large area to provide minimal quantity of meat. In addition, open grazing spot cannot provide a consistent and controlled environment where pests can be minimized, ambient temperature can be stabilized, and food stock can be maintained as in a sheltered/technologically driven meat production facility.

Hence, despite efforts to halt desertification through livestock grazing, we need to take into account its limitation in producing adequate food for the growing global population.


Journal Article taken from:

The Savory Institute: Healing the World’s Grasslands, Rangelands and Savannas". Nourishing the Planet. Worldwatch Institute. Retrieved 29 August 2015

Mayell, Hillary (April 26, 2001). "Shrinking African Lake Offers Lesson on Finite Resources"National Geographic News. Retrieved 29 August 2015

Video taken from:

Thursday, August 20, 2015



Hello and welcome to my blog where I will be sharing my thoughts and opinions about interesting environmental issues related to the agricultural world. A little (maybe not so) about myself, I was born in Indonesia where my love for agriculture was nurtured since young. But over the past few years, I became more concern about the environment especially after hearing many unpleasant news about flooding, deforestation, lost of diversity, and other unsustainable/irresponsible environmental practices that happened not only in Indonesia, but also in other parts of the world. As such, I want to dedicate this blog to discuss how the environment and agriculture are not two separate entities, but rather a very complex, dynamic, and interdependent system where a change in one will affect the other in many ways.

During my 8-month break in-between Junior College and University, I was compelled/inspired to start on a project to initiate an online education platform to teach basic agricultural practices to the Indonesians through the use of video animations and graphical information (you can find the website at Do note that the language used is in Bahasa Indonesia considering the main target audience). Here is the screenshot of my webpage's main menu:

This project started when I was collaborating with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to volunteer as one of their Bahasa Indonesia translators to narrate animated educational videos in my mother tongue, such as, "Preparation of Neem Seeds as Pesticides", "Making Compost", and "Post-harvest losses".

Seeing a decent response from the locals, I began to translate many more educational videos that include, but not limited to, prawn farming, broiler production, stevia, and the basic concept of aquaponics. However, in the process of developing these contents, I discovered one of the most important foundations that can sustain any forms of agriculture practices: a well-maintained environment.

For instance, in the case of horticulture and traditional potato farming, I learned that crop rotations are necessary to sustain subsequent high-yielding harvests. The practice of crop rotations primarily helps potato farmers to reduce losses caused by pests (nematodes) and to minimize their spread to other arable lands that are being utilized for different types of common crops. As a result, farmers' intensive expenditures on pesticides can be minimized and stresses on the immediate environment/non-pest organisms can be alleviated.

That is all from me from now, stay tuned for more interesting articles, reflections, and critiques to journal articles that I will be sharing using my personal voice if necessary! Hope you can learn, grow, acquire news perspectives on the environment and the world of agriculture.