Large areas of grasslands in the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Australia, Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan and many other countries are turning into barren deserts. An estimated one-third of the Earth’s surface is covered with grasslands that are facing the threat of desertification. 

Allan Savory, a Zimbabwean biologist who has been working on this problem since the 1950s, has set up the Savory Institute to promote his belief that one of the major causes of desertification is agricultural practices.

He argues that, in the past, large wild herds of herbivores migrated over the land grazing, defecating and stomping the grasslands. This built soil and deepened plant roots. Once these herds had moved on, they would not return to an area until it had recovered.

Over time, the wild herds were replaced by small numbers of domestic livestock. Without the grazing, excrement and stomping of large numbers of animals, the cycle of biological decay in these grasslands was interrupted and the once-rich soils turned into dry, exposed desert.

The Savory Institute argues that desertification can be reversed using “holistic farm management” in which large herds of cattle continually moving over different areas.

In the video some ranchers tell about their experience with holistic management.