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Holistic Management (HM) is an approach to decision making that emerged from efforts to restore grasslands and their soils through intensive grazing management. While HM is primarily a decision making process, which attempts to resolve individual and group needs within complex ecological, economic and social systems, its application and advocates are strongly involved in arid land management through cattle grazing. Similar grazing practices are also described as "intensive rotational grazing" or "short duration grazing" or "prescribed grazing" when separated from the management processes.
Holistic management as a decision making process involves defining one's holistic context, purpose, and desired future resource base as a way of evaluating different actions. This approach is intended to make us more effective working complex systems, where actions based on narrowly defined problems often yield unintended consequences. Because of the entanglement of Holistic Management and grassland grazing, it might be appropriate to shifting some of this content to a page on Prescribed Grazing. There appears to be the potential for disconnection between the broader philosophy of holistic management, and advocacy for intensive rotational grazing strategies in the ranching community.
- The concept of "holistic management" is described by Savory and Butterfield 1999. While using grassland management as a focus, holistic management describes a systems of decision making that attempts to integrate nested human and ecological systems.
- The greatest area under management by Holistic Management advocates has been in Australian grazing, though the concepts developed in Southern Africa.
- The Savory Institute is the current project of Allan Savory, the originator of the concept. Holistic Management International is a different institution with similar ideas, but a different business model.
- Lazy R Ranch in Cheney, Washington is the closest project associated with the Savory Institute and HMI.
- File:Savory Institute 2014 grazing bibliography.pdf provides a body of evidence intended to further describe the holistic management claims related to grazing.
- Carter et al 2014 provides an aggressive critique of holistic management claims, focused on its application in Western American drylands, where herding ungulates have been absent for thousands of year, and cryptobiotic crusts play a significant role in ecosystem structure. The critique is based entirely on review of claims in the Allan Savory TED talk.
- Google Scholar search for "Intensive Rotational Grazing".
- Briske et al 2008 provides a review of grazing as a phenomena, and considers both basic principles, and the profoundly confounding factors of "management" separate from replicable "grazing systems". The document page has some notes on his findings which are more contemplative than those presented by Carter et al (2014).
- File:Briske 2011 prescribed grazing.pdf - This review paid for by NRCS provides a broad literature review of prescribed grazing research.
- The Marin Carbon Project is attempting to demonstrate increased soil carbon through compost application and holistic management.
- A scathing critique in Slate Magazine provides two sources of evidence that summarize trials conducted in the 1990s.
- File:Joseph et al 2002 short duration grazing africa.pdf summarizes trials conducted by Savory and associates in Africa.
- File:Holecheck et al 2000 short duration grazing trials North America.pdf provides a summary of great plains trials of intensively managed grazing.
- Merberg 2013 suggests a more nuanced view of Savory's evolution over time, while criticizing the limited use and interest in scientific validation by some HM advocates.