Free range but not organic

January 7, 2013

Organic farmers reckon the British countryside could be restored by cattle herds grazing like the bison of the American plains.

Graham Harvey, a farmer who used to advise the BBC on agricultural storylines in The Archers, said the countryside is being destroyed by industrial scale farms that concentrate on monoculture fields of wheat and animals in massive sheds.

Organic matter in soils has been reduced by continuous use of fertilisers and pesticides.

Instead he said that more of Britain could return to grazing animals as this returns fertility to grassland and retains the countryside.

He suggested a US method ‘mob grazing’, based on how wild bison graze the American plains, is the best way to ensure productivity.

Using electric fences, farmers split their pastures into a large number of small paddocks. Putting their cattle into each paddock in turn, they graze it off quickly before moving the herd to the next. . .

That sounds like rotational grazing which is common practice in New Zealand.

Free-range is the norm for sheep, beef, dairy and deer here.

But farms don’t have to be organic to look after the soil and they’re better if they’re not organic if you want improved productivity.

Hat tip: Tim Worstall.

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