In light of last week’s post highlighting our death march towards Peak Soil, it seems appropriate to look at how we can go about building (i.e. adding organic matter to) the damn thing. Various permacultural methods exist that help build soil and heal the land, but the organic apple of this article’s eye is a technique known as “managed grazing.” In the words of Joel Salatin, “Nothing builds soil like intensively managed grazing on grasslands.”
As noted, left to its own devices, it takes nature roughly 500 years to build just 2 centimeters (cm) of living soil. When done properly, grazing – or, more specifically, management-intensive grazing – can more than double that rate in 50 years time. Meanwhile, Salatin’s farm has been building one inch of topsoil annually (along with increasing their organic matter from 1.5 percent to 8 percent of soil content over the past 50 years).
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“The critical thing to understand is that grazing can be done in a way that builds soil and heals the land, or it can be done in a way that destroys the land.