Restoration Agriculture: Excerpts from Mark Shepard’s New Book

Posted in Healthy Food & Agriculture on June 9th, 2013 by dhawkinsmo

QUOTABLES FROM “RESTORATION AGRICULTURE” BY MARK SHEPARD. p.285. ” ‘But can I make any money doing this? [Restoration Agriculture]’ More than likely you are still firmly within the mind control of the ‘myth of profitable agriculture’ and are not likely to believe me anyway when I actually dare to say ‘Yes!” However nobody has to believe me. … I am not going to belabor the issue, but will merely make some simple comparisons here.

Let’s use corn as an example one last time: take corn at the $8.00/bushel selling price x 150 bushels per acre = $1200.00 per acre in gross revenue. The $1200.00 per acre gross revenue minus $250.00/acre of production = $950.00 net per acre.

Now for chestnuts: Chestnuts at the $5.00/lb selling price x 1000 lbs (at the low end of their production range) per acre = $5000.00 per acre in gross revenue. The $5000.00 per acre gross revenue minus a $83.00/acre cost of production = $4917.00 net per acre.

Do we really need to discuss this further or should I meet you down at the bank where you might be borrowing more money to plant corn? Now what if the chestnut farmer is also harvesting 7000 lbs of red currants on that same acre? And 2000 lbs of asparagus? And two cattle, four hogs, 10 turkeys, a family of bluebirds, a colony of least weasels and three species of endangered prairie flowers?

The Center for Agroforestry at the University of Missouri-Columbia can provide the economic models if there are any still unconvinced readers.”

RESTORATION AGRICULTURE = Agriculture which restores land to a healthy state, rebuilds ecosystems, reverses desertification, reverses topsoil loss … AND restores the human body and soul in the process. There are three major branches of Restoration Agriculture (on land) of which I am aware: (1) Mob Grazing, (2) Agroforestry, and (3) Gardening. The United States leaders in these fields are, as far as I can tell, Greg Judy, Mark Shepard and Paul Gautschi, respectively. Greg and Mark have begun to collaborate (as of last week) and I expect they will both collaborate with Paul Gautschi soon. Restoration Agriculture stands in contrast to Destructive Agriculture such as row cropping of annuals such as corn, soybeans and wheat which not only causes topsoil loss, but also is hugely labor intensive and extremely dependent upon external, diminishing resources. Continuous graze ranching which includes feedlots is another example of Destructive Agriculture.

Sahara Desert Was a Lush Verdant Landscape Several Thousand Years Ago

Posted in Creation/Evolution, Healthy Food & Agriculture on June 1st, 2013 by dhawkinsmo

I first read that the Sahara desert was once a lush, verdant landscape in Joel Salatin’s book “Salad Bar Beef” but I wasn’t aware of any papers from the scientific literature which supported this. Here are a couple … the mainstream science writers differ somewhat on their timeframe from mine … I would place a “green Sahara” back only about 3500 – 4500 years ago, that is, sometime after the Flood of Noah. As for Joel’s claim that the Sahara region became a desert because of tillage and bad grazing management, I happen to buy his theory, but I am not aware of any mainstream science papers which support this thesis … but I bet some will pop up.  I am interested in the possibility of re-greening deserts including the Sahara Desert and I am told by the leading practitioners of Mob Grazing that it is possible if Mob Grazing is adopted around the margins of the desert and moves inward.


Quaternary Science Reviews 19 (2000) 347}361

Abrupt onset and termination of the African Humid Period:
rapid climate responses to gradual insolation forcing

Peter deMenocal!,*, Joseph Ortiz!, Tom Guilderson”, Jess Adkins!, Michael Sarnthein#,
Linda Baker!, Martha Yarusinsky!
!Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA
“Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry, Lawrence-Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore CA 94551, USA
#Institute Fuer Geowissens Chafter, Universitaet Kiel, Kiel, Germany

1. Introduction
During the latest Pleistocene and early Holocene, the now hyperarid Saharan desert was a verdant landscape nearly completely vegetated with annual grasses and shrubs (COHMAP Members, 1988; Jolly, 1998; Sarnthein, 1978). At that time, subtropical North Africa was characterized by numerous large and small lakes which supported abundant savannah and lake margin fauna such as antelope, gira!e, elephant, hippopotamus, crocodile, and human populations in regions that today have almost no measurable precipitation (McIntosh and McIntosh, 1983). The Holocene African Humid Period occurred between ca. 9 and 6 cal. ka BP (Ritchie et al., 1985; Roberts, 1998), but humid conditions had initially commenced by ca. 14.5 cal. ka BP following full glacial hyperarid conditions during the latest Pleistocene (CO- HMAP Members, 1988; Street and Grove, 1979; Street-Perrot, et al., 1990; Sarnthein et al., 1982).  LINK TO FULL ARTICLE


First dairying in green Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC

Julie Dunne, Richard P. Evershed, Mélanie Salque, Lucy Cramp, Silvia Bruni, Kathleen Ryan, Stefano Biagetti & Savino di Lernia
AffiliationsContributionsCorresponding author
Nature 486, 390–394 (21 June 2012) doi:10.1038/nature11186
Received 16 March 2012 Accepted 08 May 2012 Published online 20 June 2012

In the prehistoric green Sahara of Holocene North Africa—in contrast to the Neolithic of Europe and Eurasia—a reliance on cattle, sheep and goats emerged as a stable and widespread way of life, long before the first evidence for domesticated plants or settled village farming communities1, 2, 3. The remarkable rock art found widely across the region depicts cattle herding among early Saharan pastoral groups, and includes rare scenes of milking; however, these images can rarely be reliably dated4. Although the faunal evidence provides further confirmation of the importance of cattle and other domesticates5, the scarcity of cattle bones makes it impossible to ascertain herd structures via kill-off patterns, thereby precluding interpretations of whether dairying was practiced. Because pottery production begins early in northern Africa6 the potential exists to investigate diet and subsistence practices using molecular and isotopic analyses of absorbed food residues7. This approach has been successful in determining the chronology of dairying beginning in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ of the Near East and its spread across Europe8, 9, 10, 11. Here we report the first unequivocal chemical evidence, based on the δ13C and Δ13C values of the major alkanoic acids of milk fat, for the adoption of dairying practices by prehistoric Saharan African people in the fifth millennium BC. Interpretations are supported by a new database of modern ruminant animal fats collected from Africa. These findings confirm the importance of ‘lifetime products’, such as milk, in early Saharan pastoralism, and provide an evolutionary context for the emergence of lactase persistence in Africa. LINK TO ABSTRACT