Kirk Gadzia, a certified educator in holistic management from New Mexico, offers up these 10 principles of holistic management for land managers to consider.
1. Nature functions in wholes. Gadzia says the whole is equal to – not greater than – the sum of its parts and their interrelationships. To manage holistically, he emphasizes that the interconnections between the land, people, livestock, wildlife, water, etc. must be acknowledged. Likewise, rather than just looking at the economic or financial side of something the ecological and social implications should also be considered.
2. Understand the environment you manage. Most farmers and ranchers fight nature, says Gadzia. But he notes that nature always wins, so to find sustainability and success, he suggests farmers and ranchers aim to mimic natural systems.
3. Livestock can improve land health. With management and control of timing, Gadzia says livestock are a beneficial tool for land health.
4. Time is more important than numbers. Here again, Gadzia emphasizes that control of time on the land is the critical factor. And he says the amount of time is more important than the number of animals that are on the land. Gadzia says, “You control overgrazing by controlling time, and the recovery period is more important than utilization.”
5. Define what you are managing. This means having a plan; taking stock of what the operation entails.
6. State what you want. Gadzia says, “Holistic management does not function without establishing goals and values that fit with the quality of life you are trying to achieve.”
7. Bare ground is public enemy Number 1. Gadzia says bare ground is an indicator of whether or not your land management practices are improving the health of the land.
8. Play with a full deck. Gadzia suggests landowners use all the tools available to solve problems and enhance their operations. This may include technology, rest, fire, and most importantly, human creativity.
9. Test your decisions. Gadzia promotes including all involved in the ranch or farm in decision making, so they have buy-in to the idea, and so that the decision has been objectively tested. He says, “I routinely see money spent without testing.”
10. Monitor for results. Did what you do work or do more changes need to be made? That’s what monitoring is all about – evaluating and improving for the future.
For more about Gadzia visit his website or call 505-867-4685.