View in your browser
Issue Number 51 | Nov 2010 |
[ASK] - Always Seeking Knowledge
Dear David Ward,

Allan Savory to speak by webinar in December

Allan SavoryCo-founder of the Savory Institute, Allan Savory, is to be our December webinar guest speaker.  This is the first opportunity for more than eight years for practitioners 'downunder' to access Allan ‘live’. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, December 14 at 12:00 noon Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time. 

We have asked Allan to address the subject: “What’s driving local change”.   You can expect to receive an update from him on the amazing successes that are now occurring wherever he is working, both in Africa and the USA.   Remember, much of this work is with people who have just a fraction of the resources we have, so it will be fascinating for Allan to reveal what drives them, and why, with our resources, we have not yet achieved our potential.  You will have ample opportunity to direct your questions to Allan.

Space for this webi
nar is limited. To Pre-register your interest click here.

NB: To experience the power of our monthly webinars and access our constantly expanding range of resource materials you'll need to be a Holistic Results 'Brown', 'Green', or 'Blue' Participant.  To become a Holistic Results Participant click here

Hooray! The Forums are now generating traffic

It has happened just as we expected it would, although it has taken a little time to start. The Forums on the website are now generating powerful traffic.   For instance, Paul Cavanagh recently made an important posting about 'ultra-high stock densities'.  Please join in this interesting and challenging Forum discussion by clicking

NB: As a result of Paul’s provocation we have scheduled our January 11th, 2011 webinar to be an open discussion of the subject.  We think this is a first for Australia, and possibly the world.

Donna Keys has weighed in about the concerns her husband still has about changing the grazing management on both their properties at the same time.  He wants to start it on one property first, because of his concerns that the change in grazing may not produce sufficient pasture growth in the future.  Read about this posting here, and add your experiences to the discussion. The Forums are there so that people can share their experiences. Let’s make this a collaborative rather than competitive world.

Phil Williams wrote, wondering whether the concept of a '
true profit' is just some sort of 'marketing spin', or something real?  Have a look at his posting here, and respond with your experiences.  NB: Phil's posting is hidden in the topic about how much ‘P’ or Profit is enough. 

Around the traps
It remains ‘wet in the East and dry in the West’ of Australia.  Weather induced crop losses are mounting daily in the East—canola crops going black and putrid, and cereals shot and sprung.  The cereal and canola yields in WA are poor—generally less than 50% of average, as was the rainfall during the growing season.  I was staggered to see how terrible the crop is, when I was there a few weeks ago.

Seasonal conditions remain damp in NZ. I have received some wonderful photos of cattle in feed 75 cm high, in the Central Otago region, and meaty lambs just busting out of their skins in the same area.

Feature article: Healing the land

If you have seen even the 5 minute version of John Liu’s film, 'Hope in a Changing Climate' you will be stunned at the amount of water flowing through previously barren or, at the very least, seriously degraded landscapes. Check the replay of our November
webinar to see for yourself what I am talking about.

Why is it so difficult to get the policy settings right?
Why can’t we get the policy settings correct so that the right outcome is achieved in the Murray-Darling Basin? Imagine what the outcome might be if the discussion were shifted from what water is in (or not in) the river itself, but instead became a proper and meaningful discussion about the health of the catchment.

Imagine the situation when every hectare of the Basin's catchment holds most or all the rain that falls on it, and the water is released slowly. It’s totally and utterly possible, but difficult or impossible with the conventional ‘problem solving‘ approach of current policies and thinking.

The landscapes John Liu documented in China and Ethiopia have similar rainfalls to much of the Basin. The footage displayed in his film, of clear water running slowly from once degraded land is enough to bring tears to one’s eyes.

Here are some numbers to consider

The Murray-Darling Basin covers 1,059,000 square kilometres—about 14% of Australia's land area and receives an average annual rainfall of 530,617,787 megalitres (ML). Of this, 94% evaporates or transpires, 2% drains into the ground, and just 4% becomes run-off. On average 497,289,723 ML evaporates each year, but all the attention is on what we do with the 4% that becomes river flow. In part that attention is the direct result of the work of the “Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists”.

Holistic Management practitioners in the Murray-Darling Basin (and elsewhere in the world) are proving appropriate management will produce and sustain covered soil in this environment, thereby reducing the rate of direct evaporation following rain events. If policy settings were in place that encouraged their efforts to be replicated throughout the Basin, do you think this would make a difference? Let’s see!

A reduction in evaporation of just 1% is 4,972,897 ML (4.9 GL) each year, which is 22.5% more than the recently announced target reduction of 4.0GL (some of which has already been achieved through the Federal Government funded licence buy-backs and other mechanisms, such as payments for irrigation water-use efficiency gains).  All the evidence shows that over time, a great deal of the water saved from evaporation ends up flowing into the very streams we seek to protect.  This is a real win-win-win situation for every land owner in the Basin, for water users along the rivers, and of course, for all levels of government.

How government can get its policy settings right
Just imagine if we could find a way for policy-makers to use the Holistic Management model in its “Policy Mode”, so that they develop policies that move good thinking from the river bed, and across every square metre of the catchment. Most likely such policies would be known for encouraging desirable behaviour rather than simply penalising inappropriate behaviour.

It is very important that the encouragement not come as some form of welfare payment from government.  That would inevitably end with some very perverse and unexpected outcomes, and even more degraded land.  It's my hunch that good policy will not involve much in the way of government funding, but will find a new way
s of encouraging the restoration of the damaged land that is now shedding, rather than holding, its water.

The furore at the moment may be just the catalyst that is needed to begin the change required.  It would be nice to think so.  We already know that governments everywhere cannot sustain their commitments to the environment (even if they want to). Throughout the world the current forms of commitment are simply bleeding governments dry.  We have to conclude then, that inherently the underlying policies must be wrong.

I don't have a quick answer at the moment.  A way must be found to talk to the people who lead the policy development process
, and in turn they must be willing to explore the notion of holism and holistic policy formation.  It's a big ask, beyond any single one of us, but if an appropriate way can be developed, it will have application world-wide.

Forthcoming events
Holbrook 2008 Group
Meeting November 24th.  
Call Kathrin Guderian for details: (02) 6948 4121 or Email

Orange 2009 Group
Barbeque November 21st
Call Tim Hansen for details: (02) 6365 6171 or Email

A final reminder
You are invited to join the Allan Savory webinar on December 14th at midday.  To join you must be a monthly 'Brown', 'Green' or 'Blue' Holistic Results Participant.


Bruce Ward

To post a comment or generate discussion click