HolismThe fourth and most important insight was the last to be recognised: nature functions in wholes.
Looking inwards, each living thing is made of whole components. Looking outwards, every living thing is in turn just a part of a greater whole.
What this means in an agricultural context
Not only are individual humans a whole, but each animal, each plant, and each microorganism on the land is an entity that functions as a whole. By definition, each is made of smaller wholes and each forms part of greater wholes.
The greater whole, in an agricultural context, is often the entire farm, which in turn is part of an even greater whole, the local district. Looking inwards, the component parts of a farm are whole people, whole animals, whole plants, whole soils etc, and each is indivisible from the other. If one component or part is removed, the greater whole functions differently.
This is the reason the process of managing holistically focuses so heavily on practical ways of dealing with the complexity of dynamic whole situations. It begins by defining the economic whole under management, and then determining how and what the managers of the whole wish to achieve. This is done by forming a holisticgoal for each economic whole under management.
But goals are of little value unless decisions are made that enable their achievement. So, fundamentally, managing holistically is a decision-making process that seeks to create outcomes congruent with the holisticgoal, and therefore outcomes that are ecologically, socially and financially sound, in both the short and long term.
Every other aspect of managing holistically is subservient to the reality that nature functions in wholes.
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