A Conversation about the Role of Science in Informing Management



  • Richard Teague, Texas A&M

  • Jason RownTree, Michigan State University, USA

  • Chad Krueger, Washington State University, USA

  • Hannah Gosnell, Oregon State University

  • Moderator: Peter Byck, Producer of Carbon Nation


PB: We have to look at ‘Transformational Adaptation’ vs ‘Incremental Adaptation’

Things such as risk perception, emotion, values etc. all come into play.


What motivates farmers to change?

HG: Economic/ecological crisis, personality, social learning, health crisis

There is a need to identify deeply-held values and to learn in a way that changes fundamental values and norms.

RT: The decrease in bare ground and the increase in plant production. This comes from holistic management and generates an increase in soil carbon. In 10 years we can generate an extra 30 tons of carbon in the soil.

JR: Methane is a red herring regarding our changing climate.

HG: the biggest problem is to admit that what you are doing is not working i.e. neighbours will not change even when they see the success on farms next to them

RT: It is mostly women that are the drivers of change (panel agreed here). The established order does not want to admit inadequacies. Also people opposed to change usually have something to sell. We discussed some of these issues at the Grass-fed Beef Conference 2013.

PB: In Iowa, for every 1lb corn grown there is a soil loss of 1lb

RT: Regarding carbon footprints – corn has the highest, soil erosion is next. Beef is way down the list. The anti-beef research is agenda-driven.

JR: Any LCA (life-cycle assessment) that does not include top soil is not an LCA.

RT: the solution is cover land with cattle managed effectively.


Closing by Justin Adams “If You Want To Go Fast Go Alone, If You Want To Go Far, Go Together”


Justin Adams — TNC Managing Director of Global Lands


The Nature Conservancy in the US worked with the Savory Institute for a few years. They manage in excess of 100,000 acres.

We have seen a 60% increase in stocking rates and an 80% increase in financial income.

In Argentina there is 4 million hectares that could become a future Savory Hub.

Some people in NC oppose what we are doing – vegans, ‘greens’ etc.

There is a real problem in funding soil research.

We need to move on from a polarised debate to move the issue forward.

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