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Environmental Management

Animal Impact: a “Power Tool”

Mechanical or chemical intervention or the use of fire in broader landscape settings may be cost prohibitive or too risky. As a consequence severe weed infestations and erosion often land in the “too hard basket”. Whilst conventional methods are accredited with considerable success, there are also situations where these techniques have not been satisfactory.
“Animal Impact”, used as a planned and managed “tool” is an economically feasible option to complement or to replace conventional practices. The application of this tool has been linked to ‘carbon farming’ in Australia: By harnessing and influencing the natural herding behaviour of livestock people have been able to increase ground-cover and organic matter for their soils; degraded areas have been regenerated and the soils’ capacity to sequester carbon has been demonstrated.

Managed Animal Impact: can be used to enhance production during the growing season;
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O8:00 am mid February          12:00 noon same day                         One month later

Managed Animal Impact can be used to reclaim and rebuild productivity:

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Unmanaged Animal Impact            Identical area... Animal Impact is managed.
Identical rainfall…
Same animals…

What is this tool?

Animal Impact is the effect of energy transmitted by animals into their surroundings; stock do this primarily via hoofs, mouths, dung and urine. As does an air-compressor with air, so does bunching animals into a herd enable us to harness and put to use this energy.

What can managed Animal Impact do?

It can ‘feed’ and build soil…
It can increase soil fertility…
It mulches by trampling vegetation, it spreads fertiliser evenly and it prunes plants…

    
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Temporary electric fencing can be used to facilitate mobbing or herding.
Any particular area is only “treated” with the tool of Animal Impact for as long as it takes to get the job done; this can be anything from a few hours to three days… it depends…
On bare ground the hooves of the grazers chip and break capped soil leaving behind ‘nature’s sun-screen’: a spread of dead plant material, dung and urine. Seeds are left stored in ideal growing conditions waiting for the next rain; dung-beetles store some of the fertilizer below the ground; work is made easier for soil-builders like termites, earthworms and the thousands of other small organisms whose names we do not even know…
The way is paved for recolonisation by more plants and animals.
Raindrops turn from ‘bombshells’ into ‘mist-irrigators’.

When should Animal Impact be harnessed and managed?

In every situation where it makes economic sense to do.

With appropriate skill-training Animal Impact can be effectively applied to: enhance productivity; prevent loss of production; drought proof paddocks; stabilise creek banks; mitigate effects of flooding; combat erosion; create low-fuel fire buffers and much more…

BUT Animal Impact does come with a caveat:
it is a ‘power-tool’ and mistakes can be costly.

(Animal Impact described in detail: “Holistic Management – A New Framework for Decision Making” by Allan Savory with Jody Butterfield;   ISBN 1-55963-488-X;  Chapter 22)  

This fact-sheet was drafted by Corrin Everitt & Chris Henggeler