[permaculture] Holistic Management , Keyline Design® , and Broad-acre Permaculture with Kirk Gadzia and Darren Doherty by Owen Hablutzel /santa barbara

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Sun Dec 6 11:09:06 EST 2009


Sustainable Land Management Course
Courses/Workshops, Land - by Owen Hablutzel

Holistic Management, Keyline Design®, and Broad-acre Permaculture
with Kirk Gadzia and Darren Doherty
November 10-15, 2009
Orella Ranch, California

http://www.permacultureusa.org/2009/12/03/sustainable-land-management-course/#more-1489

The winds of change are blowing extra brisk these 
days and gathering transformative momentum. 
Highlights and ground-truthed strategies for this 
agrarian revolution underway were served up and 
stacked high for six solid days at the Orella 
Ranch Sustainable Learning Pavilion, during this 
second module (of four) in the on-going and 
leading-edge Carbon Economy Course.

A partial list of participants would include 
multiple farmers and ranchers (most from 
California, but some from as far away as Wales!), 
Permaculturalists from far and wide-east to west 
coast, ass0rted eco-preneurs and small business 
operators, along with several other 
representative strands from the growing and 
diverse web of people, organizations, and groups 
contributing positive actions to regenerative 
practice and culture.


Kirk Gadzia (of Resource Management Services) led 
off this module with an inspiring three days 
instructing participants on the well-developed 
framework and practice of Holistic Management. 
With over 30 million acres worldwide under this 
form of ecologically sound management the 
original work and insights of Allan Savory 
(originator of HM) have taken on a powerful life 
of their own through the many practitioners and 
land managers who have found increasing health in 
their families, land, resources, and livelihoods 
through using the various tools and 
techniques-from holistic decision-making and 
financial planning, to grazing and land 
planning-found in this useful framework.

Mr. Gadzia is a renowned consultant, educator, 
and author (co-author of Rangeland Health: New 
Methods to Classify, Inventory, and Monitor 
Rangelands through the National Academy of 
Sciences, and a practical guide for range health 
monitoring, Bullseye!, among other publications) 
with a background in Holistic Management 
extending to the early 1980s. His speaking and 
presentations reflect this depth of knowledge and 
wide-ranging experience. Armed with a multitude 
of fence-line comparison photos spanning at least 
30 years - visual examples of extensive land 
improvement and massive carbon sequestration-Mr. 
Gadzia leaves the impression he could continue to 
show dramatic photo proofs from ranch after farm 
after ranch across the globe for the entire three 
days!



So how are these multiple, impressive results 
achieved? The Holistic ManagmentTM processes and 
tools leading to these productive achievements 
were learned by course participants along the 
way. It begins with each person or group 
establishing a clear definition of the unique 
whole they are managing-a baseline for where they 
are starting from. To decide where they want to 
go from there a Holistic Goal is then determined. 
In the process of creating this goal participants 
identify the values, ethics, and quality of life 
they wish to create and live by, what they must 
produce to achieve those, and how their future 
resource base-including land, people, and 
community-must function into the future to 
support everything else in the goal. With a 
completed Holistic Goal anyone has available an 
unusually potent tool-specific to themselves or 
their organisation, their passions, proclivities, 
talents, values, and their situation-for testing 
decisions that will move them towards the 
livelihood, society and environment they are 
working for.
These topics, and an abundance of 
others-including, soils, livestock, wildlife, 
grass physiology, planned grazing, fencing, 
decision testing questions, watershed 
restoration, and so on-spanned the three days and 
were interspersed with 'pasture walks' out into 
various sections of Orella Ranch. During outdoor 
explorations participants learned how to assess 
on-the-ground functioning of the various 
ecosystem processes (water cycle, mineral cycle, 
energy flow, and community dynamics-or, 
succession), as well as how to monitor these over 
time in order to learn how management is 
affecting land health, and to use this up-to-date 
information for making better decisions about 
practical responses to the emerging land 
conditions.

Learning to fully engage in an active and 
informative feedback-loop relationship with the 
land participants explored pastures and enjoyed 
Orella's cool, Fall days while overlooking a 
sparkling expanse of the Pacific Ocean. All 
senses were activated in order to better 
understand the unfolding of ecosystem processes 
on the landscape. Enthusiasm for this part of the 
learning venture found different groups wandering 
within paddocks, surreptitiously digging down 
through decomposing grass-litter layers, 
exclaiming at signs of soil life, estimating 
plant production amounts per acre, wagering how 
much of the standing material would feed a cow 
for a day, quantifying species diversity, and all 
punctuated by occasional outbursts of collective 
glee!
One such episode unleashed when pasture monitors 
discovered a dung beetle under a new stack of 
horse manure! A veritable dung beetle induced 
riot ensued. Perhaps not since ancient 
Egypt-where they were worshiped-has a dung beetle 
been the focus of so much attention, respect, and 
appreciation as many folks gathered around to 
witness this amazing decomposer in action.
A partial list of 'A-HA' moments over the first 
three days, as articulated by various 
participants in the Holistic Management section 
of the Sustainable Land Management course:
	*	Ecological principles are not 
broken, rather people break themselves against 
these principles when they attempt to cheat or 
ignore them
	*	A diversity of cool and warm 
season plants (C3 and C4) in perennial pastures 
is important for creating longer growing seasons, 
more resilient pastures, and increased yields of 
forage
	*	Importance of managing for the 
'triple bottom line'-ecological, social, and 
economic (a very similar pattern to 
Permaculture's ecological 'Care of Earth,' social 
'Care of People,' and ecomomic 'Return the 
Surplus')
	*	Importance of 
ruminants-especially in the world's massive areas 
of 'brittle' (arid) environments-to a healthy, 
functioning decomposition cycle
	*	TIME NOT NUMBERS: Overgrazing is 
about the amount of TIME plants are exposed to 
grazers and NOT about how many grazers (NUMBERS) 
they are exposed to
	*	People and non-human animals are 
also 'successional'-not only plant communities
	*	'Chaos Farming' and 'Chaos 
Grazing'-creation and maintenance of landscape 
mosaics, patches, and heterogeneity-in time and 
space-in order to increase edges, diversity, and 
yield
	*	Effective PLANNING is never a 
single action-rather it is a continuous cycle: 
Plan - Monitor - Adjust - Re-Plan
	*	Soil surface management is fundamental
	*	Importance of the holistic 
viewpoint and practical value of the holistic goal

Sunrise over the Pacific at the Orella Ranch campgrounds
With this learning and context fresh in 
participant's experiences - and gaining a few new 
students as well - Darren Doherty commenced 
teaching the second three-day section of the 
Sustainable Land Management course, on the topics 
of Keyline Design®, Broad-acre Permaculture 
Design, and other innovations developing for 
regenerative agriculture and carbon farming.
Mr. Doherty-a prolific Australian Permaculture 
and Keyline® designer, developer, consultant, and 
educator (Australia Felix Permaculture) - was the 
original 'master-mind' and driving force behind 
the entire concept and organisation of the Carbon 
Economy Course series. Mr. Doherty explained that 
his plans for this course were partly a result of 
his 2007 world tour teaching Keyline Design® 
courses, along with his learning more about 
emerging methodologies and seeing huge potential 
in bridging those together. He notes "an obvious 
need to have some accelerated training to help 
folks work on what I like to call the 'Great 
Retrofit' of agricultural landscapes" as "our 
entire land-based systems are becoming Carbon 
poor. Right now we have a unique opportunity to 
revitalise our communities and societies through 
the building of a Carbon rich landscape (and) we 
have the technical means to do soŠ."
The details of these ground-breaking means were 
the matter-at-hand and together advance a 
compelling vision of the multiple regenerative 
opportunities emerging with the Carbon economy. 
The Holistic Management framework was emphasised 
as a vital context and perspective with which to 
frame and ground the increasing smorgasbord of 
pragmatic, ecology-based, land health strategies, 
including carbon farming, natural sequence 
farming, Zero Emissions Research Initiative 
(ZERI) methodologies, Soil Food Web, pasture 
cropping, bio-char, Rodale 'crop-rolling,'along 
with Keyline® and broad-acre Permaculture Design. 
Taken altogether these form what Mr. Doherty has 
called 'Keyline Design Mark IV.'

In the classroom and during field excursions 
participants engaged in the practical issues 
associated with design and implementation of 
regenerative, carbon-rich, extensive systems. 
Details included:
	*	understanding and use of Keyline landscape geometry
	*	design and building of farm-scale dams and irrigation systems
	*	innovative forestry and silvo-pastoral systems
	*	appropriate contexts for carbon 
sequestration using trees or grasses
	*	many function-stacking variations 
on multiple, in-line attachments to the Yeoman's 
plow (mounder, discs, power harrow, planters, 
compost tea applicator, seeders, roller, etc)
	*	useful landscape design profiles and examples
	*	importance of project costing and phase-planning
	*	how to get the most from GIS applications to designs
	*	Keyline orchards
	*	appropriate contexts for swales vs. keyline
	*	establishing proper payments for 
ecosystem services provided by farms and ranches
	*	a keyline pattern plowing demonstration.

Fieldwork included instruction with the transit 
(dunpy) level, as well as a laser level, and was 
fully integrated with learning the GIS contour 
mapping process. Participants used surveying 
skills and a simple GPS unit to mark reference 
points along the contours of a valley area, then 
were walked through the process of getting the 
GPS points into a GIS format like Google Earth or 
MapInfo. With the base contour map this process 
provides one can begin to design according to the 
revealed site geometry.

The land patterning understanding offered by 
Keyline sunk in deeper with participants as 
Darren Doherty walked the group out on the land 
through parts of the proposed future farm dam and 
catchment system as designed on Orella Ranch, so 
that all could visualize in situ how the plan 
matched the actual landscape (the existing plan 
for Orella was designed by Mr. Doherty along with 
those students who attended for a week in April 
2007, when Orella hosted the world's first 
Keyline Design course).

As the map is never the territory marrying 
concepts to physical experience can really send 
the 'insight-meter' off the charts for folks. As 
if to further emphasize this the Yeoman's plow 
was brought out, introduced, and thoroughly 
explained in its functions and parts by one of 
the world's foremost experts, and put into the 
ground paralleling a true Keyline marked out by 
freshly trained surveyors. After many parallel 
plow passes the survey equipment was used to 
demonstrate and confirm that the plowed pattern 
would in fact guide water out of the valley and 
onto the ridges! People only 'eye-balling' the 
pattern at the site might have sworn that if 
water followed those lines out of the valley it 
would indeed be a miracle since it appeared to 
run uphill. The laser level put the eyes to the 
test and showed clearly that the lines in fact 
ran down slope, regardless of how the brain 
wanted to interpret it. Another valuable lesson: 
use the instrument, eyes can often 'lie.'

Other notable gems from section two of the Sustainable Land Management course:
	*	For all the multiple values, 
around 22% of a well-integrated farm landscape 
should be in trees
	*	20%-35% clay content soil is 
needed for building farm dam walls - do your 'due 
diligence' geo-technical testing
	*	Keyline pattern cultivation with 
a Yeoman's plow is a physical impact that 
jumpstarts a biological impact which, in turn, 
jumpstarts the chemical impact
	*	The only inputs to agriculture 
should be air, water, and sunlight
	*	Blue before Green before Black: 
harvest the water, grow the plants, sequester the 
Carbon
	*	Every metric tonne of soil 
organic Carbon sequesters 3.67 tonnes of 
atmospheric Carbon
	*	Pasture cropping: seeding 
dry-farmed winter active annuals into summer 
active perennials (or vice-versa); more yield, 
less erosion, more diversity, less disease, more 
Carbon, low risk, improved soil health
	*	Big, dense, root networks growing 
as rapidly as possible (grasses) sequester the 
most Carbon per unit of land
	*	Fix the soil with relatively 
inexpensive techniques-HM planned grazing, 
Keyline pattern cultivation-before building dams, 
chances are you will need much less dam water 
than you initially think, once water cycle is 
more effective
	*	Importance of the tool of large 
animals (cow tractors) and extending effective 
land-use into Permaculture zones 3, 4 and 5
	*	"It's a lot more interesting than chess!" - Bill Mollison

Indeed, if this course is anything to gauge by, 
the regenerative learning and transformations 
underway are extraordinarily interesting, 
intelligent, adaptive, practical, and needed. And 
becoming more so every day! Great thanks go out 
to Kirk Gadzia and Darren Doherty for their 
exemplary, ongoing work, valuable teachings, and 
vision, as well as to all the dedicated 
participants in the series thus far. Kudos are 
due also to the good folks at Quail Springs and 
Orella Ranch who are doing the demanding work of 
jointly organizing and convening this 
leading-edge series. Congratulations on another 
successful module! (See the links to these 
organizations to learn more or to donate in 
support of their ongoing efforts to bring 
sustainable land management practices to a wider 
audience.)

Next up in the Orella hosted West coast Carbon 
Economy Course series: ZERI Training (Zero 
Emissions Research Initiative) with Erin Sanborn, 
followed by Re-localisation with Joel Salatin. 
See you there!
~~~~~~~~
Owen Hablutzel performs international work in 
Permaculture design, consultation, speaking, and 
education. He is a director of the Permaculture 
Research Institute USA, and can be reached at 
owen (at) permacultureusa.org


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