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Classroom Resources: Greener Pastures

Greener Pastures
By Judith D. Schwartz

Summer 2011 / Vol. 12 No. 2

Read the article

Discussion Questions

  1. Review the global carbon cycle. Refer to the article, and discuss why it is important that agriculture has transferred carbon out of the soil to locations aboveground.
  2. In terms of agriculture and soil-building, what is a positive carbon budget and how can farmers achieve it?
  3. What can cattle and other grazers do, if managed properly, that benefits soil development? What do they do that hurts soil development? How can ranchers and farmers use cattle to promote healthier ecosystems?
  4. Science often doesn’t tolerate “outsiders” very well. After reading the article, what is your own view of Savory and holistic management?
  5. Review the water cycle. How do well-aerated soil and thick vegetation cover influence the water cycle? What role does soil organic matter play in the water cycle?

Websites for Further Information

Grassland Management in the News

  • Geo-engineering can help save the planet (New York Times, June 10, 2011):
  • U.S. Cattle Farmers adopt Eco-friendly methods (Voice of America, June 2, 2011):

Peer-reviewed Literature

  • Savory, A.1983.  The Savory grazing method or holistic resource management. Rangelands 5: 155-159.
  • Milchunas, D.G., and W.K. Lauenroth. 1993. Quantitative effects of grazing on vegetation and soils over a global range of environments. Ecological Monographs 63:327–366.
  • Lal, R. 2004. Soil carbon sequestration impacts on global climate change and food security. Science 304: 1623-1627

Key Concepts

  • Carbon cycle
  • Soil organic matter
  • Water cycle
  • Sustainable management of grasslands
  • Ecosystem restoration
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