How You Graze Animals Can Contribute To Flooding Or Help Prevent It

Over the past month, historic floods have wreaked havoc across the midwestern United States, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and elsewhere. At the same time, Australia faces historic drought conditions.

While these may appear as opposite and separate events, they share a common thread. The events themselves might not have been preventable, but their effects could have drastically reduced.

When lands are mismanaged, ecosystem health suffers. Bare soils become compacted and lose porosity. Without vegetation, organic matter diminishes. Soils cap over, gravity creates runoff and water pools at the low point. Exposed ground heats up and moisture evaporates.

When lands are properly managed, ecosystems build resilience against flooding, drought, and so much more. We create living soils with adequate structure and porosity so rainfall is absorbed and utilized by plant roots. Trampled plant litter provides shade and cooling. Soil acts as a sponge for quickly absorbing rainfall, but also holding that water in reserve for dry periods.

Put into perspective, a 1% increase in soil organic matter allows an acre of land to store an additional 20,000 gallons of water. Given the frequency of these extreme weather events and their devastating effects, we should be looking to solutions that increase this incredible water-holding capacity of soil.

We may not be able to change how much rain falls from the sky, but we can change how that rain is used once it touches the ground. We can manage holistically and create properly functioning water cycles for resilient and thriving landscapes.

With 5 billion hectares of grasslands on this planet, that’s a lot of water we can put to better use.

The text above is from the excellent and informative Savory Ruminations newsletter. See the whole thing here: Flooding, drought, & functioning water cycles.

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