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Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth by Judith D. Schwartz
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“biodiversity actually begins in the soil.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“They say farmers need a safety net. I think the soil should be our safety net. If you add up the dollar figure for improved health, carbon sequestration, lower fossil fuel bills, and resistance to weather extremes, it’s a lot.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“ultimately, quality of health depends on the quality of food, and food can only be as good as the soil on which it is grown.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Humans can’t eat grass, but cattle, thanks to their microscopic partners, are performing the service of turning inedible grasses into protein that we can eat.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“tucked into the 2012 Farm Bill was a clause indemnifying Monsanto if the use of their products happens to mess up someone’s land.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“The most urgent challenge of present civilization is to understand that the drying out of landscapes has a much more serious impact on climatic change than an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“People need to manage land with water circulation in mind,”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Water for the Recovery of the Climate: A New Water Paradigm,”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“proverb from the Sanskrit Vedic Scriptures of around 1500 bce: “Upon this handful of soil our survival depends. Husband it and it will grow our food, our fuel and our shelter and surround us with beauty. Abuse it and soil will collapse and die, taking humanity with it.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“One farmer I met, Gene Goven of Turtle Lake, North Dakota, put it more succinctly: “You build soil where the roots go—down!”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Science has never succeeded by burying the manifestations of unintended consequences. It has succeeded when we recognize them and deal with those issues. That’s hard to do when you have a belief system that becomes a religion.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“The stark fact that appears now, and which wrote itself across the Roman Empire, is that debt and taxation increase as the soil declines. —G. T. Wrench, from Reconstruction by Way of the Soil, 1936”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“In 2010 Grasslands, LLC, was launched as a “triple bottom line” enterprise with the conjoint goals of creating a high-quality product (well-nourished beef cattle), generating equity and financial return to investors, revitalizing rural economies, sequestering carbon, and regenerating land on a large scale.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Slaps in the face like this provide opportunities for change. A drought definitely gets people thinking about how they can manage resources better. It’s easy to see then that our ranch has more grass and more animals, and makes more money. A flood is a harder link for people to make. People think they have no control over it. We actually do.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Here the goals of improving land and making a profit would not be mutually exclusive: Holistic Planned Grazing requires a lot of animals, and in turn bolsters the carrying capacity of the land, sometimes two to four times. The more animal impact, the better the land—higher soil carbon levels, greater biodiversity, better water infiltration—and the more animals it can feed. This means greater income and a boost to local economies. It’s “impact” investing on many levels.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“promoting ways to: build carbon stores in the soil; keep water on the land; stop and reverse desertification; focus on ecological systems rather than individual species; reduce chemical inputs; and maintain diversity in crops, native plants, and microbial life. And—we can’t forget our cows—bring herbivores back onto the landscape.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“findings suggest that the use of glyphosate—currently applied to hundreds of millions of acres of the world’s crop-growing land—has multiple harmful effects related to plant nutrient uptake and soil microbial life.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“bushels. I get fed up when I hear, ‘We’ve got to increase production to feed the world.’ What’s the good of increasing production if it’s not healthy? Let’s look at wealth in the context of the human health crisis. If it’s a healthier product we’re growing, we’re lowering costs.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“By planting annuals and plowing and clearing so that the soil is open to the elements for much of the year, we’re managing for oxidation instead of photosynthesis, regardless of whether we realize it or not.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“By itself, stopping emissions is insufficient. That carbon has to go someplace. As the Soil Carbon Coalition argues, it might as well go into the soil, where it can do some good.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“more leaves mean more photosynthesis. Robust leaves also mean more roots, which means more carbon streaming into the soil. Which means, at once, greater fertility and more carbon sequestered.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“the Soil Carbon Challenge measures carbon levels over ten years. Someone at a university, completing a PhD or seeking publication, has incentives to do research projects of no more than a few years. In government agencies and nonprofits, soil carbon work is geared to the “so-called carbon market.” And all organizations—this is a pet peeve of his—tend toward fragmentation, so that soil conservation and climate mitigation are seen as separate, even competing, campaigns. All this means that stories that don’t fit into a short time frame, aren’t linked to profitable ventures, and/or can’t be neatly tucked into departmental divisions may not get told.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Bare ground sets in motion a different set of circumstances: moisture loss, less food for microbes, and therefore less microbial activity, which results in fewer nutrients for crops, leading to less-than-vigorous leaves, less photosynthetic activity, and less carbon flowing through the roots and being cached in the soil.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Across the board, levels of key mineral nutrients—zinc, calcium, manganese, iron, copper—in our food crops have declined by an average of 50 to more than 100 percent over the last century.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“are doing is “managing for” photosynthesis over oxidation in several ways: encouraging diversity, avoiding tillage, using cover crops, and generally improving the soil.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“the planet’s current vegetative cover captures around 3000 EJ of the sun’s energy. This photosynthetic capacity would appear to be sufficient to feed only 3.3 billion people. The other 3.7 billion people, then, are being supported by photosynthetic energy captured in past eras, embodied in fossil fuel.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“A 2002 study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that nearly half of all Americans have a chronic health condition. The Centers for Disease Control tells us that two-thirds of adults in this country are overweight or obese, and that obesity rates in children continue to rise. A significant number of infants, some as young as six months old, are now classified as overweight.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“the work of Sir Albert Howard (1873–1947) as well—an English botanist and organic pioneer who said that “the health of soil, plant, animal and man is one and indivisible.” He observed that “any weakness or defect in the health of any earlier link in the chain is carried on to the next and succeeding links, until it reaches the last, namely, man.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“soil health, soil biology, plant diversity, resilience to weather fluctuations, fertility, quality, and economic vitality all go together.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth
“Drylands account for 41.3 percent of the world’s land-mass, including 44 percent of land under cultivation. Each year upward of twelve million hectares (thirty million acres) of productive land are lost to desertification; this means an area the size of South Africa is slipping away each decade.”
Judith D. Schwartz, Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth

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