This bullsh*t might save the world

21 02 2015

Thomas Rippel has a vision to turn the world’s soils into a lush paradise, reverse global warming and reduce world hunger by living in symbiosis with cows and composting their manure with biochar. For this vision, cows should only eat grass and clover from pastures like the alps and from crop rotation. And the number of cows on this planet should not be determined by our appetite for meat, but by the amount of grass and clover available to us in this wonderful symbiosis. And lastly, farmers should compost the manure of their cows with biochar, giving us all the organic fertilizer we need to grow grains and vegetables for humans without needing any chemical fertilizers.

Thomas is a globetrotter who has settled down in Switzerland to live his life as an organic farmer. Sustainable agriculture is central to his life’s philosophy and combines his passions for cutting edge science, healthy nutrition, animal welfare and combatting global climate change.

In the end, all he is professing is PERMACULTURE.

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8 responses

21 02 2015
davekimble3

Hmmm, interesting. I wonder what the ratio of cows to humans is in this sustainable scenario, and what are they making the biochar out of, and how much area does that take? It is easier to collect the manure if the cows are kept in barns over winter, but what if you don’t have severe winters?

21 02 2015
mikestasse

I make biochar from the leftover cinders from my pizza oven in summer, and the AGA in winter. I have collected cow shit by hand in neighbours’ paddocks who don’t want it (I mean with a shovel!) and yes it’s labour intensive, but then again the future will be labour intensive, that’s what happens post fossil fuels. If you don’t have winter barns, you just have to walk around with bags and said shovel.

21 02 2015
Don

I do something similar here with sheep, shed them at night, (protects them from dogs) and regularly collect the manure and use that with compost for the garden. However one thing that I have not come to terms with is the fact that we are collecting the nutrient from the paddocks and concentrating it in the garden while depleting the nutrient in the paddocks. Once I have managed to either build an external composting toilet or convince my wife that they are not smelly then we will solve one problem we have, but not the concentration problem.

I wonder what Thomas Rippel’s answer would be to the question of the concentration problem.

21 02 2015
Idiocracy

I agree Don… we leave the cow pats where they land, dung beetles turn it into the soil and that humus aids in moisture/nutrient retention for the next grassy paddock (rotationally grazing of course). Though I have been meaning to look into that Biodynamic “500” mix, assuming it’s legit, I might give that a crack one day.

RE the compost toilet… once you switch, it becomes very obvious which one is smelly! Hint – it’s the one where your deposit sits at the bottom of an S bend bubbling fumes up through the water until you’ve finished reading DtM on your iPad and finally flush the bugger! 🙂

PS No, thats not where I am now… 😛

22 02 2015
Don

Hi Idiocracy,
I have always been detered by the absence of scientific explanation given by the providers of biodymamic 500 although many swear it works.
Sometime ago I visited a permaculture farm not far from where I live and they told me about their pasture improvement method. It consisted of using compost tea that was cultured and aerated until a certain level of soil microbes were present (verified by regular microscope examinations) and then sprayed over the pasture on a moist day. Sounds like biodynamic 500 with the science added.

22 02 2015
rabiddoomsayer

If we wait until the phosphate runs out then we are screwed. There will be a learning curve, there will be different combinations that work best in different areas, different soil types different climates.

We need to start now. Says me who planted the trees and then thought about the very poor soil. Says me who planted an almond tree in a climate that will, very soon, not be cold enough long enough to get almonds (the climate now is not the climate of my childhood)

16 03 2015
Eclipse Now

I think it’s more: I think it’s “industrial strength permaculture”… as long as we don’t eat too much beef.

“This “decoupling” of resource use from the environment – where we get more from less – is a process that Wernick previously studied in earlier work on US farmland. Due to improved yields, slowing population growth, changing consumer preferences, and growing affluence, the world has reached “peak farmland.” With the land required to feed humanity at its apex, there are greater chances for land once used for agriculture to return to its formerly wild state. If current trends continue, the study says, humans could release an area two and one-half the size of France back to nature.

Decoupling is not inevitable, which Wernick makes clear through his work. The expansion of land-hungry biofuels, for instance, is noted as a “wild card” that could alter the path toward nature restoration. If our culture moves away from chicken and eats more beef, we could reverse trends toward less land-intensive meat production. But Wernick and his coauthors remain steadfast in their data: “We see no evidence of exhaustion of the factors that allow the peaking of cropland and subsequent restoration of Nature.””
http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/ecomodernism/2015-breakthrough-senior-fellows-announced

Study here for free
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1728-4457.2013.00561.x/epdf

17 03 2015
Eclipse Now

He needs to go talk to Joel Salatin of Polyface farms. Then maybe we could see Joel getting into growing crops into his cow & chook rotational schemes, as well as learning about the nearly magical properties of biochar.

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