is this snake-oil?

Chris Henggeler, Kachana Pastoral Company, July 2015

August 2014 George Monbiot of the Guardian Newspaper in England published a scathing article on Allan Savory.


Repeatedly we get asked for comment.


For the record here my opinion on the subject:

The point that Savory makes is not about eating more meat; it is about managing the behaviour of herding animals to reverse desertification and to assist poverty-stricken communities to rebuild themselves in a manner that is in tune with how nature works. 

(If you quote me on this, please do so in context.)


The first time I only read the beginning of Monbiot’s article.

I found it absurd and dismissed it.


Later I heard from other sources, that Savory may have had a bad day when the interview took place. Then again, Monbiot apparently refused an invitation to attend the 2014 London Savory Conference - "Putting Grasslands to Work" - an opportunity to meet with speakers and practitioners.


Subsequently I skimmed through the whole article…

I suspect that behind the scenes there is more going on than a mere personality-clash.

I do not know what it is...    Politics?   Egos?    I do not know.

It seems that Monbiot is neither stupid, nor is he incapable of eating humble-pie.


To me Monbiot’s article about Savory  seems to be an attack and not a report; a search for support in his attack, not a search for truth.

The truth in this case is not in to be found on the library shelves, but to be read in the natural world, out there in the field.

Similarly the truth in Galileo’s day was not to be found in the orbital-spheres models housed in the scientific institutions of the day. It could be deducted by looking at long-known physical phenomena in a new way. In Galileo’s case the visual confirmation of his claims, could only take place with the advent of the space-age, many years later. Fortunately we do not need to wait in Savory’s case, evidence abounds.


Monbiot’s article embraces politically correct science; we no longer have the time for that.

Let us stick with functional science; science that matches what actually works for us out in the field.

I have witnessed what over fifty years of “more of the same” does for the land and for people in seasonally dry environments.

We have shifting challenges in a dynamic world; our responses need to be applied with according flexibility, but in line with how the natural world functions.

We all remain students in this.

Let us keep in touch with the talented ones who get good batting-averages.

(Below is a list of some; there are many more...)

Allan and his followers are getting the runs on the board in the wide open spaces. (See the links below.)

Permaculture people are doing well in gardens and small farms, but are also gaining momentum on larger areas.

The Steiner-people seem to be explaining some of their practices with “easier to understand science” and their following is also growing from strength to strength.

Young and talented innovators are hybridising some of the above and we can observe some very encouraging results.


Despite all that wonderful stuff happening, I still agree with a point made by Savory some years ago: Desertification is our Achilles Heel.

(We are talking about productive land that is losing biodiversity, but also about land that has been abandoned and which continues to deteriorate…)

Savory is the only high-profile person that I see addressing this space with feasible solutions.

Holistic Planned Grazing been successfully field-tested on at least four dry-land continents.

Holistic Planned Grazing (cattle, camels, donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, horses, whatever…) is still the only tool I see out there in the market-place that can with immediate effect begin to address this challenge and reverse desertification at the scale required.

We cannot afford to wait for consensus.

(If somebody had the patience to help Monbiot discover for himself what he has not been able to see, then I’m sure M. could do much to address the confusion that still surrounds this topic.)


Watch and listen to Allan Savory explain on TED - 18- minute video-clip


Watch and listen to people in the real world talk about how they walk that talk and manage their land holistically - 8-minute video-clip



On Kachana we have been using managed herds to rebuild eco-system function since 1994.


Learning about the work of Allan Savory in 1997 helped us speed up the process and source the information that conventional text-books and the government departments were not able to give us.


We welcome the George Monbiots of this world to come and use their own five senses to experience first-hand what the land is telling us.

Gill Jacobs visited Kachana in June 2015 - Read Gill’s report


Is this snake-oil?


Let Nature be the judge!