Dr Sarah Taber Profile picture
May 8, 2018 19 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
close- grazing doesn't "rebuild nutrients" per se, they're just pooping out nutrients they ate that already came from the soil.

Grazing *does* rebuild organic matter. Cow guts break tough plant parts into nice soft squishy soil parts.
"Organic matter" is just the black spongy stuff left over after things rot. (Plants, poop, dead bodies, etc.)

Without OM, dirt is just sand & clay. Either it's way too tight & doesn't let roots through, or it's super loose & can't hang onto water.
Organic matter is what turns sand & clay into proper soil. It's basically a sponge; holds water & keeps dirt from drying out immediately after rain.

In tight clay soils, also gives the soil more "spring" so it doesn't turn into a mud slick after rains.
It's the reason darker soils tend to be more "fertile." "Fertility" ain't just about nutrients, it's also about texture. You want it fluffy & spongy.

(note: nobody @ me about soil microflora, this thread is the reader's digest version)
Adding nutrients doesn't help if your soil still has bad texture. Roots are still thirsty and/or can't grow, bc the soil is just sand & can't hold onto water, or is too tight & crusty bc it's clay.
Organic matter does all this heavy lifting, even though it's usually a very tiny part of the total soil makeup.

"Good soil" starts at about 2% OM. Soils with less than that get noticeably hard to work with.

If you go above 2%, you're living fat & happy.
And fun fact- organic matter is great for our new best friend, carbon sequestration.

Every 1% OM you can add to soil sequesters 2-3 tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
Here's the thing: OM isn't forever. It's kind of like ... a kid, eventually it grows up into carbon dioxide.

So if you wanna have high-OM soil, you have to keep adding OM as fast or faster than it breaks down into CO2.
This is where the cow poop comes in. Ruminants are just really phenomenal at turning huge amounts of plants into OM, a lot faster than the plants can break down on their own.

They're walking shit factories and I say that with the highest respect
And in arid regions, those plants don't break down at all. They just mummify. So if you're in a dry place & want to have good soil that hangs on to your limited amt of rain, ruminants. are. mandatory.
(note: "overgrazing" in dry areas isn't the ruminants' fault. that comes from humans from wet places like NW Europe transplanting half-assed livestock practices that they could get away with in places w high rainfall, to dry places.)
Fun aside, the Great Plains are dry enough that plants don't break down well on their own most of the year.

That rich prairie soil? Kiiiiinda comes from the grass.

But really, it's millennia worth of bison poop. That we're just kinda mining right now til it runs out.
And "mining it" means "letting it turn into CO2."

Conversion of soil OM into CO2 dwarfs every other source of CO2 that goes into the atmosphere.
"In 2008, the global total [of soil respiration] reached roughly 98 billion tonnes, about 10 times more carbon than humans are now putting into the atmosphere each year."

Not doom & gloom! This is actually really good news, because adding OM back to soil is *really easy, cheap, and doable within a short timespan.*
In fact ... since the best way to add OM to soil is smart livestock rearing, you can actually make money at it.

Y'all, pastured livestock works *really well* to stuff carbon into the soil.

I've been to farms where the soil's just dried-up white beach sand w 0% OM (ah, FL).

But their neighbor who runs pastured cattle's got thick, moist, chocolate cake-looking dirt at 4-5% OM.
That's 8-12 tons of C sequestered per acre, & it only takes 2-4 years to get there. It's fast, it's effective, & you can even make a good living doing it. Pastured livestock ftw

gonna tag this whole thread now #climatechange #ClimateAction
*note: this thread is geared towards arid regions & grasslands

...cutting down forests to raise cows is a non-winner, carbon-wise

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More from @SarahTaber_bww

Oct 9, 2018
Fun fact you learn after working in ag for a while: family farms run by a man who's really into conservatism, rape culture, racism, and hating women are *the most likely to fail.*
There appear to be lots of reasons for this.

#1, running any business takes a basic level of empathy. You have to put yourself in customer's shoes enough to figure out what they want & give it to them.

Rape culture & racism teach you how to NOT put yourself in ppl's shoes.
#2, to run a business successfully you also have to be able to put yourself in your employees', contractors', etc shoes to figure out how to engage them successfully to get the result you want.

Again: hard to do that when your mentality is shaped by ... hating other people.
Read 11 tweets
Oct 8, 2018
This is interesting. This account fairly likely to be a bot- number salad after the name, interactions w other bot accounts, & a 50/50 mix of folksy farm observations & Russian talking points.
Usually when I post on political topics, it draws some bot fire. Brett Kavanaugh & removal of UNC's confederate memorial got especially botty.
But for those of you who remember the Great Tractor-Turning Incident- that was a post that got a lot of angry responses from real live humans.

Responses from real live angry humans are very different from bots.
Read 10 tweets
Oct 7, 2018
You guys I want to tell you the story of a #Resistance wedding.

No pics of the wedding itself bc of reasons that will soon become clear, so lemme paint you a picture.
Bride & groom both heavily involved in Indivisible, and there's an election in a month. So they went with a straightforward courthouse wedding.
Except it turns out courthouse weddings in Fayetteville are actually kind of complicated

1) lots of bureaucratic red tape

2) they're not in the courthouse. The magistrate who handles marriages is INSIDE THE COUNTY JAIL
Read 10 tweets
Oct 6, 2018
A buddy was handing out some apples he got from a little farm stand up in the mountains.

These local farm-fresh apples were uhhhhh coated in fungicide.
They had a light powdery coating, which *can* be innocuous- often it's just dust from the field, or an inert clay like Surround (works as a sunscreen to keep apples from getting sun scald on the tree, and repels bugs too).
But! Not in this case. Right out of the bag they had that really juicy fresh apple smell, but as soon as that wore off there was that garlicky metallic "pesticide storage shed" smell that ag folks know & love.

Also featured a garlicky metallic pesticide aftertaste. 🙄
Read 10 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
This morning #ICalledMyReps and they wouldn't pick up.

Thom Tillis has several offices in NC.

All of their phones are shut down. There's a "we just help with hurricane Florence stuff! Stay safe!" message & no way to leave a voicemail.
Which is funny, bc they were answering their phones when I called to them last week. They weren't "shut down for a hurricane that ended weeks ago" back then.
This has nothing to do with Florence. This is a communications shutdown because they *don't want to hear from constituents.*
Read 11 tweets
Oct 2, 2018

One of the farmers straight-up told @RyanLizza "if they were legal we'd have to pay them more."

If you're confused on why farmers keep voting for bad immigration policy (even though they swear they "don't agree,") that's it right there.
To your face they'll say oh, it's just so terrible that ICE is doing raids!

But if it weren't for threat of deportation, farmworkers would actually be able to fight for higher pay.

Deep down, farmers know this. If you watch what they DO, instead of what they say, that's clear.
They know their biz model can't survive w/o threat of deportation. So instead of fixing their biz model, they vote for ICE raids.

Then they cringe and fuss about how dreadful it all is.

They can't even sack up to be proper bastards about it. It's chickenshit all the way down.
Read 10 tweets

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