Thursday, October 4, 2018 10:00 AM
Look for the EOV seal
Brainchild of The Savory Institute, the Land to Market program uses science-based monitoring to verify soil and environment regeneration from carefully planned agricultural practices. Working with conscientious producers of grazing animal-based products; meat, dairy, wool, and leather, brands can proudly display their company’s passion for restoring a healthy environment for future generations.
Ovis 21 and Jason Rowntree, PhD, of Michigan State University's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Land to Market program ecological outcome verification ‘EOV’ evaluates empirical data collected from long and short-term impact plots on the ground where animals are raised. Calculations on soil biology, organic matter and permeability, and plant and fauna diversity, track positive increases or alert producers to management problems by showing decreases, in time to reverse the decline and prevent permanent damage by soil loss.
Land to Market Verified is a seal awarded to producers that earn Savory approval by proving through scientific audits they are regenerating soils by holistically managing their herds and rangelands. The mission of the Land to Market program is to elevate awareness of the critical symbiosis of planned grazing of ruminant animals with moderate to brittle rangelands across the globe and provide a means for public support of regenerative agriculture. Consumers can be assured the verified product they buy was produced by sustainable methods that honor and protect our planet.
On October 3rd, 2018, a demonstration of EOV data collection was performed for Savory Frontier Founders, press and marketing partners. The gathering was hosted by the Grassfed Sustainability Group at their demonstration site, the North Mason Ranch, located in Mason, Texas. North Mason Ranch is one of the very first land bases in the world to receive EOV certification and begin participating in the Land to Market program.
In attendance at the EOV demonstration were:
Helen Crowley from Kering, Paris, France
Megan Meikeljohn from Eileen Fisher ®
Katie Forrest, Taylor Colins & Robbie Sansom from EPIC® Provisions
Gina Asoudegan from Applegate™
Zubin and Caroline Mehta from UNION™ Earth Snacks
David Rizzo and Ryan Wilson from Zukes ™ Natural Treats and Supplements/Nestlé-Purina
Diana Rodgers, RD, LDN from Sustainable Dish
Bill Giebler from New Hope™ Network
Savory staff: Byron Shelton, Victoria Kindred Keziah, Chris Kerston
Grassfed Sustainability Group members: Rhona & Chad Lemke and Debbie & Don Davis
Why test and monitor rangeland where products are produced?
Soil Carbon sequestration ability is directly linked to the amount of organic matter present in the soil. Increases come from impact from ruminant grazing animals:
- CO2 is pulled out of the atmosphere by plants through photosynthesis
- Ruminant conversion of plant leaf to energy
- Energy assimilated by ruminant to build muscle and milk
- Waste high in moisture content and teaming with beneficial microbes is deposited back onto the soil
- Soil fauna decompose waste solids into elemental nutrients
- Moisture and nutrients are assimilated by plant roots
- Plant leaves harvest solar energy and the cycle repeats
The higher the density and height of grasses and forbs, the deeper their roots, which enhances the soil’s ability to capture and retain moisture. Hence, moisture retention lowers soil temperatures in hot climates, and decomposition keeping microbes and plant roots from freezing in cool climates. Grazing timing is critical. Land managers must harvest forages before they mature, then remove the grazing animals so decomposition and regrowth can occur before the plants are grazed again. High stock density for short periods of time results in the greatest positive impacts.
What can interrupt this energy/mineral-Carbon cycle?
- Application of insecticides, herbicides and inorganic/chemical fertilizers kills delicate soil microbes leaving the soil unable to decompose organic matter or sequester Carbon. Crust forms on soil surfaces preventing absorption of moisture. Rainfall erodes topsoil and runs off into waterways.
- Over-rest from removal of grazing animals creates the same result by old, unutilized plant material oxidizing and preventing live leaf surface from capturing solar energy. Over time, ungrazed grasslands convert to dessert in brittle environments. This is demonstrated in National Parks across the Southwest juxtaposed with neighboring privately-owned ranches under holistic management. Over-rest can also occur from low stock density.
- Over-use removes plant leaf before its roots have had adequate recovery time to regrow from the previous bite. All the plant’s root energy storage is exhausted trying to regrow leaf for solar energy capture, so the plant dies. Tall perennial grass species are replaced by short annual species that are able to form seeds close to the ground. Continued grazing on the short grasses causes the same decline and those species are replaced by unpalatable/noxious plants and woody brush. Bare soil loses its ability to retain moisture, increasing desertification. Over-grazing is a consequence of time; higher stock density staying too long in a pasture or lower stock density repeatedly hitting and exhausting the most desirable plant species and under-utilizing the rest of the plants in a pasture that subsequently oxidize and die.