KUHproKLIMA - With cattle against climate change
A project for sustainable pasture management
Christine Bajohr's answer to the loss of fertile soil on pasture land
Tight herd management on small pasture plots, which are grazed only briefly but evenly and can recover for a long time afterwards. Holistic pasture management could be the answer to prolonged dry periods, humus loss and dwindling biodiversity on the world's pastures.
Many terms, one basic idea
Holistic pasture management, regenerative pasture management, mob grazing - these are just three names for very similar basic ideas. Namely, a pasture system that is based entirely on the natural conditions and needs of the grazing animals and also of the pasture, according to the type of permaculture. The short, even grazing of a small pasture, which can then regenerate itself for 28-30 days, is so far only known in dry and semi-dry locations in the global south. Here, it arose primarily out of the need to protect scarce pasture land from overgrazing and thus to preserve its own livelihood.
However, in the search for a grazing system suitable for drought conditions, farms from regions that have been rich in rainfall up till now are also coming across this type of grazing again and again.
Christine Bajohr has founded a project in Germany with KUHproKLIMA in which science and practice jointly research the effectiveness of this method. The cow could thus finally lose its reputation as a climate-damaging animal and become a true climate protector. Christine explained to us in an interview how this looks exactly.
HUMINTECH: KUHproKLIMA is about testing new climate-friendly pasture management. Eight farmers from the Allgäu are involved in this. On whose crap did this idea grow ;)
Christine:...well, you can guess.... I developed my concept idea further together with Franziska Hanko (M. Sc.), when I had the opportunity to apply for EU funding for the implementation. Franziska Hanko is now also in charge of the scientific part of the project. It was important to us to launch a collaborative project in which science and agriculture can meet at eye level and work together on the really relevant issues. Our goal is to process the results in such a way that they can be implemented in everyday practice and are comparable with other studies. A special focus of KUHproKLIMA is the interaction of cow, plant and soil life.
HUMINTECH: Why is this still relevant today? Can't we all drink “oat milk”?
Christine: To be able to influence the climate, or rather the carbon and water cycle, perennial green plants are needed that actively carry out photosynthesis and produce biomass almost all year round. An active and undisturbed soil life-network is indispensable, which forms stable humus aggregates, takes over the nutrient supply of the plants and makes the water retention ability in the soil possible at all. Without water there is no photosynthesis. In order for these cycles to function or be closed, countless organisms must be at work. These organisms are responsible for various degradation and decomposition processes, nutrient transformation and release, reproduction, renewal and development. A high degree of species diversity keeps the cycles stable. "The cow", which can act accordingly in a herd association of its species, creates pasture landscapes rich in structure, which can provide exactly the ecosystem services described above. Without the regeneration of the most important ecosystem processes, it will not be possible to stop or reverse climate change. You can drink oat milk - if that tastes good. In my opinion, this is not good for the climate.”
HUMINTECH: You studied soil microbiology with Dr. E. Ingham, have been running a mountain farm for over 20 years and have been in Vogue. What has been the highlight for you personally in recent years?
Christine: The common dung beetle! He has returned to our fields and with him, other specialists (we call them our "freelancers") have gradually moved in on our farm. It is always amazing how quickly "nature" reacts when you change your own behavior in her sense.
HUMINTECH: What do you hope for from the Farm-Food-Climate-Challenge? And how do you create space for it?
Christine: Well, for example, we have cows that can get their own food outside and plants that get their nutrients from the soil. In principle, everything is always a question of management and objectives but it is true that especially during harvest time there is a lot of extra work to be done and then the days feel too short and the nights very long...
For our project it is important that we are well networked and that we can also place our "message" in the right places (politics/EU/authorities). The participation in the FFC-C has already had an effect. A scientist, who is also intensively involved in the soil life network, is now officially involved in our project. There are now almost as many scientists as there are farmers. Really cool!
And then there is the matter of financing. We don't have a project sponsor in the background to cover the remaining 20% of the costs but since KUHproKLIMA is a non-profit project (donation receipts can be issued) we hope that we can find enough sponsors who can support us in this. We would be pleased if "Project Together" would also help us to establish contacts with potential project supporters who would like to accompany us on our way.
More information about KUHproKLIMA, Mob Grazing and support possibilities can be found on kuhproklima.de. We thank Christine Bajohr for her time and are looking forward to the results of the research project.