How to Green the World’s Deserts: Reversing Desertification with Grass-fed Cows

How to Reverse Desertification and Green The World's Deserts -- Video of Allan Savory on Grass-fed CowsDid you know that on nearly one third of the planet’s surface, deserts are threatening to gobble up grasslands? It’s called desertification. It’s blamed on many things, with everything from mono-culture commodity agriculture to global warming named as culprits. While it’s true that the slow transformation of the world’s dry lands into arid lands has a long history (desertification is blamed for the end of both the Grecian and Roman empires), it’s also true that it’s rapidly increasing at a rate that’s threatening at least a billion people world wide. Last year one of my heroes, Allan Savory, gave an amazing talk at a TED conference about a radical solution to re-green the world’s deserts and reverse desertification: holistic management of grazing cattle. That’s right! Grass-fed cows can save the planet.

Desertification: A Real Threat

It’s not just about the environment. Desertification creates a downward economic spiral. As the land becomes more arid, it’s no longer able to support the same number of people that it did in the past. As a result, massive numbers of rural people migrate into urban areas. Unfortunately, the influx of “unskilled” workers results higher unemployment rates and the growth of slums. And, lest you think desertification only threatens third-world countries, you can see how the United States is affected, too: Desertification Vulnerability: How to Green the World's Deserts

Grass-fed cows can reverse desertification?

It almost seems counter intuitive. One of the primary causes of desertification is over-grazing, so how could holistic grazing reverse it? That’s where Allan Savory’s talk comes in. Allan is the president and co-founder of the Savory Institute, an organization whose mission is to heal the land through large-scale restoration of grasslands. Their goal is to empower others by teaching them about holistic management and helping them implement on the ground changes within their community to reverse desertification. The talk is so powerful, I wanted to share it with you all.

Watch the video!


(top photo by nebarnix; bottom photo courtesy of Wikimedia)


  1. Terry says

    Recent news reports that the Executive Branch is emphasizing an association of cow flatulence’s (CF) with “global warming.” I have to wonder the correlation between CF and unnatural diets.

  2. says

    We just heard him at the Permaculture convergence, awesome, gentle, wise man. We the Growing Home also spoke at Permaculture Voices Conference on suburban food forests. In large scale or in small scale the more we live closer to nature, the more we flourish! Wildlife, Open Wild spaces are essential to our wellbeing! We hope people understand climate change is not a fictional story and start to convert their lawns to sanctuaries, where man and wildlife can co-exist.

    • says

      “Slate’s coverage of food systems is made possible in part by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.”

      Tells me everything I need to know. Every read the Talmud?

  3. Beth says

    It’s too bad Mr. Savory is not included in the upcoming Food Revolution Summit, to add balanced wisdom to a lineup which seems heavily tipped toward the vegan and (soundly debunked) China Study point of view.

    The health of the food supply and all of Earth’s inhabitants is at stake, and the promise of healing by ruminant animals is such an important message. They have the capacity to sequester carbon (reducing greenhouse gasses) and create a complete ecosystem that heals the land, water and air.

  4. Daniel Dessinger says

    I am studying Savoy and others at the moment, doing my best to implement intensive grazing management on a small scale.

    Great article!

  5. Kim Anderson via Facebook says

    I’ve loved this for a long time! Been trying to get people on board. Thanks for sharing!

  6. says

    Great information. I’ve been studying the research on grass fed, intensive management holistic grazing for 4 years. My husband’s and my dream is to become grass fed cattle farmers. With proper management practices it can actually use fewer resources (if you don’t supplement with grain) to intensively manage cattle on grass and legumes only. I enjoyed Greg Judy’s book “No Risk Ranching” and it got me started towards the direction of learning about holistic management.

  7. Danielle Corrick via Facebook says

    Nope. Deserts are such because of lack of rainfall. We get an average of 10″ per year where I live. Can’t grow enough grass to feed a cow.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>