NEWSLETTER

 

Triangle/Chino Winds NRCD

Our mission at the Triangle/Chino Winds NRCD is to advocate for all local agricultural producers. We are dedicated to coordinating with governing agencies and local landowners to achieve conservation goals.

Symbiosis

By Reuban Verner

  I realized something some time back that I have never really recovered from realizing; humans these days (at least we Americans) view our interaction with nature mostly in terms of antagonistic relationships. The assumption seems to be that for every one of our actions there is a cost, rather than just a reaction. In this mindset there can be no beneficial reaction to any of our actions, only negative consequences. The costs are thus minimized whenever we can minimize our mere presence.

Nature doesn’t work this way. It is a more complicated system of relationships that have been formed and refined over millennia. The predator-prey relationship gets all the press, but there is a much larger and more impactful one that few people seem to acknowledge, the grazer-plant

relationship.

Considered in the context that grazers and grass plants have been living together for so long, it is a wonder that most have never really considered this. Everything about ruminant physiology is designed around eating fibrous plants. They are strictly vegetarian. Similarly, grass plants fully expect to be bitten off periodically. In most cases they even depend on it to stay healthy. Thus the definition of symbiosis, two unlike organisms living closely together in a beneficial relationship, is fulfilled.

Where things get really interesting is when we humans are a part of the process. We can use domestic grazers to naturally interact with grass plants to the benefit of everything involved. The secret is to carefully control the three variables that makes the relationship work; timing, intensity, and

frequency. When those three are kept in balance, everything wins. It becomes the most

environmentally friendly, sustainable form of production agriculture that exists.

Perhaps when addressing environmental problems, we should stop considering solutions that don’t include human involvement. If a solution depletes soils or puts people out of work, it is not a truly sustainable answer.

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