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Topic: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World) (Read 112146 times) previous topic - next topic

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Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24100
Here's a wild guess at rabbit numbers ... 4 females ... 4 litters per year each ... roughly 120 fryers per year x 4 lbs = 480 lbs of meat. Close to 400,000 food calories.

Might hit 500,000 if I can run 6 females.  What I have no idea about is how it will go raising fryers. Up until now, I've only run breeders. That will be a whole new can of worms!


Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24101
The rabbit escape problem  seems to be solved.  Not that they don't get out of the pen sometimes. Today two of them were rooting around just outside pen when I showed up.  They had obviously gotten under one of the rails where there was a dip in the pasture.  But as I approached they hightailed it back into their little bunny hideaways.

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24102
Dave, we've mentioned allotments before.  I don't know if you've taken it in.  Loads of British people grow vast amounts of vegetables in allotments.  Some use manure, but many don't, because it's not that easy to get hold of.  But they all use compost.  You can make your own, or get it from the Council.  Most municipal councils make manure from recycled household food waste.

True here also. There are large community gardens in the city - not as nicely established as your allotment system, but then a lot of city people have big backyard gardens. The municipality collects and composts everything organic from all households, meat, bones, fish, veg, oils, napkins, newsprint, garden waste...

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24103
"Economics of saving agriculture"

I.e. Feeding people.

One key piece of data I still do not have is  how many calories per acre can be grown sustainably with a vegetable production system INCLUDING the land area needed for compost production.  Now obviously if the only thing you're using to make compost is the non-edible portions of the plant, then we wouldn't require additional land area besides the vegetable plots themselves.  The closest I have come to having some good data on this is from Walter Haugen, but he was using some external inputs and I never could find out details about this.

You will ALWAYS need external inputs, Dave, if you are exporting food offsite.  As you occasionally concede, but then functionally forget, this applies whether you have animals or not.  Poop does not replace exported minerals if the pooping animal got its feed from the site from which you are exporting the food.  It is not magic.  As far as the system is concerned, a goat is just a compost heap that compost materials grown on-site. 


Another question in my mind regarding vegetable production is labor required versus the amount of calories produced.  I grew potatoes this year and I personally did not enjoy the experience because there was so much bending over and digging.  Plus I just don't eat potatoes that much.

Generally speaking, growing vegetables is less labour than looking after animals, although some vegetables are much more labour-intensive than others.  Mechanisation helps of course. 

Your hero, Masanobu Fukuoka, is largely talking about vegetable growing.  The "straw" in "The One-Straw Revolution" is a rice stalk.   He talks about chickens but is fiercely anti-cow. 

Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24104
I don't "functionally" forget ... it's just that my hope is that for the most part, my importing and exporting will be to and from my neighbors who live in the same "sustainable subdivision" as me, so my hope is that for example my phosphorus will travel around my neighborhood and not leave.

You say that "generally speaking" raising vegetables is less labor than looking after animals.  This seems to be one of those famous "Pingu Generalities", which, upon close inspection falls apart.  I have some firsthand experience this year which could shed light on this because I looked after dairy goats and I also raised potatoes.  I have not harvested all the potatoes I grew this year because I don't find it to be enjoyable work at all - I DO like eating mashed potatoes and gravy, but I don't enjoy bending over double digging them out of the ground and then you have to scrub the dirt off, cut them up, boil them, mash them and add butter, milk and salt and that's a lot of doing.  Also, if I did harvest all of them, I think I would not get more than 100 lbs and keep in mind that I planted 50 lbs.  So that's not a very good return to my way of thinking.  Contrast this with milk which requires only squeezing a couple knobs and it's ready to consume.  Counting calorie output vs. input seems to be a good way to be scientific about the question of how much work it is and Walter Haugen introduced me to this thing called "EROI" or Energy Return on Investment.   I've calculated the EROI on a few food items and the highest figure I've come up with is for hair sheep of the kind that Greg Judy or Joe Hopping has.  Joe Hopping was the one who got Greg into the sheep business and it's interesting to estimate EROI for his operation.  He has about 700 ewes in his flock and they consistently wean 1.5 lambs per ewe each year so that's over 1000 lambs per year.  These are usually sold to East Coast markets in March or so every year at a live weight of about 80 lbs I think.  If this yields 25 lbs of finished meat and including fat we have 1000 calories per lb, then that's 25 million food calories per year.  How many hours of labor?  Joe moves a single electric fence wire to move the entire flock once a day and with miscellaneous additional chores, let's say he spends 1 hour per day.  There are two high labor days per year - castration day and market day.  Let's add in 1 or 2 full days that I'm forgetting about and call it 4 - 12 hour days X 2 people so 96 man hours plus the daily work of say 360 man hours per year.  Round up and call it 500 man hours per year and you've got 50,000 food calories per man hour ... with NO fossil fuel input or heavy machinery, except the truck and trailer to haul them to market.  This is about as good as it gets in animal production and I'd like to know about some vegetables with similar numbers.  Now of course there is additional labor required to transform live sheep into edible, packaged food but the same is true for vegetables.  By the way, my own personal dairy goat numbers would be perhaps the same number of hours as Joe Hopping spends - maybe 500 hours per year, but far less production ... only about 500,000 food calories per year.  So about 1000 food calories per hour of labor.  So Joe is producing 50,000 food calories per man hour and I'm producing only 1000 food calories per man hour.  To make an apples to apple comparison though between meat and milk, you'd have to add it the labor required to go from a live animal to edible, packaged food.

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24105
I don't "functionally" forget ... it's just that my hope is that for the most part, my importing and exporting will be to and from my neighbors who live in the same "sustainable subdivision" as me, so my hope is that for example my phosphorus will travel around my neighborhood and not leave.

Which is fine. 


You say that "generally speaking" raising vegetables is less labor than looking after animals.  This seems to be one of those famous "Pingu Generalities", which, upon close inspection falls apart. 

Well, try Masanobu Fukuoka then.  Not that I think he's totally right, but his claim, much touted by YOU is that farming needn't involve much labour.  Yet his techniques are largely for vegetable calories.

Obviously there ARE highly labour-intensive ways of producing non-animal foods, just as there are highly labour-intensive ways of producing animal foods.  But just as you are working on a non-labour intensive way of producing animal food, others have found non-labour intensive ways of producing non-animal food. 

And it helps that you get far more calories per acre on the whole, and you don't have to fence them in.

Honestly, Dave, it beats me that you bang on about Fukuoka and Mollison and permaculture, and Mark Shephard, yet show absolutely no interest that I can see in the fact that those kinds of food-production are MOSTLY about VEGETABLES.  Including grain, nuts, beans, fruit, root vegetables, leafy vegetables and squashes.  Your blinkered focus on animal foods is very strange.  I'm all for including poultry, pigs, and maybe dairy animals as an adjunct to vegetable-food production, because, as you seem to agree, but oddly think I disagree with you about, I do think that the right mix can produce an optimised synergy, depending on local conditions.

But the evidence seems to be against you when it comes to where we need to go to "save the world".  It seems pretty clear that getting more calories (not necessarily all) from vegetable sources, and fewer from animal sources would greatly reduce the acreage needed for food production, and allow it to be used for other things e.g. to return to forest.

And you always forget fish.






Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24106
I like Masanobu because he points out that producing food should be easy.

I like Bill Mollison because he says the same thing and also says housing should be sustainable.

I like Mark Shepard for his idea of creating "oak savannahs" with bands of trees separated by alleys of rotational grazing.  Also his observations about opening forest canopies to 50%.

Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24107

I like Masanobu because he points out that producing food should be easy.

I like Bill Mollison because he says the same thing and also says housing should be sustainable.

I like Mark Shepard for his idea of creating "oak savannahs" with bands of trees separated by alleys of rotational grazing.  Also his observations about opening forest canopies to 50%.

I don't forget fish.  I just don't talk about them much.

"Going to forest" is not optimum for sequestering carbon.  At least if you're starting with cropland or pastureland.  Adding bands of trees ala Mark Shepard plus rotationally grazed animals would speed the job along much more quickly.  Also, what about humans?  How many humans can live sustainably in pure forest?  I don't think very many.  Can't garden because there's no sunlight and raising animals is tough too.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE the forest ... but I only love it in BANDS ... so I can situate my house in it but still be directly adjacent to pastureland.


  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24108
It also beats me, Dave, how you simply run away from questions that seem to bother you.  Usually in a flurry of substance-free insults and calumnies.

It's like you have boxed yourself into a mental goat-pen, where you allow yourself a certain amount of limited movement, but no more.  Anything outside the current position of the pen you treat with fear or ridicule (perhaps both).

You clearly got the point about the radiocarbon datasets - that errors in dates obtained by counting the layers in a core or cross section will be specific to that core or cross-section, whereas error in radiocarbon dates arising from changes over time in atmospheric C14:C12 ratios will apply to all samples from the same date.

And you'd have to be stupider than you clearly are, not to see that if there are major errors in the count-dates, the curves won't agree, and if there aren't they will. 

And they do agree.  So we can assume there aren't major errors. 

Which means that the earth is at least 50,000 years old.  Not only that, but because the plot of these dates against radiocarbon date is NOT a 1:1 line, but in fact wanders around below it, we can read of the ACTUAL atmospheric C14:C12 over that time.

And it isn't what Brown says.

This is not difficult.  But rather than confront it, you insult me, you insult others,  you badger off to start new threads on extraneous topics, finally returning to your comfort zone here. Where you continue to erect straw men, malign anyone who disagrees with you, and respond to thoughtful response to your posts with content free facepalms.

It's shitty behaviour, and the fact that other people sometimes respond to YOU with content-free insult does not  give you a pass from responding coherently to substantive counter-arguments. 

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24109

I like Masanobu because he points out that producing food should be easy.

He does not merely "point out" that it should be easy.  He DEMONSTRATES that producing VEGETABLE food is easy. With a little help from a few animals e.g. ducks.


I like Bill Mollison because he says the same thing and also says housing should be sustainable.

Why do you like people because of their conclusions, while ignoring the reasoning that led to the conclusion?  You do this with scientists too.  You like Shapiro but reject the very reasoning that led him to his position.  It's not only lazy, it's dishonest.


I like Mark Shepard for his idea of creating "oak savannahs" with bands of trees separated by alleys of rotational grazing.  Also his observations about opening forest canopies to 50%.

I don't forget fish.  I just don't talk about them much.

Whenever you trot out that guy who lived for a year without vegetables, you always forget omit that his animal diet was largely marine.  And marine animal food sources have very different properties from terrestrial animal food sources.



"Going to forest" is not optimum for sequestering carbon.  At least if you're starting with cropland or pastureland. 

It will certainly sequester MORE over time.  Whether or not you start with cropland or pasture.

Adding bands of trees ala Mark Shepard plus rotationally grazed animals would speed the job along much more quickly. 

Right. And the overwhelming proportion of Shephard's calorie production is from chestnuts.  Not the grazed animals. 

Also, what about humans?  How many humans can live sustainably in pure forest?  I don't think very many. 

Focus, Dave.  I'm not SAYING that lots of people could live sustainably in a forest.  I'm saying that IF most of our food came from vegetable crops THEN we would need less land to produce food sustainable and we could leave more land for forest.

Can't garden because there's no sunlight and raising animals is tough too.  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE the forest ... but I only love it in BANDS ... so I can situate my house in it but still be directly adjacent to pastureland.

Here is the simple math again.

Let's say that a veggie plot sequesters 1 unit of carbon per acre.
And that pasture sequesters 2 unit of carbon per acre.
And that forest sequesters 3 units of carbon per acre

Let us also say that the veggie plot produces twice as many human food calories as pasture.

Give a person 2 acres.

If they can produce enough food for themselves on 2 acres of pasture, they will sequester 4 units of carbon.
If they can produce enough food for themselves on 1 acre of veggies, they will sequester 1 unit of carbon on that acre.
However, they can now let the other acre revert to forest, which will sequester 3 units. 

Both scenarios result in the same amount of sequestered carbon, and in both cases, the 2 acres sustain 1 person.

In practice, you usually get far more than twice as many food calories from a veggie crop than an animal operation, although in some climates this might not be true. 

But the evidence I have read suggests that in most parts of the world, a veggie crop will feed far more people per acre than an animal food system.  Which is why staple foods tend to be vegetables.  That being the case, the carbon-sequestering issue is moot - because the more people you can feed per acre on veggies, even IF veggie plots sequester less carbon than pasture (which may not even be true - and Masanobu Fukouka comments on how much organic matter his soil contains), the more non-producing land for forest, or rather to whatever ecosystem reverts when you leave it alone.

And ecosystems left to themselves tend to maximise photosynthesis, thereby maximising carbon sequestration.

Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24110
Your post is good because it communicates your position clearly, whereas before I have often been confused by your posts.  One comment about "leave it alone" ... I don't think it's possible in our modern world to truly "leave it alone" in many places of the world ... In Missouri, if I left my 10 acres alone, forest would eventually grow there since there is adequate rainfall here to support tree growth.  However, to TRULY "leave it alone" we would have to wind the clock back 500 years to a time when the ecosystem was actually complete ... with buffalo and beaver and all the rest.  And what about the now extinct mega-fauna?  I for one believe that dinosaurs once crashed around Missouri opening up forest canopy thus creating open areas for grazing herds.  So what do we really mean by "leave it alone"?

To my way of thinking, since we cannot resurrect the extinct mega-fauna which - I believe - played such a key role my ecosystem ... and it would be tough to repopulate the landscape with wild buffalo herds and replenish all the streams with beaver ...

Since it's not practical to truly "leave it alone" ... then we must opt for second best and "Allan Savory-ize" our world as best we can.

Natural disasters killed the mega-fauna.  Mankind destroyed the buffalo herds and the beavers.

So we now have to reverse course and try to rebuild what we can as best we can.
  • Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 06:36:16 AM by Dave Hawkins

  • osmanthus
  • Administrator
  • Fingerer of piglets
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24111
Dinosaurs. :grin:
Truth is out of style

  • Fenrir
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24112
"What's that? Your window fell out? That's too bad. I'm afraid the only option is to demolish your house."

Said no Sears window salesman ever.
It's what plants crave.

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24113
Your post is good because it communicates your position clearly, whereas before I have often been confused by your posts.

I am glad I succeed in communicating with you. I do try, but clearly do not always succeed.

One comment about "leave it alone" ... I don't think it's possible in our modern world to truly "leave it alone" in many places of the world ... In Missouri, if I left my 10 acres alone, forest would eventually grow there since there is adequate rainfall here to support tree growth.  However, to TRULY "leave it alone" we would have to wind the clock back 500 years to a time when the ecosystem was actually complete ... with buffalo and beaver and all the rest.  And what about the now extinct mega-fauna?  I for one believe that dinosaurs once crashed around Missouri opening up forest canopy thus creating open areas for grazing herds.  So what do we really mean by "leave it alone"?

I mean not do anything to it.


Obviously it will not revert to a prior state, if that prior state had species that are no longer around.  Also lots things are different now, including climate. But then obviously I absolutely reject your idea that we live in world fallen from a previous more perfect state.  I think we live in a continuously changing and adapting world.  And so, if we leave land alone, what will tend to happen is that the ecosystem will adapt itself to current conditions in a way that optimises resources.  The species themselves won't necessarily evolve adaptively (though they may) but at a higher level, the ecosystem itself will.

This is actually within your own mental picture of how things work, Dave, that you have stated in the past - the evolution of ecosystems to maximises resource usage.

And that will also tend to maximise carbon sequestration, as living things are made largely of carbon.

Quote
To my way of thinking, since we cannot resurrect the extinct mega-fauna which - I believe - played such a key role my ecosystem ... and it would be tough to repopulate the landscape with wild buffalo herds and replenish all the streams with beaver ...

Since it's not practical to truly "leave it alone" ... then we must opt for second best and "Allan Savory-ize" our world as best we can.

Natural disasters killed the mega-fauna.  Mankind destroyed the buffalo herds and the beavers.

So we now have to reverse course and try to rebuild what we can as best we can.

And this is why your mega-error about the age and history of the earth starts to matter (and note that Savory does NOT agree with it).

If what you are trying to do is reverse engineer the earth to a more Edenic past, then you will make, in my view, serious errors, simply because there is no evidence that any such Edenic past existed.  Indeed there is massive evidence that the world was very different when dinosaurs were around, one major difference being that we weren't.

This is why, if you are serious about "saving agriculture (thereby saving the world)", which, to be fair, I think you are, it actually matters that your model of what you are trying to achieve is not massively wrong.

And it is.

And I think you know that it might be.  I can think of no other reason for your complete refusal to engage with what you must surely see is logical corollary of those radiocarbon calibration curves agreeing with each other.  It means the layer-count dates must not be substantially wrong.  Which means that the earth is AT LEAST an order of magnitude older than you think.  Which means the entire Noah premise is wrong. Which means there is no good reason not to read the geological and palaeontological record in the most straightforward way, namely that species found in older, deeper sedimentary layers and not in younger, higher layers went extinct before species found in younger, shallower sedimentary layers and not in deeper layers.

For example, that the great dinosaurs lived and went extinct long before people appeared.
  • Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 07:30:24 AM by Pingu

  • Sea Star
  • Not an octohatter
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24114
''
Quote
Contrast this with milk which requires only squeezing a couple knobs and it's ready to consume''
or
Take empty sterilized bucket and bucket of hot soapy water out, pen critter, wash udder. Milk. 
Strain and refrigerate milk, wash and sterilize buckets. Skim last night's milk, fill daily milk jug, make cheese to keep (1-2 hours soft cheese, 3 hours hard; 5 if cheddaring).
Set cream to sour, fill yogurt maker, make 1\2 hour microwave mozzarella and string cheese for kids, make butter.  Wash and sterilize all equipment before and after use.
Gardening - a few pleasant hours here and there getting light exercise and sunshine with a nice view of the woods.

  • VoxRat
  • wtactualf
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24115
However, to TRULY "leave it alone" we would have to wind the clock back 500 years to a time when the ecosystem was actually complete ... with buffalo and beaver and all the rest.
:facepalm:
Quote
  And what about the now extinct mega-fauna?
They had been wiped out by the advent of humans during the preceding millennia.

THAT is what the articles by Long & Martin were all about.
I guess you failed to notice that while Ctrl-F'ing for "39,000".
"I understand Donald Trump better than many people because I really am a lot like him." - Dave Hawkins

  • VoxRat
  • wtactualf
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24116
Natural disasters killed the mega-fauna. 
Nope.
"I understand Donald Trump better than many people because I really am a lot like him." - Dave Hawkins

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24117
I THINK that by "mega-fauna" Dave means the big dinosaurs.

I could be wrong.

  • VoxRat
  • wtactualf
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24118
I THINK that by "mega-fauna" Dave means the big dinosaurs.

I could be wrong.
That would be another davinition then.
That is certainly NOT what ecologists mean when they use that term.
"I understand Donald Trump better than many people because I really am a lot like him." - Dave Hawkins

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24119
Well, as I say, I could be wrong.  Perhaps Dave could clarify what he means, and which mega-fauna, by whatever definition, he thinks were made extinct by natural disasters.

He appears to think that dinosaurs are post Flood and therefore on the ark.  It's hard to tell though, when none of it makes any sense whatsoever.

  • borealis
  • Administrator
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24120
[snip] I have not harvested all the potatoes I grew this year because I don't find it to be enjoyable work at all - I DO like eating mashed potatoes and gravy, but I don't enjoy bending over double digging them out of the ground and then you have to scrub the dirt off, cut them up, boil them, mash them and add butter, milk and salt and that's a lot of doing.  Also, if I did harvest all of them, I think I would not get more than 100 lbs and keep in mind that I planted 50 lbs.  So that's not a very good return to my way of thinking.  [snip]

I'm surprised at such a low yield coming from good deep soil. Ordinarily you'd get a 6 to 10 (or more in a good year) to 1 yield, where you are saying you only got 2 to 1. Did you plant late or perhaps have a devastating potato beetle infestation?

Not everyone minds harvesting potatos. All we do is pitchfork up the hills a bit so the soil is loose, then go along the row with a wheelbarrow sifting the potatos out with our hands. I find it very satisfying and easy work.

I realise not everyone enjoys cooking. I do, so washing and cooking a few potatos isn't something I consider much of a chore. Beats skinning, cleaning, and cutting up rabbits.

Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24121
"Indeed there is massive evidence that the world was very different when dinosaurs were around, one major difference being that we weren't."

I don't view that as a "major difference" at all.   If humans did indeed coexist with dinosaurs, as I believe, there would have been so few of them relative to the world population now, that they would have made virtually no difference on those ecosystems.   It's only in recent history, which to me is within the last 3000 years or so, that humans have made much of an impact on ecosystems at all.

And this is why I can work with people like Allan Savory who believe that the earth is old. A belief that the earth is old just doesn't matter to what we are trying to accomplish in agriculture.   Old earthers and young earthers alike believe that giant critters once roamed the earth crashing about in the forests and we both believe that giant herds of wild herbivores roamed the plains.

And from my study, the synergy of all this makes for more healthy ecosystems whether it occurred 3-4000 years ago with humans or 50 or 100 million years ago without humans. That part doesn't matter to me at all.

Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24122
Also, I am definitely not interested in restoring Eden, if Eden was all about eating fruit from trees.  (And running around naked) (well ... unless you look like Christie Brinkley, then yeah)
  • Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 09:41:20 AM by Dave Hawkins

  • VoxRat
  • wtactualf
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24123
"I understand Donald Trump better than many people because I really am a lot like him." - Dave Hawkins

  • Pingu
Re: Economics of "Saving Agriculture" (Thereby Saving the World)
Reply #24124
"Indeed there is massive evidence that the world was very different when dinosaurs were around, one major difference being that we weren't."

I don't view that as a "major difference" at all. 

Well, it is.  The ecosystems that the dinosaurs were part of was very different from the one that came afterwards.

If humans did indeed coexist with dinosaurs, as I believe,

But you believe with NO evidence and in the face of MASSIVE counter-evidence

there would have been so few of them relative to the world population now, that they would have made virtually no difference on those ecosystems.  It's only in recent history, which to me is within the last 3000 years or so, that humans have made much of an impact on ecosystems at all.

The emergence of any species makes an impact on the environment, which in turn makes an impact on the emerging species.  In fact it's how speciation occurs.  But certainly the population explosion that occurred a few HUNDRED years ago has made a massive impact. But the emergence of a viable population of less then a million or so humans also seems also to have a huge impact, especially as we started spreading across the globe.

I know you don't believe this stuff, Dave, but you should watch this anyway, just to see what it is you are arguing against:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUwmA3Q0_OE

And remember that the radiocarbon calibration curves show that the Genesis story, including Noah, is not true. 

And this is why I can work with people like Allan Savory who believe that the earth is old. A belief that the earth is old just doesn't matter to what we are trying to accomplish in agriculture. 

Unfortunately, it does.  Your belief system is fed by an implicit, if not explicit, dominionism which, if scaled up, could be catastrophic for the planet, including, for humanity.

Old earthers and young earthers alike believe that giant critters once roamed the earth crashing about in the forests and we both believe that giant herds of wild herbivores roamed the plains.

And from my study, the synergy of all this makes for more healthy ecosystems whether it occurred 3-4000 years ago with humans or 50 or 100 million years ago without humans. That part doesn't matter to me at all.

And you accuse me of talking in "generalities" that "fall apart" on "closer inspection"!!!

Dave, a "healthy ecosystem" is a sustainable ecosystem, by virtually any definition of "healthy" - e.g. keeps going much as it as time passes.  There are countless healthy ecosystems today that do NOT include "large herbivores", or, for that matter "plains" at all.  If you introduce a new species to an existing healthy ecosystem, it WILL CHANGE.  Usually diversity will initially decrease, although it may increase again later as it regains "balance" - re-optimises its use of resources, including sunlight, water and minerals, to maximise biomass.

Your utter failure to understand this, largely, it seems, informed by your totally unsupported belief that things were "better" in the past when there were "large herbivores" (how about the T-Rexes, Dave?  Were they part of this "synergy"?) roaming plains (what about the forests?  The deserts?  The mountains?)

Your anthropocentric idea that all this is humankind's "dominion" and that we messed it up and should be seeking to regain it is dangerously flawed.  Not only is it simply untrue, but it leads you to potentially damaging mistakes and conclusions.