In the last 150 or so years, European style agriculture has transformed more than 99% of original natural prairie lands. European agriculture has proven to be unsustainable at best as well as harmful to the environment for a whole plethora of reasons. Many people are pushing back against meat production thinking it’s to blame without considering history. The Native American’s lived in balance with the prairie lands for thousands of years before agriculture destroyed it.
Scientists are now suggesting that returning these unsustainable farm lands back to prairies would be good for the environment and from what I know about farming and agriculture, they’re right. Some of our biggest environmental challenges we face are due to agriculture. It’s also worth considering that much disease comes from the consumption of grains. They have proven to be good for neither people nor livestock.
More from the Homestead Guru: What WEEDS Tell Us and Why We Should Care(Opens in a new browser tab)
But prairie plants are different. They provide often more nutritious food for both livestock and human and its free. Their hardy nature makes them drought resistant which means you virtually need no resources to maintain a prairie so long as it’s not overgrazed.
Beyond providing food the plants actually protect and help the environment in a number of ways. For one they have massive root systems which would combat global warming on a huge scale, returning nutrients to the Earth instead of our atmosphere.
With plants that are often perennial, soil runoff and erosion would reduce drastically. The lack of grain fields would mean no more chemical fertilizers needed which would be good for the world as a whole, both land and ocean. Growing livestock in tandem with prairie plants ensures the plants stay fertilized thanks to the waste products of the animals. Animals also do a great job moving and aerating soil on their own which would contribute to soil health.
More from the Homestead Guru: Create Your Own Self Sustaining Homestead on Only One Acre!(Opens in a new browser tab)
Not only that but if we remember agriculture caused the great potato famine by encouraging monoculture farming, that is one big area of the same plant. If there’s one thing permaculture has proved it’s that diversity is best for sustainability so it only makes sense that turning farming land (that’s almost too depleted anyway after 100 or so years) back to prairie land makes sense, especially for those who farm livestock.