biosphere processes

basic ecosystem functions

Assessing landscape health, Part 1: what to look for

Before healing land, we must assess its current health, just as a doctor examines you and asks about your symptoms before starting treatment. Like the doctor, we want to know what's happening now, and what's possible for our "patient".

Diagnosing landscapes well takes knowledge and practice. If you want to go beyond this basic guide, I recommend Charlie Orchard's Land EKG.

Land EKG: practical rangeland monitoring

Charley Orchard grew up in Wyoming, a fourth-generation rancher. After he took his first Holistic Management course, he tried to bring it back to his family operation. Success was pretty limited at first. "What do you do when you don't know what to do? You go back to school."

Restoring a nonfunctioning waterway

Summary: Faced with invasive weeds, the managers of Boomerang Farm used holistic decision-making to create an environment that favors the plants we want.

Joy Livingwell
Norman Neave
Norman Neave

How to build new topsoil

Summary: Several centimeters of topsoil per year can form under favorable conditions, which good management can create. This article explains how.

"The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself" (Roosevelt 1937)


The future for Australia depends on the future of our soil.

Australian author reveals comprehensive solutions to climate crisis

Priority One cover

Enterprise, Oregon (2007)--Biosphere Media has published a US/UK edition of Allan Yeomans's controversial book Priority One: Together We Can Beat Global Warming.

Improving rain absorption and reducing flood damage with good grazing management

The recent tragic flooding on the Imnaha and the destruction of numerous roads forces us to think about causes and remedies. After last February's flooding, a fair amount of blaming took place. A more practical and productive approach is to consider what can be done to improve the situation.

Landscape brittleness and productivity

Summary: To determine what landscapes need in order to remain healthy, we need to consider an area's biological productivity as well as its degree of brittleness.

The Great American land monitoring shootout

I got myself into trouble after conducting a quick Pasture Walk Evaluation on a Montana ranch in the fall of 1997 by stating this one-liner, "The sagebrush is increasing."

Three employees of the ranch and I walked a few pastures to see if I could help them determine what was causing a problem with an electric fence that I constructed 14 years ago.

Soil carbon means WATER to me!

Water storage in soil depends on many factors, including rainfall, soil depth, soil texture and the clay minerals present. We cannot control rainfall or soil type. But we certainly can influence the capacity of the soil to store water.

Biological soil crusts: How well do they really protect soil?

Widely regarded as natural protectors of exposed soil, biological soil crusts are fragile and provide little protection against erosion. Soil crusts usually indicate environmental damage, and can interfere with ecosystem recovery.

Joy Livingwell
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