The World Works in Wholes

the components of any system cannot exist and cannot be understood except in their relationship with the whole.

The most academically challenging time  for a medical student  is the study of human anatomy and physiology. Simply put, if a doctor lacks an in depth knowledge of the physical structure and normal workings of a human body, then he or she will have no ability to understand dysfunction. The human body is divided into systems, all beautifully interconnected and totally interdependent. It works in wholes.
Consider Panic Disorder. 
A panic attack is a terrifying experience. Most people believe it to  be  a nervous disorder. A panic attack is infact, very much the result of a physical disturbance in our blood acid base  balance. Human ph is 7.4 and is modulated by  Carbon Dioxide and Calcium.We breath at about 12 breaths per minute.  With each breath we inspire oxygen and expire a waste product, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide plays a pivotal  role in maintaining  a neutral ph. If for some reason, a person increases their respiratory rate to say 25 per minute thares tart  breathing out more carbon dioxide than they should. Over time the blood will become more alkaline. ( the ph will start to rise) To counter this the body will shift calcium from the muscles into the bloodstream. When you shift calcium from the muscle it becomes crampy.
 The person, who is unaware that they are breathing fast, starts to feel pins and needles around their mouth and the tips of their fingers.  Naturally  this is anxiety provoking. The adrenal glands pour out some stress hormones. This  increases the heart rate. Now the individual has palpitations, pins and needles in the finger tips and around the mouth. What do they do? BREATH FASTER, blow off more carbon dioxide, move more calcium from the muscles and so they enter into a spiral of multi- system imbalance. With a racing heart and ever increasing respirations, muscle cramping gets worse. The fingers curl, wrists flex, lips go into spasm. By now the respiration rate is so rapid they are gasping for air.  If you have ever had a cramp while running or sleeping, you know it is painful. Those who suffer panic attacks, say that it feels like they are dying.  Often  patients link the onset of their panic attack with a physical environment. Eg the panic attack happens seemingly "spontaneously" while driving across a bridge. For some, this results in a repeating pattern of panic attacks every time they approach that particular bridge.
It is impossible to imagine, if you expect a proper diagnosis and effective treatment, that the attending physician would not have a clear understanding of the multi system physiological and psychological disturbances leading up to a panic attack: the interaction between the respiratory system, the cardio vascular system, the musculoskeletal system, the endocrine system, the neurological system and how that ties up with blood acid base balance. Everybody knows that for something as traumatic as a panic attack, the treatment is as simple as breathing into a paper bag. Why? Because you are forced to re-breath carbon dioxide captured in the bag. This CO2 is absorbed into the blood stream and rapidly corrects the blood ph. When this happens, symptoms dramatically subside. 
If you are going to manage the land, at least know how nature works.
When I confronted the problems affecting "The Bluff" my first action was to understand how nature works  because the only acceptable interventions had to be environmentally sound.
 Given my background as a medical doctor, the thing I knew before I ever heard of Holistic Management, was that the world works in wholes.
To me, managing grasslands requires a clear understanding of two very important interdependent processes.I know there is a lot more to learn. I have just found that these two concepts form the foundation upon which I have been able to build my knowledge base.
1: The Liquid Carbon Pathway
2: The Cycle of Life.
1:The Liquid Carbon Pathway: CO2 +H2O + Solar Energy = Glucose + O2
2: The Cycle of Life:  Birth,  Growth,  Reproduction, Death  & Decay
1: The Liquid Carbon Pathway:  CO2 +H2O + Solar Energy = Glucose + O2
Through the process of photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is captured from the atmosphere and by adding Hydrogen(from H2O)  is converted to Glucose (C6H12O6) Some of this glucose exudes across the root membrane and feeds fungal spores. These mycorrhizal fungi surround the roots and form a biological bridge which is able to locate and transport minerals to the plants in exchange for carbon.  Carbon that has been sequestered from the atmosphere. This exchange takes place in fungal tubules (hyphae) constructed from a glycoprotein called Glomalin.  
Glomalin is the Hiding Place for a Third of the World's Stored Soil Carbon
Glomalin, which can survive for 40 or 50 years, is incorporated into humus to form soil aggregates.  
2: The Cycle of Life:  Birth,  Growth,  Reproduction, Death  & Decay
Decay is either rapid or slow.
1:  In moist environments, the microbial bridge is intact and decay is a rapid biological process. Rapid decay means rapid breakdown and absorption of dead matter. 
2: In dry conditions, microbes die as does plant life. In the absence of microbial activity, decay is the chemical process of oxidation. Oxidation results in very slow absorption. Dead plants can take years to be absorbed. These dead plants prevent new growth in the space they occupy. If this continues year after year, grasslands,filled with dead, slowly decaying plants, insidiously defoliate and degrade.
The world works in wholes: 
Without sunlight, green leaves and water, there can be no photosynthesis. Without photosynthesis there can be no liquid carbon pathway. Without liquid carbon ( glucose) microbes will not be fed. Without Microbes, there will be no storage of soil carbon. Without microbes,  there will be no rapid  biological decay, thus no clearing of the soil surface to make space for new growth.
 In the absence of microbial life, soils deteriorate and grasslands degrade.
It is my belief that any decision taken that interferes with these natural rejuvenation pathways, must be considered environmentally unsound.  Clearly this brings many of the so called "commercial farming practices" into question. This includes the application of synthetic fertilisers and many herbicides, tilling  ground, growing monocultures to name a few. As I understand it, Holistic Management is a simple, practical, cost effective way of restoring the environment. These interventions drive the four ecosystems which lead to healthy  soils, nutrient dense bio- diverse pastures, healthy animals and ultimately healthy people.
Last word from  Dr Christine Jones PhD: 
"The formation of fertile topsoil can be breathtakingly rapid once the biological dots have been joined and the sequestration/ mineralisation/ humification pathway has been activated.The positive feedback loops render the liquid carbon pathway somewhat akin to perpetual motion. You can almost see new topsoil forming before your eyes."

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Latest comments

29.04 | 03:47

Wow, I lived on the Haye's farmstead for a couple of years, crazy to hear of this fire coming through. Hope I can visit again one day.

15.08 | 11:17

This is all brilliantly documented Paddy - am so totally inspired by how you have transformed Dunblane.

31.07 | 16:36

Hi Peter, exciting indeed. Suggest you contact a Rory O'Leary at BVSC. He is the economic development officer. Big focus on Eden Another

31.07 | 12:48

Sounds exciting! I'd like to discuss how this might fit in with some other opportunities for the Port of Eden.

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