In Portugal, a demonstration was organised at the H. da Lobeira farm, in Montemor-o-Novo, who is implementing a holistic management on their farm.
Key points:

  • Understand the concept “Holistic Management”.
  • Get to know a farm that has been using this system in its management for 8 years.
  • Understand what is needed on a farm to implement this system.
  • Identify the associated costs that are necessary in its implementation (electric fences and water points for livestock).
  • Understand how to program grazing and get to know the day-to-day life on a farm that uses this system.
  • See how an electric fence works.

The benefits of implementing a holistic management on their farm are: a reduction in costs, restoring young cork oaks, improving soil health and fertility, and greater quantity and better quality of pasture.
However, installing new fences to achieve a greater number of smaller paddocks might be an obstacle. The fences imply a higher or lower investment depending on the size of the farm. Using electric fences is a good option because they are cheaper and easier to install. A second point of attention is the need to properly schedule the division into paddocks because the herd has to have access to drinking water wherever they are. This may be the biggest bottleneck because it needs a bigger investment. 

Implementing new fences and drinking points may come with a cost. However, a better pasture management results in reduced supplementation costs for the herd. This supplementation can be up to four months per year. 

The farmer would would definitely recommend this innovation to another farmer. For the reasons already identified, the use of holistic management brings benefits with regard to productive efficiency and environmental sustainability. In relation to the environment, holistic management has a positive impact on biodiversity and also in what concerns the balance of greenhouse gas emissions of the farm.

This demonstration is linked to the research innovations 'Holistic management and C sequestration' and 'Holistic management: A new grazing concept'.