Reference Review: Holistic Management by Allan Savory

Savory, Allan, and T. H. Jody. Holistic management: a commonsense revolution to restore our environment. Island Press, 2016. 552p bibl index ISBN 161091743X, $35.00

In his book Holistic Management: A Commonsense Revolution to Restore Our Environment Savory, the leading expert in the field, explains his systems-thinking approach to agricultural practices, which has been shown to improve soil health and increase crop production while reducing the use of unnatural chemicals and pesticides. He shares how viewing the environment, humans, and our economy as integral parts, and then implementing concrete strategies such as incorporating cover crops and diversifying livestock can improve the soil and reduce the need for herbicides.The scope of the book is intended for ranchers wanting to want to improve their soil health, educators who can help spread the knowledge, as well as businessmen/women and students who would all benefit from the holistic perspective and approach.  The information is extremely useful for undergraduate students studying in a variety of subject areas from agriculture and conservation biology to business. The text is well written and easy to understand, while explaining complex, integrated issues that show the importance of thinking beyond answering just one question at a time, but instead looking at the entire picture together. Savory promotes improving the overall health of our environment which can sometimes be taken as promoting a political agenda, but the author does a good job of remaining unbiased and presenting facts and evidence to support his findings. Finally, Savory challenges readers to think differently, which helps people grow intellectually. While other texts touch on similar topics such as Cows Save the Planet and Sustainable Management of Soil Organic Matter, Savory developed a specific framework and method for approaching problem solving and making decisions. His work remains current as he has published multiple editions, as well as a corresponding handbook for ranchers wanting to employ his method. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Undergraduate students through faculty. — J. L. Frank, Montana State University Bozeman


  1. Judith D. Schwartz, Cows save the planet: and other improbable ways of restoring soil to heal the earth (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013).
  2. Rees, Ball, Watson, and C. Campbell, Sustainable management of soil organic matter (CABI, 2000).


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