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Who's afraid of Allan Savory? Scientometric polarization on Holistic Management as competing understandings

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 June 2017

Kate Sherren*
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada.
Carlisle Kent
School for Resource and Environmental Studies, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, B3H 4R2, Canada. Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Downsview, ON, M3N 1S4, Canada.
*Corresponding author:


How to graze livestock sustainably is an important and complex question. The debate between rotational and continuous grazing has been ongoing since the 1950s, yet evidence is perennially mixed. We used scientometrics to understand the structure of science on Holistic Management (HM), the most contentious of these adaptive practices. We used papers in Web of Science since 1980 citing the work of HM's ‘father’, Allan Savory, as a way of delineating a field that is otherwise chaotic with terminology. Results show an increasingly diverse use of Savory's work geographically and in terms of subject areas. Taking a positive position on HM seems most likely for those doing farm-scale (rather than experimental) work in dry climates. Bibliographic factions align with the various disciplines working on grazing research and also their expressed opinion on HM practices. Factions represent disciplinary strength, suggesting barriers for integrative work but also the need for the resolution of competing understandings in specific contexts with diverse participants to inform grazing decisions.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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