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Goats can replace herbicide use in right of ways (roads, power lines, etc.). Herbicides break natural carbon sequestration cycles.



Continually moving flocks of herbivores fix carbon in the soil by sustaining natural carbon cycles. The current approach taken by controlling agencies (government, etc.) is to use herbicides which poison the environment and sever links in the carbon fixation cycle. For example, glyphosate is extremely toxic to soil life. Goats are highly effective weed controllers. Flocks of goats can range along right of ways, each tended by one goatherd and one dog, eating the weeds. This will regenerate the soil along right of ways, reduce use of harmful chemicals, provide local jobs, and natural products (e.g. goat cheese) for the local economy.

What actions do you propose?

Design a program for right of way weed control with herbivores (goats). Program would be pitched to government agencies and academic departments. Program would also be presented to climate change organizations and political organizations who support local economy solutions, such as farmer's market organizations, locavore organizations, etc.

One component of the programs would be feasibility demonstration. Another would be political change assessment. This would be a study of how corporate influence is entrenched in government and academia, what resistence is to be expected from such influence, and how best to respond to this. A third component would be integrated benefit analysis. This means that the benefits would be full-spectrum (carbon sequestration, soil health, human health, economic health, etc.) and demonstration of benefits should be a cornerstone of program promotion. A fourth component would be theoretical. This program represents an application of holistic management, and theory associated with holistic management can be applied and also extended based on experiences of this program.

Who will take these actions?

Graduate students involved in climate health, sustainable economics, land management and agriculture could develop concrete proposals. Proposals would be presented to academic entities, which would provide the staging for government actions.

Where will these actions be taken?

Any right of ways where herbicides are currently used for weed control.

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

Based on 10 million miles of road in the US and 30 foot right of way and 20 tons per acre this would reduce emissions by 3/4 Gigaton for road right of ways. Actions could also be taken for powerline and pipeline right of ways. For 20 ton per acre figure see holistic management theory.

What are other key benefits?

Integrated benefits to local economy.

Goat products (cheese, meat). 

Knowledge of and experience with non poison based plant management.

Reduced levels of health effects (cancer, allergies, etc.)

Improved soil health.

Improved environment for key species and threatened species. Ecosystem diversity.

Savings from elimination of purchases of poison and poison delivery services.

Goats eat litter, so budgets for litter control could be reduced/repurposed.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Salaries of goatherds, veterinarians and program managers. 

One possible cost is risk to workers and animals from traffic. This type of risk is well known in the sense that highway agencies have had to deal with it for some time in a variety of other contexts, and so pre-existing solutions can be applied (risk analysis, restriction to low-risk locations, etc.). In addition, non-road right of ways (power line, pipeline) do not present this risk and so provide opportunities where this issue does not apply.

Another cost is danger to the health of the goats from consuming roadside material, and to both humans and animals from vehicle emissions. People who manage the program would have to assess this and set up a system of restrictions to ensure health and healthy products. For example, there are many miles of rural highways where emissions are very limited, and pollution limited to road salt and previously used herbicides. Also, power line right of ways would not present this problem. Managers would have to assess feasibility of right of ways and which uses could be supported for a given area.

Time line

One winter season to set up pilot programs in selected areas.

One summer season to run pilot programs.

One winter season to evaluate results of pilot programs and study expansion to production scale.

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