In part 6, we learn about questions to ask to test our management decisions against the holistic goal defined in part 3. This ensures that every action takes us closer to achieving our goal. The test are:
- Cause and effect - does this action address the root cause of the problem?
- Weak link - does this action strengthen (or attack) the weakest link in a process or life-cycle?
- Marginal reaction - which action provides the greatest return, in terms of your holistic goal, for the time and money spent?
- Gross profit analysis - which enterprises contribute the most to covering the overheads of the business?
- Sources of energy and money - is the energy or money to be used in this action derived from the most appropriate source in terms of your holistic goal?
- Sustainability - if you take this action, will it lead toward or away from the future resource based described in your holistic goal?
- Society and culture - how do you feel about this action? Will it improve your quality of life without adversely affecting others?
- Is the proposed use of money/energy providing infrastructure that will assist in reaching your holistic goal? - including knowledge/skills, buildings, roads, dams, machinery. Delay purchase of infrastructure until it is really needed, otherwise it just contributes to your overheads without contributing to profit.
- Is the proposed use of money/energy merely consumptive, with no lasting effect? - Many farm expenses are consumptive, including tractor fuel and services such as accounting. Check that this consumption moves you closer to your holistic goal.
- Is the proposed use of money/energy cyclical in that once initiated, it would not require more money, or the purchase of more energy? - Effectively this is an ongoing savings, for example by replacing a petrol pump with a solar pump, you need to consider the fuel savings in some of the other tests, and in this test you would favour a cyclic use if it also moved you towards your holistic goal.
- Is the proposed use of money/energy addictive in that once initiated, you risk an undesirable dependence on further inputs of energy of money? - Obviously addictive or ongoing spending commitments should be avoided. For example, once a farmer starts using fertilisers, especially those that are highly acidic, the microbial life in the soil is compromised. Each year more fertiliser (and more money) is required to get the same result and each year it is more difficult to rebuild what has been lost.
Joel Salatin's books
Peter Andrew's books on Natural Sequence Farming