Animal Forage, Biofuels, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier April 18, 2013
This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.
Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) is a common perennial industrial crop, though
typically grown in problematic monocultures. Photo Wikimedia Commons.
Industrial crops produce materials, chemicals, and energy. Some, like cotton, have been used since the dawn of agriculture. Others, like firewood, go back with our species for hundreds of thousands of years. Few of us pause to think where cardboard, rubber, fibers, solvents and biopesticides come from.
Currently much of the materials, chemicals, and energy that support our civilization are synthesized from fossil fuels. To address climate change this needs to end, and we need to learn to do without or use renewable feedstocks (raw materials). Of the biobased renewables used now, GMO corn may be the most frequently used, for example for ethanol and bioplastics. In addition to the social and ecological problems of GMO corn, as an annual crop it contributes to the release of soil carbon into the atmosphere. We must do the opposite, developing perennial and regenerative systems that sequester vast amounts of carbon while meeting human needs.Comments (0)
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Breeds, Food Forests, Insects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Working Animals — by Eric Toensmeier January 24, 2013
Cattle grazing under alder in silvopasture system
at Las Canadas, Huatusco, Mexico
Integrating livestock seems to be the best way to have a larger-scale food forest (anything over one hectare or a couple of acres). If done properly, livestock integration can greatly reduce labor and fossil fuel needs. It can create the conditions for happy and healthy livestock. Done poorly, it can ruin soils and destroy crops. Here are a few things that I’ve been learning as I travel around and view this aspect of permaculture in action (plus some important tidbits from reading).Comments (30)
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Demonstration Sites, Land, Livestock, People Systems, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Steve Hanson December 24, 2012
by Steve Hanson
2012 is our eighth year of small scale farming in France and has seen us move from income dependence to financial security and independence. Looking back over the last eight years at our mistakes and our successes in getting to this point demonstrates the value of an integrated approach.
When we arrived in France we had a single idea to provide us with income; that of breeding pigs and selling high quality organic free range pork and pork products. This worked well for three years but in our fourth year, 2008, a poor global grain harvest sent the price of grain skyward almost doubling the price from our local farmer. This gave us cause to rethink our future dependency on outside sources for anything which the global market could affect — this is of course everything!
So how do we remove ourselves as far from external influences and gain self-reliance at the same time?Comments (14)
Animal Forage, Community Projects, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 19, 2012
Fresh onto the interweb is a project that I had on my own things-to-do list for some time now, but this new site may well have saved me the pain. It’s a great new plant database, with over 7400 plant profiles and the very cool ability to drill-down to suitable plants by ticking off what you’re looking for based on the micro-situation of the spot you want to plant in (sun tolerance, water requirements, pH, soil type, etc.).
Being a wiki site, it’s open for everyone to help improve. And, unlike similar databases I’ve seen, this one is permaculture-oriented. As the name suggests, it is profiling ‘practical plants’ — i.e. plants with a use — as opposed to just edible plants.
Take a look around, and let me know your thoughts via comments below. My first impressions are that it’s an excellent start towards creating an extremely valuable resource.Comments (18)
Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees — by Susan Kwong October 11, 2012
This is the first monthly post for the research project about perennial plants and perennialising annual plants providing food in temperate climate Australia. The original article introducing this project, stating its aims, and providing participant instructions, can be found here. Growers are sending me information on a month by month basis, then this information is collated and published early the following month.Comments (7)
Animal Forage, Bird Life, Demonstration Sites, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Land, Plant Systems, Trees — by Chris McLeod September 14, 2012
Writing the series about Food Forests has made me aware of how much interest there is in them and how they can vary from region to region, but it also highlighted to me just how difficult it may be for people to actually visit a food forest.
However, thanks to the wonders of the internet and YouTube, people have the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a food forest and see how it progresses over time without leaving their chair!Comments (4)
Animal Forage, Compost, Food Forests, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Chris McLeod August 11, 2012
Poo. We all do it. Even the smallest microbes do it. However, when you are connected to a centralised sewerage system, unless it stops working – which is not much fun – you don’t have to think about it much at all. A quick flush and off it goes, somewhere else, to be processed at some distant location, somehow or another. It’s all very mysterious really and for most of us it is someone else’s problem. However, when you are not connected to a centralised sewerage system, it is inevitable that you’ll become more acquainted with the stuff sooner or later.Comments (17)
Animal Forage, Biodiversity, Livestock, Working Animals — by Mariette van den Berg July 18, 2012
Browsing (feeding on vegetation other than grasses) may be an important aspect of the equine diet that is often overlooked, yet it may play an important role in the digestive health and the natural behaviour of horses. Scientists at the University of New England (NSW, Australia) are embarking on a research project to improve our understanding of an area of equine nutrition that is largely unknown.Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Commercial Farm Projects, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Land, Livestock, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Joel Dunn June 30, 2012
Harvesting oats as green native perennial pasture
grows up between the cereal rows (Seis, 2006)
Pasture cropping is a farmer-initiated land management system that seamlessly integrates cropping with pasture production, and allows grain growing to function as part of a truly perennial agriculture. Annual winter growing (C3) cereal crops are direct drilled into living summer growing (C4) perennial pasture grasses as the pasture sward enters the dormant phase of its growth cycle, allowing year-round growth and eliminating fallow and bare ground. This cereal production for grain and fodder is integrated with an intensive time controlled grazing system. There are important sustainability benefits of maintaining more perennial plants across agricultural landscapes, and the low input costs and flexible nature of the system make it attractive to producers.
Pasture cropping has already captured the imagination of the permaculture community because of its potential to make grain cropping compatible with permanent, regenerative agriculture. This review provides an in depth discussion of the development of pasture cropping systems in the NSW Central West, techniques and strategies of the system, environmental and economic factors, the dissemination of the technology around the Australian cereal-livestock zone, and potential future development and adoption.Comments (9)
Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Trees — by Chris McLeod May 4, 2012
Local legend around here has it that at some point in the past a guy by the colourful name of the “bush bandit” removed most of the topsoil from the land hereabouts and sold it off to householders in Melbourne for their gardens and lawns. Whether this story is true or not, I can only state for the record that when I purchased the block it had virtually no topsoil. The land had a hard baked clay pan with the strength of structural concrete where water would run off during heavy storms and any organic matter that did collect on top of that clay wouldn’t break down for years.Comments (34)
Animal Forage, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Peter Myers April 5, 2012
You might have seen the cotton growing out west — around St George, Gundiwindi and Dirranbandi in Queensland, Australia, and Moree and Narrabri in NSW.
It’s an annual crop — sown in the spring and harvested in the autumn — grown in flat plains country. The blocks are levelled by laser-guided machinery. However, they’re not quite level: there’s a slight slope from one end of the block to another, which allows flood irrigation.
Huge dams, in a country subject to long droughts, supply irrigation water. But these dams themselves take water from the rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin.Comments (5)
Animal Forage, Biological Cleaning, Land, Plant Systems, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Mark Feineigle March 22, 2012
Effluent processing all over the world requires large amounts of energy and/or chemicals to treat the waste water, or the waste water is improperly filtered before being returned to the environment. There are a number of solutions to lessen the waste water load while at the same time producing a net benefit. Systems that include the collection of urine to be used as fertilizer and methane digesters that create fuel from feces [see 'Biogas' section at bottom of the just-linked article] are a couple of such solutions. Another solution — constructed wetland filtration systems for homes, communities, and industrial sectors — are efficient in both processing ability and energy requirements.
These artificial wetlands provide a near zero energy input way to treat local effluent with no negative side effects. The process is free of both chemicals and odours, provides habitat for wildlife, increases the diversity and aesthetics of any site, and, depending on the toxicity of the inflowing effluent, can potentially create a yield, such as fodder for livestock.Comments (2)
Animal Forage, Biodiversity, Biofuels, Deforestation, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting — by Eric Toensmeier March 1, 2012
Trees are one of our most powerful tools to pull carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in the soil for long-term storage. This is why reforestation and protecting intact forests are such important parts of plans to address climate change. Conventional climate change science tells us that the planet’s capacity for reforestation is limited, however, by the need to preserve land for agriculture.
But movements like agroforestry and permaculture show us that farming and trees are not mutually exclusive. From tree crops to contour strips of nitrogen fixing trees between bands of annual crops, there is a wealth of techniques that can give us the best of both worlds. These techniques, should a global effort get behind their implementation on a large scale, could have a major impact on climate change. They would also have numerous other benefits to the planet and its people.
A century ago, writer-farmers like J. Russell Smith coined the term “permanent agriculture” to describe food forestry and other farming practices that combated a key issue of their day — erosion and degradation of farmland. From Smith and his compatriots we in permaculture have taken the name of our movement, though our movement has grown to encompass much more than food forestry. Today these visionary ideas are more essential than ever, to address an environmental crisis on a scale Smith and his contemporaries could not have imagined.Comments (4)
Animal Forage, Animal Housing, Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Dams, Earth Banks, Fencing, Irrigation, Land, Livestock, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Water Harvesting — by Ben Falloon February 28, 2012
How To Move Your Farm Animals
Taranaki Farm shows you how to move a herd of cows, a flock of laying hens, some sheep and a stowaway frog in only 20 minutes… and in the process, heal farmland and local community.
Autumn Rain & Keyline Earthworks
Pairing Keyline Design farm layout to Polyface Farming methods makes Taranaki Farm genuinely unique in the world of sustainable/regenerative agriculture. Now with ten interlinked keyline dams and catchment road, drains and irrigation features, Taranaki Farm continues its investment in keyline design as a strategy for dryland water management which supports direct marketed, salad bar beef, pigerator pork and pastured chicken and egg enterprises.Comments (1)
Animal Forage, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Seeds, Trees — by Eric Toensmeier February 25, 2012
This article reviews perennial staple crops, a little-known group of species with tremendous potential to address world problems.
Ricardo Romero of Las Cañadas in perennial staple food forest featuring
peach palm, macadamia, air potato, banana, and perennial beans.
Perennial Staple Crops are basic foodstuffs that grow on perennial plants. These plant sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fats can be harvested non-destructively – that is, harvest does not kill the plant or prevent future harvests. This group of crops includes grains, pulses (dry beans), nuts, dry pods, starchy fruits, oilseeds, high-protein leaves, and some more exotic products like starch-filled trunks, sugary palm saps, and aerial tubers.
These trees, palms, grasses, and other long-lived crops offer the unique possibility of crops grown for basic human food that can simultaneously sequester carbon, stabilize slopes, and build soils as part of no-till perennial agricultural systems. Such production models seem the most likely of all regenerative farming practices to approach the carbon sequestering capacity of natural forest, because they can mimic the structure of a forest most closely.Comments (22)