Conservation, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 25, 2010
Gabions are one of the crucial feature elements of dry land landscape water harvesting design. A gabion is a leaky rock dam wall built in a wadi, valley canyon or water flow, at a point where there would be a reasonable amount of water caught if there was a dam wall in the same position, but the gabion instead leaks through the rocks, slowly releasing a steady flow of water and retained moisture over time. As the water is slowed down by a gabion, it drops its sediments, organic materials, behind the rock wall. Desert catchments are often large and feature very infrequent rainfall events, and are an actively eroding landscape that is continually being blown away, with sediments either eroded or deposited by the wind if there are wind traps like desert tree systems and forests, but also by water flows which are usually strong and can carry large amounts of organic material and sediments away with them.Comments (9)
Compost, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor November 21, 2010
We’ve been having a pretty lively discussion on biochar in a recent post. One of the commenters, Rhamis Kent, found the video below which I thought I’d put up for all to consider.
In it the Woods End Laboratories people question whether biomass should be turned into biologically inactive biochar, when it could instead be turned into biologically active compost — particularly when many find it necessary to pre-soak biochar in urine, compost or manure anyway, so as to reduce its yield-stunting effects (like binding nutrients so plants can’t use them, and the high pH of biochar).
My thoughts on the issue are to trial it at home by all means, and let us know about your well-documented results, but I’d hate to see people supporting large scale, energy intensive, profit-centric implementations of this.
Conservation, Earth Banks, Irrigation, Land, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Swales, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Geoff Lawton November 13, 2010
Permaculture is a connecting system between disciplines and elements in a matrix of design, and swales are a mainframe element. The efficiency of swales is that they can interrupt water surface flow high in a landscape where it is then infiltrated relatively quickly, on contour, and moves incredibly slowly through the landscape soil and subsoil profiles. This becomes a great advantage to the potential productivity of any property, especially a property that is designed to be diverse and interactive with many ecosystem elements. When you design a property this way, a mainframe approach as a consultant designer is:Comments (2)
Compost, DVDs/Books, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Ecofilms November 12, 2010
Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Soils DVD is now shipping. A special thanks go out to all the people that pre-ordered this disk and waited patiently for their DVD to arrive. If you haven’t received them already, your DVDs are now in the mail and will arrive very shortly.
We had a few issues with transport delays which were outside our control but supplies are now all fixed and flowing normally.
The DVD starts with a short introduction to modern industrial chemical fertilisers (NPK) and how monoculture has destroyed the bio-diversity of many living soils.
Geoff seeks to redress this problem through adopting Permaculture management systems, showing you a number of techniques you can use to redress this imbalance.
With probably the most comprehensive instruction on compost creation, using animation and various manures and inoculums, Geoff spends the first 30 minutes explaining the composting process and shows you ways to reintroduce rich bio-diverse organisms back into your soil that feed the plants and actively help build soil. Whether you want to favour tree plantations like food forest systems or green leafy vegetable crops, Geoff will show ways to create the right kind of compost.
Part two of the DVD focuses on building a Permaculture Kitchen garden using small animal systems like worms, ducks and chickens to return nutrients back to the soil.
Part three takes us into broader pasture management techniques from using cattle and chickens together, cell grazing techniques and re-mineralization strategies for pasture management.
The DVD also explains ways to turbo charge larger main crop gardens using biological compost teas. Every step is explained in Geoff’s unique hands-on approach, right in the field.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Commercial Farm Projects, Community Projects, Compost, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland November 8, 2010
At Strawberry Fields Eco-Lodge (SFEL) we use a fast hot composting system that can deliver well decomposed compost within 3 weeks. It was developed based on the technique we we’re taught by Dan Palmer when he co-facilitated two PDCs with us in 2008 along with Rosemary Morrow.
Hot composting is an aerobic process of fast oxidation which breaks raw organic materials into humus at temperatures of up to 80°C within three weeks. It is performed by a particular type of bacteria, that you can recognise as a white crust which starts to appear on the materials within the steaming interior heap once you really have the process working. I am not really up on the exact biological details of the bacteria, whether it is just one species or there are a range of species which can do the job, but once you have it working you have to maintain it, a bit like a culture of yoghurt, to get the best results. Like any living organism the bacteria has an ecological niche, that is to say a specific range of conditions in which it can live and within which it can thrive, so we have to maintain those as best we can if we want the organism to do this job of producing compost for us as best it can.Comments (5)
Biological Cleaning, Compost, Conservation, Potable Water, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Storm Water, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute November 4, 2010
by Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once noted that "civilized people ought to know how to dispose of the sewage in some other way than putting it into the drinking water."
The one-time use of water to disperse human and industrial wastes is an outmoded practice, made obsolete by new technologies and water shortages. Yet it is still common around much of the world. Water enters a city, becomes contaminated with human and industrial wastes, and leaves the city dangerously polluted. Toxic industrial wastes discharged into rivers and lakes or into wells also permeate aquifers, making water—both surface and underground—unsafe for drinking.Comments (3)
Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor October 30, 2010
Carbon deficient soil at left, carbon rich soil at right.
It’s not difficult, but it could make all the difference.
If I were to compare industrial, monocrop agriculture with permaculture or organic biological agricultural methodologies, and then boil my observations down to their base differences, I would describe them thus:
- Industrial agriculture focusses on feeding the plant
- Permaculture and organic biological agriculture focus on feeding the soil
Biological Cleaning, Compost, Courses/Workshops, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Andrew Jones October 29, 2010
The dry tropics cover a significant land area of the planet, particularly around the regions of the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Characterized by a majority of the year when evaporation potential is greater than rainfall, they also support rapid biomass growth during and following the rainy season. Legume species normally form a significant portion of the species present, and provide for rapid biomass production.
Management of this biomass can be tricky, particularly when left above ground in dry mulch piles, as it normally stays dry, inhibiting both fungal and bacterial breakdown. On the flip side, dry tropics soils, whether sandy or clay-based are in need of organic matter to balance structure, enhance water retention or drainage and build humus. One approach for creating such conditions are mulch pit gardens.
Papaya, banana, and coconut circles are developed by digging pits up to two meters in diameter (for papaya or banana – up to three meters for coconuts) and about 1 meter deep. These are then filled with dampened, compacted organic material to a height of 1 meter above ground. Up to seven plants of the appropriate type are then planted in the rim of the pit. Taro or other moisture loving plants may be planted on the inside edge, and sweet potato along the outside edge to provide a living mulch as well as extra production.
Double mulch pit greywater system being developed at Baja BioSana, Baja
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Roads, Soil Conservation, Storm Water, Terraces, Water Harvesting — by Alex McCausland October 8, 2010
One of the biggest challenges of doing Permaculture in a semi-arid place like Konso is the drought-flood hydrology besets in degraded dry-lands. The whole of south Ethiopia has now been so deforested, added to the fact that the global climate is getting completely messed up, that rainfall is now completely unpredictable. The old folks are always talking about it here – “you can’t tell when it will rain any-more, it’s not like the old days….” That makes planning plantings much harder for one thing. The other thing is that when it does rain, it pours.
Our site at Strawberry Fields is placed (purposefully) at the bottom of a watershed and at the junction of this watershed and a larger watershed which carries run-off down the main road from the town.
Rough Topographic sketch of the site at SFEL. Shows approximate
positions of the 3 ridges (R1,R2, R3 and 3 primary gulleys G1, G2 and G3
as well as the Main Gulley on as well as the 2 main flows of run-off
effecting the site.
Animal Forage, Land, Livestock, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor October 7, 2010
Allan Savory has an interesting background. Amongst his experiences, he is also a biologist. I think this will have served him well as he sought to address desertification in his native Zimbabwe.
While many call for less livestock, and for good reason, Allan blames their detrimental impact on management (or lack of, as the case may be), rather than absolute numbers. Allan’s Holistic Management techniques instead use dense livestock herds to increase fertility and biomass (and thus soil carbon) and to increase human prosperity.Comments (11)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Global Warming/Climate Change, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor October 1, 2010
Remember the A Call to Large Scale Earth Healing and Lessons from the Loess Plateau post? It was an uber-encouraging look into one of the world’s largest, fastest and most successful earth healing implementations I’ve ever seen. Via the video below (more watchable than the one shared in the previous article) you can take another look, and also learn about similar projects happening in Ethiopia and Rwanda.
To watch a lower-bandwidth version of the film, de-select the “HD” button on right-hand side of the playbar.Comments (8)
Biological Cleaning, Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Gabions, Land, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Nick Huggins September 28, 2010
Story by Nick Huggins.
Video by Patrick Blampied.
For the past month I have been in and out of airports and driving from one end of the Australian continent consulting and talking Permaculture, and one topic that is of great interest to me – the repair of the Australian Landscape.Comments (22)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Irrigation, Land, Rehabilitation, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Alex McCausland September 23, 2010
Prior to July 2010 we had been over-using water at Strawberry Fields. This disturbed me for a number of reasons. One was that it was a poor example to the local community who do not have a limitless water supply to spray all over the place. The second was the huge water bills we were receiving. The third was the un-sustainability of using huge amounts of ground-water in a semi-arid area. As project director I had not been in charge of operations on the ground, and I was not able to attack this issue myself, other than by trying to encourage the focusing of the zone 1 irrigated beds into as small an area as possible, with limited success. In July I took over the running of the Permaculture project on the ground and the first thing I did was to begin installing the drip system I had been dreaming of for almost 2 years.Comments (4)
Compost, DVDs/Books, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Ecofilms September 6, 2010
Geoff Lawton and Frank Gapinski
I just came back from filming all the links to Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Soils DVD over the weekend. It’s a wrap – finally – with all principal photography completed and now it’s just a matter of finishing off the edit. Squeezing it all down to 90 minutes will be difficult as there’s heaps of good Permaculture information in this DVD. From Compost Teas, Kitchen Gardens to Ripping the Soil, working with cows, ducks, chickens and worms – and in the middle of it all, Geoff’s 18 day Compost formula – Geoff was in top form. Despite not drinking any water all day and being exhausted from nursing a cow the previous evening that was expecting to calf at any moment, Geoff was able to stay awake, stay focused and deliver on queue.Comments (8)
Animal Forage, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Rhamis Kent August 31, 2010
Editor’s note: Red clover is a useful leguminous green manure. Growing taller than
other clovers, it can be easily cut down with a scythe or other when it starts to
flower, so that it doesn’t scatter seed where you don’t want it.
You can never have enough information about Earth Repair/Ecosystem Restoration tools, techniques, and strategies. As most of you know, a couple among the many in use are green manuring and cover cropping.
Over the past year of my really digging into this topic I’ve come across a number of useful links to downloadable PDFs that allow for easy access and use.Comments (9)