Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Conservation, Consumerism, Dams, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Gabions, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, Plant Systems, Population, Regional Water Cycle, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Swales, Terraces, Trees, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 6, 2010
The world is coming unglued. The world burns. What are we going to do about it?
Map of fires in Russia
As I type, half of Russia is on fire after its hottest summer on record, Pakistan is dealing with the biggest floods in living memory and Australia is still in the clutches of a decade long drought. The last decade, worldwide, was the hottest since records began, and 2010 may break the records of 1998 and 2005 to become the hottest year we’ve ever known. We could spend weeks just examining the extreme weather events going on on a country by country basis.Comments (14)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Development & Property Trusts, Economics, Ethical Investment, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Population, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Village Development, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent August 5, 2010
Over the past couple of years, there has been quite a bit of attention paid to the purchase of massive amounts of agricultural land by rich countries and corporate entities in the developing world. Craig Mackintosh wrote about this on this site, as have many other very informative reports and press stories.
To summarize, there has been approximately US$100 Billion mobilized to purchase somewhere between 40 – 50 million hectares (roughly 100 – 125 million acres) of agricultural land worldwide.Comments (6)
Compost, Conservation, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Melissa Miles August 3, 2010
Wooden debris will decompose faster,
(and be transformed into a resource)
when hugelkultur techniques are
Used for centuries in Eastern Europe and Germany, hugelkultur (in German hugelkultur translates roughly as “mound culture”) is a gardening and farming technique whereby woody debris (fallen branches and/or logs) are used as a resource.
Often employed in permaculture systems, hugelkultur allows gardeners and farmers to mimic the nutrient cycling found in a natural woodland to realize several benefits. Woody debris (and other detritus) that falls to the forest floor can readily become sponge like, soaking up rainfall and releasing it slowly into the surrounding soil, thus making this moisture available to nearby plants.
Hugelkultur garden beds (and hugelkultur ditches and swales) using the same principle to:Comments (35)
Compost, Economics, Fungi, News, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 27, 2010
How many times must we ‘discover’ something we’ve discovered before – particularly when our lives and our futures depend on reacting appropriately, and shaping society, to incorporate the lessons learned?
One of the most transformative experiences in my life was from studying soil science many years ago. Getting something of an understanding of the inner workings of that thin skin which covers our earth created thought-connections in my mind that had me looking at the world in a profoundly new way.Comments (11)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Developments, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Land, News, Nurseries & Propogation, People Systems, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Salination, Society, Soil Conservation, Trees, Urban Projects, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 23, 2010
This video can be downloaded in high resolution from Vimeo (see ‘About this video’ section on lower right side’).
I hope you’ll enjoy this clip on the Jawaseri School Garden Project. More, I hope it encourages you to dare to be different, and dare to have your work noticed. The garden we profile in the video above, as you’ll discover after watching it, has just won a national competition held by the Jordanian Department of Education – for schools who incorporate environmental projects into their curriculum. This means that thousands of schools, in what is arguably the most water-stressed country on the planet, now have the possibility to learn from this humble example of permaculture in action – and get inspired to do similar.
Special thanks to Lesley Byrne for her enthusiastic support, and to Nadia Lawton for her vision and determination to help her own people – and in so doing setting such an excellent example for us all.
Biodiversity, Compost, Conservation, Economics, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Food Shortages, Fungi, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Water Harvesting, peak oil — by Christine Jones PhD July 22, 2010
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Darren Doherty of ReGenAg for sourcing and getting permission to run this.
The number of farmers in Australia has fallen 30 per cent in the last 20 years, with more than 10,000 farming families leaving the agricultural sector in the last five years alone. This decline is ongoing. There is also a reluctance on the part of young people to return to the land, indicative of the poor image and low income-earning potential of current farming practices.
Agricultural debt in Australia has increased from just over $10 billion in 1994 to close to $60 billion in 2009 (Fig.1). The increased debt is not linked to interest rates, which have generally declined over the same period (Burgess 2010).
Fig. 1. Increase in agricultural debt (AUD millions)
1994-2009 vs interest rates (%pa)
The financial viability of the agricultural sector, as well as the health and social wellbeing of individuals, families and businesses in both rural and urban communities, is inexorably linked to the functioning of the land.
There is widespread agreement that the integrity and function of soils, vegetation and waterways in many parts of the Australian landscape have become seriously impaired, resulting in reduced resilience in the face of increasingly challenging climate variability.
Agriculture is the sector most strongly impacted by these changes. It is also the sector with the greatest potential for fundamental redesign.Comments (12)
Terry McCosker Joins the Dots on the Challenges and Solutions of Food Production, Landscape Health and Human Health
Conferences, Conservation, Food Shortages, Plant Systems, Podcasts, Population, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor July 20, 2010
I’d never heard of Terry McCosker of Resource Consulting Services before, but here he is giving an excellent talk to ABC Rural’s Bush Telegraph Radio on the need to go ‘back to the future’ in our agricultural systems as our populations balloon in combination with disturbing land resource declines. Terry talks about how cheap fossil fuels have been used for soil mining, and that current and upcoming energy/soil/water constraints will force us back to where we need to go to solve our food production challenges, with the effect that this can also solve our environmental and human health problems. Terry also refers to David Montgomery’s excellent Dirt – the Erosion of Civilizations book, talks about peak phosphorus, compost, compost teas, the need to ‘fire up the biology’ in our soils to harness the inherent energy found in natural systems – thus replacing the artificial ‘propping up’ of those systems with fossil fuel energy, and in doing so increasing plant health to further reduce/remove the need for chemical inputs.
The podcast is well worth a listen. Click play below:Terry McCosker Joins the Dots on the Challenges and Solutions of Food Production, Landscape Health and Human Health
I love to see people joining the dots like this!
Should you be in the area, Terry and others will be speaking at a three-day conference in Brisbane, titled ‘Farmers – Heroes of our Future‘ from July 20-22. You can view the conference program here. Given it’s July 20th as I type, it may be too late to register and go along, but if you’re in the Brisbane area I’ll leave you to make your own enquiries if you’re interested. Sounds like it’d be a great event to attend.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Irrigation, Plant Systems, Soil Conservation, Waste Water, Water Harvesting — by Darren Bell July 8, 2010
It’s 2am. I’m sitting on a nice toilet in a nice hotel room in a nice little town in Africa. But I don’t feel very nice. Three weeks ago I arrived in the town of Musoma on the eastern shore of lake Victoria, Tanzania. It’s my second time here. It’s unusual to return to an old permaculture posting so it felt both strange and comforting to visit old friends. They had assumed I would return again as to them I was family and family never leaves for long. But I am mzungu, white man. And in the West, we never stay for long. But I had not been sick then.
I contracted diarrhea two days after arriving. Not crippling, but enough to make my trips to town short, consciously timed ones. Not bad enough to panic. Perhaps that is why three weeks later I’m sitting on the toilet once again at 2am in the morning. Only this time it’s a little more serious. I contracted malaria two days ago and had moved from the delirious, early stage effects of high fever to feeling just plain horrible. On top of that, I had unknowingly overdosed on a western folk remedy and have been violently vomiting for the past eight hours. My one small cause for relief was a by product of my tiny bathroom. I could release my bowels and vomit into the hand basin at exactly the same time. This I had adeptly managed several times this past evening although I over shot the bowl the first time. Must remember to tip the cleaning lady extra in the morning.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Compost, Conservation, Fungi, Global Warming/Climate Change, Health & Disease, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 24, 2010
Measuring Soil Carbon Change
As we all (should) know well, land use changes over the last several centuries have significantly increased atmospheric CO2 levels. Soil mismanagement, which has increased in tandem with our burgeoning human population, has released mammoth amounts of carbon from the soil, where it is a positive, into the atmosphere, where it becomes, in its present excessive levels, a negative instead. Correct soil management, in contrast, can play a significant role in reversing that trend by pulling excess atmospheric CO2 out of the sky, through photosynthesis, and returning it to the soil in humus, the stable, final state of decomposition of organic matter – thus transforming excess CO2 from being a pollutant into a rich habitat for the micro- and macro-organisms that are the foundation of all life on this planet. Permaculture, through its favouring small scale, low-to-no till polycultures, and where the soil is always protected by a ’skin’ of plant or mulch cover, and maintained by appropriate naturally harvested moisture levels, is a powerful system for restoring the Gaia state of carbon balance.Comments (3)
Compost, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Rob Avis June 17, 2010
by Rob Avis
What is the difference between soil and dirt?
Soil is alive. Dirt is dead. A single teaspoon of soil can contain billions of microscopic bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes. A handful of the same soil will contain numerous earthworms, arthropods, and other visible crawling creatures. Healthy soil is a complex community of life and actually supports the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet.
Modern soil science is demonstrating that these billions of living organisms are continuously at work, creating soil structure, producing nutrients and building defence systems against disease. In fact, it has been shown that the health of the soil community is key to the health of our plants, our food and our bodies.
Why is it then, that much of the food from the conventional agricultural system is grown in dirt? The plants grown in this lifeless soil are dependent on fertilizer and biocide inputs, chemicals which further destroy water quality, soil health and nutritional content.
How did we get here? How do we turn this around? This is the Story of Soil….Comments (18)
Compost, DVDs/Books, Fungi, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor June 9, 2010
It’s a wonderful thing to behold when permaculture passion and top-notch multimedia skills intersect in world-changing ways. Frank and Jane Gapinski of Ecofilms have spent countless hours working up highly educational and highly watchable productions for the PRI for a few years now. It all began with the initial Greening the Desert clip that took the world by storm; then followed the Water Harvesting DVD, the Food Forest DVD, and very recently the Introduction to Permaculture Design DVD. The incredible uptake of these films is living, encouraging proof that there is a new generation emerging who understand what needs to be done, and want to know how to do it!
But wait, there’s more! We’re now awaiting the soon-to-be-released Permaculture Soils DVD! This DVD gets to the very heart of what’s needed for a permanent culture, examining that magical muck that is the foundation of all the aforementioned productions. This work shares insights from Geoff Lawton’s two and a half decade’s worth of worldwide experience in soil creation – an experience gained in some of the world’s most inhospitable environments – helping to make the impossibly complex come to life in wondrously understandable ways. I personally think that holistic studies in soil science should be compulsory, foundational elements for every school syllabus – and that if they had been we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today – and we hope this DVD will go some distance in making up for this major shortfall in mainstream education.
Check out the trailer, and then stay tuned for future updates on release.
The soil is the great connector of our lives, the source and destination of all. – Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America, 1977
Compost, Courses/Workshops, Food Shortages, Fungi, Podcasts, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Patrick Blampied May 27, 2010
When you put the Permaculture lens on and look at where our food comes from there are hundreds of dead canaries trying to warn us it’s time to wake up and make a change to something better.
As I look closer I realise the industrial food system is a planet destroying system that deprives people of health and well-being, putting more value on short-term profits and perfect looks than nutrient content and building resilient communities that have sustainable access to food. Not only that but it appears to be edging towards collapse as failing unproductive farms are propped up by more and more chemicals and machines that run on not-so-cheap-anymore oil.
So just as it was all looking a little bleak I was lucky enough to speak with Paul Taylor from Trust Nature. He is a true genius when it comes to understanding soil biology and restoring land back to fertility.Comments (5)
Back to the Future: Terra Preta – Ancient Carbon Farming System for Earth Healing in the 21st Century
Courses/Workshops, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination — by Planet People Passion May 25, 2010
Terra Preta, meaning "Black Earth" in Portuguese, is a soil building technique developed by ancient Amazonian civilizations at least 7000 years ago as a solution to permanently solve the problems of poor tropical soil fertility. Large deposits of this black earth are still found today with depths of up to 2 meters. The first deposits where discovered in 1870, but it has only been in the last 10 years that significant interest and study have been initiated.
This soil is attributed to the complex civilizations that reportedly once thrived in the Amazon. Prior to the onset of diseases brought on by the western settlers, this expansive web of communities is estimated to have totaled over 100 million people. It is speculated that Terra Preta soils are what sustained them in harmony with their ecosystems.Comments (10)
Compost, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Urban Projects, Working Animals — by Patrick Blampied May 24, 2010
After discovering our family compost bin was in a dangerously anaerobic state I decided a worm farm would be a much more suitable and productive way to deal with organic waste from the kitchen.Comments (6)
Courses/Workshops, Deforestation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Trees — by Planet People Passion May 16, 2010
The Amazon rainforest is one of the most amazing displays of symbiotic relationships one can experience in the world. This complex and layered eco-system thrives through the many systems and cycles that interweave through the layers of canopy, creating one of the most bio-diverse displays of life on the planet. Nature designs the most magnificent Permaculture systems – it is quite an experience to spend time in this magical place and humbly observe her teachings.
Amazon rainforest boundary
Observing the thriving and abundant rainforest, it is hard for some to comprehend why neighboring agriculture in the region experiences quite the opposite affect, but the answer is quite simple – it’s all about the soil.Comments (0)