Compost, Conservation, DVDs/Books, Food Shortages, Fungi, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 8, 2010
Regeneration – an Earth
How biological farming builds healthier
soils, healthier plants, healthier animals
and certain hope in an uncertain world.
In a kind of army style ‘about-face’, society is increasingly turning away from the reductionist, extractive agriculture that rushed onto the world after WWII. Today people are, thankfully, realising that you cannot convert biodiverse natural systems into monocultures – into a factory floor environment – and expect success. With the soils that support all life on this planet getting rapidly eroded and diminished in critical organic matter, people are realising that farming is far more about biology than it is about chemistry, more about feeding the soil than feeding the plant, and are realising that our futures, our very survival, depends on our coming to grips with biological processes and learning to harness them.
I’ve just uploaded the new Regeneration – an Earth Saving Revolution DVD to our online store. This DVD examines the thoughts and work of some of the many individuals who are now leading the way forward in farming techniques that are simultaneously highly productive and entirely sustainable. It’s an inspiration-packed DVD that’s worth circulating to all.
Our survival now truly depends on how fast this kind of information can be made to pervade society at all levels, and how rapidly we can rebuild society to accommodate, integrate and harmonise with it.
Trailer to follow:Comments (7)
Commercial Farm Projects, Livestock, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Milkwood Permaculture May 7, 2010
Image by Granny Buttons
Grazing animals bad, undisturbed grass good. That’s how we personally thought regeneration worked, five years ago. And we were not alone. You could be forgiven for thinking that any and all grazing animals (particularly of the introduced kind) have no role whatsoever to play in regenerating pastures, soils and land, simply because we know how much damage badly-managed grazing and animal management can do. And we as a society do love a good bit of polarity, especially when it comes to nature. Perhaps it’s our quest for simplicity. At the same time, we inherently know that an ecosystem cannot be simplified down to a set of polar opposites.Comments (7)
Compost, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, General, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Rhamis Kent May 1, 2010
It’s good to see someone from the American press shine a light on what is arguably the most pressing ecological issue facing us. It effects any and all aspects of environmental health and stability. Without significant efforts made to address the massive amounts of topsoil lost each year, all of our “environmentalism” rings rather hollow, I’m afraid.
The following article is highly recommended reading:
Further Reading:Comments Off
Animal Forage, Earth Banks, Food Forests, Land, Material, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Structure, Swales, Terraces — by Jonathan Chan April 19, 2010
During my relatively short time in the Permaculture movement I have only heard Vetiver mentioned a few times. Could it be that this profoundly important pioneer is not getting the attention it deserves? Although commonly and extensively used in permaculture sites in some parts of the world, its uptake in Australia in particular seems to be slow. Why would this be happening? How could a plant with such beneficial qualities be so disregarded? My stay with John Champagne of the Bega Valley, NSW, ingrained the great importance of this plant and introduced me to a few of many possible applications of the grass.
Compost, Fungi, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Structure, Waste Systems & Recycling, Working Animals — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 8, 2010
A certain truck driver in Asia has discovered the value of good road-hugging (or bridge barrier-hugging, as the case may be) tyres.
But, that’s not the topic of this post. Here, instead, we offer the suggestion of taking well worn tyres not capable of such extreme feats, and putting them to other worthwhile purposes – like feeding your garden with nutrient rich worm casts.
At Zaytuna Farm we use a couple of old bathtubs for this purpose, but if you don’t have a bathtub at your disposal, this simple car tyre system (700kb PDF) looks like a great alternative.Comments (7)
Land, News, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Composition, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor March 29, 2010
A couple of weeks ago ABC Rural’s ‘Bush Telegraph’ radio show featured an interview with Dr. Christine Jones about how to deal with the major problem of dryland salinity. Her ‘radical’ thoughts on it prompted a heated response from Mick Fleming, a former principal research scientist with CSIRO Land and Water, who was ‘gobsmacked’ with her ideas, and countered with his own.
Geoff found the discussion of great interest, and ended up being interviewed by Michael Mackenzie of ABC radio on the issue – it makes for a very interesting listen.
Click play below to hear the talk:ABC Talks to Geoff Lawton on Dryland Salinity Comments (7)
Community Projects, Compost, Consumerism, Land, People Systems, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Conservation, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Brad Lancaster March 24, 2010
A conventional cemetery
When I was little I was terrified of death. I often cried myself to sleep as I thought of the end of life. It seemed so bleak, pointless, and severe.
Mom tried to comfort me with the concept of going to heaven. This did not reassure me at all. “How do you know there is a heaven?” I’d ask. “Have you been there?”Comments (7)
Compost, Courses/Workshops, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure — by Patrick Blampied March 23, 2010
Wow, here’s a topic I could write more about than what I wrote in the About Me section! Now that must sound ludicrous to you because everyone knows how I like talking about me but we’ll see how I go since this is about the most important issue humanity is about to face.
Forget climate change (don’t do that but you get the point)…. Humanity’s number one environmental issue is poor soil and soil loss. It unpins all else and is therefore bigger than deforestation and pollution. But how is that, I hear you asking? Well, every living thing needs food and soil happens to be the food that feeds everything above it so before you can grow vegetables and fatten up beef to feed yourself and before you can plant a tree to clean the air you breath, you need healthy soil.Comments (5)
Compost, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation, Urban Projects, Waste Systems & Recycling — by Lindsay Dailey March 4, 2010
In a world where less than 1% of the planet’s fresh water is available for human consumption, it is curious to notice how people in overdeveloped countries choose to utilize precious water resources.
I often wonder what our grandchildren’s children will think of industrialized cultures; it is hope that inspires me to imagine them laughing. “Can you believe it?” they’ll say, holding their bellies and bursting with amusement at the ridiculousness of their elders. “They used our precious fresh water to flush their SHIT away!”
Over 884 million people globally lack access to safe water supplies – that is approximately one in eight people living on the planet whose water has been contaminated, generally by human excrement. In fact, over 5,000 people die worldwide everyday from drinking or bathing in water containing contaminants.  And we in the U.S. use over 5 million gallons daily just flushing away our waste.
From a health and a resource perspective, it’s hard to imagine a more inefficient system than a water flushing toilet. It contaminates water, and wastes our “waste.”
Anyhow, I digress. This blog posting was inspired by the chore of the day at the Permaculture Research Institute.
It was time to empty the composting toilet system, and I eagerly participated, curious to see how human “waste” could be utilized as a resource – quite a feat for our fecophobic world.Comments (8)
Aquaculture, Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Dams, Demonstration Sites, Earth Banks, Education Centres, Food Forests, Gabions, Irrigation, Land, Material, Natural Swimming, Rehabilitation, Roads, Soil Conservation, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Kym Kruse January 9, 2010
The Mushroom Dam overlooking the beach area
It’s taken a while to find the time to sit down and report on Part B of our earthworks here at Rosella Waters, near Cairns in far North Queensland. Phase I Part A was documented whilst the process was taking place. This latest update however will rely on memory and hurried notes made during the process, together with numerous photos. Large excavations such as the two large dams we constructed in part A are considerably easier to direct and far less time consuming than the finer detail work using smaller machinery as we experienced in putting in Part B.Comments (6)
Biodiversity, General, Livestock, Rehabilitation, Soil Conservation — by Rhamis Kent January 3, 2010
Here’s an idea that should be embraced and championed by all earth repair advocates: The Buffalo Commons.
The Buffalo Commons is a conceptual proposal to create a vast nature preserve by returning 139,000 square miles (360,000 km2) of the drier portion of the Great Plains to native prairie, and by reintroducing the buffalo, or American Bison, that once grazed the short grass prairie.Comments (8)
Conservation, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Seeds, Soil Conservation, Structure — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 20, 2009
Permaculture is all about mimicking natural systems – patterning our agriculture and other critical human needs on the symbiotic processes we observe all around us. If you compare nature’s methods we see that stable natural plant systems are polycultures, and perennial, whereas our modern industrial agriculture is the exact opposite – largely being monocultures and annuals.
But, imagine if the annual crops we rely on the most, grains and pulses, could be made to grow perennially instead. No end/beginning of year ploughing, no annual replanting, etc. It would save enormous amounts of time and energy on cultivation and planting, and allow soils to remain undisturbed for longer, with immense benefits to soil life, structure, organic matter and carbon content.
The video below highlights this out-of-the-box permaculture thinking. The Land Institute in Kansas has been working solidly on engineering annuals into perennials (by way of natural plant breeding – not by gene gun). They take ancient wild, perennial varieties of grains, and cross them with their modern annual counterparts, and repeat, and repeat, until they end up with a harvestable product from a plant that doesn’t have to be resown every year. Or at least that’s the aim. This is still a work in progress, but their purpose is "to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops".Comments (10)
Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Irrigation, Land, News, Rehabilitation, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Structure, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 19, 2009
One of the most influential people in sustainable agricultural systems development is the late P.A. Yeomans. Yeomans went against the contemporary fertility-in-a-bottle school of thought to develop ‘keyline’ concepts of land management that work in harmony with natural land features (working with contours), to maximise water harvesting in the landscape, minimise soil erosion and build lasting soil fertility. His observations and practice led him to design and develop the keyline plow, a deep chisel plow that maximises water infiltration and soil aeration – setting up conditions that soil macro and microorganisms can flourish in – but that doesn’t overturn the soil, with its associated destruction of soil structure and life, as other plows do.
The ABC just ran an interesting spotlight (video – or transcript here if you prefer) where we learn that one of Yeomans’ properties, ‘Yobarnie’, in Richmond, north of Sydney, is facing ‘development’ that would turn this important historical demonstration site into a housing estate. In the 1950s and ’60s the site attracted busloads of people on weekend tours where observers could see the transformation his methods effected and learn about their implementation.Comments (3)
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Compost, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Food Forests, Food Plants - Perennial, Fungi, Irrigation, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Trees, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor December 11, 2009
The Greening the Desert II video I shared with you recently was edited in Jordan. Now that I’m back at my desk again I’ve had time to edit it slightly. I’ve added the original five-minute Greening the Desert clip in to the front of it, to ensure viewers have context for Part II (and we’ve also had requests for both to be made available together), as well as cut a few minutes out of Part II to keep it flowing a little better. You can not only watch online below and embed on your own websites (click for embed code at top right of video screen), but it’s also available for download, so those who’d like to have a ‘hard copy’ to circulate are welcome to download, burn to disk or transfer to USB key, etc., and circulate freely.
Download: You’ll see the option to download the 913 megabyte MP4 file at bottom right side of this page.
Greening the Desert II (including Part I) – Greening the Middle East
(Duration: 36 mins)
Tips for playing: If it’s slow to load, turn off High Definition (HD) on the player.
If you still have problems, click play (on low or high def) and then after it’s started,
click on pause. The video will then continue to buffer into your computer.
Play once fully loaded.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank Kelly Kellogg at this juncture. Kelly donated initial funding that enabled the purchase of the land for the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project site (aka ‘Greening the Desert – the Sequel’). But, upon watching the Greening the Desert Part II video, Kelly was inspired to donate an additional $20,000. These gifts are very encouraging to us as we try to solve problems at source (teach a man to fish…). Others who may feel inspired to donate to help us move this work forward faster can do so here.
A little background on the video follows:Comments (28)
Biological Cleaning, Conservation, Earth Banks, Land, Soil Conservation, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Campbell Wilson November 30, 2009
A swale on Zaytuna Farm – © Craig Mackintosh
(Remaining images below © Cam Wilson.)
Geoff Lawton and Darren Doherty are the two highest profile people in Australian Permaculture when it comes to broadacre water harvesting earthworks. They’ve both had success in some very tough environments, and yet it’s interesting that their styles are quite different, particularly when it comes to infiltration strategies.
This article is a short comparison of their approaches, along with an idea I had recently for amalgamating the benefits of each.Comments (19)