Conservation, Irrigation — by Kevin Bayuk September 16, 2010
A Sri Lankan villager fills his olla
Photo copyright © Craig Mackintosh
I first encountered the concept of using unglazed clay vessels for sub-surface irrigation in Bill Mollison’s “The Global Gardener” film series. Mollison comments that the technique might be, to paraphrase, “the most efficient irrigation system in the world.” More recently I noted with interest that the fine folks at Path to Freedom were employing these clay pots for some of their raised beds, which led me to wonder about how I might experiment with them as a potential sub-surface irrigation system. Here’s what I found….Comments (18)
Commercial Farm Projects, Conservation, Dams, Food Forests, Food Plants - Annual, Food Plants - Perennial, Irrigation, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Swales, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor August 6, 2010
Preamble: From my recent trip to Jordan, I shared with you all the news, with loads of pictures, about the International Permaculture Conference (IPC) that will be held there in September 2011. I also slipped over the border to take a quick peek at Murad Alkufash’s work in the West Bank, and took video of the Jawaseri school garden project. In my bid to multitask, I also had opportunity to accompany Geoff Lawton on a consultation in the Wadi Rum district in the south of the country, where we combined the consultation with our investigations for a campsite for the IPC (photos of the latter can be seen via the first link above).
The consultation on its own, however, is deserving of a post. It was highly interesting for many reasons that I shall outline here.
Permaculture designer/teacher, Geoff Lawton, looks at water pumped from
an aquifer under Jordan’s famous Wadi Rum desert region.
All photographs © copyright Craig Mackintosh
The Wadi Rum desert in the south of Jordan happens to be the site of Jordan’s largest mixed farm – Rum Farm. It might, for good reason, seem odd that this beautiful but largely abiotic location would host a large scale farm, let alone Jordan’s largest, but it begins to make sense when you learn that under the Wadi Rum desert (and stretching under the border mountains and well into Saudi Arabia) is a large aquifer. In fact, much of this desert nation’s water supply is dependent on this single water source.Comments (21)
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
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)
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)
Conservation, Land, Medicinal Plants, Plant Systems, Regional Water Cycle, Trees — by Ecofilms July 29, 2010
For many years they’ve been seen as a symbol of pride in Australia. Expatriate writers in the 50s and 60s would write about returning to Sydney by ship and about being greeted by the smell of wafting gum tree leaves as they waxed lyrical about the nostalgia they felt for home.
Authorities still plant them everywhere. In parks, next to footpaths, street corners, new housing development estates, Eucalypts are as Australian as the Emu and the Kangaroo. They are seen nearly everywhere and nobody seems to take them as a threat in Australia.
But should Eucalypts be re-examined as a noxious weed?Comments (21)
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)
Aid Projects, Community Projects, Conservation, Deforestation, Education Centres, Irrigation, Regional Water Cycle, Rehabilitation, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Urban Projects — by Alex Metcalfe July 21, 2010
Written by Alex Metcalfe. Photo credits to Alex Metcalfe, Asiya Brock, Helen Evans and Houssa Yacoubi.
The view from the course site ‘Ourthane’ which means ‘gardens’
In 2004, during my first visit to Morocco, one night in the desert with the full moon at its zenith I climbed an enormous dune with Francois and Vincent, two Québécois I had met on the bus journey south.
Ascending that great pile of sand, every step forward seemed to take us three steps back. Our beleaguered progress was painfully slow. The nameless mountain of sand we were climbing stood far above neighbouring dunes to shelter a small and equally anonymous oasis a few hours slow and ponderous journey by camel from Merzouga, a small, one road collection of pisé houses and auberges that sit amidst the bleak and stony Hamada. The only movements to catch the eye was the shimmering heat rising from the Earth and the tall, thin and spectral twisters that listlessly faded into existence only to fade out again, as if exhausted under the unforgiving glare of the desert sun from the effort of giving form to the eddying winds of the Hamada.Comments (4)
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, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Developments, Education Centres, Networking Sites, People Systems, Podcasts, Village Development, Water Harvesting — by Patrick Blampied July 14, 2010Comments (0)
Conservation, Gabions, Land, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Water Harvesting — by Patrick Blampied July 13, 2010
Recently I joined Nick Huggins on a farm near Wagga to see what he was up to. (Here are the details of his first visit in case you missed it.)
This time the main purpose of the trip was to repair the creek that ran through the property. The creek is nothing special, it runs half the year and doesn’t have much living in or around it. There was a lot of evidence of erosion, not a lot of soil left and no protection from flood events.
So Nick got to work, spending the week installing rock gabions and bamboo every few hundred metres or so.
What looks to the untrained eye, and the catchment authority, as works to block up the creek and stuff up the natural ecology is actually a process of fast tracking the repair that happens naturally as trees and other debris fall across the flow and slow down the water, holding back nutrient and kick starting the soil building process.
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)
Aid Projects, Biological Cleaning, Community Projects, Conservation, Demonstration Sites, Education Centres, Irrigation, Water Harvesting — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor May 30, 2010
This great little clip by Emma Piper-Burket takes an early 2009 look at a couple of permaculture projects in Jordan. These are projects shown at greater length and at a later date (October 2009) in the Greening the Desert II video many of you will have already watched. I’m not sure what exactly what month Emma visited the project, but as our Eric Seider (one of the directors of PRI USA) was filmed there at the Jordan Valley Permaculture Project (aka Greening the Desert, The Sequel), it’d have to be January or February. Eric was key in the initial establishment of the site, which is now coming along nicely 18 months later. Expect some updates from this site in the next few weeks as yours truly will be heading there again.
Conservation, Irrigation, Land, Swales, Water Harvesting — by Adrian Buckley May 20, 2010
by Adrian Buckley, Permaculture Designer, B. of Community Design, Calgary, Canada
Good soil is nothing without water! Fortunately, there are simple and inexpensive methods available to us for capturing and storing rain water to meet our irrigation needs. It all starts from a firm understanding of how water flows on your property and designing to make the most use of it.Comments (7)