The Definitive Agriculture/Permaculture Thread
Note that the unit measure here used is the tonne, or metric ton: worth 1,000 kg or 2,205 lb. And a hectare is 2.47105 acres. The method here is called SRI or System of Root Intensification. It is apparently more labor intensive but requires less water and fertilizer. Can be adapted to other crops, like potatoes.
India's Rice Revolution (February 16, 2013)
"Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. There had been good rains in his village of Darveshpura in north-east India and he knew he could improve on the four or five tonnes per hectare that he usually managed. But every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked.
"This was not six or even 10 or 20 tonnes. Kumar, a shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news.
"It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the 'father of rice', the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields."
Useful article on the benefits of a walipini.
This will likely be our next project. The temperature was down to 13 deg. Fahrenheit today with 2-3 inches of snow and we just harvested the last of our carrots, kale, collards, and chard from under plastic. Whether due to global warming or plastic and other protective measures, this is the latest in the season we have ever harvested anything.
My better half did a lot of canning this fall (red salsa, green salsa, tomatos, green beans, tomato soup, apple sauce, apple slices, etc.) and dehydrating (many varieties of fruits and vegetables) we've been trading some of that for venison and other food stuffs including everything over the years from bear and goose meat to brook trout to mushrooms to maple syrup. Food barter is the way to go. Deer harvests seem to be significantly down in the area for a number of reasons, including the growing coyote, wolf, and mountain lion population. A limited wolf hunt has been allowed this year which I have mixed feelings about.
I wish I could discuss some of the other steps we're taking and obvious trends I see but both for censorship reasons (here) and growing privacy concerns (which are the more important of the two), I'm talking less and less about things that are becoming progressively more important. We talk locally instead through a growing network where there's no electronic record.
I have discussed elsewhere on this blog a discussion I once had with Guy McPherson. I had seen statements from him railing against Allan Savory and the idea of raising beef in the US. I tried to clarify his dislike of beef, and more specifically why he dislikes Allan Savory so much. His answer was a little confused, but generally came down to the damage he imagines cattle inflict on rangeland despite the various methods of rotational grazing. I then asked him about Joel Salatin's methods, which he apparently approves of, but still has the reservation that Salatin is raising beef. Now, how he distinguishes between Salatin and Savory is not clear to me, although I am far from an expert on this issue.
This is an interesting topic to me, as I have considered raising a steer at a time to fill our own freezer.
I need to comment more here in the ag threads….
Anyway….this is my fifth or six year gardening….each year I make a more intensive effort to plant things which will last longer into the winter. Beans and Squash for example.
Well….last year I was a little lazy and left some of my parsnips in the ground. I was happy to dig them out this weekend. I'd heard "old timers" did this a lot…but I still have several in the ground that I will harvest over the next couple of weeks!
Cross posted – is that OK?
This course might be of interest to PP readers who are thinking about greenhouses.
I recently attended an on-site course on How to Design Your Own Greenhouse, based in Paonia, Colorado.
Led by a longtime stalwart of the local organic gardening/farming scene, Lynn Gillespie, this weekend workshop goes over every step of how to figure out what type (2 season? 3 season? 4 season?) greenhouse you want, and how to evaluate what size is best, based on what you want to grow, how much you want to grow, etc.
Lynn’s farm, the Living Farm, includes 5 greenhouses of different designs and heating methods, and the course includes touring each one. It is a small group, so you can ask questions to your heart’s content. Marjory Wildcraft, of the Grow Network (and who did a popular podcast on PP.com recently), now lives locally, and will also join one session to share valuable information and answer questions.
I found it well worth the investment of time, money and effort — it helped me to quickly narrow down from an overwhelming number of choices. Benefitting from Lynn’s decades of learning was invaluable.
The Living Farm also has a farm-to-table restaurant in Paonia, and the course includes nine lovely meals, sourced on the farm and nearby, and prepared by Lynn’s son, the chef at the Living Farm cafe. We ate well, learned well, made connections around the country and left feeling motivated and like it was time well spent.
I live locally, and would love to meet up with any PP readers who decide to come to this. The North Fork Valley, where Paonia is located, is full of small organic farms and wineries, with arts and gorgeous scenery everywhere to boot.
Feel free to ask me any questions. The linked website is full of useful information, and video-based gardening courses.
I have a design called the “Chinese greenhouse” with tons of thermal mass and heat storage and thermal chimney venting that requires less heating and cooing than the hoop house design. More investment up front …..but low energy bills going forward.
This is a permaculture holy grail. For chickens the best thing I have seen is to plant a fruit and nut orchard for the birds. It takes about 5 years for your Elderberries, Hazelnuts and other trees and shrubs to mature. Chickens are forest birds and do not like an open sky above them, so a food forest is perfect for them. I have seen another good trick done on the ground between orchard trees, and that is sowing grasses and ground covers like clover just before a rain or under irrigation to quickly grow fresh greens for the birds. You can shift the birds between several enclosures to allow the greens to grow big before putting them in there. Also putting chickens on pasture works well, and is excellent for soil. They have to be in a moveable enclosure, so when an area is exhausted, you can quickly move the chickens on to fresh forage. They eat a lot of insects as well as grass. Breeding black soldier flies is another technique for chicken feed. Also spoiled or leftover food from restaurants can be collected and piled up for chickens to eat. Grass clipppings from mowing are good. The same sorts of feed can keep pigs, along with other spoiled or extra foods, like excess milk from a cow dairy. Holistic planned mob grazing is a way to keep cattle without bought-in feed of any kind; but it has to be carefully planned on a yearly basis; and the cattle have to be moved frequently. Overall, planning, attention and time are required to substitute for dollar bills at the feed Store. If animals are processed on site, or in the neighborhood, lots of healthy pet food can come out of that. Not everything has to come from one farm. A group of collaborating farms in an area offers lots of great efficiencies.
Great idea, Aaron!