Permaculture Design in drylands: Expected Results

Note: This content was arranged by the Giuseppe Tallarico Professional Agriculture Office Team (Giuseppe Tallarico – Team leader and the Designers John Button, Rhamis Kent and Riccardo Tucci), as part of the consultation delivered to the National Agriculture Research Centre of Jordan, for the project of the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan “Designing of two (2) pilot permaculture sites in Jordan” (Ref.: Tender No. EPP-CCP-04/2017), having the goal to develop Permaculture farms in the country.

The ultimate end result of applying Permaculture design ethics and principles is the establishment of diverse polycultural – as opposed to monocultural – systems based on regenerative ecological function, stability, and agricultural production moving far beyond sustainability.

Through the implementation of Permaculture design ethics and principles, a variety of strategies can be put to use creating useful yields in the form of products and services that are ideally provided by functional ecological systems with an agricultural focus:

Physical-Environmental

  • The creation of ecological & functional niches; the provision of a critical resource;
  • The rehabilitation and creation of soils;
  • The diversion of water and water recycling;
  • The integration of structures and landscape.

Biological

  • The selection of low-maintenance cultivars and species for a particular site;
  • Investigation of other species for usable yields;
  • Supplying key nutrients; biological waste recycling (mulch, manure);
  • The assembly of beneficial and compatible guilds (“families”) of plants and animals.

Spatial and Configurational

  • Annidation of units, functions, and species (annidation is a design or pattern strategy of “nesting” or stacking one thing within another, like a bowl, or a vine in a tree);
  • Tessellation of units, functions, and species (tessellation is the forming or arranging of a mosaic of parts);
  • Innovative spatial geometry of designs as edge and harmonics;
  • Routing of materials or energy to next best use, avoiding the production of waste and pollution (the excessive accumulation of an under-utilised potential resource);
  • Strategic site arrangement according to zone, sector, slope, orientation, aspect, elevation, and sun angle analysis;
  • Use of special patterns to suit irrigation, crop systems, or energy conservation.

Temporal

  • “Sequential” annidation (interplant, intercrop);
  • Increasing cyclic frequency (and, subsequently, yields);
  • Tessellation of cycles and successions, as in browsing sequences for livestock (for example).

Technical

Conservation

  • Routing of resources to next best use;
  • Recycling at the highest level;
  • Safe storage of food product;
  • No-tillage or low-tillage cropping;
  • Creation of very durable systems and objects;
  • Storage of run-off water for extended use.

Cultural

  • Removing cultural barriers to resource use;
  • Making unusual resources acceptable;
  • Expanding choices in a culture.

Legal/Administrative

  • Removing socio-legal impediments to resource use;
  • Creating effective structures to aid resource management;
  • Costing and adjusting systems for all energy inputs and outputs.

Social

  • Cooperative endeavors, pooling of resources, sharing;
  • Financial recycling within the community;
  • Positive action to remove and replace impeding systems.

Design

  • Making harmonious connections between components and subsystems;
  • Making choices as to where we place things or how we live;
  • Observing, managing, and directing systems;
  • Applying information.

Water Storage (tanks, ponds, biological, infiltration/soil)

  • Product increase, e.g. animal protein production (water is more productive per unit area than land; fish more efficient at food conversion than cattle);
  • Product increase on land remaining due to:
    • Irrigation;
    • Water nutrient quality from, e.g. fish manure;
    • Interaction, e.g. ducks on water to increase yields in and around ponds (e.g. pest and weed control, manure);
    • Microclimatic buffering due to water bodies.

Land Forming

  • Product increase due to evenly distributed irrigation (no dry areas or waterlogging);
  • Land stability due to reduction of soil loss from water run-off or salting;
  • Gravity flow replaces pumped water (dependent on the site);
  • Recycling of water possible.

Soil Reconditioning

  • Product increase due to deeper root penetration;
  • Water infiltration (zero run-off) due to absorption;
  • Buffering of soil microclimate;
  • Supply of essential nutrients.

Establishing of Windbreak and Forage Forest

  • Shelter effects, e.g. increase in plant yields, animal protein, and microclimate buffering both above and below ground;
  • Increase in carrying capacity due to shrub and tree forage;
  • Savings on nutrients recycled via legumes and trees;
  • Intrinsic products of the forest, e.g. nectar for honey, seeds, firewood from fallen timber);
  • Insect and bird escapement, and pest predator habitat.

Selective Farm Reafforestation

  • Increase precipitation due to night condensation, water penetration;
  • Product increase due to the superiority of perennials preferred over annuals in bulk, energy savings, and length of yield;
  • Increase in rainfall due to trees cross-wind (compression of airsteams, increasing moisture density of air);
  • Reduced cost and increased capacity due to selected self-forage browse, e.g. drought-proof stockfeed, medicinal qualities of some perennial plants;
  • Reduced cost due to on-farm durable timber, e.g. fence posts, construction material;
  • Reduced carcass loss due to shivering, sweating, exposure;
  • Increased crop production in sheltered areas;
  • Increased carcass weight due to increased food intake in sheltered conditions, i.e. on hot days livestock will graze all day when they are on shaded pasture, instead of sheltering from the sun;
  • Reduced evaporation from ponds due to less over water surfaces.

Market and Process Strategies

  • Selected crop for specialty market for price per unit area increases, e.g. fresh herbs near a concentration of restaurants;
  • Marketing by self-pick, mail order, direct dispatch, roadside sale;
  • Processing to a higher order of product (e.g. seed to oil);
  • Processing to refined order (e.g. crude eucalyptus oil to fractions);
  • Money saved by processing fuels on farm; plus sale of surplus fuel (e.g. biogas, biodiesel).

Social/Financial

  • Market stability gained by farm-link strategy, where an urban group contracts to buy specific produce from the farmer;
  • Income from field days and educational courses;
  • Rental or income from urban visitors e.g. a guest house or holiday farm;
  • Direct investment by city people in a particular farm;
  • Formation of a local credit union and bank for the district, thus recycling money locally;
  • Vehicle and implement pool with neighbours; schedules of sowing and reaping worked out (capital saved 90%);
  • Labour exchange with neighbours;
  • Produce and marketing cooperatives.

Crop techniques

  • Low or no-tillage farming saves:
    • Energy in reduced tillage;
    • Soil;
    • Water and reduces evaporation, and
    • Time between crops.

With a specific focus on agricultural outcomes, a number of clear objectives can be defined as articulated by a standard created by The Rodale Institute called the Regenerative Organic Certification under three (3) general categories:

Soil Health

  • Build soil organic matter;
  • Conservation tillage;
  • Cover crops;
  • Crop rotations;
  • No GMOs or Gene editing;
  • No soilless systems;
  • No synthetic inputs;
  • Promotes biodiversity;
  • Rotational grazing.

Animal Welfare

  • Limited transport;
  • No CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations);
  • Suitable shelter;
  • Grass-fed/Pasture-raised.
  • Five Freedoms:
    • Freedom from discomfort;
    • Freedom from fear and distress;
    • Freedom from hunger;
    • Freedom from pain, injury, or disease;
    • Freedom to express normal behavior.

Social Fairness

  • Capacity building;
  • Democratic organizations;
  • Fair payments for farmers;
  • Freedom of association;
  • Good working conditions;
  • Living wages;
  • Long-term commitments;
  • No forced labor;
  • Transparency and accountability.
results of a permaculture desgin
Credit: The Regenerative Organic Certified Participant Handbook, Regenerative Organic Alliance; NSF International

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this article? Please let us know in the comments.

Giuseppe Tallarico
 

Giuseppe is a versatile and results-oriented Agronomist specializing in Permaculture, Food Security, and Environmental Management Systems dedicated to consulting large-scale farms through the transition to sustainable and regenerative agriculture to achieve maximum profitability naturally while creating a greener abundant earth for generations to come. Giuseppe is an Accredited Instructor by the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia and a permaculture consultant for the government of Jordan. Giuseppe serves the world permaculture community as the founder and General Manager of the World Permaculture Association, the head of the Urban Permaculture Laboratory Educational Center, and manager of Rigenera, a Permaculture consulting company. https://www.giuseppetallarico.com

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