BY DAKSHITA NAITHANI
INTRODUCTION TO PERMACULTURE:
Permaculture is a method of design in agriculture that emphasises whole-systems thinking and the use of or stimulation of natural patterns.
Bill Mollison, a senior lecturer in Environmental Psychology at the University of Tasmania, and David Holmgren, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Design at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, coined the term.
These principles are being applied in a growing variety of industries.
Permaculture as we know it now was created in the 1970s t happened approximately a decade after the world became aware of the risks of pesticides like DDT and the damage they represented to humanity and the environment.
Because it was created for the development of long – term (in other words, permanent) systems, the phrase was coined from a combination of the words “permanent” and “agricultural.”
It was one of the first agricultural systems to recognise that local actions might have drastic implications.
Holmgren is credited for popularising permaculture but it’s worth mentioning that various books on topics like agroforestry and forest farming have been around since the 1930s or earlier.
Permaculture has 3 core tenants:
• Care for the earth. To put it another way, assist all living systems in continuing to exist and multiply. But a healthy world is required for existence, it is important to understand the principles of nature and how it functions.
• Care for the people. Allow people to have access to the resources they require to live. Members of the community who are in need of assistance are supported by the community (e.g. after someone dies, help build homes).
• Fair share. We should take only what we require and reinvest any excess. Any surplus can be used to assist satisfy the other two basic tenets. This involves reintroducing waste products into the system so that they can be reused.
All sustainable community design initiatives should use Permaculture concepts.
They are the most important rules for putting it into practise. They may aid in improving and protecting the land, ecosystem, and people, as well as maximising efficiency and productivity.
These principles promote innovation while maximising outcomes. Every location, every circumstance, and every family is unique. As a result, each project’s plans, procedures, plants, animals, and building materials may differ. Even yet, the same principles apply to any location and endeavour, big or little.
1. Observe and Interact
2. Catch and Store Energy
3. Obtain a Yield
4. Apply Self-regulation and Accept Feedback
5. Use and Value Renewable Resources and Services
6. Produce No Waste
7. Design From Patterns to Details
8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate
9. Use Small and Slow Solutions
10. Use and Value Diversity
11. Use Edges and Value The Marginal
12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change
BENEFITS OF PERMACULTURE:
Reduced water usage
Wastewater and rainfall are used in permaculture. This is useful for homes, but for farms with larger areas, it becomes a more cost effective and efficient means of watering the produce.
Nothing is thrown away. Garden waste, leaves, table scraps, and other waste products are composted or fed to animals as food. Some people go beyond and utilise compost toilets to fully live a zero-waste lifestyle. Permaculture is only sustainable if it makes use of leftovers.
It is cost effective since pesticides are not required, and most systems require minimal upkeep. All you have to do is water the plants and mulch them once in a while.
Permaculture is a more natural manner of growing food, tractors and other powered agricultural equipment are rarely used.
You’ll automatically acquire more ethical and good principles like consuming little, just using what you need, minimising pollution, and helping others if you practise.
A farmer or gardener who practises permaculture may grow a broader range of crops on their property. It allows you to be self-sufficient by allowing you to grow whatever you desire or need to eat.
Applicable to existing systems
Agricultural systems and lands that already exist can be converted to principles. Permaculture may be practised on a big or small scale wherever that you can normally grow food.
COMMON METHODS OF PERMACULTURE:
Agroforestry is a technique that incorporates trees, shrubs, animals, and crops. The term is derived from a blend of agriculture and forestry. These two apparently disparate professions collaborate to produce systems that are more resilient, healthy, lucrative, and productive. Forestry farming, which is a permaculture technique also falls under the category of agroforestry. However, the main concept is to construct your food forest using a seven-layered method. A canopy layer, a low tree layer, a shrub layer, a herbaceous layer, a rhizosphere, a ground cover layer, and a vertical layer are all included. Silvopastoral and silvoarable are two other agroforestry systems.
Hügelkultur is a German word that means “hill culture.” It’s a method of burying huge volumes of wood in order to increase the soil’s ability to retain water. This rotting wood behaves like an absorbent, soaking up water from the ground. Plant materials which behave as a compost are usually placed on top of the mound and decomposed into the soil. A Hügelkultur mound generally lasts 5 to 6 years until the wood rots completely and the procedure must be repeated.
3) Harvesting Rainwater and Grey water
Instead of letting rainwater wash from the property, you may collect it and store it for later use. Roofs gather the majority of rainwater. Eaves troughs, which collect and transport water away from buildings, are likely already installed on your farm’s homes, barns, and other structures. To collect rainwater, just connect a big tank to your downspout and catch the water rather than having it seep into the ground and go to waste. Storm water harvesting is another way to collect water. It is distinct from rainwater harvesting in that it collects runoff from creeks, drains, and other waterways rather than from rooftops. Grey water is a last source of reusable water on the farm. This is water that is used in the house or on the farm for things like bathing and doing laundry. Because grey water includes detergents, it cannot be used for drinking, but it may be utilised for irrigation purposes and other reasons.
4) Cell Grazing
Grazing is commonly seen as a negative activity that, if not carried out appropriately, has the potential to harm the ecosystem in various ways. Allowing animals to overgraze a region can have severe repercussions, and this is true. Cell grazing is the favoured approach in permaculture. This entails moving herds of animals between fields, pastures, or woodlands on a regular basis. The disruptions created by grazing animals, when done correctly, can actually improve the ecosystem and allow plants to recover more quickly. It also keeps an eye on how animals interact with the land. Plants require appropriate time to rest between each grazing and therefore it’s critical that a region receives a rest time after being grazed.
5) Sheet Mulching
Mulching is simply any protective layer placed on top of the soil to retain water and prevent weed development and is used by many farmers and gardeners. A variety of materials such as wood chips, cardboard, plastic, stones, and are frequently employed. Sheet mulching is an organic no-dig technique that aims to imitate natural soil building in forests, namely how leaves cover the ground. Sheet mulching is most often done with alternating layers of “green” and “brown” materials. Fallen leaves, shredded paper and cardboard, pine needles, wood chips, and straw are examples of brown materials. Manure, grass clippings, worm casings, vegetable scraps, hay, coffee grounds, and compost are examples of green materials. It’s possible to utilise 5 to 10 layers of materials. Sheet mulching adds nutrients and minerals to the soil, inhibits weed development, regulates weather and protects against frost, reduces erosion and evaporation, and absorbs rainwater.
6) Natural Building
Natural building is a more environmentally friendly alternative to purchasing materials from your local hardware shop or lumber yard. You should try to employ as much recycled materials as possible in a system. There are a lot of renewable resources on the land that you may employ in your next construction project. Most people ignore clay, pebbles, wood, reeds, straw, and sand, which are all easily available materials. Tires, which are less natural, can also be utilised for building. This is a fantastic method to recycle old tyres that would otherwise be thrown away or burned. Similarly, instead of purchasing new windows, discarded glass windows are frequently repurposed.
7) No-Till or Minimum-Till Farming
The goal of no-till farming is to leave the soil untouched. The soil is left undisturbed rather than being broken up before planting. This helps to keep water in the soil, keeps carbon from leaving the soil, increases soil quality, and lowers the quantity of weed seeds that are brought closer to the surface to germinate. The soil is disturbed by conventional agriculture methods. This allows carbon dioxide to enter the atmosphere while also over oxygenating the soil. Loosening the soil in this way can cause erosion and nutrient runoff, as well as obliterate important fungal networks. Tilling can be reduced or even removed altogether for some systems with the right approaches.
8) Intercropping and Companion Planting
Intercropping is the planting of more than one two plant species in the same region that mutually benefit one another. Companion planting, for example, involves growing strong-scented plants and herbs such as basil, oregano alongside primary. Many of these companion plants with powerful smells are repulsive to pests. Not only that, but some of them really help the plants they’re partnered with to grow and taste better. Others help to loosen the soil or provide additional advantages. While many plants get along well when grown together, there are some who don’t because they demand the same nutrients or for other reasons.
9) Market Gardening
Market gardening is an intriguing shift away from conventional style of agriculture, which is carried out on huge swaths of land far out in the nation, to smaller plots of land, even in metropolitan areas sometimes. Market gardeners, as the name implies, sell their vegetables at farmer’s markets, however some may also supply restaurants and grocery shops directly.
Cash crops are aggressively produced on a small scale in market gardening (usually less than an acre of land.) While cultivating on as little as a quarter acre of land, a market gardener may earn up to $100,000 each year.