- Great-grandfather of natural farming
- A challenge to modern industrial agriculture
- Bill Mollison’s Silent Revolution
In the lessons of botany and biology in schools, they still talk about the fact that in any natural community there is a constant struggle for existence. However, the word “struggle” in this context should be taken not as the extermination of their own kind, but as self-defense. Indeed, if you look closely, you can see that the basis of any ecosystem is the mutual adaptation of all its members to each other..
In the previous articles of the cycle: “Organic farming. The main features “,” Stop destroying the earth by digging and weeding “,” Biological protection against pests and weeds “,” Intensive planting of plants ” clean harvests, without depleting the land and not spending a lot of time and effort. The basic principles of organic farming were developed based on the philosophy of permaculture that emerged in the second half of the 20th century, which we will talk about in this article..
The term “permaculture” comes from English permanent agriculture, which means “permanent agriculture”. The essence of this term lies in the intelligent design of a viable environment around a person. This process is based on a deep understanding of the interrelationships observed in wildlife, it applies to both the management of the economy in general and the cultivation of vegetables and fruits in particular. Simply put, permacultra is a philosophy of life, the basis for which is not the struggle with nature, but the mutually beneficial coexistence of man in the natural cycle of natural processes.
Already in the 50s of the twentieth century, it became clear that the existing industrial methods of agriculture (deep cultivation of the land, the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides) have an extremely negative effect on the state of the environment and slowly but surely lead the world to an ecological catastrophe, which we and watch. It was at this time that progressive-minded agrarians became convinced that it is necessary to radically change the consumer attitude of man to nature. This becomes the basis for the inception of the permaculture movement.
Great-grandfather of natural farming
Today, the progenitor and founder of the permaculture movement is considered the Japanese agrarian and microbiologist Masanobu Fukuoka. He was one of the first to prove in practice the fallacy of the goals of intensive chemical crop production..
In 1975, Masanobu’s famous book “The One Straw Revolution” was published, where he clearly formed four principles that formed the basis of modern organic farming:
- The first is the rejection of deep tillage with a turnover of the seam. This principle is the basis of the foundations of natural farming and promotes respect for the land as a living organism..
- The second is avoiding the use of fertilizers. Masanobu Fukuoka is confident that the soil left alone is capable of restoring fertility in a natural way, thanks to the vital activity of plants and animals..
- The third is the rejection of weeding, since weeds play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance. The essence of this principle is that weeds should not be destroyed, but controlled. For this, in the rice fields of Fukuoka, straw mulch is used, white clover sown for cultivated plants and temporary flooding of the soil.
- The fourth is the rejection of the use of pesticides. Masanobu Fukuoka states that there are always a number of insect pests and various microorganisms that cause plant diseases in the wild. However, due to a well-balanced ecological balance, they do not spread to a dangerous level.
By the time the book was published, the land on the Fukuoka estate had not been cultivated for 25 years. At the same time, he received record high yields of rice in comparison with other farms in the country. The famous Japanese microbiologist believed that the more intensively agricultural science develops, the less chances for humanity to understand nature and understand the processes occurring in it. According to Masanobu Fukuoka, any active intervention in nature has a negative impact on the state of the environment, and, therefore, on human health. The only correct way, according to Fukuoka, is cooperation with nature, the ability to understand it and learn from its examples..
A challenge to modern industrial agriculture
High in the Austrian Alps, where the air burns with purity and transparency, is the farm of the world famous agricultural revolutionary Sepp Holzer. In 1962, he inherited a mountain farm from his parents, and, contrary to all the rules and canons of agrotechnical science, he created on his site a unique ecologically stable biosystem inhabited by many birds and animals, rich in ornamental and medicinal plants, fruit trees and vegetables.
Sepp Holzer’s farm is located at an altitude of 1100-1500 meters above sea level, and the average annual temperature here does not exceed 4.5-5 degrees. And in these harsh climatic conditions, the Austrian farmer grows such heat-loving trees as apricot, cherry, plum and even lemon, using large boulders and mountain slopes as heat storage.
All the nuances and details of this unique system have been developed and improved over several decades, from the use of ancient varieties of fruit trees and frost-resistant Siberian cereals, to the invention of special technologies for the retention and distribution of solar heat and moisture..
Holzer designed and organized the most complex system, consisting of 72 reservoirs connected with each other. In the lowlands, depressions are made to collect rainwater, which flows through pipelines into these ponds. Thanks to simple mechanical devices, pressure is created throughout the system, from which the generator is activated, providing electricity to the entire economy.
With the help of a system of reservoirs, Sepp Holzer made sure that on sunny days the water reflects the rays in such a way that they hit the slope in a place where there is not enough sun. The created system allows you to completely solve the problem of watering – no plants on the farm are specially watered.
Today the ponds on the farm of the Austrian farmer are part of the production base. Carp, trout, pike, catfish live here in large numbers. Naturally raised fish that are fed with natural feed have exceptional palatability and are in great demand.
Sepp Holzer is sure that if everything is arranged correctly on the farm, as in natural conditions, then the work of the farmer is greatly simplified. His main goal in organizing the farm was to maximize the resemblance to wildlife. All of Holzer’s animals live in freedom, feed themselves and help the farmer work the land. “The pigs have a plow in the front and a fertilizer spreader in the back. If I manage the pigs correctly, I don’t have to plow stony or hard-to-reach fields with machines, animals do it, ”says Holzer. It spreads the forage exactly where loosening is required. Pigs plow the soil to a depth of 15–20 centimeters, while part of the seeds are eaten, and some are embedded in the soil.
Sepp Holzer argues that monoculture is one of the main enemies of nature and man. On his mountain farm, each weed has a different function. The farmer sows 45 crops at a time (the seeds are mixed in one bag). Harvesting on the farm resembles picking mushrooms in the forest – here and there cabbage or lettuce peeps out, and nowhere are there huge tracts of the same culture.
All Holzer’s methods and techniques are based on the elimination of artificial interference in the life of nature. For example, it does not cut the branches of fruit trees – this way they retain their springiness and do not break even under heavy loads..
Sepp Holzer considers his farming method to be the farming of the future. In his opinion, today too much energy and effort is spent on food production, which is especially important when there is a shortage of energy resources. And most importantly, all traditional methods of management have too negative an effect on the environment and human health. The Austrian agrarian urges to delve into natural processes and enable nature to produce what is natural for it.
Bill Mollison’s Silent Revolution
The scientific development of the permaculture technique, presented in practice by Sepp Holzer, was published in the 70s of the twentieth century. These publications were authored by Australian naturalists David Holmgren and Bill Mollison. According to biogeographer Mollison, permaculture is “a design system whose purpose is to organize the space occupied by humans based on environmentally sound models.” The basic principle of building an economy in this case is that it is necessary to create sustainable systems that are able to independently meet their needs and recycle their waste. Bill Mollison’s permaculture includes not only agriculture, but architecture, ecology and even marketing..
Bill Mollison has been developing his theory for many years by studying forest and desert ecosystems in Australia. As a result of the research, the scientist came to the conclusion that plants are always naturally grouped in a mutually beneficial community. Based on these observations, Mollison believes that when managing a household, it is necessary to combine all its elements so that they help each other in the process of coexistence..
Today, Bill Mollison is an itinerant teacher, and many call him an instigator. After the publication of Permaculture in 1978, the Australian biogeographer launched an international movement to spread his theory, which most scholars describe as disruptive and even revolutionary. Thanks to Mollison’s educational activities, the ideas of permaculture spread and took root in many countries of the world, from the tropical forests of South America to the Arctic expanses of Scandinavia..
So, let’s summarize. Permaculture is a system of organization, one of the main goals of which is to harness the power of the human mind to replace muscle power and to minimize the use of energy. In order to build such a self-organizing and self-healing system, it is necessary to carefully study the processes occurring in the wild, and, on the basis of this knowledge and observations, to organize your personal farming.
The Permaculture Farming Principles are great at stimulating the thinking process:
- Work is what a person has to do if he could not arrange so that everything would be done by itself. For example, mulch conserves moisture, and hoses and containers dug into the ground will moisten the soil themselves with minimal human intervention. This also includes the manufacture of solar water heaters and pumps, smart organization and planning of plantings..
- Any need of the farm must be met in several ways. For example, water can be accumulated from rainfall, and also protected under mulch and intensive planting. In addition, the soil structured by roots and the activity of earthworms retains moisture much better than structureless-plowed soil..
- Every plant and animal, every device must perform a number of useful functions. Plants provide food and compost, they can be used as a medicine or spice, they can act as honey plants or scare off pests, accumulate nitrogen in the soil and structure it with roots. Animals provide us with meat, manure and dung, and birds can still protect the garden from pests. Trees bear fruit, can act as a support for other plants, can serve as a canopy and be a design element. The list goes on and on.
Treat your land with love and understanding, look for new approaches, look closely at natural processes, and take an example from them. Any attentive and thinking farmer can always find his way to harmonious coexistence with nature..