I'm reading an interesting book, "Dirt: The Erosion Of Civilization."
It discusses how farming practices have changed overtime and many of the techniques adopted have led to soil loss at an unsustainable rate.
The book discusses early Roman agriculture, which was extremely sustainable and soil building.
The technique described is called "cultura promiscua."
A google search didn't turn up much.
Here is the description:
"The earliest Roman farmers planted a multistory canopy of olives, grapes, cereals, and fodder crops referred to as cultura promiscua. Interplanting of understory and overstory crops smothered weeds, saved labor, and prevented erosion by shielding the ground all year. Roots of each crop reached to difference depths and did not compete with each other. Instead, the multicrop system raised soil temperatures and extended the growing season. In the early republic, a Roman family could feed itself working the typical plot of land by hand. (and such labor-intensive farming is best practices on a small scale.) Using an ox and plow saved labor but required twice as much land to feed a family."
Any modern day implementation of this system? Does it go by other names I might be able to find out more about it under?
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13-09-2011, 01:31 AM
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13-09-2011, 03:29 AM
Yes, the other name is Permaculture That's the description of a food forest. It's not that any of these methods are new that we are using now, but putting the right ones together that will cohabitate is the tricky part, but there are good guild lists.
and Rome, having a Mediterranean climate, with no summer rain, fruit trees must be irrigated, so growing plants underneath them won't hurt them. But mature fruit trees don't need extra water where there is summer rain or it's tropical, so all the extra water on the understory could be an issue.
Last edited by sweetpea; 13-09-2011 at 03:31 AM."Life flows on within you and without you"...George Harrison
Coastal California, USA, Mediterranean climate - no summer rain, a little frost mid-winter
15-09-2011, 05:34 PM
Thanks for your question.
Sources for such systems are likely to be Cato, Varro or Collumella. I suspect Cato. I couldn't give you chapter and verse but have a look at Cato's de agri cultura.
Looking at such past systems is an important aspect of the work of Permaculturalists. These are our best working models of low energy systems from which we can form a synthesis for a particular climate.
You will still find such systems throughout Spain and Italy and surrounding the Mediterranean basin. I have just been walking in Spain and saw numerous examples of such simple polycultures (http://perennialideas.ptpc.com.au/we...-walnuts-et-al).
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