Input from Farmers about Broadacre Permaculture

Discussion in 'General chat' started by Wendi Bellows, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. Wendi Bellows

    Wendi Bellows Junior Member

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    I am a graduate student at the University of Florida in the Interdisciplinary Ecology Doctoral Program. My dissertation research focuses on the barriers to farmer adoption of broadacre permaculture. I believe that in order to truly infiltrate the current system, Permaculture must be adopted by people who are producing food for others. I am interested in hearing from folks (especially farmers who have been inspired by Permaculture) about their experiences. Here are a few questions that I have to guide the discussion:

    Why do Permaculture principles, practices and strategies still remain on the fringe of mainstream farming in the United States and Australia?

    b. Are farmers who adopt Permaculture driven by their beliefs and ethics or by rational scientific principles?


    c. What are the main barriers to farmer adoption of permaculture?


    d. What benefits do farmers expect when they adopt permaculture?


    e. What benefits do they actually realize?


    f. Why hasn’t permaculture been disseminated to a wider population of farmers?


    g. How can dissemination of permaculture reach a wider audience?


    Your input will help to shape my inquiry as I will be conducting observations and interviews with Permaculture-inspired farmers in the US and Australia in the near future.


    Thanks!
    Wendi
     
  2. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

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    I'm not a farmer. This type of conversation has come up here before so you might like to use the search engine and see what you can find. Personally, I think the concept of "broadacre" is part of the problem. Food production needs to happen in small scale local farms that supply a small number of families, not a huge bit of land that is 100's of miles away and supplies the first middle man in a chain of middle men, with no conversation between farmer and consumer. There's good science to show that you get higher yields from smaller, more intensively managed farms and it is cheaper to run. A huge food supply chain that is remote in both location and power from the consumer is not permaculture, even if you use some permaculture approaches to production.

    Have a look at this info about sustainable agriculture.
     
  3. ecodharmamark

    ecodharmamark Junior Member

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    G'day Wendi

    Welcome to the PRI Forum.

    Congratulations on undertaking this very important study.

    Here are just a few people (off the top of my head, a waterfall effect should follow) I suggest you contact in relation to the Australian permaculture farm scene:

    Rod May

    David Holmgren

    Darren Doherty

    Liz Burns

    Cheerio, Markos
     
  4. Rob Windt

    Rob Windt Junior Member

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  5. annette

    annette Junior Member

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    Hi Wendy

    Great subject for research there! You may like to contact the national farmers federation and agforce here in Australia. Also the landline program from the ABC here in Australia often has some good programs highlighting innovative approaches to farming including permaculture. ?That address is www.abc.net.au.

    I suspect you will find that it is part of the culture to do what has always been done in a lot of cases. Also you could try the PRI and ask them if they have any info on this. Geoff may have some ideas.

    Good luck.
    Annette
     
  6. Wendi Bellows

    Wendi Bellows Junior Member

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    Thanks so much for all of the excellent suggestions...please keep em coming! I agree with eco4560 that broadacre is part of the problem, but I also think that this is the system that we must work within if Permaculture is to become more common among the mainstream. Even if all approaches to broadacre production are not considered Permaculture, per se by permies, systems planning and design are necessary to move forward with more sustainable systems. Folks who manage large amounts of land for food production may not change the fact that they are farmers, but system redesign is within their reach.
     
  7. louisecross

    louisecross New Member

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    I recommend you contact https://regenag.com/web/ , and perhaps take a look at Joel Salatin and his success in the US, he's in Australia again shortly.
    Good luck with your study.
    best regards Lou
     
  8. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    my bit i also think the concept of factory farming aka broadacre farming, which decimates the habitat, is the blocking issue, as molleson once said farmers need to get back to growing mixed crops for their communities, and that is the only method that could save us as food production and food miles become a major issue. this way farmers grow staples and we grow any other fancies we might want to eat.

    can one imagine the gov resuming properties to grow food locally that is when the poo well and truely hits the fan hey? grin.

    len
     
  9. laurango

    laurango New Member

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    Hi Wendi

    I have read that Permaculture in term of large scale farming can be put another way as organic farming approach, and I have also had the chance to discuss about this topic. And apparently the answer I found to this question in the context of Laos is that organic farming is very expensive to do on a large scale. It is mostly due to the reason of possible increase in cost due to labour intensive activities as we deviate from any conventional cost saving farming methods. Also organic farmers would want to be acknowledged for their premium organic products which would then also incur an administrative cost in certifying products as organic.

    On another hand, I am also told that organic farming is mostly welcomed by small farming households in Laos due to the concern of household's head on the health of the family.

    Hope it helps,

    Laura
     
  10. martyn

    martyn Junior Member

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    Hi Wendi

    I am a Broad acre farmer – on the small side (1100ac) in a cool temperate climate, some snow and a shorter growing season. We are just starting out with permaculture, did my PDC in April, working on Zones 0-2 currently. I really feel that the permaculture part of my farm will finish at zone 3 and other forms of Agriculture take over in the design.

    I have livestock inside zone 3, being my pigs, the larger livestock are outside that. We grow a small amount of grain – we are currently trying out different techniques to see which one best suit our area. Our vege season is a little short but we manage. We also have ducks, chickens and geese. We swap a pig for a lamb with neighbours, we make apple cider from the road side apples and we collect acorns from the parks around town to feed to the pigs in winter.

    As far as our Zone 4 and 5 go I see it is like this, I have found that Natural Sequence Farming is a great way to rehydrate my landscape and stop nutrients and silt running off my property (that is fiox the erosion) – it’s a repairing tool, I then need to aerate the soil and have the water I need in the right places – for that I use Keyline and NSF techniques (the key line techniques, like the contour ploughing, have faster results then NSF) - these are conditioning tools.
    Once the soil is being hydrated and things are coming to life I use Biodynamics to give it the boost it needs and build healthy resilient pastures (deep rooted perennial thickened with annuals).

    Now I have pasture for my stock I need a grazing system that will nurture the pastures and be drought tolerant, for this I move to Holistic Management. This gives me the ability to plan a grazing strategy and make a profit from my livestock.
    Now all the parasite and health type stuff for the livestock I use natural farming practices and biodynamics (Apple cider and garlic vinegar, pumpkin seeds, mineral licks and rotational grazing). In the bigger paddocks where weeds are a real problem and the shire weed inspector is on my case I have to use biological techniques, these include very strategic chemical use and modifying the soil.

    Knowing which method to use when and where is the key, it's not something you can do a course on and you've got to ready to make mistakes and learn. We always test our theories in small scale before jumping in these days.

    Our property is mostly grassland, and grassland is grassland – tree’s are sparse and not part of the landscape. We will use trees into zone 3 but have no plans move trees into the other zones. In the future I want the pigs to feed themselves from fallen nuts, acorns, winter root crops, brasicas and fodder trees. I’ve designed a system for them and I’m currently/slowly implementing it.

    We’ve found that changing your practices from conventional to this costs money, there is fencing, water troughs and earthworks, all costing a considerable amount.

    But more than the cost is the time. We only farm part time at the moment as we need the capital to build the place. Pigs a considerably hard on infrastructure and sometimes I’ll spend a whole weekend just repairing fences, finding a leak or just general animal husbandry, gardening or family stuff.
     
  11. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    g'day laura,

    if we got back top the farming model molleson alludes to organic farming would not be any more labour intensive than the gardening method we use. as i said early molleson said these farmers grow staples for their communities people grow their other needs in their own garden.

    still doesn't alter factory/broad-acre farms decimate habitat they don't mange it and they don't improve it and they deliver land degradation and chemical contamination.

    anyhow guess fresh food at least will be getting very expensive with this carbon furphy.

    len
     
  12. Pakanohida

    Pakanohida Junior Member

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    Honestly, the USDA. They allow the use of chemicals that have destroyed the US soil infrastructure for food, & it's chance for collapse grows daily, literally.

    We in the US have built a system where we tell farmers they need the new John Deere every year, we get them hooked like crack whores on subsidies, and spray unneeded chemicals that spread well beyond where they were intended in order to line the pockets of a few individuals.

    The fact of the matter is a typical farmer can't in America, unless, like me, they go insanely slow over a matter of years, if not decades. That is a hard sell in a failing economy. As one person told me recently, "I've been doing what works for the last 50 years, why should I change now?"

    The fact of the matter the USDA needs to change "yesterday" with regards to Permaculture, the science behind it, and move forward without screwing over the farmers like they have been the last 65 years or so.
     
  13. Finchj

    Finchj Junior Member

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    It wouldn't be appropriate for me to answer your questions since I do not hold a PDC, but I wanted to say hello from a USF Tampa graduate!

    Good luck with your research!
     

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