Agribusiness

3 Agricultural Philosophies To Explore

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‘Finding a balance in the garden’ illustration contributed by Emma Lawrence and featured in the 2015 Permaculture Calendar.

Agriculture, farming or gardening. Whatever term you choose, we are all in the same boat; for us to succeed we need to constantly learn, innovate and experiment.

At FarmLift we thrive on this. Our ability to conduct research, study trends in Agriculture, Marketing and Production enable us to create unique solutions for our clients.

The three philosophies in agriculture that we are currently studying are:

Permaculture

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.

Permaculture guides us to mimic the patterns and relationships we can find in nature and can be applied to all aspects of human habitation, from agriculture to ecological building, from appropriate technology to education and even economics.

To learn more about the principles of permaculture go to http://permacultureprinciples.com/principles/ and watch this cool video about setting up a permaculture ecosystem in your backyard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gB9lJpIi7zQ

No Till/No Dig Method

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http://www.gardenbetty.com/2014/03/the-no-dig-vegetable-garden/

The no-dig  method means the soil is left unturned, or not dug, and one makes the beds accessible from side paths so there is no walking on the productive land.

No-dig methods allow nature to carry out cultivation operations. Organic matter such as well-rotted manurecompostleaf moldspent mushroom compost, old straw, etc., is added directly to the soil surface as a mulch at least 5-15 centimeters (2–6 in) deep, which is then incorporated by the actions of worms, insects and microbes. Worms and other soil life also assist in building up the soil’s structure, their tunnels providing aeration and drainage, and their excretions bind together soil crumbs. This natural biosphere maintains healthy conditions in the upper soil horizons where annual plant roots thrive. No-dig systems are said to be freer of pests and disease, possibly due to a more balanced soil population being allowed to build up in this undisturbed environment, and by encouraging the buildup of beneficial rather than harmful soil fungi. Moisture is also retained more efficiently under mulch than on the surface of bare earth, allowing slower percolation and less leaching of nutrients.

The no-dig method consistently produces equivalent or better results and the labour input is radically reduced. Even so, many gardeners find it difficult to believe that you can grow crops without digging. By adding organic matter to the top, not walking on the soil and using no-dig principles the results are great. Admittedly the first year is not the best, but by the second year you should have something worth bragging about.

To learn more about the No Did/No Till Method watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4HnTs3hDiQ and read this handy No-Dig guide at http://communitygarden.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/no-dig-brochure.pdf

Forest Farming

Forest Farming:
Forest Farming: Coffee Forest

Farm forestry can be defined as the practice of growing trees on privately owned agricultural land and waste land, including degraded forests. It has been described by the World Bank as “the least costly and economically the most effective approach to afforestation of the rural areas” (World Bank Report, as quoted in CSE Report 1985: 53). Conversely Forest Gardening is mimicking the structure and function of forests in the way we garden, or using the forest as a model for the way we garden.

Forest farming also involves cultivation of high-value specialty crops under a forest canopy that is intentionally modified or maintained to provide appropriate shade levels and habitat that favor growth and enhance production levels. It encompasses a range of cultivated systems from introducing plants into the understory of a timber stand to modifying forest stands to enhance the marketability and sustainable production of existing plants.

Forest farming is a type of agroforestry practice characterized by the “four I’s”: intentional, integrated, intensive and interactive. This system combines trees with crops or livestock, or both, on the same piece of land. It focuses on increasing benefits to the landowner as well as maintaining forest integrity and environmental health. The practice involves cultivating non-timber forest products or niche crops, some of which, such as ginseng or shiitake mushrooms, can have high market value.

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are plants, parts of plants, fungi, and other biological materials harvested from within and on the edges of natural, manipulated, or disturbed forests. Examples of crops are ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, decorative ferns, and pine straw.

To learn more about Forest Farming go to http://farmingthewoods.com/2013/04/04/forest-farming-vs-forest-gardening-whats-the-difference-2/ and do take time to also watch videos embedded onto their site.

We are looking forward to modeling these philosophies and once we do we will share what we learn. If you know of farms currently trying out these philosophies in Kenya do share. 

What do you think of Permaculture, No-Dig/No Till Farming or Forest Farming? Share your thoughts with us.

 

 

 

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