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An Ecomimicry Approach to Permaculture. My Background Botany; BS, EIU Environmental Science; BS, EIU Masters UIUC Plant Biology Farmer; 10+ years; 5 generations.

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Presentation on theme: "An Ecomimicry Approach to Permaculture. My Background Botany; BS, EIU Environmental Science; BS, EIU Masters UIUC Plant Biology Farmer; 10+ years; 5 generations."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Ecomimicry Approach to Permaculture

2 My Background Botany; BS, EIU Environmental Science; BS, EIU Masters UIUC Plant Biology Farmer; 10+ years; 5 generations – ~ 5 years permaculture Landscaper Naturalist Restoration and conservation via revenue Graduate work with bioenergy perennials, UIUC – Monoculture vs. polyculture – Perennials vs. annuals – Life cycle analysis

3 What is Permaculture? – “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture” holistic design approach for creating sustainable systems My approach is largely based upon ecomimicry – Biomimicry – design strategy that seeks solutions by imitation of natural elements and dynamics – Ecomimicry – design strategy that draws upon strengths of ecosystems Self sustaining self replicating Self regulating

4 Why Permaculture/Goals? Response to failures of modern agriculture – monocultures – annual crops – input demands – consolidation – soil destruction (C/N) – Transport/fuel “A net can function with 70% of its strings broken”; what then? – Peak oil, water, population, etc. – 200sp/day lost Permaculture provides a framework for integrating knowledge and solving problems

5 Where to Begin "An sustainable farm is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system and possesses its integrity and resilience" —Wendell Berry, "The Gift of Good Land" Some major design principles – Prolonged insightful observation of system – Restoration based, not human/economic – Based upon native systems and ecomimicry – Continuous/reiterative process

6 Applying Ecomimicry Natural systems are perennial based – capture more solar energy Early in spring & Late into fall – Soil conservation/building – More efficient water use – Nutrient recycling year to year Natural systems are polycultures – Niche partitioning – Resilience from diversity Native species are adapted to local climate patterns (changing) Fostering productive species interactions will produce emergent properties and efficiencies

7 Engineering Trophic Levels Design Influenced by ecomimicry – Producers Canopy & Root Stratification Nitrogen fixers and soil miners – Grazers Concentration and mobilization of nutrients Pollinators – Predators Hornets, assassin bugs, owls – Parasites Flies, wasps – Disease nematodes, milky spore – Decomposers Nutrient cycling/Potential food resource Succession Continuous stage appropriate recruitment Self Replicating

8 Hardy Illinois Perennials TreesShrubsClimbersHerbsForbes PersimmonHazelnutraspberryHyssopAsparagus Paw CurrantblackberryOreganohorseraddish Buffalo BerryGoumiGrapesRussian Terragonrhubarb saskatoonSeathornrosehipsThyme walking onions ApricotGooseberryHardy KiwiCatnip leeks Chestnuthoneyberry mints sunchoke Hickoryquince heal all Walnut comfrey plums mulberry yellowhorn


10 Diversity Diversity between and within species/genus/families at every trophic level – Reduces disease or pest outbreaks – Less likely and less severe impacts of stochastic events e.g. drought – Genetics for natural resistance and resilience (drought/hardiness) – Spatial distribution (no huge fields, etc.) Seasonal/temporal diversity – Blooms and fruit throughout year Better habitat, more productive, more resilient Market exploration & finding niche

11 Soil Carbon Plants can fix enormous quantities of carbon Cover crops, trees, and other perennials are efficient at sequestration of carbon Benefits of carbon increases water retention improves soil structure Improves Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) Provides food for soil fauna Reduces runoff Soil management determines carbon stability Plowing and nutrient application can destroy soils Annual crop growth destroys soil

12 Nutrients Energy (C) and Nutrients (N,P,K) should cycle on the farm Organic vs Inorganic Nutrients – Nutrients immobilized in carbon compounds are more stable – Inorganic nutrients speed break down of organic molecules in soil – Inorganic nutrients use fossil fuel in production or refinement – Inorganic nutrients are expensive $ – Nutrients are pollutants Nitrogen Effectively sequestered by legumes and many other species Mobilized as manures, composts, hay, etc. Phosphorus Illinois soils rich, sometimes issues with solubility/pH Soil Miners (phosphatase) and green manures Potassium Illinois soils usually rich, Soil miners can mobilize Improving CEC availability

13 Mobilizing Nutrients – Grazers Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Potassium can be concentrated in manure Cover crop polycultures should be edible – Green manure/Compost Soil miners, legumes, and cover crops concentrate nutrients – Decomposers Introducing edible/medicinal species Nutrient recycling

14 Insects Biological Pest Control Predators Parasitoids Genetic resistance – E.g. red mites diversity – Minimizes impacts Does not eliminate issues – Outbreaks less likely and less severe » Resilience – Economic thresholds » Money saved on chemicals – System integrity preserved

15 Disease Genetic Resistance or Immunity – E.g. fire blight Diversity – Reduces likelihood and severity of outbreaks Management – Eg. Cleanup of leaves or fruit

16 Weed Management Weed competition – Competition with perennials – Increased groundcover cover crops – Never leave ground bare Mulch – Hay vs. straw – Fill niches or weeds will – Soil Conditions Prevention Bio-indication – E.g. pigweed or dandelion – Manual Removal Reduced but rarely eliminated

17 Water Management Less of an issue in Illinois or small scale – No grades, good soil infiltration – Most years even rainfall It can be a lot of work to mechanically change the way water moves on your land One can match species to water and soil conditions just as natural systems do If runoff or erosion is an issue these issues should be addressed Climate change may incite changes

18 Importance of Seeds Commodification issues – Threatens diversity – Threatens food security – Destroys economies Importance of seeds – Self – replicating Seeds are the future – Ability to adapt – Climate change – Backyard breeders – Diversity/genetic bank

19 Infrastructure Renewable Energy & Materials – Solar and wind – Wood/plants Solar Water heater Cob or Straw Buildings Root Cellar Solar Dryer Location/Transport Packaging Hydrology/Water Budget Energy Budget

20 Regain Your Place In Environment Sense of place Nourishment of soul as well as body We are deeply imbedded in our environment Place to raise your family

21 Social Aspects Reducing Externalities Fair Access Healthy Food Respect for non-human life Respect for native environments Respect for traditional and local knowledge Increased community

22 Permaculture Can Work at Any Scale Rehabilitation of ecosystems can be accomplished at multiple scales – Broad acre farms – Homes – Apartments – Business Does not need to be expensive – Seed collecting and trading – Money saved on food

23 Questions?

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