Mar 14, 2011
Here's some permanent agriculture (permaculture) features at the farm:
Alley cropping of napia grasses to reduce pressure on arable land for ruminants. By cultivating grasses we can raise up to 200 goats per acre of land versus around 15 here in Malaysia. We alley crop with nitrogen-fixing leguminous gliricidia septum. It may be necessary to fallow with leguminous cover crops after a couple of years. At the moment, we ferment chicken discards such as feathers, guts, etc. to produce a liquid fertiliser, and fertilise twice a year. So far, production of grass has been maintained, a good example of sustainability.
Passion (fruit) vines grow fast, and produce sufficient foliage to impart noticeable cooling. Sun-shading using plants is efficient, easy, with little maintenance needed, and have practically no running costs. Next, passiflora shades in the chicken fields; side effects - more insects and vitamin Cs for the chickens!
Earth drains permit infiltration of water and generally slows down run-offs. However, in our heavy monsoon downpours, earth drains need regular maintenance and may contribute to erosion.
A judicious mix of earth and concrete drains may be necessary, in addition to other water retention and diversion strategies.
Earth drains increase available planting spaces in small farms. Earth drains at our farm are income generating, producing a variety of crops - watercress, edible ferns, pandan leaves, arrowroots, and various edible taro tubers.
The picture shows the laying of low stone barriers across earth drains to slow down water flow and hence reducing erosion. They also allow for deeper, slower flowing sections enabling feeding and hence increasing the population of wild eels which are harvested.
Shaping of land to create catchment areas to retain water, to slow down flow of rain water, and in the case in this picture, to reduce water-logged areas. In the process planting spaces are created for growing water loving vegetables - here, just planted watercress and arrowroot.
After a down pour, the land used to get soggy and difficult to work for days. With these catchment areas, the soggy areas are gone and the catchment area retains water for weeks (due to high water table) - good for planting income generating water loving vegetables.