View Full Version : Which is best? - Permaculture and biodynamics
28-03-2004, 01:26 PM
Having not attempted either method yet, but have the need and desire to learn, where do I start?
Basically I need to to know the differences between them so that when we buy our property we get started on the right track. Is bio dynamics just about the garden, or does it take into account the whole property.
What are your thoughts?
Look forward to hearing them.
28-03-2004, 02:27 PM
The spouse and I were just discussing this today after the Landline TV show which featured a piece on permaculture.
As far as we could work out, (simplistic view) permaculture is a small-scale intensive farming which is high in in-put (yours). You can't run a wheat farm on a permaculture basis. Biodynamics is the building up of soil microbes and worms so that the resulting plants are strong, vigorous and able to withstand diseases. Crops are rotated as are stock to prevent a build up of pests and diseases in the soil. My brother-in-law runs his wheat farm on a byodynamic and organic basis. He has turned what was essentially degraded wind-blown soils into a productive broad-acre wheat farm. He runs sheep and goats as weed control and whilst he doesn't equal his chemical using neighbours in bags per acre production, his wheat is worth 3 times as much as theirs!
Permaculture is a way of growing food-crops around your house so that you don't need to use up the earth's resources to eat. Your house too should be far more ecologically friendly - ie, not chopping down a whole bunch of trees to build it, and not requiring tonnes of fossil fuels to cool or warm it. Animals are used as pest control for insects and weeds. Plants are planted on a basis of usefulness. A tree should have three functions - ie shade, a crop/stock feed, windbreak.
Both methods can be used together.
29-03-2004, 01:10 PM
permaculture - while it can be applied to gardening is actually about sustainable system design. many permaculturalists use a range of gardening techniques to develop sustainable home food systems...like biodynamics, no-dig methods, raised beds - these are all techniques that contribute to effective system design. the techniques themselves are not permaculture - the way they work with the system is.
permaculture is not just growing the food, but about sustainable ways of storing it, distributing it, trading it, recycling it...permaculture is developing 'permanent culture'...
does that make sense?
so get into both if you like...haven't gone into much detail about biodynamics - but it is quite a specialised method of gardening/agriculture developed by rudolph steiner
29-03-2004, 01:41 PM
This is one of my pet 'soapbox' issues. The 'passion' is not targeted at anyone here so please don't be offended.
It still amazes me the number of people who complete PDC courses and the like and still don't 'get' what Permaculture is. (I guess though to some degree it is open to interpretation.)
Permaculture is not 'chicken tractors', earthworm farms or 'herb spirals'. These are simply techniques that may or may not be appropriate to a given permaculture garden. They are tools.
Permaculture is a design process. One of several available. One which can be applied at any level of focus. Examples of other complementary design systems are Yeoman's keyline planning, and Christopher Alexander's 'Pattern Language'. Some complementary design systems may be more culturally orientated such as Feng Shui or Vastu or even geomancy. Other systems such as passive solar design may be part of a permaculture plan or be used as a separate entity.
Design systems can usually be applied at any scale. The application may vary but the design process is relatively the same. They may be applied in a physical landscape, social landscape, or even spiritual landscape. Permaculture has even been applied 'internally' in relation to personal development, deep ecology ideas etc.
So yeah, permaculture can be applied to farming systems, by using an integration of systems and techniques. Even if the final result is not what a purist may call permaculture, if it has progressed to a more sustainable system that the system it replaces, then something has been achieved.
If there is confusion about the boundaries between design systems, then forget about the words and the labels. Use the elements of the design systems most readily available and applicable to create your own individual project. Don't get too hung up on the nomenclature or taxonomy. Just do it. Experiment and play. Have fun.
29-03-2004, 10:24 PM
Gotta echo Dan and James who as usual are far more eloquent than me.
I would sugest that it isn't an either/or situation. Whilst biodynamics isn't a whole system design from what I know about it, and is more focused on agriculture than conserving energy in the other aspects of our lives it does seem to create fairly productive and healthy soils, which is what P/c seeks to do also...
31-03-2004, 10:10 AM
A quick (and at least partially accurate) way I describe permaculture vs biodynamic and other organic techniques is permaculture is the design of homestead-scale systems. It is hard to make an economic return on a food forest, herb spiral, or chicken tractor. (Although look at our chookies (http://www.mossbackfarm.com))
Biodynamics and organics tend to cover specific techniques to produce a healthy farm ecosystem, but again, are less comprehensive, but tend to allow a higher potential for economic return.
My 2 cents
04-04-2004, 12:56 AM
I too couldn't resist putting in my two bits.
I am interested in permaculture, not because I am obsessed by the definition of permaculture, but what permaculture represents and what it can do for me.
Mine is primarily an economic decision. By reducing consumables and saving money, it seems that the negative environmental impact is also reduced. Or is that just my idealist mind working overtime?
Of the few books on permaculture I have read, most require a lot of $$$ to be initially invested into a property, for the system to be properly implemented. Features such as solar power, composting toilets, water recycling systems, etc, etc, are expensive features that can easily be designed into a new dwelling or remain out of reach for the owner of an established dwelling paying off a substantial mortgage.
As much as I would love to be able to implement a lot of these systems, financially, I am not and will not be in a situation to spend anywhere near the amount required to change anything major or structural on our property for at least the next 10 years.
What permaculture does for me is to provide me with options where I don't have to spend more than necessary on consumables such as excess water, firewood, food for humans, stock feed, fertiliser, potting and seed raising mixes, compost, poisons, and expend more energy than necessary on things such as weeding, digging, mowing, carting, etc.
All of these things save me time and money. At the same time, I gain great satisfaction in knowing that I have once again reduced the rubbish produced by our household compared to last week, or this time last year. Some weeks it is not always possible, for example we recently had a birthday party for one of the children and much of the plastic toy packaging from the presents, couldn't be recycled. That week, we put out a full garbage bin! I am not about to beat myself up over it but I am even more accutely aware of how inappropriate such packaging is and support to discourage its use. (Any ideas?)
We own one vehicle and hubby walks an hour each day to catch the bus (half and hour each leg - pardon the pun) for a two hour journey too and from work. Yes that's 4 hours a day!
I use a little less detergent, washing powder, hair products, toothpaste, etc than I used to. Some environmentally friendly products on the market are out of our price range, so I do the best with what I can.
I can't afford to pay the extra our electricity company charge for green power, so I economise where I can. We put an extra jumper on, or a singlet, instead of turning on the heater. We don't have airconditioning, but with the verandahs around our house, we really don't need it. We don't use electric blankets and our only form of heating is a slow combustion heater.
There are plenty of things we can improve, but can't afford so we try and make do with what we can afford and can physically achieve.
It might not fit a lot of ppl's perception of permaculture but in my mind, it all aims to achieve a similar goal. And we are always open to ideas and suggestions.
My biggest achievement is if I made something for free or by not drawing on the environment to do so.
What really irks me is the council's attitude to ppl scrounging the hard rubbish collection. They reckon the contractors lose money by what they can't recycle, but I've seen their truck, with its big crusher, destroy things that needy families could have used! It is now illegal in Melbourne to take anything from the hard rubbish collection!
Phew! Now I can get down off my soap box.
04-04-2004, 08:33 AM
Ok, I can't resist responding to you Tam.
About the hard rubbish... I fully agree with you and would encourage you and everyone else to go ahead and flout their stupid law and take whatever you can use. You are just being a good womble ("making good use of the things that you find, the things that the everyday folk leave behind")...
About the toys, while I am very glad that you don't beat yourself up over the excess packaging, you do ask for any ideas so I'll give you mine. Don't buy stuff that has excess packaging... A lot of stuff that we buy, only has so much packaging because we continue to buy it that way, as I'm sure you realise... We could wait for a century for governments to legislate about such things but really the quickest way to stop it would be for people simply not to reach into their pockets... The thing that amazes me is that often a product costs less than the godamn packaging that hardly anyone wants anyway...
A Permaculture solution to the problem might be to make our own toys, or contract a local toymaker to make something special. I know your kids probably wouldn't appreciate it as much as you, but then maybe they would...
By the way I loved your pun about each leg.
Powered by vBulletin™ Version 4.1.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.