Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
Sector and slope planning are very much about working with microclimates. These are
small areas that have their own distinctive climatic conditions, such as sunny south-facing
slopes, frost pockets, sheltered areas, or windy hilltops. The first priority of good design
should be to make use of existing microclimates, second comes enhancing what is already
there, and only lastly should we think of creating new ones. This means matching our plant-
ing and building plans to the existing landscape, seeking out sunny spots rather than felling
trees to create them, or planting willows in a marshy field rather than draining it and plant-
ing a dry land crop.
This is an energy-efficient approach, as it seeks to make the minimum change for the
maximum effect. It is also more in harmony with the landscape and is likely to lead to a
more stable ecology.
Zone, sector and slope planning forms an integrated system for designing a farm, or any
human habitat. It starts with observation of what is already there. A good designer will
spend more time in listening to the landscape and its inhabitants, asking what each of them
needs and has to offer, than in any other part of the design process. This observation, and
the thought process that follows it, are the real work of permaculture.
Two British Farms
Permaculture systems can be designed to produce a vegan, vegetarian or meat-eating diet;
the choice is a personal one. Certainly the kind of cruelty practised in factory farming is
completely unacceptable. But there are some ecological advantages in having domestic an-
imals on the farm. Apart from the obvious one of contributing to the soil fertility cycle,
they can make use of resources we could not or would not use. An example already given
is the chickens picking up the fallen grain from the wheat field; another is grazing animals
finding a living on land that is too infertile to grow crops for our direct use. On the other
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