Re: [Disarmed] [fukuoka_farming] Natural Farming in Australia/Thailand
From the immediate situation and the local resources you seem to have, aquaculture may well lend itself to this situation. Rice paddies and other bodies of water will support aquaculture crops such as fish, crustaceans and edible aquatic plants./ Ph as you point out is important for both plant growth and aquaculture. Immediate lime applications will increase Ph levels for both. Clay substrates are a potential sources of nutrients even where topsoil is thin. Pond residues created by aquaculture are high in nutrients which can be spread on the land to improve soil quality. Both agriculture and aquaculture can benefit each other in a much more symbiotic way when run together.
As there would appear to be an abundance of clay and water ponds will be easy to construct. These can produce fish, freshwater crawfish and edible aquatic plants all at the same time. Tree planting (fruiting trees) will provide a sustainable edible crop and enhance the aquatic environment at the same time.
Where a freshwater supply exists it would be sensible to use all of the natural resources in conjunction with each other for agriculture and aquaculture.
Plastic sheeting will also retain nutrients in compost bins as long as the compost is covered in heavy rainfall to prevent nutrient leaching. Compost should be moist but in tropical climates this should not be a problem only in the dry season October to March.
----- Original Message -----
From: Matthew Bond
Sent: Monday, November 06, 2006 9:42 PM
Subject: [Disarmed] [fukuoka_farming] Natural Farming in Australia/Thailand
I'm looking for practitioners of Natural Farming in Australia and
Thailand. I'm looking at starting a natural farm myself in Victoria
and I have a friend doing a project in Thailand. She recently sent
me the following email. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
"I wanted to ask a favor to those who have the time to spare. I need
to pick you brains about PC and get your advice on a few things.
First I?ll tell you a little about the situation, then I?ll get to
the farming bit.
I?ve been working on a new project out here, which in English we
have called PODS projects (Planting Organics and Developing
Sustainability). Basically it?s a community development project
aimed at strengthening the social and economic structures within the
local community to assist in the prevention of child sexual
exploitation and abuse.
The project uses traditional organic farming techniques, as these
methods of farming can then be taught and reintroduced into the
community. Currently genetically engineered crops, pesticides and
chemical fertilisers are degrading the soil and increasing the costs
of farming. Large scale, corporate-owned agriculture has also
destroyed many traditional farming methods, forcing small farmers
out of business as they can not afford to compete. Many families
have lost their livelihoods and their income causing a number of
social problems, with poverty and the loss of dignity being the
driving forced behind many of the issues.
Many families in these areas are being forced to use their girls as
commodities to help provide the basic needs for the rest of the
family. Recruiting agents will often approach a family when their
daughters are still very young and offer them ?up front? payments
for the exchange of their daughter once she turns 12 years. In a
town situated on the other side of Chiang Rai province, 90% of the
girls had been bought by brokers and will be forced into the sex
So, it?s a much needed project yet some how I?ve ended up in a
situation where admittedly I?m a little over my head on the farming
side of things, but I wont go into details about that just now. The
good news is that we have found land, with lots of water and people
who are willing to work. We have a few small veggie patches going
which feeds the children at a local shelter, but things are going
slow and we have a long way to go. Anyway its a start especially as
our communication is limited, with me having little Thai skills and
the rest having little/no English. Every day is a new adventure!
From the limited knowledge I can remember at our PDC course I?ll try
to explain a little about the soil.
- It?s a heavily farmed rice crop area, so much of the
ground is clay, holding water and flooding easily. The land we have
was once a rice field which has been filled with top soil to make it
level. About 30cm deep.
- The top soil is mainly red/brown colour, smelling earthy
but a little sour. Its smooth and lathers easy in water.
- The grass is blade with a lot of thistle type plants.
- The soil is very hard and the surface is uneven where it
- Some areas where there is little top soil, the ground is
cracked, dry, bare and the soil is yellow ? light white colour.
- There are few/almost no worms
So from what I know, the top soil is high in Mag and iron and is
more to the acidic side of the Ph scale. Its lacking in some
nutrients including oxygen and there is poor drainage due to the
clay content. In areas where there is no top soil, its more alkaline
as its white colour, also poor in oxygen and nutrients. Is this
right so far?
The people around here have been bringing in top soil for their
gardens, to raise the land as well as to have better soil. However,
this soil is no better than what we already have, costs a lot and
has been heavily farmed with chemicals. What I?m wondering is;
- Can we work with our current soil to make it more fertile
for growth through composting?
- If so, how long will this take approx; months, years,
- Will we need to bring in soil anyway to raise the ground
for floods? Can I do this another way?
- How deep do we need to go to start turning the soil, is
30cm of top soil enough?
- What kind of compose should we make to balance the Ph a
little more? How long will this take and how long will it need be in
the soil for it to be ready for growing?
I have considered sheet mulch gardening for the time being. We think
this is not really worth while, as we need a large area and we ?can?
grow some things in the top soil we have. Also regarding
composting, someone has mentioned that its best to have a concert
slab under the compost as it stops nutrients from draining away
(??). Apparently this is how they have been doing it in the area. My
understanding is that this prevents the oxygen from circulating and
slows the process down, is that right?
Unfortunately we are in a position where there is little to no
knowledge in organic farming techniques. So as much as I would like
to say ?we can use local knowledge?, there doesn?t seem to be much
left. One important aspect is though that the farm can set an
example to locals, so techniques need to be affordable, attainable
and easy to implement. Other wise people will be put off easily."
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