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RE: [fukuoka_farming] Dieter Dryland farming

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  • Linda Shewan
    Dieter - I think maybe you need to use some permaculture techniques just once to get the percolation of rain down deep and water storage happening so that
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 21, 2007
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      Dieter - I think maybe you need to use some permaculture techniques just
      once to get the percolation of rain down deep and water storage happening so
      that plants can draw on this water over summer. Maybe Yeoman's ploughing
      (doesn't turn the soil so doesn't erode topsoil) or put in some swales -
      Fukuoka's idea of digging trenches and burying trees does the same thing ie.
      rotting logs store huge amounts of water, plus the carbon required for
      plants to grow.



      Are you on the flat or on slopes. If you have slope then you can just lay
      logs or build walls on contour across the slope and they will act as
      terraces and store the water, leaves, twigs etc, topsoil runoff. There was a
      great article on an African guy doing this on the web -
      http://www.ag.arizona.edu/OALS/ALN/aln46/lancaster.html



      It's inspirational reading even if you don't feel like it's true NF.



      Cheers, Linda





      From: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      [mailto:fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Dieter Brand
      Sent: Tuesday, 21 August 2007 7:38 PM
      To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Dieter Dryland farming



      Kiko,

      I live in the South of Portugal. We actually get quite a bit of
      rain, around 600 to 700 mm. The trouble is, it usually comes
      all at once (especially in November and April) and nothing at
      all at other times (May through September).



      .







      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Robert Monie
      Hi Dieter, Many cover crop experts list sunflowers as an established cover crop. Have you experimented with sunflowers of various heights and densities and
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 21, 2007
      • 0 Attachment
        Hi Dieter,

        Many cover crop experts list sunflowers as an established cover crop. Have you experimented with sunflowers of various heights and densities and breeds to see if you can extend their season? In Louisiana we have a "swamp" sunflower that can exist in slightly reduced sunlight and tolerate substantial amounts of rain and moisture (though, alas, not much cold weather) .Have you considered henna as a cash crop? Henna can tolerate some very dry, hot surroundings.


        Your technique of broadcasting seed into native shrubs and then mechanically shredding them for mulch is exactly the kind of adaptation of natural farming that this world-wide Fukuoka list should be conveying loudly and clearly. Have you talked to civil engineers and land reclaimers in Portugal about native grasses, expecially deep rooted perennials? Personally I put my faith in grass as creator of soil and maintainer of fertility. Are some of your shrubs nitrogen-fixers too?

        Tapado and Frijol tapado ("covered bean") are ancient techniques popular in Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, and Costa Rico. See http://www.metafro.be/leisa/1991/7-1-33.pdf.

        Bob Monie
        Zone 8
        New Orleans, LA
        Dieter Brand <diebrand@...> wrote:
        Kiko,

        I live in the South of Portugal. We actually get quite a bit of
        rain, around 600 to 700 mm. The trouble is, it usually comes
        all at once (especially in November and April) and nothing at
        all at other times (May through September).

        Dry-land farming as it is practised in Portugal, Spain and other
        semi-dry areas around the World consists of ploughing the soil
        so as to produce a powdery dirt mulch at the onset of the dry
        season. This dirt mulch very effectively prevents the humidity
        in the layer below from evaporating and at the same time
        provides complete weed suppression. Typical crops for dry
        areas such as beans, corn for fodder, sunflowers, etc. can in
        this way be grown on the rest-humidity practically without any
        irrigation. On the downside, this method is very labour-intensive
        since, when it does rain or when there is the possibility for
        irrigation, the soil needs to be hoed so as to prevent a crust
        from forming. But worst of all, the constant soil disturbance
        prevents humus formation and exacerbates erosion especially
        on hillside fields. Also, this method is not very amenable for
        cover crops; hence, the soil is fed either by manure or, more
        and more, by synthetic fertilizers which are easier to handle.

        Inspired by the writings of Fukuoka and others, I converted to
        no-till 3 years ago. On the garden-level this is easily achieved
        by mulching and cover crops. But since I can irrigate less than
        1% of our land with the available surface water resources, I
        have been attempting to develop a method of organic no-till
        for dry-land farming. So far without success. And I don’t
        know about anybody else who has succeeded either.

        It is easy enough to grow small grains, winter-annual legumes
        or other cover crops during the winter. But as you probably
        know, and as has also been demonstrated by Fukuoka, success
        in this type of farming depends on continued coverage by
        cash crops and/or cover crops during the entire growing season.
        An interruption during the summer will allow the weeds to
        come back and you have to start from zero.

        In the Fall, I broadcast winter-annuals. Some, like faba beans,
        lupines, rye etc., will grow in an existing stand of weeds and/or
        grass, others like wheat, barley, etc. can’t compete. One
        method has proved to be very successful: I broadcast seeds into
        native shrubs, then cut and shred the shrubs in one go with a
        special hacking device attached to a power cutter so that the
        shrubs will come to cover the seeds as a mulching layer.
        The problem is that the shrubs won’t grow back fast enough
        to allow this procedure every year, or, as is the case with
        brambles for example, will slowly give way to grass and
        weeds after cutting for a couple of years. I believe there
        is a technique used in Latin America called tapada or tapado
        which is somewhat similar. If you know Spanish you may
        want to check this out.

        The following Spring you can either harvest or cut as mulch
        for sowing or transplanting into. Faba beans, lupines and other
        legumes can be cut any time you want. With small grains, etc.
        you have a narrow window for cutting after seeds start to form and
        before they become hard. Cutting earlier will cause the plant to
        grow back, cutting later will allow the plant to reseed itself. There
        is a roll-crimp device described at the NewFarm website of the
        Rodale Institute which is supposed to somewhat extend this window.

        This leaves you with the problem of what you can do during the
        summer without rain. The last season I tried growing different
        crops like beans, chickpeas etc., traditionally used by farmers
        here for dry-land farming, in an existing stand of grass and
        weeds under a heavylayer of straw mulch. This was a complete
        failure, the weeds completely outgrew the crops.

        In one plot, I had a mixture of rye and vetch during the Winter.
        In Spring, I broadcast sunflowers and buckwheat into this and
        cut the rye and vetch on top of the seeds. The sunflowers are
        still doing well, but the buckwheat dried up pretty soon. I also
        discovered by chance that a special kind of corn used for fodder
        does quite well. But all of this is still at the experimental stage,
        and serves, apart for the learning curve, principally for soil
        building. Much of topsoil has been eroded by ploughing under
        previous owners. What you can do with the rest-humidity in
        the soil in the absence of rain depends very much on the quality
        and structure of your soil. I you start with a rich black soil
        it may be enough to feed by mulching and cover crops. If you
        start with a depleted soil, which is mostly the case in hot
        climates where humus is lost at a much faster rate than in
        temperate climates, you need years of soilbuilding or add
        a layer of compost at the outset. I’m not familiar with
        sandy soil, but by adding an inch of compost, protected
        by another layer of mulch onto the surface of my clay soil
        makes an enormous difference. It is as if the clay below
        the compost has suddenly sprung to life, and humidity is
        also retained for much longer. Organic no-till is of course the
        best way of improving the soil and to increase its humidity
        retaining properties.

        In the coming season, I will, in addition to small grains, vetch,
        field peas etc., try to grow a lot of faba beans. I found that during
        the winter months (we have mild Winters with only occasional
        light night frosts) faba beans grow better and produce more
        biomass than most crops. In the Summer, I will grow sunflowers
        and corn on a larger scale.

        I think that, if organic no-till is to work for dry-land farming,
        this may have to include woody perennials in one form or another.
        Ideally, one wants a low growing legume tree or bush that can be cut
        back in regular intervals and that can survive on little or no water
        during the summer (any ideas anybody?).

        According to Rolf Derpsch’s study, no-till is practiced primarily
        in the US and Latin America. While most US no-till farming
        uses herbicide-killed cover crops, there is the possibility that
        small Latin American farmers use traditional practices that
        don’t rely on herbicides. If you intend to start your farm in
        Bolivia, this may be something you should research. I hope
        you will report back to this group if you come up with anything
        of interest. My Spanish isn’t good enough to sift through
        a lot of info quickly.

        No, I have not experimented with vetiver grass or legume trees.
        I have some acacias, but they don’t like cutting all that much.
        I have some fruit trees, but they wouldn’t qualify as dryland
        orchards since I plant them on waterlines or in pockets where
        there is good soil. I have lost most of the 100 odd fruit trees
        I planted in the first years. I simply had no idea just how dry
        it could get (originally I’m from the North of Germany). The
        olives do pretty well, but even they need good soil and some
        humidity to produce large fruits for pickling. I have some fig
        trees but they need a lot of water. Loquats do very well near
        the water lines, but it is difficult to sell the fruit since they don’t
        keep well. In general, early-fruiting varieties are preferable
        since they grow fruit when the soil is still wet. Cherries are
        virtually impossible. There are some local apple and pear
        varieties which do well. Most imported varieties are destroyed
        by a worm that bores into the life wood. This year we had
        a bumper harvest of apricots. It was unbelievable, the largest
        and sweetest apricots I have ever eaten, growing on completely
        hard and dry clay without a drop of water. Peaches and nectarines
        may be OK, but ours were destroyed in the last wildfire. I have
        not been lucky with nut trees so far. There are some wild fruit
        trees that reseed themselves on our property (apples, pears and
        plums). They grow well but usually don’t have any fruit, or just
        very tiny ones. I have started grafting them to see what will
        happen. With fruit trees too, adding an inch of compost can make
        a lot of difference.

        Cactuses don’t grow on my soil.

        Best of luck, Dieter


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      • Dieter Brand
        Linda, I have nothing at all against permaculture techniques, but I believe the Yeoman brother run a commercial outfit, which, even though they are linked into
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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          Linda,

          I have nothing at all against permaculture techniques, but I believe
          the Yeoman brother run a commercial outfit, which, even though
          they are linked into the permaculture movement, first of all pursues
          its own commercial interests. Their one-sided bias in favour of
          grassland can thus be explained as an expression of the interest
          in the sales of related products and services. I don’t know if there
          are conditions in which this approach works best, it certainly doesn’t
          where I live. In a climate where grass and annuals go dry for 6
          months out of 12, the landscape needs to include plenty of trees and
          other woody perennials.

          I have been using wooden logs for planting trees on the hillsides for
          a couple of years. One thing I noted in this respect is that wood should
          not be buried under a layer of clay soil. The clay layer, cut off from the
          capillaries of the subsoil, will dry out rapidly, while the wood enclosed
          under anaerobic conditions cannot decompose as it would in nature.
          Hence, it is best to only lightly sprinkle the wooden logs with dark
          humus-rich soil ideally from a wooded area. If fire risk is not an issue,
          a layer of leaves may do fine.

          The Lancaster article about Mr. Piri is an excellent read, and should
          be highly recommended. It inspired me to start building all kinds of
          water retaining structures on our hillside property. However, I don’t
          like building swales, it is not that I shy away from physical labour
          - even though that may have something to do with it - it is mainly
          because I have learned that any disturbance of our heavy clay soil
          which in most places has only a very thin layer of topsoil - or none
          at all - is bad for the soil. I have instead started to collect wooden
          logs, stones and rubble (of which there are plenty) to build a multitude
          of barriers across water lines and other places to prevent runoffs.

          Dieter Brand
          Portugal


          Linda Shewan <linda_shewan@...> wrote: Dieter - I think maybe you need to use some permaculture techniques just
          once to get the percolation of rain down deep and water storage happening so
          that plants can draw on this water over summer. Maybe Yeoman's ploughing
          (doesn't turn the soil so doesn't erode topsoil) or put in some swales -
          Fukuoka's idea of digging trenches and burying trees does the same thing ie.
          rotting logs store huge amounts of water, plus the carbon required for
          plants to grow.

          Are you on the flat or on slopes. If you have slope then you can just lay
          logs or build walls on contour across the slope and they will act as
          terraces and store the water, leaves, twigs etc, topsoil runoff. There was a
          great article on an African guy doing this on the web -
          http://www.ag.arizona.edu/OALS/ALN/aln46/lancaster.html

          It's inspirational reading even if you don't feel like it's true NF.

          Cheers, Linda

          From: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          [mailto:fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Dieter Brand
          Sent: Tuesday, 21 August 2007 7:38 PM
          To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Dieter Dryland farming

          Kiko,

          I live in the South of Portugal. We actually get quite a bit of
          rain, around 600 to 700 mm. The trouble is, it usually comes
          all at once (especially in November and April) and nothing at
          all at other times (May through September).

          .

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]






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        • kikoricco
          The way I understand it in semiarid areas it is enough make it so that all rainfall that falls is absorbed by the soil instead of running off. In HYPER arid
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 22, 2007
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            The way I understand it in semiarid areas it is enough make it so that
            all rainfall that falls is absorbed by the soil instead of running
            off. In HYPER arid (under 200mm) you have to encourage runoff from
            one area to acumulate in another so that you concentrate the scant
            rainfall in one area making that area more moist.


            Vetiver seems great for semiarid area. Check out this site I found it
            here on fukuoka list.

            http://www.vetiver.com/TVN_greenEng.pdf

            its says vetiver can become established in areas with less than 200mm
            of rain with heat of 45 C down to -9C (it has deep 3m roots obviously
            dynamic acumulator), is no invasive since it grows down not out. The
            main benefit is that it creates a impenetrable hedge that impounds
            water and spreads it and infiltrates it. maximising rainfall. the tops
            can be trimmed for mulch, in forest fires the deep roots permit the
            hedge to just resprout. once established the hedge is permanent
            lasting many decades. everybody read this article excellent. seems
            like a good choice for you, Deiter.

            http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/Publicat/Gutt-shel/x5556e0c.htm#chamaecytisus%20palmensis,%20tagasaste%20or%20tree%20lucerne

            this is a site that i found in 10 seconds by putting alley cropping.

            Seems like there are many things to try. why not vetiver hedges on
            contour and alleycropping?

            Mr. Pena my last name is Penaloza, lol what a coincedence haha. Wow
            that is a very dry area you are in. My talk about a farm in Bolivia is
            in the far future like 3-4 years since I have things tying me down in
            NY for now. Check out this article on ancient rainwater harvesting
            technique for hyper arid areas. Very simple ideas.

            http://www.plantstress.com/Articles/drought_m/runoff_farming.pdf
          • Dieter Brand
            Bob, Thanks for reminding us of the purpose of this group: “the adaptation of Natural Farming” to different parts of the World, which is sometimes lost out
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 23, 2007
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              Bob,

              Thanks for reminding us of the purpose of this group:
              “the adaptation of Natural Farming” to different parts of
              the World, which is sometimes lost out of view in our
              discussions.

              I live in one of the least developed regions in the
              EU and the availability of seeds and technical advice
              is not what it is in the US. Locally, there are only two
              types of sunflower seeds available in bulk.

              I will look into the cultivation of henna and see if
              local conditions are suitable.

              It is difficult to obtain information about the native shrubs,
              in many cases I don’t even know their name, but I doubt
              that there are any N-fixing perennials. There are some
              annuals whose leaves and seed pods look as if they belong
              to the legume family. Anyway, bacteria for fixing N on
              the roots of faba beans, lupines and other legumes are
              present since the pink nodes are formed on the roots
              even without seed inoculation.

              I intend to grow acacias on the hillsides overlooking some
              of my fields to provide biomass, shade, N and improve
              the soil and its water retention properties, which hopefully
              will benefit the adjacent fields. As to other hillsides, I’m
              not convinced that N-fixing plants are necessarily the best
              solution. Since the soil is too poor for most cash crops, the
              nitrogen may end up benefiting the weeds at the expense
              of the native perennials. Perhaps a low-calorie high carbon
              regime may prove to be best in the long run. I can grow
              more food than we can eat in the garden, which gives me
              plenty of time to experiment with the remaining land
              without taking any rush decisions I may live to regret later.

              I’m not convinced that grass is necessarily the best way
              of soil building. It is not just that in arid and semi-arid
              regions grass will go dry during much of the year - while
              woody perennials stay green and continue to grow - but
              there are also other arguments: once you let your garden
              or fields be overgrown by grass (as happens during a fallow)
              it is virtually impossible to convert it back to garden or
              agricultural use without ploughing, which destroys fertility
              and is not in line with NF. Perennials like trees, bushes and
              shrubs can have very deep roots that pull up nutrients and
              water from regions of the subsoil annuals don’t reach.
              Above the ground, trees and bushes create an agreeable
              micro-climate providing shade and protection from sun
              and wind while retaining humidity. It is said that humus
              produced by wooded areas is much more stable and can
              last for longer than humus formed by grasslands. Perhaps
              the dust bowl that arose after ploughing the US prairie
              for only a few years (while the fertile soils of central and
              northern Europe - historically covered by vast forest -
              are still in relatively good shape even after generations
              of deep ploughing) goes to prove this.

              Maybe it is best to feed the soil with a rich and varied
              diet consisting both of green (mainly from annuals)
              and woody (mainly from perennials) organic matter.

              Dieter Brand
              Portugal

              PS: The link you quoted doesn’t seem to work.

              Robert Monie <bobm20001@...> wrote: Hi Dieter,

              Many cover crop experts list sunflowers as an established cover crop. Have you experimented with sunflowers of various heights and densities and breeds to see if you can extend their season? In Louisiana we have a "swamp" sunflower that can exist in slightly reduced sunlight and tolerate substantial amounts of rain and moisture (though, alas, not much cold weather) .Have you considered henna as a cash crop? Henna can tolerate some very dry, hot surroundings.

              Your technique of broadcasting seed into native shrubs and then mechanically shredding them for mulch is exactly the kind of adaptation of natural farming that this world-wide Fukuoka list should be conveying loudly and clearly. Have you talked to civil engineers and land reclaimers in Portugal about native grasses, expecially deep rooted perennials? Personally I put my faith in grass as creator of soil and maintainer of fertility. Are some of your shrubs nitrogen-fixers too?

              Tapado and Frijol tapado ("covered bean") are ancient techniques popular in Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, and Costa Rico. See http://www.metafro.be/leisa/1991/7-1-33.pdf.

              Bob Monie
              Zone 8
              New Orleans, LA
              Dieter Brand <diebrand@...> wrote:
              Kiko,

              I live in the South of Portugal. We actually get quite a bit of
              rain, around 600 to 700 mm. The trouble is, it usually comes
              all at once (especially in November and April) and nothing at
              all at other times (May through September).

              Dry-land farming as it is practised in Portugal, Spain and other
              semi-dry areas around the World consists of ploughing the soil
              so as to produce a powdery dirt mulch at the onset of the dry
              season. This dirt mulch very effectively prevents the humidity
              in the layer below from evaporating and at the same time
              provides complete weed suppression. Typical crops for dry
              areas such as beans, corn for fodder, sunflowers, etc. can in
              this way be grown on the rest-humidity practically without any
              irrigation. On the downside, this method is very labour-intensive
              since, when it does rain or when there is the possibility for
              irrigation, the soil needs to be hoed so as to prevent a crust
              from forming. But worst of all, the constant soil disturbance
              prevents humus formation and exacerbates erosion especially
              on hillside fields. Also, this method is not very amenable for
              cover crops; hence, the soil is fed either by manure or, more
              and more, by synthetic fertilizers which are easier to handle.

              Inspired by the writings of Fukuoka and others, I converted to
              no-till 3 years ago. On the garden-level this is easily achieved
              by mulching and cover crops. But since I can irrigate less than
              1% of our land with the available surface water resources, I
              have been attempting to develop a method of organic no-till
              for dry-land farming. So far without success. And I don’t
              know about anybody else who has succeeded either.

              It is easy enough to grow small grains, winter-annual legumes
              or other cover crops during the winter. But as you probably
              know, and as has also been demonstrated by Fukuoka, success
              in this type of farming depends on continued coverage by
              cash crops and/or cover crops during the entire growing season.
              An interruption during the summer will allow the weeds to
              come back and you have to start from zero.

              In the Fall, I broadcast winter-annuals. Some, like faba beans,
              lupines, rye etc., will grow in an existing stand of weeds and/or
              grass, others like wheat, barley, etc. can’t compete. One
              method has proved to be very successful: I broadcast seeds into
              native shrubs, then cut and shred the shrubs in one go with a
              special hacking device attached to a power cutter so that the
              shrubs will come to cover the seeds as a mulching layer.
              The problem is that the shrubs won’t grow back fast enough
              to allow this procedure every year, or, as is the case with
              brambles for example, will slowly give way to grass and
              weeds after cutting for a couple of years. I believe there
              is a technique used in Latin America called tapada or tapado
              which is somewhat similar. If you know Spanish you may
              want to check this out.

              The following Spring you can either harvest or cut as mulch
              for sowing or transplanting into. Faba beans, lupines and other
              legumes can be cut any time you want. With small grains, etc.
              you have a narrow window for cutting after seeds start to form and
              before they become hard. Cutting earlier will cause the plant to
              grow back, cutting later will allow the plant to reseed itself. There
              is a roll-crimp device described at the NewFarm website of the
              Rodale Institute which is supposed to somewhat extend this window.

              This leaves you with the problem of what you can do during the
              summer without rain. The last season I tried growing different
              crops like beans, chickpeas etc., traditionally used by farmers
              here for dry-land farming, in an existing stand of grass and
              weeds under a heavylayer of straw mulch. This was a complete
              failure, the weeds completely outgrew the crops.

              In one plot, I had a mixture of rye and vetch during the Winter.
              In Spring, I broadcast sunflowers and buckwheat into this and
              cut the rye and vetch on top of the seeds. The sunflowers are
              still doing well, but the buckwheat dried up pretty soon. I also
              discovered by chance that a special kind of corn used for fodder
              does quite well. But all of this is still at the experimental stage,
              and serves, apart for the learning curve, principally for soil
              building. Much of topsoil has been eroded by ploughing under
              previous owners. What you can do with the rest-humidity in
              the soil in the absence of rain depends very much on the quality
              and structure of your soil. I you start with a rich black soil
              it may be enough to feed by mulching and cover crops. If you
              start with a depleted soil, which is mostly the case in hot
              climates where humus is lost at a much faster rate than in
              temperate climates, you need years of soilbuilding or add
              a layer of compost at the outset. I’m not familiar with
              sandy soil, but by adding an inch of compost, protected
              by another layer of mulch onto the surface of my clay soil
              makes an enormous difference. It is as if the clay below
              the compost has suddenly sprung to life, and humidity is
              also retained for much longer. Organic no-till is of course the
              best way of improving the soil and to increase its humidity
              retaining properties.

              In the coming season, I will, in addition to small grains, vetch,
              field peas etc., try to grow a lot of faba beans. I found that during
              the winter months (we have mild Winters with only occasional
              light night frosts) faba beans grow better and produce more
              biomass than most crops. In the Summer, I will grow sunflowers
              and corn on a larger scale.

              I think that, if organic no-till is to work for dry-land farming,
              this may have to include woody perennials in one form or another.
              Ideally, one wants a low growing legume tree or bush that can be cut
              back in regular intervals and that can survive on little or no water
              during the summer (any ideas anybody?).

              According to Rolf Derpsch’s study, no-till is practiced primarily
              in the US and Latin America. While most US no-till farming
              uses herbicide-killed cover crops, there is the possibility that
              small Latin American farmers use traditional practices that
              don’t rely on herbicides. If you intend to start your farm in
              Bolivia, this may be something you should research. I hope
              you will report back to this group if you come up with anything
              of interest. My Spanish isn’t good enough to sift through
              a lot of info quickly.

              No, I have not experimented with vetiver grass or legume trees.
              I have some acacias, but they don’t like cutting all that much.
              I have some fruit trees, but they wouldn’t qualify as dryland
              orchards since I plant them on waterlines or in pockets where
              there is good soil. I have lost most of the 100 odd fruit trees
              I planted in the first years. I simply had no idea just how dry
              it could get (originally I’m from the North of Germany). The
              olives do pretty well, but even they need good soil and some
              humidity to produce large fruits for pickling. I have some fig
              trees but they need a lot of water. Loquats do very well near
              the water lines, but it is difficult to sell the fruit since they don’t
              keep well. In general, early-fruiting varieties are preferable
              since they grow fruit when the soil is still wet. Cherries are
              virtually impossible. There are some local apple and pear
              varieties which do well. Most imported varieties are destroyed
              by a worm that bores into the life wood. This year we had
              a bumper harvest of apricots. It was unbelievable, the largest
              and sweetest apricots I have ever eaten, growing on completely
              hard and dry clay without a drop of water. Peaches and nectarines
              may be OK, but ours were destroyed in the last wildfire. I have
              not been lucky with nut trees so far. There are some wild fruit
              trees that reseed themselves on our property (apples, pears and
              plums). They grow well but usually don’t have any fruit, or just
              very tiny ones. I have started grafting them to see what will
              happen. With fruit trees too, adding an inch of compost can make
              a lot of difference.

              Cactuses don’t grow on my soil.

              Best of luck, Dieter

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            • kikoricco
              Deiter, Vetiver grass is not a cover crop. It is a grass that grows straight down (3m deep) and not laterally and so does not invade and if planted correctly
              Message 6 of 11 , Aug 23, 2007
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                Deiter,
                Vetiver grass is not a cover crop. It is a grass that grows straight
                down (3m deep) and not laterally and so does not invade and if
                planted correctly on contour creates a permanent hedge that will slow
                down water and soil. Trees dont prevent water and soil runoff but
                forests do with their leaf drop and herbaceous understory. Vetiver
                will grow in sand or clay, at under 200mm (and even up to 1200mm)
                precipitation. It also is a pest repellant.
                Yes they do have it in Portugal, heres the people part of the
                supplier network. Talk to them about it.

                Sandy Robertson, Quinta das Conderolas, Nora, 8375 S.B. Messines,
                Algarve, Portugal. tel/fax: 351-282-33.20.69

                Quinta Antiga Actividades Agricolas, Lda.; das Lages, Valverde, Praia
                da Luz, 8600 Lagos, Algarve, Portugal; (supplies IV plants)

                tel/fax:351-282-78.85.59; e-mail: quinta.antiga@....




                --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@...>
                wrote:
                >
                > Bob,
                >
                > Thanks for reminding us of the purpose of this group:
                > "the adaptation of Natural Farming" to different parts of
                > the World, which is sometimes lost out of view in our
                > discussions.
                >
                > I live in one of the least developed regions in the
                > EU and the availability of seeds and technical advice
                > is not what it is in the US. Locally, there are only two
                > types of sunflower seeds available in bulk.
                >
                > I will look into the cultivation of henna and see if
                > local conditions are suitable.
                >
                > It is difficult to obtain information about the native shrubs,
                > in many cases I don't even know their name, but I doubt
                > that there are any N-fixing perennials. There are some
                > annuals whose leaves and seed pods look as if they belong
                > to the legume family. Anyway, bacteria for fixing N on
                > the roots of faba beans, lupines and other legumes are
                > present since the pink nodes are formed on the roots
                > even without seed inoculation.
                >
                > I intend to grow acacias on the hillsides overlooking some
                > of my fields to provide biomass, shade, N and improve
                > the soil and its water retention properties, which hopefully
                > will benefit the adjacent fields. As to other hillsides, I'm
                > not convinced that N-fixing plants are necessarily the best
                > solution. Since the soil is too poor for most cash crops, the
                > nitrogen may end up benefiting the weeds at the expense
                > of the native perennials. Perhaps a low-calorie high carbon
                > regime may prove to be best in the long run. I can grow
                > more food than we can eat in the garden, which gives me
                > plenty of time to experiment with the remaining land
                > without taking any rush decisions I may live to regret later.
                >
                > I'm not convinced that grass is necessarily the best way
                > of soil building. It is not just that in arid and semi-arid
                > regions grass will go dry during much of the year - while
                > woody perennials stay green and continue to grow - but
                > there are also other arguments: once you let your garden
                > or fields be overgrown by grass (as happens during a fallow)
                > it is virtually impossible to convert it back to garden or
                > agricultural use without ploughing, which destroys fertility
                > and is not in line with NF. Perennials like trees, bushes and
                > shrubs can have very deep roots that pull up nutrients and
                > water from regions of the subsoil annuals don't reach.
                > Above the ground, trees and bushes create an agreeable
                > micro-climate providing shade and protection from sun
                > and wind while retaining humidity. It is said that humus
                > produced by wooded areas is much more stable and can
                > last for longer than humus formed by grasslands. Perhaps
                > the dust bowl that arose after ploughing the US prairie
                > for only a few years (while the fertile soils of central and
                > northern Europe - historically covered by vast forest -
                > are still in relatively good shape even after generations
                > of deep ploughing) goes to prove this.
                >
                > Maybe it is best to feed the soil with a rich and varied
                > diet consisting both of green (mainly from annuals)
                > and woody (mainly from perennials) organic matter.
                >
                > Dieter Brand
                > Portugal
                >
                > PS: The link you quoted doesn't seem to work.
                >
                > Robert Monie <bobm20001@...> wrote: Hi Dieter,
                >
                > Many cover crop experts list sunflowers as an established cover
                crop. Have you experimented with sunflowers of various heights and
                densities and breeds to see if you can extend their season? In
                Louisiana we have a "swamp" sunflower that can exist in slightly
                reduced sunlight and tolerate substantial amounts of rain and
                moisture (though, alas, not much cold weather) .Have you considered
                henna as a cash crop? Henna can tolerate some very dry, hot
                surroundings.
                >
                > Your technique of broadcasting seed into native shrubs and then
                mechanically shredding them for mulch is exactly the kind of
                adaptation of natural farming that this world-wide Fukuoka list
                should be conveying loudly and clearly. Have you talked to civil
                engineers and land reclaimers in Portugal about native grasses,
                expecially deep rooted perennials? Personally I put my faith in grass
                as creator of soil and maintainer of fertility. Are some of your
                shrubs nitrogen-fixers too?
                >
                > Tapado and Frijol tapado ("covered bean") are ancient techniques
                popular in Ecuador, Columbia, Panama, and Costa Rico. See
                http://www.metafro.be/leisa/1991/7-1-33.pdf.
                >
                > Bob Monie
                > Zone 8
                > New Orleans, LA
                > Dieter Brand <diebrand@...> wrote:
                > Kiko,
                >
                > I live in the South of Portugal. We actually get quite a bit of
                > rain, around 600 to 700 mm. The trouble is, it usually comes
                > all at once (especially in November and April) and nothing at
                > all at other times (May through September).
                >
                > Dry-land farming as it is practised in Portugal, Spain and other
                > semi-dry areas around the World consists of ploughing the soil
                > so as to produce a powdery dirt mulch at the onset of the dry
                > season. This dirt mulch very effectively prevents the humidity
                > in the layer below from evaporating and at the same time
                > provides complete weed suppression. Typical crops for dry
                > areas such as beans, corn for fodder, sunflowers, etc. can in
                > this way be grown on the rest-humidity practically without any
                > irrigation. On the downside, this method is very labour-intensive
                > since, when it does rain or when there is the possibility for
                > irrigation, the soil needs to be hoed so as to prevent a crust
                > from forming. But worst of all, the constant soil disturbance
                > prevents humus formation and exacerbates erosion especially
                > on hillside fields. Also, this method is not very amenable for
                > cover crops; hence, the soil is fed either by manure or, more
                > and more, by synthetic fertilizers which are easier to handle.
                >
                > Inspired by the writings of Fukuoka and others, I converted to
                > no-till 3 years ago. On the garden-level this is easily achieved
                > by mulching and cover crops. But since I can irrigate less than
                > 1% of our land with the available surface water resources, I
                > have been attempting to develop a method of organic no-till
                > for dry-land farming. So far without success. And I don't
                > know about anybody else who has succeeded either.
                >
                > It is easy enough to grow small grains, winter-annual legumes
                > or other cover crops during the winter. But as you probably
                > know, and as has also been demonstrated by Fukuoka, success
                > in this type of farming depends on continued coverage by
                > cash crops and/or cover crops during the entire growing season.
                > An interruption during the summer will allow the weeds to
                > come back and you have to start from zero.
                >
                > In the Fall, I broadcast winter-annuals. Some, like faba beans,
                > lupines, rye etc., will grow in an existing stand of weeds and/or
                > grass, others like wheat, barley, etc. can't compete. One
                > method has proved to be very successful: I broadcast seeds into
                > native shrubs, then cut and shred the shrubs in one go with a
                > special hacking device attached to a power cutter so that the
                > shrubs will come to cover the seeds as a mulching layer.
                > The problem is that the shrubs won't grow back fast enough
                > to allow this procedure every year, or, as is the case with
                > brambles for example, will slowly give way to grass and
                > weeds after cutting for a couple of years. I believe there
                > is a technique used in Latin America called tapada or tapado
                > which is somewhat similar. If you know Spanish you may
                > want to check this out.
                >
                > The following Spring you can either harvest or cut as mulch
                > for sowing or transplanting into. Faba beans, lupines and other
                > legumes can be cut any time you want. With small grains, etc.
                > you have a narrow window for cutting after seeds start to form and
                > before they become hard. Cutting earlier will cause the plant to
                > grow back, cutting later will allow the plant to reseed itself.
                There
                > is a roll-crimp device described at the NewFarm website of the
                > Rodale Institute which is supposed to somewhat extend this window.
                >
                > This leaves you with the problem of what you can do during the
                > summer without rain. The last season I tried growing different
                > crops like beans, chickpeas etc., traditionally used by farmers
                > here for dry-land farming, in an existing stand of grass and
                > weeds under a heavylayer of straw mulch. This was a complete
                > failure, the weeds completely outgrew the crops.
                >
                > In one plot, I had a mixture of rye and vetch during the Winter.
                > In Spring, I broadcast sunflowers and buckwheat into this and
                > cut the rye and vetch on top of the seeds. The sunflowers are
                > still doing well, but the buckwheat dried up pretty soon. I also
                > discovered by chance that a special kind of corn used for fodder
                > does quite well. But all of this is still at the experimental stage,
                > and serves, apart for the learning curve, principally for soil
                > building. Much of topsoil has been eroded by ploughing under
                > previous owners. What you can do with the rest-humidity in
                > the soil in the absence of rain depends very much on the quality
                > and structure of your soil. I you start with a rich black soil
                > it may be enough to feed by mulching and cover crops. If you
                > start with a depleted soil, which is mostly the case in hot
                > climates where humus is lost at a much faster rate than in
                > temperate climates, you need years of soilbuilding or add
                > a layer of compost at the outset. I'm not familiar with
                > sandy soil, but by adding an inch of compost, protected
                > by another layer of mulch onto the surface of my clay soil
                > makes an enormous difference. It is as if the clay below
                > the compost has suddenly sprung to life, and humidity is
                > also retained for much longer. Organic no-till is of course the
                > best way of improving the soil and to increase its humidity
                > retaining properties.
                >
                > In the coming season, I will, in addition to small grains, vetch,
                > field peas etc., try to grow a lot of faba beans. I found that
                during
                > the winter months (we have mild Winters with only occasional
                > light night frosts) faba beans grow better and produce more
                > biomass than most crops. In the Summer, I will grow sunflowers
                > and corn on a larger scale.
                >
                > I think that, if organic no-till is to work for dry-land farming,
                > this may have to include woody perennials in one form or another.
                > Ideally, one wants a low growing legume tree or bush that can be
                cut
                > back in regular intervals and that can survive on little or no water
                > during the summer (any ideas anybody?).
                >
                > According to Rolf Derpsch's study, no-till is practiced primarily
                > in the US and Latin America. While most US no-till farming
                > uses herbicide-killed cover crops, there is the possibility that
                > small Latin American farmers use traditional practices that
                > don't rely on herbicides. If you intend to start your farm in
                > Bolivia, this may be something you should research. I hope
                > you will report back to this group if you come up with anything
                > of interest. My Spanish isn't good enough to sift through
                > a lot of info quickly.
                >
                > No, I have not experimented with vetiver grass or legume trees.
                > I have some acacias, but they don't like cutting all that much.
                > I have some fruit trees, but they wouldn't qualify as dryland
                > orchards since I plant them on waterlines or in pockets where
                > there is good soil. I have lost most of the 100 odd fruit trees
                > I planted in the first years. I simply had no idea just how dry
                > it could get (originally I'm from the North of Germany). The
                > olives do pretty well, but even they need good soil and some
                > humidity to produce large fruits for pickling. I have some fig
                > trees but they need a lot of water. Loquats do very well near
                > the water lines, but it is difficult to sell the fruit since they
                don't
                > keep well. In general, early-fruiting varieties are preferable
                > since they grow fruit when the soil is still wet. Cherries are
                > virtually impossible. There are some local apple and pear
                > varieties which do well. Most imported varieties are destroyed
                > by a worm that bores into the life wood. This year we had
                > a bumper harvest of apricots. It was unbelievable, the largest
                > and sweetest apricots I have ever eaten, growing on completely
                > hard and dry clay without a drop of water. Peaches and nectarines
                > may be OK, but ours were destroyed in the last wildfire. I have
                > not been lucky with nut trees so far. There are some wild fruit
                > trees that reseed themselves on our property (apples, pears and
                > plums). They grow well but usually don't have any fruit, or just
                > very tiny ones. I have started grafting them to see what will
                > happen. With fruit trees too, adding an inch of compost can make
                > a lot of difference.
                >
                > Cactuses don't grow on my soil.
                >
                > Best of luck, Dieter
                >
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                >
                >
                >
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              • Dieter Brand
                Thanks Kiko, that s what I call practical help. Will give it a try. Dieter kikoricco wrote: Yes they do have it in Portugal, heres the
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 23, 2007
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                  Thanks Kiko, that's what I call practical help. Will give it a try.

                  Dieter

                  kikoricco <kikoricco@...> wrote:
                  Yes they do have it in Portugal, heres the people part of the
                  supplier network. Talk to them about it.

                  Sandy Robertson, Quinta das Conderolas, Nora, 8375 S.B. Messines,
                  Algarve, Portugal. tel/fax: 351-282-33.20.69

                  Quinta Antiga Actividades Agricolas, Lda.; das Lages, Valverde, Praia
                  da Luz, 8600 Lagos, Algarve, Portugal; (supplies IV plants)

                  tel/fax:351-282-78.85.59; e-mail: quinta.antiga@....



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                • yarrow@sfo.com
                  At 5:20 AM -0700 8/23/07, Dieter Brand wrote:
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 23, 2007
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                    At 5:20 AM -0700 8/23/07, Dieter Brand wrote:
                    <<It is difficult to obtain information about the native shrubs,
                    in many cases I don’t even know their name, but I doubt
                    that there are any N-fixing perennials.
                    >>

                    Plants from other mediterranean climates may
                    work: Ceanothus spp. native to California, for
                    instance, are evergreen shrubs and one of the
                    nonleguminous N-fixers. They come in all sizes,
                    but almost all like dry slopes in full sun. Many
                    are covered in gorgeous blue flowers in spring.

                    One possible way to find out the names of the
                    native shrubs is to ask on the medit-plants list
                    -- post a photo online, then send an e-mail with
                    the link to the photo and a description of the
                    plant. (email to listproc@... with the
                    following request in the subject line: subscribe
                    MEDIT-PLANTS [your name]).


                    <<
                    nitrogen may end up benefiting the weeds at the expense
                    of the native perennials.
                    >>

                    Yes, I've read that this is one of the ways that
                    invasive plants outcompete natives, by shedding
                    biomass that enriches the soil and makes it less
                    suitable for natives.

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