No Dig Garden

Intensive Farming

Intensive Farming

 

Intensive farming or intensive agriculture involves various types of agriculture with higher levels of input and output per unit of agricultural land area. It is characterized by a low fallow ratio, higher use of inputs such as capital and labor, and higher crop yields per unit land area.

 

No Dig Garden

Strip-till is a conservation system that uses a minimum tillage. It combines the soil drying and warming benefits of conventional tillage with the soil-protecting advantages of no-till by disturbing only the portion of the soil that is to contain the seed row.

Benefits of Strip till

Strip till warms the soil, it allows an aerobic condition, and it allows for a better seedbed than no-till. Strip-till allows the soil’s nutrients to be better adapted to the plant’s needs, while still giving residue cover to the soil between the rows. The system will still allow for some soil water contact that could cause erosion, however, the amount of erosion on a strip-tilled field would be light compared to the amount of erosion on an intensively tilled field. Furthermore, when liquid fertilizer is being applied, it can be directly applied in these rows where the seed is being planted, reducing the amount of fertilizer needed while improving proximity of the fertilizer to the roots. Compared to intensive tillage, strip tillage saves considerable time and money. Strip tillage can reduce the amount of trips through a field down to two or possibly one trip when using a strip till implement combined with other machinery such as a planter, fertilizer spreader, and chemical sprayer. This can save the farmer a considerable amount of time and fuel, while reducing soil compaction due to few passes in a field. Strip-till conserves more soil moisture compared to intensive tillage systems. However, compared to no-till, strip-till may in some cases reduce soil moisture.

Challenges of both Strip-till and No-till systems

In reduced tillage strategies, weed suppression can be difficult. In place of cultivation, a farmer can suppress weeds by managing a cover crop, mowing, crimping, or herbicide application. The purchase of mowing and crimping implements may represent an unjust expenditure. Additionally, finding an appropriate cover crop mix for adequate weed suppression may be difficult. Also, without mowing or crimping implements it may not be possible to achieve a kill on the cover crop. If mowing, crimping, and suppression with a cover crop mixture fail, herbicides can be applied. However, this may represent an increase in total farm expenses due to herbicides being used in place of cultivation for weed suppression.

Go Back to: Small scale intensive agriculture

small holding farming

Ending World Hunger

How do we rid the world of hunger?

Answer: We can’t – unless we can get modern agricultural technology to smallholder farmers.

The challenge is massive. The world’s smallholder farmers – generally speaking, those who operate farms of a few acres or less – account for more than 90 percent of the world’s farmers, most of them in rural areas of the developing world where poverty and hunger are widespread. I’ve seen firsthand how bad roads, poor communication, lack of quality inputs like good seed and fertilizers, food waste due to lack of refrigerated storage and contamination, and a tangle of other obstacles including government policies, have kept these growers from advancing – keeping their yields (production per acre) and return on investment at only a fraction of those achieved by their counterparts in the developed world.

  • There is broad consensus that many of these complex problems can be solved with the help of science.
  • For example, Dr. Shapiro wants to use technology to solve the problem of aflatoxin, which contaminates approximately one quarter of the food crops in the world, causing enormous waste as well as growth stunting and liver cancer in thousands who consume it.
  • In another example, genetically modified (GMO) seeds that have already been developed could immediately help mitigate damage from one of the greatest threats currently facing African agriculture – the fall armyworm.
  • Non-science-based regulations throughout the continent also deny these same farmers access to safe and effective weed control technology that is widely used across the Western world.
  • When it comes to seeds, there have been quite a few PPPs that have successfully bred crops that are better suited to grow in the Sub-Saharan environment.
  • New gene editing techniques can also provide transformational improvements at a relatively low cost.
  • Breakthroughs in digital communication technology are also making it possible to communicate directly with individual smallholders – helping them overcome the historic obstacle of isolation.

So…what’s missing?

If the scientific capability is there and the barriers to adoption are low – and there is obviously dire need – what is keeping modern agricultural technology from getting to smallholders in developing countries? In my view, two main things are still needed: regulatory easement and large-scale seed production.

Extracts from the article by: Robb Fraley click here to read the full Article.

Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto

permaculture garden design

Permaculture Garden Design Principles

The Permaculture Design Principles are a set of universal design principles that can be applied to any location, climate and culture, and they allow us to design the most efficient and sustainable human habitation and and food production systems.

Permaculture is a design system that encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, such as ecology, landscape design, environmental science and energy conservation, and the Permaculture design principles are drawn from these various disciplines.

permaculture garden design

Design principles

Firstly, to introduce all the design principles we employ in Permaculture, here is a summary list with brief descriptions of each one where necessary, to provide a general overview of the areas they cover. The links below will direct you to the detailed articles on each of the design principles.

  1. Relative Location – every element is placed in relationship to another so that they assist each other
  2. Each element performs many functions
  3. Each important function is supported by many elements
  4. Efficient energy planning –  for house and settlement (zones and sectors)
    -Zone Planning
    -Sector Planning
    -Slope
  5. Using Biological Resources – Emphasis on the use of biological resources over fossil fuel resources
  6. Energy Cycling – energy recycling on site (both fuel and human energy)
  7. Small Scale Intensive Systems
    -Plant Stacking
    -Time Stacking
  8. Accelerating Succession and Evolution – Using and accelerating natural plant succession to establish favourable sites and soils
  9. Diversity – Polyculture and diversity of beneficial species for a productive, interactive system
    -Guilds
  10. Edge Effect – Use of edge and natural patterns for best effect
  11. Attitudinal Principles
    -Everything works both ways
    -Permaculture is information and imagination intensive

Go Back to Small Scale Intensive Farming  (SSIF)

High value crop

High yielding crops

Crop yields are an essential aspect of every farmer’s day, impacting how profitable their farmland can be. Learning how to improve crop yields is key to successful farming, and access to new technologies and planting methods has given farmers an opportunity increase crop production – the key to maintaining the long term sustainability of their farm.

The concept of high-performance agriculture is key in understanding the importance of crop yields. How much you can produce within a given amount of land is essentially how efficient you are as a farmer. In today’s economy, being able to do things efficiently is as important as ever. You want to ensure that you are maximizing your space and the land you have worked to cultivate. Crop yields not only determine your efficiency, but your bottom-line as well.

1. Cucumbers

Cucumbers need space to climb, which makes them great in a vertical garden. You can put them right up against a wall, or make a trellis for them to climb up. If you are really tight on space and want to put them in a container, no problem! Buy varieties that say they are compact or “bush” varieties. These vines only spread a few feet. You might also want to think about placing a few onions near or around your cucumber plants as studies show that not only will onions keep soil bacteria and insects away, but they increase the cucumber plants overall yield.  No matter how you grow them, you are going to end up with more cukes than you can possibly eat, freeze, or pickle!

2.  Squash

If you don’t pay attention to your squash plants, they can overtake your entire garden in one season! This is why squash is a great plant to grow vertically. Squash are one of those super over productive plants that are going to give you tons of squash, no matter which type you want to grow, and there are so many different kinds! Zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, you name it! Your neighbors will be hiding from you after a while because they are afraid you are going to give them yet another bag of squash from your garden!

3. Beans

We don’t mean green beans, we mean black, white, or pinto beans, the kind you can dry and use all year round. These are a staple you will really appreciate later on in the year. In fact, when stored properly, beans can last for years! This is a great way to stretch the family budget and if you are a prepper, you can store your beans almost forever. Depending on the variety you choose, beans can produce about 3 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet! Many beans are natural climbers, so rig up a trellis and let them go to town!

4. Tomatoes

The old garden stand-by. You can plant grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in containers and get tons of them right up until the first frost. These are great for canning or making into sauces for later use. Why pay 4 bucks for a small container of cherry tomatoes when you can buy a plant for a dollar or two, put it in a container and have all the cherry tomatoes you want, fresh and organic, all summer long? Other tomatoes are great in containers as well, just be sure that you water them well in the hottest months. Most tomatoes do need plenty of water and sun, but other than that, these are some of the easiest plants you will ever grow, and you will end up with so many tomatoes, that you might start to feel a bit Italian.

5. Peanuts

Peanuts require lots of hot weather and plenty of water, so these grow best in southern states. However, if you can grow them in your area, peanuts are one of the best crops you can grow in terms of not only yield, but nutritional value. You can get as much as 6 pounds per 100 square feet. Peanuts are high in fat, yet rich in protein and they keep forever. If you are a prepper, these are another good choice. Even if you’re not, imagine having truly fresh roasted peanuts for snacks, making your own peanut butter, or those peanut sauces for Thai food from your own fresh peanuts? Delicious!

6. Leaf Lettuce

Now, these are best grown in areas where it isn’t quite so hot. The cool thing about leaf lettuce is that you can harvest the leaves whenever you like, and more will grow back in their place. You simply need to be certain that you don’t cut the crown. Snip some leaves for your salad, and they will grow back in a matter of days! Some of the best leaf lettuce varieties are Oak Leaf, Mesclun, and Red Sails.

High Value Crops:

High value crops generally refer to non-staple agricultural crops such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals, condiments and spices2, 3. Most high value agricultural crops are those known to have a higher net return per hectare of land than staples or other widely grown crops. They therefore generally have a monetary value higher than staple crops in emerging and expanding local, national, regional and global markets. High value crops and products present an ideal opportunity for the poor in many developing countries to increase their income by participation in commodity value chains, provided there is effective vertical coordination to ensure that supply is in relative balance with demand.

Unlike commonly grown crops like grain and vegetables, specialty crops are not widely grown and bring higher prices for growers. It’s not unusual to find growers earning thousands of Dollars per acre with these unique cash crops. All of these high vale crops listed in this article are easy to grow and produce above average income from a small plot of land.

Here are six specialty crops worth growing:

lavender farming

1. Lavender. Lavender farming can produce above-average profits for small growers, as it is such a versatile crop. The fresh flowers are sold in bundles or used for lavender oil. The flowers are also easy to dry, for sales to florists and crafters to make wreaths and floral arrangements. Lavender is also used to make value-added products such as sachets, herbal pillows, aromatherapy products and skin care products like soap. That’s the charm of growing lavender…nothing is wasted.

2. Gourmet mushrooms. Mushrooms are an ideal specialty crop for urban farmers, as they are grown indoors and produce a very high return per square foot. The two most widely grown gourmet mushrooms are oyster and shiitake, which are available fresh or dried in many grocery stores. Oyster mushrooms are especially productive, and can produce up to 12 Kg per square foot of growing area every year. Although both oyster and shiitake can be dried, most are sold fresh.

3. Woody ornamentals. Also known as woody stems, woodies are trees and shrubs whose branches are harvested and sold to florists and individuals for arrangements and craft products such as wreaths. Most woodies have colorful stems, like Red Twig dogwood, odd stems like curly willow or stems with attractive berries, buds or flowers. Some of the well-known woodies include holly in winter, pussy willows in spring and forsythia and hydrangeas in late spring and summer. Unlike annual plants like vegetables, woodies can be harvested over and over again for decade.

 

goldenharvest cover garlic bulb4. Garlic. The payoff on growing garlic can be big for those who grow “gourmet” garlic. There are 3 types of gourmet garlic, also called hardneck garlic. They are Rocambole, Purplestripe and Porcelain, and once you have experienced their superior flavor, you’ll never want to go back to ordinary garlic again. That’s why customers are willing to pay high prices to get their favorite varieties. Another grower and customer favorite is Elephant garlic, whose large, mild cloves which commands higher prices. In good soil, an acre of Elephant garlic can yield 7,000 Kg. It is very hard to lose a crop of garlic crop, as it tolerates a wide range of soil and weather conditions. That’s why some growers  call garlic the “mortgage lifter.”

5. Herbs. The use of herbs has enjoyed impressive growth in the last two decades as more people began using fresh herbs for cooking, medicinal herbs and value-added herbal products such as soaps, candles, teas and bath oils. The biggest herb demand is for fresh culinary herbs for grocery stores and restaurants. Quite a few growers also supply new and regular customers at the saturday farmer’s markets. A popular value-added item there is a 4-herb windowsill size “instant’ herb garden, ready to start snipping. Other growers find dried culinary herbs in packets sell well at the farmer’s market. With hundreds of choices, including a broad range of ethnic herbs for serious cooks, growers can thrive with fresh herbs.

6. Ginseng. Nicknamed “green gold”, the value of this plant is in it’s slow growing roots. Asians have valued ginseng for thousands of years as a healing herb and tonic. Even though growing ginseng requires a six year wait to harvest the mature roots, most growers also sell young “rootlets” and seeds for income while waiting for the roots to mature. Over the six year period, growers can make thousands of Dollars on a half-acre plot from seeds, rootlets and mature roots.

Go Back to the main page

Small scale farming

Small scale intensive agriculture

Small Scale Intensive Farming  (SSIF)

One of the biggest myths about farming is that it only takes place in rural settings, on large plots of land, and with just a few crops in cultivation. Small-scale intensive farming doesn’t require large acreage, allows for the cultivation of multiple crops and livestock, and can take place right in your community. Now, farming is moving back to communities, back into cities and towns.

Agriculture is something that we believe should happen everywhere, even in your own backyard.

Small-scale farming is a natural outgrowth of sustainable agriculture, which is essentially agriculture that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting its environment. It is agriculture that follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature, self-sustaining.

Tools for Small-Scale Farming

With the increase in small-scale farming comes the need for suitable equipment. For many starting out on small plots, the tractors, harvesters, machinery and other farm equipment that may be needed are expensive and often too big for the job in hand. These lightweight, affordable and open-source tools will become a part of the growing revolution that is taking place across the globe.

What are the benefits of smallholding?

Productivity

Smallholdings can be more productive per acre than larger farms because they often have many uses for the same patch of land e.g. a fruit orchard containing sheep, chickens and bees. Crop output can benefit from the inter-relationships between species when grown together i.e. polyculture versus monoculture (and, just maybe, when there is more love applied per acre by smallholders living on and from their land than large farms with huge subsidies and absentee landlords).

Small is bountiful: Smallholdings produce more food per acre than large farms

The Landworkers’ Alliance have produced five short films on the multiple benefits of small scale farming called “A Matter of Scale”. This one above is 1 of 5 and is about productivity, but the whole series can be found on Vimeo.

 

Landworkers’ Alliance “A Matter of Scale” 1 of 5: Productivity from Landworkers’ Alliance on Vimeo.

This short films contain interviews with small scale farmers from across England discussing the multi-functional benefits of small scale farming.

Environmental

Smallholders on their own land are often inventive with their methods and harvests, as their rewards are not purely financial. Many experiment with low-impact practices and technologues such as tree-planting, wind turbines, reed beds, rainwater harvesting, charcoal burning etc. As smallholders can provide  more of life’s necessities for themselves and their local communities there are reduced transport needs and associated fossil fuel usage. The varied activities on a mixed smallholding allow and encourage more biodiversity and of course, environmental benefits are far greater if the smallholding is organic.

Social

Acre for acre smallholdings employ more people than larger farms, and so provide benefits to rural economies in terms of employment and locally-produced goods for sale. Buying direct from smallholdings rather than supermarkets helps keep money local, which is important because stronger rural communities and economies can retain more services such as buses and post offices, and can support traditional skills such as blacksmithing and hedgelaying.

Personal

It’s not easy to make a living from a smallholding, but no more difficult than from a larger farm. Smallholdings offer activities that are varied, physically and mentally demanding, healthy, creative, outdoors and close to nature. It’s less of a job and more of a way of life – in fact another word for smallholding is lifestyle farming. The rewards are social, environmental and even spiritual, with greater independence from commercial pressures.

Farming Method:

Permaculture Design Principles

Intensive Farming

Microgreen

Vertical farming

Green house farming