I would like to introduce myself, I am Marco a 26 years old student from Italy. I am currently enrolled in Napier University, doing an Ecotourism degree. In the course of my studies I have become interested in Permaculture design. This interest pusher me to a fantastic opportunity to work as a WWOOFing volunteer on two different permaculture farms in La Palma Island, Canary Islands. The principles of Permaculture fascinate me and would be eager to pursue and explore it further in my final year research project.
My dissertation proposal is to explore, the constraints that prevent permaculture design systems to become a large-scale agriculture systems. I would like to base my primary findings by collecting qualitative data from farmers however I am open to dialogue with organisations themselves involved in permaculture.
However, prior to embarking on this research, I need to prove that productivity of permaculture design systems is higher and/or more sustainable compared with monocultures of intensive farming systems (I need to demonstrate scientifically that one produces more yield than the other). This is where I turn for your help. I have been struggling to find reliable scientific journals that demonstrate the fact that one type of farming produces more than the other. Do you have any good journals I could explore or links on that could direct me to journals on the subject or even any previous research that has been carried out?. I would greatly appreciate your help and your gestures will give me the strength to continue to carry out this ‘worthwhile research.’
Any other suggestions or tips are more than welcome.
There are very little hard data on permaculture systems per se. But there are plenty of data on the various methods that Pc uses, and that's where you should go. Agroforestry, mulches, polycultures, perennial systems, keyline plowing, and on and on. So look up the sub-system that has data, and talk about how permaculture employs those methods.
marco gargiulo wrote:(I need to demonstrate scientifically that one produces more yield than the other).
Just remember that the individual crop yield will be lower but the total crop yield will be greater in a permaculture system. An example might be to compare someone with a monocrop orchard vs someone employing "permaculture" techniques. The monocrop orchard produces more, apples, lets say, but must input fertilizer and spend a sometime keeping the grass down and picking up fallen fruit so pests don't lay eggs in them and make an infestation the next year.
The permaculture orchard produces less apples (probably) but get a yield of lamb from the sheep she uses to keep the grass down and fertilize the trees. There is also a yield of pork who come in after harvest to clean up.
My project thread Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
As a scientific comparison it will be difficult to compare say a mono orchard with a perma one, also it wouldnt be correctly comparing the perma fairly, for example a orchard is only one part of a permaculture set up, or a part of one zone even.
because in permaculture you have so many layers, root crop, salad crop, herb crop, shrub and berry crop, small trees, large trees, fungi etc etc, that not including the other benefits from feeding your animals etc etc etc.
so that root veg, leaf veg, herbs, berries, fruits like apple pairs etc, nuts. in the apple orchard you just get x apples or in a lettuce field x amount of lettuce.
also you have other factors, like risk, in a permaculture you have far less of a chance that your crop will be ruined by draught, or to muc rain or pests insect and mammals.
so on the permaculture you solves these problems by careful observation and working with nature, mono uses fossil fuel based insectacides, herbicides etc etc which cost money to buy and administer on a large scale often having to have large machinery, thats without the huge issue of irrigation.
which brings us to yield, this ofc isnt just about how much is grown but how much work and money it takes you to get to that point aswel. so start your diso with this in mind.
You need to speak to some people who have advanced forest gardens, I heard of a guy in England called Martin Crawford that has been doing this long enough to have a mature forest garden, perhaps you could find his website and e-mail him.