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Starting a Tropical Piggery

 
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Starting a Tropical Piggery

I hope some nice moderator will put this thread in Tropical and Pigs. I put it here because I plan for this farm to be quite large.
.......
Here in the southern  Philippines, the weather is perfect for pigs. We never get under 70 Fahrenheit and it seldom gets over 90. Pigs raised with a wallow and shade, don't require any heating or cooling. This helps with feed conversion. Every pig wallowing in mega-farm shit, wishes he could live on a tropical island.

Good quality mixed feeds are available. Small farms almost always supplement this feed with waste products from other operations, like cut and carry feed, including grasses, unsaleable fruit, and leaves from nitrogen producing trees. Restaurant waste and leftovers from the markets, are fed to pigs... Successful use of supplemental feed often determines profitability.

Pork is worth between 2 and 4 dollars per pound, at the market, depending on the cut. I expect to market most of mine on restaurant plates. Sometimes we will roast whole hogs on a spit. Very popular here. The cost of pork is often the single greatest cost for a restaurant. I want to have my own supply and all of the vegetables that grow well in pig manure.

One goal, is to have all of the manure I need, to get thousands of young trees up and going, on a plantation that will specialize in dried leaf and spices for the foreign market. There will be lots of other crops grown between the trees. Sweet corn and beans are popular and their waste can be ground up and fed to pigs.

I expect at least half of our trees to be nitrogen producers that far surpass clover and alfalfa in their ability to provide protein and biomass.

The primary export crop will be moringa leaf. When the little leaves are stripped from the stems, to make dried leaf powder, about 25% of the weight is a fairly soft stem that has protein, vitamins and minerals. Sounds like pig food to me.

We will cover much of our land, in nitrogen producers such as giant luceana, tagasaste and pigeon peas. Giant luceana will be grown for saw logs, but probably half of the volume will only be good for firewood or charcoal. I want to be in the energy business. In rural  Philippines, that doesn't mean oil wells. It means fire wood and charcoal. Two things that are in great demand and sometimes short supply.
........
It all starts with pigs. When I first decided that we need a plantation, I thought we would start with trees.

 I didn't realize until recently,  that my export spice and leaf business, with rental rooms, horses and camping, must start with pigs.

Most land that is available at rock bottom prices, has been seriously abused. A program of forage tree planting, manure application and crowd grazing, is required to turn it into something other than scrubland. I want that to be a mixture of regenerated forest and useful farmland. It must be a beautiful place to visit, and to live.
........
For just about anything to be successful, someone must live there full time. This is to prevent theft of tools and crops and to prevent others from squatting on the land. A pig farm gives an instant reason for workers to live there. That is the preference for most farm workers. They don't want to have to pay rent somewhere.

Areas to be planted, must first be cleared of other growth. In most cases, what is already there won't be palatable to pigs. It often requires machete work and yields some firewood and very fibrous material that might be suitable for bedding. After ground has been cleared of this stuff, it can be fertilized with pig manure and it will grow grasses, sweet potatoes  and other things that pigs like.

The default crop in many areas, are coconuts that are barely worth picking off the ground. Lots of places that are for sale, contain the trees that the last guy couldn't make any money from. They can be worth 50 cents each in the city, but often only five cents in the countryside. They make excellent pig food. Coconuts don't live a long time. As they die out, we will replace them with more profitable crops.
...
Since I've never run a pig farm, I will hire someone who has. They are available for about $6 a day. I will also hire my brother in law, but he will not be in charge. I want someone experienced to teach him everything, so that he can one day do it himself. Most of his work experience involves swinging a machete at a coconut. He will be in charge of gathering cut and carry feed and digging tree planting holes anywhere that I put a stake in the ground.
...
Manure handling will be the most difficult thing to teach workers. I want this manure to be used for the establishment of trees and other crops. I want it to be mixed with lots of bedding.

I want it kept dry and contained, so that nothing ever runs into the river. I don't want it to stink.

This all sounds simple enough, but manure handling is the most common thing I see going wrong on small farms, mostly because no one has impressed it upon the workers that this is important, and that their jobs depend on it.

Often, pigs are kept without bedding or without enough beddeng. This creates a stinky situation, where nutrients are leaving by air and often by water. I want to convert a lot of rough fiber, to usable compost and mulch. This is easily achieved by mixing it with pig shit. 

So, I have to find a way to make Sonny, my brother in law and the other guy, prioritize the creation and utilization of bedding. Pretty easy to do when I'm there, but there will be times when I'm away for months. It might be as simple as insisting on a video call every day. And we could mark out daily allotments for machete clearing. The cleared material becomes bedding.

Rice hulls, bagasse and some other waste materials are available free, in large quantity.

I envision using a large concrete sewage lagoon that has a roof over it. Right beside it should be a silo for rice hulls, corn cobs, peanut hulls etc. that could be used to absorb liquid and smells.

You can almost always trust workers to feed and water the animals. It will take lots of oversight to make sure that they clear the land, to create bedding and gather manure to the lagoon on a daily basis. Given the opportunity, many people will avoid jobs they consider unsavory.

Big side note...
 I have witnessed hundreds of employees in this country, lounging and socializing when there is work to be done. When there are few customers, the girls at 7-eleven make phone calls and chat, while every table is covered in food packaging and ketchup splatters. When I ask for a washcloth, one of them usually rushes out to clean one table, before she goes back to yakking.

I had to yell several times to get the attention of the girls selling rice at a roadside market, owned by their parents. Both were so engrossed in Facebook, that they allowed several customers to move along, without buying anything. It's absolutely rampant, and probably the number one reason why I will look for mostly male workers. They don't seem nearly so attached to their phones. Even then, phones may need to be locked in a cabinet during work hours.
........
Marketing... With many endeavors, probably most of them, marketing is what makes or breaks it. Marketing is simply not a problem with pork in the Philippines. If the price and quality are right, it's a very easy thing to sell. So it's all about production. Feeding the animals and keeping them healthy and growing, at low cost. Preventing theft is right up there as well, which is why the operation needs to be large enough that it's worth always having someone there, night and day.
.......
The majority of new agricultural  enterprises seem to focus on producing one or a couple of commodities, often with purchased inputs.

 My goal is to improve the land by covering it with crop trees and forests. It has to be nice enough that people will want to rent a room, a horse, a motorcycle or spend money in other ways.

 It can't look or smell like a regular pig farm. Pigs must occupy a small percentage of the land at any given time, but if they are a good money maker, it's ok for much of the farm to be given over to producing their food.

 Pork production will allow me to feed a restaurant, workers and motel guests. It will also feed the soil.

Pigs can be used in land clearing and maintenance. The moving of fencing and tethers, the bringing of water and feeding in remote corners of the farm, can be a labor-intensive thing. That's ok, when the entire cost of employment is under $10 a day, for a person to handle these tasks while at the same time, doing machete work and digging holes in prescribed places for new trees.

The costs of doing this is low enough that I don't mind giving it a year-long trial. It's likely, that at first, the majority of feed will be purchased, which will consume most income. All that bought feed, will give a nutrient boost to the land.

Low-grade sugarcane can be the primary energy source for pigs. The juice is pressed out, leaving large amounts of bagasse which is a good mulch.

 Rock powders and mineral rich salt licks will help to build soil.

I expect to improve the land in an ever widening area around the pig house. As land becomes productive, it will be put into paddock rotation. We will also produce fruit and vegetables in the improved areas, and graze each block after harvest.

 Forage grows all year. Mixtures of corn and beans and other things can be produced all year. There's a 2 month dry period, but even then there's pretty regular, light rainfall.

Forage trees can produce some roughage when annual crops are in short supply. Many crops don't have a season, they just give you a harvest somewhere between 40 and 120 days after planting.

It's easy to see why poor farmers, with small amounts of land are able to deplete it so thoroughly. Many crops per year, in a wet climate, often without replenishment of nutrients. Works with slash and burn, but much of this land has been continuously cultivated for generations.
......
During periods of abundance, we will fill a silo. Some things are more easily digested after fermenting. Luceana and tagasaste are more palatable when fermented with sugar cane or molasses. When cassava is finely chopped and sun dried, then turned into silage, most cyanide is removed.
......
 Pigs have been shown to thrive on silage that is 70% azolla. Azolla can be over 25% protein when dry. The remainder can be mostly, cassava, sugar cane or corn stocks with other starches, such as sweet potatoes or breadfruit.
....
It's possible to raise pigs on pasture, without purchased grain. Native pigs don't usually get grain unless they steal it. Pasture that contains lots of pigeon peas and beans, can provide more protein than if only grasses were used.
....
Azolla produces more protein than any other thing I could grow. Areas that hold water naturally, will be managed for azolla, mostly by controlling phosphorus levels. I've seen pigs and chickens eating azolla on YouTube. Temporary ponds made by laying out rubber and raising the sides, could be used to contain water for azolla growth and when the pond is moved, we would have soil beneath with all weeds smothered.

Azolla is by far the fastest nitrogen producer to release that nitrogen to other crops. Within a few weeks of seeding a pond, it can be fed to animals who will spread fertility around the farm. Narrow ponds could be used to build a moat around crops that need to be protected from ground crawling critters. Chickens can feed directly from azolla ponds. Pigs would destroy the liner, so they must be fenced out , except for a small area just big enough to drink from.

One video showed pigs harvesting their own azolla from a pond, but it is so wet that it can cause the runs. After spending a day in the sun and losing 3/4 of its weight, pigs readily consume it. It can provide virtually all protein but must be mixed with sources of energy and fiber.
........
Controlling smell.
Smell control is mostly about proper manure handling. Workers will be instructed to gather up every bit of manure that is near the house. Manure around pig housing will be either smothered in bedding or placed in a covered lagoon. Wallows can get smelly. Sometimes the old clay may need to be spread, away from the dwelling and new clay put in place of it.

Every new thing that gets planted will need manure. If work is being done as instructed, there should never be a surplus.

Every new tree that is planted, could use a wheelbarrow load. Every new banana pit, could use 10 wheelbarrows.

Eventually I want most manure to go into a biogas generator. The gas is needed, once we start cooking for many people. It could also power a forage chopper or generator.

Chickens. Chickens can be raised in the tropics without any supplemental feed. My mother-in-law collects eggs daily, but does not feed her chickens. She provides them with housing and a dog that scares away predators. They are responsible for finding their own food and water. It's working for her. She does no other management of her little plot of land.

 Chickens can be part of a rotation with pigs and they don't eat much of what the pig would want. They will pick fly larvae and dung beetles anywhere that manure has been deposited, and in the process, they spread that manure over a wider area. They eat many insects that consume forage crops. They are better mousers than the majority of cats.

 I'm not sure what the chicken to pig ratio should be, but I suspect that we could have many more chickens. They are much smaller. There's probably a population density where they will eat up all of the dung beetles and I'm not sure how important that is. Chickens will also extirpate certain types of snakes, mostly through the killing of baby snakes. So, there needs to be places of refuge for those snakes. Pretty easy to do in the sort of rough land I've been looking at, where only 10 to 50% could ever be cropland. Lots of steep rocky spots that are best returned to forest.
.....
Goats, cattle and buffalo. When sugar cane or corn are being used to feed pigs, there are portions of the plants which are better utilized by ruminants. The tops of sugarcane are readily devoured by all of them. Corn stalks and bean vines and other fibrous crop residue that pigs may reject, are suitable for the ruminants. Several types of nitrogen producing tree are not top dietary choices for pigs, but the others do well on them, so it is their manure that would spread that fertility around the farm.

 The carabao, descended from the Chinese swamp buffalo is a very powerful animal, but also a docile and cooperative beast of burden. I expect to use at least one of them to haul the big cart that would be loaded with cut and carry feed for the pigs. They are also very useful in log skidding and general land clearing.

Ruminants will only be added after pigs and chicken are well-established, along with the forage trees that they help to grow. I think we would start with just enough goats to consume roughage that the pigs reject. There's no point getting a carabao, until there's at least half a ton of cut and carry to be hauled each day.

We are going to need some biochar. I wasn't completely sold on biochar while living in Canada, where hugelkultur performs pretty well. Wood placed in 80° soil that is wet all year, disappears very quickly. I want something that doesn't have to be replenished constantly.

We have pretty much the same type of climate and soil, as in the Amazon, where Terra Preta soil was first discovered.

Charcoal manufacture is often quite primitive. I know how to build a good quality kiln and can come up with lots of uses for the gases that are normally burnt off or allowed to pollute the neighbourhood. So, I will produce charcoal from my own tree cuttings, but also from free rice hulls and bagasse.

I will also offer my services to create charcoal from other people's trees. This will be done for a percentage of the finished product. Little bits and bark, often flake off of charcoal and are left as waste in the bottom of the kiln, along with some ash. I will use or sell my good charcoal and the low grade stuff, along with ash, will be added to the soil. It probably won't be broadcast on the soil. I think it makes sense to mix it with manure in order to control odour, but also to raise pH and allow the charcoal portion to become saturated with nutrients.

 After a certain amount of time in the lagoon, manure will be mixed with rice hulls or other materials, to make it dry enough that it can sit in big piles, under a roof, with a tarp on it. I don't know how long it will take for this manure to be ready to spread. It's likely that a pile like this will stay a little warmer than the average temperature of 85 degrees. There's only a three degree difference between the hottest and coldest month.
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I think it's best to write the book after this project is well established, so I will stop here and await input from others.

Do any of you have other ideas of how you would make money and build soil fertility, using pigs, 6.5 degrees from the equator?
 
Dale Hodgins
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I'm sure we will try several types of pig. These large black ones are well adapted to the climate and they are good foragers. It's important that at least some of our pigs, not only root for their food, but also consume browse from trees and shrubs. We may want to use them to clean up ground cover in the edge zone between silvopasture and field crop zones. On hot days, which is almost every day, I would like to allow them to retreat to dense stands of giant lucina and neem. Some testing will be needed, to see if they decide to debark those trees. We can't have that. If they are bent on destruction, we will put chain link around maybe one acre of trees, so they can have a shade run. If they are well-behaved, I'd like to run them in many areas.

They will never be allowed to just roam the entire farm. I intend to grow several things that they are bound to destroy. I hope to make moringa leaf a big part of our income. The bark is tender, nutritious and tasty. Just about everyone throws moringa to their pigs, branches and all, and they completely debark it.

When managed for leaf, these trees are cut to within 3 feet of the ground, at least twice a year. The soft wood rots very quickly and does not make good charcoal or firewood. It is worthless as a building wood. So, I expect to throw all of our tops to the pigs, so they can eat it and then stomp all over it. It will then be mixed with manure for composting.
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Dale Hodgins wrote:Starting a Tropical Piggery

I hope some nice moderator will put this thread in Tropical and Pigs. I put it here because I plan for this farm to be quite large.



Dale, you have PIE. Anyone with pie should be able to add threads to three forums. Are you not able to? Maybe it's because you're on a cellphone? Maybe if you switch to desktop view you will be able to? Maybe you could try adding your your new tiny house thread to natural building to see if you can? We want to make sure everyone with Pie can do this! Thanks!
 
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This is really awesome, and I look forward to tracking this in the future!

Have you read any of Joel Salatin's books?

He speaks extensively about easily rotatable pastures for pigs. He also speaks plenty about the natural progression from chicken up to ruminates, the soil building process, as well as the different compositions planted in the pastures.

His farm is in the mountains of Virginia, so it won't be a perfect comparison, but there is plenty to glean if you haven't checked any of it out.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I've watched a few of his very inspiring videos, knowing that it's an entirely different environment. So, few plants in common, and probably nothing the same in the pastures.

He took some pretty rough land and turned it into good pasture.

I don't think I'm going to find a fossil seed bank to work with. But that's okay because there are hundreds of possibilities. All of the building blocks are available, to someone willing to take the steps and not try to start with extraction. There is a seed bank available, just by going to areas that haven't been devastated. The native forest had plants to fit every niche... The government has set up nurseries meant to help landowners who want to regenerate forest. Depending on how steep and rocky, my site, I may turn as much as 80% into something that looks like the original forest. My long-term goal is to make a place nice enough and unique enough, that tourists will pay to stay, and consume the food we produce.

This doesn't have to be a hundred year plan. There are many native trees that can reach 25 ft tall in their third year. Not a towering rainforest, but much different than a coconut desert. 10 years on, there can be productive jackfruit, lanzones and rambutan and many other trees that produce something valuable, without cutting down the trees. Jackfruit may be the most productive plant on Earth, in regard to total calories for a given amount of space.

During the initial pioneer tree phase, there won't be much growing that is of great value, per unit. Instead it will be hundreds of thousands of relatively low value nitrogen producers and biomass accumulators. Once we get to the point where rainforest trees will thrive in the created environment, pigs will either be completely eliminated from those areas, or managed very closely, so as not to interfere with any succession that we are trying to achieve.

These forests first evolved without the use of biochar and pig manure. Given enough time, land regenerates on its own, but at such a slow rate, that before it gets anywhere near its potential , some enterprising fellow determines that it's gone far enough and that there's something worth extracting. This usually means firewood or charcoal, so they hack it all down again.

Once I have any sort of natural looking canopy, I know that the forest is worth much more standing than it would be, piled at the road for sale.

So if I end up with a site where only 20 or 30% remains farmland, this will still represent a huge amount of added potential for the human food supply. Areas surrounded by forest, benefit from favorable nutrient and environmental conditions as compared to areas that are surrounded by wasteland. And the portion that is largely turned back to nature, will still be managed to favour highly productive forest species, like jackfruit and some really high-value timber species.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Nicole tells me I have pie, which I believe to be a good thing. I have never seen my pie, probably because I'm always on the cell phone. I also can't see where anybody lives unless I go into desktop.

The print gets much smaller on desktop view. Thank you, Nicole, I will check it out. There's probably a hundred features that I either haven't seen or don't know how they work. I think I've only seen about five of those dailyish emails.
 
Nicole Alderman
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I am so saddened that you haven't been reading our glorious works of art, Dale .  

But, yeah, you probably have a lot of pie, as you got a slice for every 20 apples you've gotten. One slice expires per month. Unless you've been giving it out, you've probably got a lot of pie.

Pie's handy for a bunch of things, like adding any thread to up to three forums, and being able to give two-thumbs up and a thumbs down. You can also get it to show you where you last read in a thread, as well as have it take you automatically to the first unread post in a thread, and get rid of ads (you can do all those in your profile settings). There's a bunch more, like being able to buy some stuff in the digital market with it. You can read about the pie features here. I think you can see how much pie you've got to chew on here

There might be a way to zoom in on your cellphone to make desktop view more visible? I don't have a cellphone, so I don't know. We're working on making mobile view more friendly.
 
Dale Hodgins
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That's not bad if only one slice goes moldy in a month. The stuff I left under a jacket, on the seat of the car, was less than perfect in only 10 days😨

I will learn about it and then I should probably redistribute, because it's probably not as good as my grandmother's rhubarb pie.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I just went digging around about the pie thing and found this. At one point I saw a thing where you could make a note about a member. I thought I was making a signature for myself when I wrote this. But it turns out that it's only there for me to see. Here it is 

"He has reached a level of self-improvement, that he feels is adequate. Put no further pressure on him to change."  I haven't learned anything about pie yet, but I did find something I haven't looked at in years☺
 
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Exciting plans!
You mentioned a lot if waste streams,  but nothing from the sea.
I'm figuring there is probably a lot of offal and "garbage fish" available, though less than in Europe or North America.
I imagine people are not as snobbish about sea food in the Philippines.
Feeding the pigs seafood might make for objectionable tasting flesh,  though a lot of animals with "foul" eating habits are simply feed "clean" diets in the week or month leading to slaughter.
Plenty of time to get fat off of crab and shrimp shells.
Any fishy waste could also be added to the poop lagoon.
Might be worth getting some coastline, and running fishing excursions, for the cash, the vehicle,  and the the by catch.
Or skip the boat, grow azolle  in one pond,  seafood in the other, feed the azolle to the fish and water the bananas with the fishwater.
Fish and bananas for people,  food waste for pigs.



I wonder if the chickens might prove most valuable turning the pig poop/ bedding into finished compost.
Their ability to eat fly eggs and larva is like gold.
I understand ducks are quite good at catching fly's,  plus they are great in the wet.
Muscovy are purported to be delicious, tasting much like grass fed beef.

You mentioned the dung beetles,  what are the compost worms there like?
I could see worms being a component the could process your pig waste to a higher state,  and feed the pigs as well.

If you are going to make charcoal a lot, let me suggest sea salt as a product of the waste heat.
If you were here,  I would suggest making woodfired artisnal distilled water at the same time, but there probably isn't a market for overpriced water in the Philippines.
The salt could be part of your spice and herb business,  easy to export, bottled water,  less so.

For an extreme example of using waste heat for distillation,allow me to note,  poop becomes sanitized when all the liquid is boiled off...


Pottery fired at  relatively  low temperatures  can make great disposable serving ware.

There is a Japanese design for a charcoal kiln that makes exceptional charcoal , plus it distills wood vinegar.
It can distill wood tar as well, but most people don't.
If you want to preserve wood in the tropics,  you might want to.
Wood tar is also sold as a medicinal salveand even a flavoring.

Making coconut milk and cream,  does heat help?
The toxic casavass is made edible via heat,  right?

A steam juicer could pull juice from almost  any fruit or veg,  and run off of waste heat.
The leftovers would be pig fodder.


The oxen animal might earn it's keep gathering food wastes, if they are welcome on the roads.
Is there room for a garbage removal service?
From what you have reported, there might be competition for that waste...
Would it be worth while if you could get pig feed, get paid and employ your brother in law?


 
Dale Hodgins
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Almost everything you've said is already one of the things that I'm contemplating. The ocean doesn't seem to spit out seaweed like it does here. There is competition for just about every waste stream and that's why I didn't mention it. I would have to see whose job I'm taking away. But quite often the people gathering things don't have any land of their own, so it might be that I just need to find those people and get them to bring the stuff to me or more likely to a spot close to the ocean, where I could pick it up with a truck. I read a government pamphlet that advised on how much fish waste to feed and how long to put them on clean feed before slaughter.

I've already discussed with my wife the idea of Sonny operating a pickup service, from restaurants and the public market etc. But he would be using a motorcycle with a sidecar. Buffalo are powerful animals but they don't make sense on the roads. 125cc motorcycles operate for almost nothing and that's pretty much the standard for small delivery. It would almost always be a two-way delivery. I would have him deliver bananas or cabbages or whatever we are dropping to vegetable vendors and then return with what he finds. Many vegetable vendors don't have any proper means of transportation. Farms that have a large truck, make deliveries of bananas or mangoes or jackfruit to roadside locations, early in the morning. We bought our chicken from a lady who only opened up between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. . Her kiosk has no refrigeration, but the meat arrives cold and she makes sure to sell out every night. This is the time of day when people cook chicken or pork. Nobody wants to heat up the house early in the morning, or to get a bunch of perishable food cooked for people who are headed off to work.

I would never do the sea salt thing because of potential pollutants. And because I'm convinced the whole thing is BS. If I buy rock salt, I'm getting sea salt that was stored away long before the industrial age.

Cassava cooking is a definite possibility and the firing of clay, but not for temporary things. Fire rings that help people burn less charcoal are needed by almost every family. When two kilns are used side by side, the waste heat from one can first be used for drying and then for firing the second one. Firebrick is difficult to come by and it might be necessary to bring in a shipment from China or wherever.

I will investigate various agricultural uses for hot water. It's more likely to be in the processing of peanuts or banana fibre or some other bulk commodity. But then there's the issue that land in the price range I'm looking for, tends to not have anyting like that in the vicinity. There is never a need for space heating and I don't anticipate running a smelter.

There is a demand for bamboo bending. This is done using hot water. There are many types of furniture and building components that can use bent bamboo and some of the traditional watercraft use it. The problem is that locating any energy-intensive industry in the middle of nowhere, doesn't usually make sense unless you're running a paper mill.

I expect that chickens and people with a fan rake, will deal with pig manure that hits the ground. Whenever they poop in their enclosure, it will be put in the lagoon. If for any reason it seems to be building up too much on the land, it will be put in the lagoon. But otherwise chickens will be allowed to do their thing about 2 days after the pigs are moved off.

I'm going to reply to Williams many ideas in two separate post since my memory has failed me.
 
Dale Hodgins
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You are right about the price of water. $0.40 for 5 gallons of clean filtered water and that's delivered.

I know that they use quite a bit of heat when they make fuel from sugarcane bagasse. The sugar industry simply burns some bagasse to get that heat. I think I'll just wait to see how much charcoal and waste heat I'm actually producing. Some of the distillates make good wood preservative. I'm not sure about their toxicity.

One business that I investigated was the production of vinegar. I was very surprised to find that in a sugar producing country, vinegar at the market was more expensive than I pay at the grocery store here. There are fancy  vinegars for fancy cooking, but I'm talking plain white vinegar for use in the laundry window cleaning or making pickles. The bottle on most of this stuff says distilled white vinegar. So there's a use for more heat than I could ever make.

You mentioned worms. I might have seen a couple worms, but I saw many more agents of decay. Ants, cockroaches,  millipedes and other creepy crawlies seem to be the most common agents of decay. That is probably different when the soil is rich.

Ponds --- If I am able to get land that holds water I will make as much pond area as I can. Bananas are about the most nutrient hungry plant on Earth. I expect to do a sort of open-air aquaponics thing with big banana circles planted uphill from the pond. This works best if there is a fairly impervious clay layer, so that excess water can flow over the surface and back into the pond. Tilapia and catfish are two that work well. We'd use a trash pump to suck up the very dirtiest water from the deepest area of the pond, and pour it into banana circles that contain around 25 stems. There's really no limit to the size of something like that. It's completely duplicatable and I can't see it being worse than how most people do it now. I mentioned before that most Enterprises concentrate on one thing. So Banana Growers are buying fertilizer and growing bananas and Fish Farms are buying feed for fish and then dumping nutrient-rich water. It seems like something that a two-year-old could figure out... My wife has asked me to refrain from using my most common phrase, which is "WTF, a monkey could figure this out." This is usually said when I look at how things are being done, sometimes by her relatives. I know it's not nice to be judgemental, but I have witnessed some real dumbass shit.
 
Dale Hodgins
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It's too bad there's no way to easily separate the phosphorus in pig shit, from the nitrogen. There is no need to add any nitrogen to an azolla pond. That would just allow other plants to compete with it. It can exist pretty much as a monoculture when the water is very nitrogen poor but there's lots of phosphorus. Then the azolla pulls nitrogen from the air at somewhere around ten times more per acre than alfalfa. I forget where I read that.

I'm pretty sure the water is too hot for any of the duckweed species. But there are tropical equivalents. Very nutritious water plants that are big consumers of nitrogen. Imagine running juice off of the manure pile, into a pond that can suck up the nutrient as fast as it's added. After the water lettuce or other plant has depleted the nitrogen, we pump the water to the azolla pond where the phosphorus is needed. I read up on a bunch of water plants one time and some are very hungry for nitrogen but don't require so much phosphorus. A system like this would require much less fiddling with the pig manure, since the ponds dilute nitrates so there's no danger of burning. The hard surface could be designed to drain into the pond, unless a weir is placed to prevent it. We wouldn't want to do it during rainy periods when the pond may overflow. We usually know several days ahead what the weather is going to do. Before adding nutrients some of the water could be used for irrigation. And then when there's plenty of room to catch a few rain falls, the nutrient-rich water is added. Many water plants will experience an immediate flush of growth, until they quickly deplete those nutrients. Then we have a crop sitting there on the water, holding those nutrients in a much more stable form.
 
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Dale - Geoff Lawton video on a 3-cow biodigester might work for you.  
Do you have black soldier fly larvae there?  
Good for oil and/or chicken feed and would wipe out the pig manure.
Great read so far.  Good luck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYNgsh8dAw
 
William Bronson
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Hey Dale,  great conversation.
No surprise, you are already thinking about most everything I brought up.

About the kilns, maybe build them with adobe bricks?
Rice hulls are said to impart great initial insulation value,  that gets even better as they burn out during repeated firing.

Check out this site,  dedicated to the low tech work of Jon and Flip Anderson.

https://www.rechoroket.com/stove

They have taught lots of people how to build rocket stoves, ovens, and kilns from local materials.
In particular, they use adobe rockets to fire other adobe rockets, improving their products by bootstrapping.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes, I've read about the rice hull thing before. I think it would be a good thing to include in fire rings meant for preserving charcoal. An insulated brick will allow the fire to get to cooking temperature sooner. Many people use firewood instead of charcoal, but I don't know that it saves any fuel because they keep burning and burning until they get down to coals, before cooking commences.
........
Here's a rice hull idea that is 30 seconds old. Coat the hulls in a thin clay slurry and then put them in the kiln to make a mixture of biochar and fine-particle lightly fired ceramics, just like in Terra Preta soil. Boom !!! I don't even know how well it will work and I'm already congratulating myself on the brilliant idea.
........ uses for hot water
Almost everyone here has big insulated thermoses so that they can run the fire once per day and use it later if they want to make a hot drink or start cooking rice with water that's already 200 degrees. It's a big energy saver because that hot water is often made at the beginning and ending of fires intended for grilling meat. I intend to put a free well pump near the road, if it proves to be a high traffic area where people will stop to buy fruit and vegetables. It would be pretty easy to supply the neighbourhood with hot water for those thermoses. This would bring every lady in the neighbourhood, to our door when they are thinking of cooking... Send the kids up the hill to get the water and buy 3 Kg of cooking bananas while you're at it.

Cassava for human consumption is sometimes sold cooked. It's best to do 1 water change, in order to reduce cyanide and have a nice clean looking product. This is bound to be attractive to those close by if mine are priced the same as those at distant markets.

Peanuts are often sold boiled. There are several sticky rice concoctions that must be cooked for a very long time as they are stirred. They've even invented automated stirring machines. The product keeps quite well and is sold as a dessert. Nova has made it a few times, but it's just too time-consuming when you're doing a little bit on the stove. I saw a YouTube video where several employees were managing large wok like cooking pans that appeared to hold 20 gallons or more of sticky rice. They had a charcoal fire going under each one of them. So cooking fuel is one of the major expenses for that business. This seems like a good prospect for using the effluent from charcoal production. It's done in batches, just as charcoal is fired in batches.

No matter where I end up, I intend to operate a laundry. Normally people do laundry with the 80 degree water that comes out of their tap, but hot water might be nice for some things. Of all of the businesses I've investigated, none looks so lucrative as operating a laundry facility. The going rate is about $3 per load. An employee would have to handle three loads a day to pay their wages. I'm sure I could handle 25 loads, washing, putting on hangers, then taking  them down and folding them.

My mother-in-law is very limited, mentally, but she enjoys the simple tasks involved in laundry work. I would never let her near the bleach. We make our own soap. We would start making our own laundry detergent and make sure that it's safe enough that we can send effluent water to the banana circles.
 
Dale Hodgins
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William mentioned ducks. In Vietnam they have closed loops where water plants are grown and ducks are penned along the edges. Duck manure is gathered for other uses. Any that gets away is washed into the pond, to feed the water plants.

The guy who wrote the report and took the pictures, said that he was at a conference in Ho Chi Minh City where they talked about the possibility of duckweed and azolla as animal fodder, as though it were an unproven theory. Then he stumbled upon the duck ponds and later at a public market he discovered that water plants were available for sale in big mesh bags. They are purchased by those feeding chickens and pigs. So nutrients gathered from the air in those ponds, is being spread around the neighbourhood.

The ducks eating azolla in the picture below are part of rice trial in Maine. In Asia, millions of domestic ducks are used to consume pests in rice paddies. Azolla grows along with the rice and they eat it as well. Wild ducks throughout the world consume duckweed and azolla whenever they encounter it.

Screenshot_2019-09-12-15-06-43-1-1.png
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_2019-09-12-15-06-43-1-1.png]
 
Dale Hodgins
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Keith Odell wrote:Dale - Geoff Lawton video on a 3-cow biodigester might work for you.  
Do you have black soldier fly larvae there?  
Good for oil and/or chicken feed and would wipe out the pig manure.
Great read so far.  Good luck.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYNgsh8dAw



Thank you Keith. I used to watch Geoff Lawton, just because he makes interesting videos. My location in British Columbia Canada meant that I wasn't likely to grow many of the same things. Now he's just a couple thousand kilometres away and I can grow just about everything he can grow. He is a little bit less tropical than where we are, so we can probably grow some things that would give him trouble.

I'm going to study up on all of his mechanical systems, and Water Management, as well as revisiting his banana circles etc. When I told my wife that we might visit there , she was very pleased.
 
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Re pond plants........water hyacinth grows like crazy with added nitrogen. Plus the pigs will eat the excess plants....at least my pigs eat it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Su Ba wrote:Re pond plants........water hyacinth grows like crazy with added nitrogen. Plus the pigs will eat the excess plants....at least my pigs eat it.



Yes, I've heard that water hyacinth is best fed after drying a bit, because it contains so much moisture. But I guess that depends on what percentage of the diet it makes up. Someone in Kenya, told me that hyacinth from the lake has quite a bit of protein because of the number of snails that cling to it. It often covers vast areas of Lake Victoria.

I will first check to see if it's already part of the environment. It is the world's most expensive invasive water plant.
 
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Has anyone mentioned black soldier flies yet?  They would be great in this system, making initial use of some or all of the pig and poultry manure, as well as many other things (including, for instance, humanure) that aren't possible or appropriate to feed to the pigs, poultry, or fish directly.  The residue from the soldier flies could feed a batch of compost earthworms and then go to compost.  I'm not sure about the biogas digester, whether this could happen before or after the soldier flies or not be compatible at all.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Yes, Keith also mentioned the soldier flies and I will have to learn more about this.

It would have to be manure that is not destined for the digester. Both process consume all of the sugar and starch. It's probably the better option for most of it. I would want to have finished larvae automatically drop to feed chickens, fish or both.

They are also able to thrive on aquatic plants, so a good option if production exceeds need.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I checked out the water hyacinth situation. The government has spent many millions trying to combat it. There's been huge financial loss and loss of life when key drainage points filled with it during typhoons. Huge increases in mosquito population also affected human health.  If it exists in a relatively clean natural waterway, it might be worth gathering. If it's not already present in my micro environment , I won't introduce it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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There are big hog raising facilities that feed largely on imported American corn and other purchased inputs. I'm happy to report that a 50% tariff has helped to put the brakes on this. People who can afford it, shun the big pink pigs, in favour of the the little black ones, raised on small farms. There are some larger black ones from Vietnam that do pretty well. Some native pigs are so small that it would take several to feed people at a wedding.

We had a lechon (pig roasted on a spit) for our wedding and it was sub-par. A friend ordered it from one of these feedlot operations.

A friend who operates a restaurant, said we should have bought a native pig from one of the small farms. In order to save money, those farmers free range and supply their animals with cut and carry tree foliage. The price is about 30% higher and well worth it. I've eaten those much leaner pigs. Less fat and generally more flavorful. They can be more tough because these animals get some exercise. Cooking them really well, helps with this and ensures food safety. They are stuffed with a mixture of onions, garlic, lemongrass and other spices.

According to Anthony Bourdain, Cebu is the epicenter of the perfect pig. In the north, where Manila is, Lechon is smeared with a paste made from the liver. The people of Cebu turn up their noses at such barbarity. I'm sure that people in Bali and Cuba think they make the best roasted pork.
 
Dale Hodgins
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 Here's a partial list of what I expect to feed to pigs. I'm sure that there are many tropicals that I just haven't learned about.

Protein --- azolla, duckweed, pigeon peas and other peas, beans, moringa, luceana, tagasaste, fig, mulberry.

  Probably a dozen other nitrogen-fixing trees, many in the pea family. I saw a list of about 50 but they don't necessarily all thrive in the same place.

Crop residues of all sorts, from feilds supplying human food. Most crops have something, whether it's  leaves, stems or roots. And there's the damaged ones that were bitten by a bat or rat.
......
Energy crops --- By far, the easiest to grow is cassava. It does well in a variety of soils and it gives a crop in poor soils that won't grow anything else. When planted thickly on contour, it could help to trap leaves and other things that are trying to flow downhill. This provides mulch and a little layer of other sediment whenever it rains.

 The leaves of cassava are a good source of protein in limited quantity for pigs, but ruminants can eat lots of it.

Sugar cane --- When growing conditions are right, there's no other annual that can produce as  many calories. This can be squeezed on a daily basis and the juice used to induce pigs to eat most things that you mix it with.

Corn ---  It grows very well but it doesn't produce the same calorie count as cane. Dry yellow corn is worth about $0.20 a pound on the market. Sweet corn brings $0.40 per ear, when sold boiled on the side of the road. The grower gets $0.25.  There are varieties of sweet corn that produce in 75 days and are done in 85 days. So you get four crops a year, although I wouldn't actually plant them in exactly the same spot. Mature corn gives more calories per acre, while sweet corn gives more money per acre and then you still have a sweet stock to chop up for the pigs or ruminants.

There are several other energy crops. Calories are almost never a problem in the tropics. Many plants just don't have enough protein, so if a person or a pig tries to live on those things, they become protein deficient. When raising cattle on native grasses, it's necessary to supplement with forage trees to make sure they get enough protein. Luckily there are many highly productive candidates.

Bananas, papayas, mangoes and most other fruits that are unsalable for whatever reason, can provide energy for pigs.
......
Vitamins and minerals --- Energy crops are deficient in many things, but many of the protein sources are quite rich. Peas and beans and most of the garden stuff have a lot of nutrients that pigs need. Moringa is one of the most nutritious plants. Azolla and duckweed  have a lot of good things besides protein.

Bulletins put out by the Philippine government advise farmers of many different animals to include moringa in the diet as an all-around vitamin supplement. They know that the majority of poor farmers are never going to test their soil or their feed or anything else. It usually says to give them moringa along with other cut and carry feeds.

I don't think nutrient deficiency is going to be a problem for me, since the animals will be grazed on land that is tested for mineral deficiencies and then those deficiencies corrected. I read all the time, that there are problems with animal and human nutrition over large areas, because something is lacking in the soil.

Many deficiencies are corrected simply by using seawater as a fertilizer. The heavy rains send it back out to sea, after plants have extracted what they need. Sea salt spread at 9 kg per hectare is recommended for ponds growing duckweed and azolla. Both plants are able to handle the dilute sodium chloride, and they are able to extract copper and iodine and other trace minerals that they need. I wouldn't try this in the centre of Australia, where salt build-up is a problem. Here it's just not a problem. Once you get around 1 km from the ocean, the most economic way to increase coconut yield is to spread the prescribed amount of salt water. The trees absorb what they need and sodium chloride returns to the sea.
 
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If available via some beach combing, supplementing their diet with seaweed could supply micronutrients, especially iodine, and boost general wellbeing.

When I see the words 'tropics' and 'pigs' together there's concern about disease control.

So sourcing disease free and good genetics, and, maintaining hygiene would be paramount.

Feeding pigs swill has been banned here for 'ever' because of the very high disease threat - human/animal crossovers.

FYI:

https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=i&source=web&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjMm6jJr8_kAhUGWCsKHQdtCf4QzPwBCAM&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theguardian.com%2Fworld%2F2019%2Fsep%2F09%2Fphilippines-confirms-first-swine-fever-cases&psig=AOvVaw0d10rq821JdBQ1lGBmC5tF&ust=1568518147642013

 
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Su Ba wrote:Re pond plants........water hyacinth grows like crazy with added nitrogen. Plus the pigs will eat the excess plants....at least my pigs eat it.



Dale Hodgins wrote:Yes, I've heard that water hyacinth is best fed after drying a bit, because it contains so much moisture. But I guess that depends on what percentage of the diet it makes up. Someone in Kenya, told me that hyacinth from the lake has quite a bit of protein because of the number of snails that cling to it. It often covers vast areas of Lake Victoria.

I will first check to see if it's already part of the environment. It is the world's most expensive invasive water plant.



Dale Hodgins wrote:I checked out the water hyacinth situation. The government has spent many millions trying to combat it. There's been huge financial loss and loss of life when key drainage points filled with it during typhoons. Huge increases in mosquito population also affected human health.  If it exists in a relatively clean natural waterway, it might be worth gathering. If it's not already present in my micro environment , I won't introduce it.



Is this a business opportunity, or what? The government has money to spend on combatting a nuisance "weed"? (*ahem* ...collecting a pig feed source), and it comes with snails (duck food) attached? You wouldn't need to grow your own, you could (employ someone to) "clean up" affected areas "responsibly" (no herbicides) and dispose of the plants "responsibly" (feeding them to your pigs, BSF, digester...), and probably get publicity for doing it...
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Waste heat uses: even at the normal temperatures you state, you still probably need to maintain some heat for maintaining a digester?

Waste food streams: things that might give off tastes to pork, and things the pigs or chickens won't eat, could still be a good feedstock for BSF (instead of digester) especially since the BSF larvae can feed your own chickens, or be sold as feed (dried). Your climate would allow for year-round BSF propagation.
 
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The comment about snails on the water hyacinth and your description of how they cook pig both bring up the specter of parasites.
I'm particularly phobic about parasites, so I won't be looking up the ones carried by snails,  but the idea of just trichanosis is nightmare fuel for me.
With no cold to break the lifecycle,and without industrial medicine to treat them I can see endemic parasites as posing a real problem.

If the feed,  be it snail enhanced  water hyacinth or post consumer food waste has the potential to spread infection,  the waste heat of char production can be used to put a stop to that.

I suspect the locals have the means  to deal with parasites in their animals,  so this is all probably a moot point.

 
Dale Hodgins
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R mentioned parasites. Many people in the Philippines go with the drug store solution. But nature provides many free ways of dealing with parasites. Neem trees are very easy to grow and their leaves are a natural antibiotic and parasite killer. They can be incorporated into the daily food, but also given in heavy doses from time to time.

People have survived on these islands for 30,000 years, with all of the various pathogens. They've been eating pork for much of that time. Even the simplest person with no education understands that pork must be well cooked.

On farms it's about good manure handling and sanitation. I won't be allowing other Pig Farmers to come walking through. I will buy breeding stock, and then only bring other pigs to the farm when I need a new boar. In the beginning I will probably buy weaned piglets from a good farm. But eventually I want to make my own piglets.

I will quietly kill any feral pigs that try to live on my land.

Just about everything we see in the news concerning food safety and meat, is because the fools affected decided they would eat it rare, instead of cooking it at temperatures that are known to kill the pathogens. I watched a YouTube guy eats raw chicken and raw beef for the entertainment of his fans.

During five months in the Philippines I didn't see any accumulation of seaweed on the beaches. They definitely grow, but the waters are teeming with fish, and I think they gobble it up. There are opportunities to put fish waste on crops and to feed them to pigs, I just don't see the seaweed anywhere. But there's plenty of saltwater, so I won't have trouble finding those trace minerals.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Kenneth mentioned water hyacinth.

On the off chance that I am near a waterway that is affected, I will certainly give it a try. They are mostly water , so you'd want to have someone harvesting and laying them out in the sun. Then haul them home when they are maybe 20% water. Infestations are usually localized. Big slow rivers and stationary bodies of water. These tend to be spots that are difficult to get to with a truck or any means of hauling them back to a farm that is likely to be up in the hills.

The average temperature is almost perfect for a methane digester. Shade to prevent overheating is important. No need to ever heat it.

There's plenty of competition for waste streams, but if I do find something that's abundant, things like soldier flies will be considered. I don't anticipate ever doing something like that as a way to get rid of 50 lb of this or that. It would have to be something where we are getting hundreds or thousands of pounds of waste each week. It could prove to be a good way to deal with a large percentage of the manure. I'd have to test it out and see if the labour warrants the benefit.

Chickens gobbling up compost worms and dung beetles seems like it might be a whole lot less work.

I would only do it as a way of feeding my own poultry or fish. It's something that could be produced on a pretty even basis throughout the year, so you just stock enough animals to consume it. I can't imagine wanting to dehydrate it and then try to market it, so far from where anyone might think it has value.
 
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I love all of your ideas and I have quite enjoyed reading your plans.
I am sure you have already read the pamphlet regarding tropical agriculture from ECHO, it showcases many of your aforementioned ideas.
https://www.echocommunity.org/resources/f11a5d31-a76c-4851-83c3-06baf3a62c0e
I love that you plan on growing and using azolla. I, too, am a huge fan. The azolla that I grew extremely successfully in my pond was completely devastated by invading frogs. If i get azolla again ever, which I may because it was well-loved by my rabbits, I will keep a seed amount in reserve in case of predators again.
What I have switched over to in my ponds is water hyacinth, which is eaten fairly well by the rabbits, though they wont even consider eating the roots of it. It also grows extremely well here in West Florida and is not nearly as invasive as it is made out to be. Its also easy to harvest and carry to the rabbits and has an excellent protein rating. But you already knew that.
As on your planned property, roughage here is pretty easy to acquire. I too grow sugar cane, and deal with mineral poor soils. The seaweed idea is a great one. I may have to start doing that myself! I recently acquired some elephant grass, it seems to be as nutritious or perhaps moreso than corn, but I understand you may want the corn for its human/chicken value also. Have you considered sorghum or kefir? Both are grown quite a bit here, sorghum doubling as a molasses source. Not sure if that would be better than sugarcane at all, since its so easy to grow and the others would require planting regularly. But would certainly add to diversity.
I grow a lot of different types of gingers, which have roughage value for my rabbits and a great deal of edibilty and medicinal uses for humans. My favorites are cardamom ginger and shell ginger (Alpinia zerumbet), the latter of which is considered a superfood and called "Langkawas na pula" in its native Phillipines. Maybe your wife has heard of it! It thrives with no care and near full shade and would pair well with any banana ventures.
I also grow, eat, and feed to rabbits cannas, which taste great but are heavy feeders. These might be a pond edge plant which can grow a decent starchy tuber to compete with your cassavas. The tubers do need to be cooked first also, but lack the cyanide. Cannas also have a variety of beautiful flowers which may have cut value or potted plant resale value for your booth.
I cant wait to see pictures.
20190506_173915-2.jpg
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Alpinia zerumbet
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Plain yellow Canna
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Pink Canna with Water Hyacinth
 
Dale Hodgins
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I hadn't heard of that organization before. I  intend to visit many well run farms, some belonging to charitable organizations. But I doubt if I would ever partner with anyone.  

There are organic farms,  large and small, some that I don't consider organic or sustainable. We will visit several.

I will check out those plants. My wife is keen to produce cut flowers for the market.  Many perennial bushes and trees that produce continuously will line our roadway. I think flowers will produce more income per unit of labor, than food crops.

How much azolla were you harvesting? Did it make up a substantial percentage of the rabbits diet?
.......
This scrawny little arrangement was 50 cents at the market. A worker could assemble hundreds of those in a day.
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Just be aware of the African Swine Virus or whatever it is called that is sweeping SE Asia and spreading out from China, Vietnam and points south.

And Water hyacinth is a real plague, but it harvests everything in the water including heavy metals.


I don't know whether there are any Inga style plants. These are subtropical plants in Central and South America that fix nitrogen and gives a good firewood for cooking as well.

Roger
 
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Does it really need to be that complex?  I help a friend of mine raise heritage breed pigs in the woods.  We plant annual and perennial cover crops, cut down some trees, fence in around a pond, and put out supplemental feed.  There are no buildings, waterers, manure handling, synthetic fertilizer, or machinery.  The biggest investment was 4' woven wire fence.  We cut his pasture in half to rotate pigs each year, but now we're considering rotating them midseason to go back and cover crop the grazed areas.  Where those pigs have done pig things (rooted and chowed down) the regeneration is off the charts.  There is no mud and dead soil.  With a little sunlight and rain, the pasture is back up to snuff in an amazingly short period of time.  And the pork quality is off the charts.  
 
Dale Hodgins
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For me, it does need to be this complex. Burnt-out tropical soil won't produce much of anything,  without major soil building and nutrient accumulation.

The end goal isn't just pork. Most of the land will become tropical forest, leaning toward fruit and timber production.

The pigs are a tool. If ducks could do it,  I'd raise ducks.
 
Dale Hodgins
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If the swine flu kills every feedlot pig in the Philippines, prices will improve for small growers.  The free range ones have been around for thousands of years, and they will survive this little scare.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Part 2
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This is going to be a rather long post. You might want to get something to drink and get comfortable.
---------------------
Azolla and duckweed divets --- a thousand little ponds.

This is part of how I intend to make my landscape hold water and produce nitrogen. Much of the land has a clay base. Sometimes under only an inch of duff.
.........
Make very small pig wallowing holes, all over the property, always next to thirsty and nutrient hungry crops. When the pigs leave that area, fill the pond with water and cover with duckweed and azolla. The pigs will move every few days.

The duckweed will grow quickly until nitrogen is exhausted. Harvest regularly. Eventually the azolla will take over with a virtual monoculture. Use rock phosphate to keep it going.

 Mosquitoes don't like azolla.

The material can be gathered and hauled to the pigs or fed to chickens right there, adjacent to the pond, where their poop will feed the crop plants.

Pond levels will ebb and flow, according to the weather.

When they get really low, they can be allowed to completely dry up and any remaining azolla will break down. Or, the last 100 gallons or so, could be used for irrigation in the immediate vicinity. This would prevent them from becoming stinky cesspools.

Then the pond would sit empty, until rain returns.

Chickens and ruminants may drink and eat from it, until the pigs return, after several months, to once again wallow and gley the pond, for a few days.
........
When rain returns, there will be many small reservoirs to fill, before much runoff occurs. Each one will work as a leaf trap and settling tank for fine particles. This material makes great mulch or potting soil, and would need to be gathered regularly.

A thousand little ponds, means a thousand little micro-climates. The ponds may start out, pretty much all the same size,  since that's how we will dig them. Then, it's up to the pigs, and how they are managed to determine how large it becomes.

Some plants, like bananas, figs and mulberry, really like to be near a water feature, without being flooded by it. These can be used to stabilize the soil and provide shade.  Both duckweed and azolla prefer partial shade, especially in the tropics.  Shaded ponds don't lose as much water to evaporation.

Each one will have it's own characteristics.  Some may drain out, after a short time with no rain.  Some larger ones may hold water, well into the dry season, which lasts about 2 months.

 Usually, at the bottom of slopes, in the Philippines, bogs or water features can be wet all year.  That's where they grow the rice. Lower slopes often have spring water, flowing from them. Pigs will be kept out of any existing springs and most of those that are created.
....
Erosion
On sloped land, the pigs won't be allowed to completely tear it up as happens when they are fenced in one place for a long time. They will be moved when most vegetation has been eaten or uprooted. Then a minor amount of landscaping will be done as the area is seeded to whatever we want to come next. Uneaten plant material will be used on contour to capture leaf fall and sediment. Any area too steep for row crop cultivation, will be put into pioneer tree species, bananas and other things where the soil won't be disturbed often.

If I can get an abundant supply of bagasse, it will be laid on contour below areas that have been disturbed. This will work as a dam to capture sediment.
......
It's quite likely that we will decide that some ponds are perfect the way they are,  and the pigs won't be brought back to them for a long time. Others may not hold water, so they could be filled with compost and soil, followed by a jackfruit or banana.

I expect to put the equivalent of about $2 into the initial stage of creating each pond. That will give 2 hours to complete the task. Some of the equipment that people think will dig a hole is absolutely ridiculous. I will supply them with proper picks, mattock and shovel. When each new one is created, it will be important to use lots of ground litter or bagasse to protect the excavated soil from being eroded. We will always plant it in something that comes up fast.

Buckwheat and many others, are possibilities for quick stabilization.

Because of the labour rate of approximately $1 per hour and the relatively high price of food compared to that, hand harvesting of things like buckwheat and pigeon peas is worth it. We'd leave most of the plant in place and just slice off the seed heads.
............
When larger ponds of a few hundred square feet are created, it will happen that we get enough nice stuff growing around them, that they become a pretty stable system that may be harmed by the inclusion of pigs. Once it gets to that stage, a decision will be made, and that will effect future plantings. Some of the very long-lived fruit and timber trees could be planted, and they will eventually overshadow the pioneer species. This will mark a transition from annual crops, to managed food and timber forest. Pigs may still be used as part of understory management.
.........
I intend to dig a little more deeply into everything that Geoff Lawton does with water management and everything else. I suspect that he's more of a purist than I am. I don't think they started with a commercial pig farm. They started with degraded land that was no longer profitable to run cattle on, and the climate is similar.
........
After I turn the bulk of my land into young food forest, the pig operation will either be scaled down, or I will seek more land. There are areas where the government has control over big chunks, but it remains to be seen, weather they are interested in reforestation on my terms.

Usually when there's one piece of unused or barely used land, there are other adjacent parcels. I can't afford to buy up a whole island, but there may be a way to buy future options on some of that land. Much of it is covered in coconut, which has value when you have enough of them to be bothered getting good processing equipment. I would lease this land for five years, with an option to purchase, at a given price at the end of the contract or before. I might have to pay a little more than it's worth, but that's better than having farms that are separated from one another. Most people who lease coconut land, are just looking to harvest and process coconuts. I would be looking at them primarily as pig feed and as a supply of coconut choir which would be used for soil stabilization and the manufacture of massive quantities of biochar. For competitors this is a very low value waste product that is usually burned.

The moment anyone does something successful, neighbours get thinking that their property is worth far more than it was before. These are mostly absentee owners who have moved to the city, sometimes generations ago. Once I'm ready to make a purchase, I will attempt to tie up neighbouring properties on all sides, and then pay my rent by harvesting whatever is there. Then, if all is going as planned on the acreage I already own, I will start exercising options. I'll make sure that my lease is all inclusive. Where I own the agricultural products, and the right to use the land for grazing or for running trail rides and other tourist related activities.

 Then, only after I've exercised my option, the pigs will be moved to a new Piggery and the old one converted to cattle and goat housing, or tourist rentals or whatever. A few months in the rain plus wetting down the interior regularly, gets rid of that piggy smell.

This would require the building of another house and farm yard. You can't leave pigs penned up somewhere on their own, or people will eat them. Pretty much a duplication of the original, but hopefully better.

I wouldn't want to deed all of the properties together, because building laws often allow only a certain amount of house or barn or whatever on a piece of land. So if you have five different pieces of land, you're allowed to build to the maximum, five times. This would allow me to spread live-in employees around the farm, for greater security. I'd also like to build a number of different structures for tourists. They will also be placed strategically, so that they can see what is going on.

Rent out a ridge top cabin, to some hardcore environmentalists, with the agreement that they are also part-time forest rangers.
.......
Creating a tourist destination

The ultimate goal is to draw visitors, who will spend money on food, recreation and accommodation. So everything right from the start, must look toward that end goal. The trails that we use to access different parts of the farm with the buffalo and his cart, will one day become hiking trails, surrounded by food forest and timber. They need to be mostly on contour, because it's a lot easier to walk parallel to the slope, rather than constantly up and down it.

Camping areas and rental cabins will be placed at nice spots along the trails. Probably many of them will be close to one of the larger ponds or in a spot that has a good view. By spreading people throughout the forest, the chances of illegal harvesting will be greatly reduced. I'm not worried about people stealing a mango. Some of the native trees, particularly those in the teak family, are quite valuable even when they are only eight inches on the stump. And quite valuable is a relative thing. If a guy can slog away all day then come out of it with one stolen $20 log, that's more than he could have made at most other things. Deforestation is often driven by lack of employment options. Young forests aren't targeted by big operators that specialize in exotic furniture wood. It's more likely to be individuals hoping to make a reasonable wage making charcoal or harvesting posts that can be sold to home builders.

Security...
Signage, fencing, people and dogs will all be employed to keep away unwanted visitors. Just having it marked out as a farm, instead of abandoned land, will keep most people out. There are lots of hidden spots where a guy can steal some firewood and get away with it.

Every community has its bad apples. I will try to determine who they are. They will probably come looking for work. I visited numerous job sites, in Cebu. People who are building a house are often approached many times a day, by those seeking employment. But you can only hire so many.

 There will be certain gathering activities, such as the waste streams we talked about earlier. And I want to clear at least a five kilometre radius of all plastic and other debris that litters the road sides. This is a job for the chronically unemployed. I'm also going to be looking for people to market farm produce, so that's more off-site employment.

Once there are touristy things to do, I will delegate farm duties more and more. Then, I will concern myself with the restaurant and motel/campground business. This will coincide with hiring a few young people with good English and other foreign language skills. Probably Japanese, Korean and Chinese. Europeans outside of Europe, are generally comfortable with English.

The pigs will always have some role, even if we decide not to expand any further. I'm sure that part of it will be for demonstration purposes.

 I seriously doubt that we will run out of land that has been farmed poorly.

Cultural considerations...

People don't like it, when somebody from far away has a look at their situation, and pronounces it all a stupid waste of time. They don't like being told that their way is the wrong way and that they need to change. So I'm not going to tell them that. I will quietly show them. And I won't be the only voice showing them. Their own televisions show them farmers who are doing things different and becoming more successful. YouTube is full of organic farms in the Philippines that are financially successful while improving the environment. Still, millions toil away, working hard but still living below the poverty line. Sometimes farming is more like a mining operation, where the people are trading soil for food, because of the erosion they cause. So I expect that for the first several years, I won't be preaching to the locals about how they should change. They will be offered the opportunity to come over for a look.

Another cultural consideration, is that people will often shoot themselves in the foot financially, because of real or perceived obligations to less productive members of their families. Many in my wife's extended family, thought that they had somehow won the lottery, when they found out about me. I've made it clear that I don't come from that culture, and that providing money or resources to those who haven't worked for it, is something that I will never be party to.

It's possible that we might place some of my wife's relatives on other sites, after they have learned what to do. Or, we might help them improve the land that they've had for generations. This will require them to have a contract, with other family members, stating that those doing the work are the ones to reap the benefits. Easier said than done.

Sharing everything probably worked quite well when almost everyone was a farmer or a fisherman. But now, there are clearly those who have made it and those who haven't, and to me it's always quite evident why one person has been successful.

My wife's family is from Mindanao, the only part of the Philippines we hear about when there's social unrest and conflict between two religions. She can't think of anyone in her extended family, who has worked abroad or gone beyond high school. None have been to Manila and only a few have ever left Mindanao.

 Education is one of the main ways that Filipinos improve their lot, by family members working abroad and then using that income for education and other improvement. They often confuse education with intelligence.
....
We will create certain opportunities for many of Nova's younger relatives. The old drunks who made her fight her sisters, for their entertainment in order to receive food, after her father died, will never be welcome on our land. I've already had that conversation with one girl who is daughter of a drunkard. She knows that, if she decides to go to school or pursue some other worthwhile thing, she can live on the farm with us for a time, to avoid rent and other expenses. But we don't want to ever see her father, and she knows why. I might need to have that conversation with a dozen more. They know it's true, but they aren't used to hearing it stated quite so succinctly.

When I create employment for family members, I will want to know that they aren't shipping their earnings off to help feed someone's vices.
........
 Employees are likely to come from families that have their own degraded property. I will encourage them to emulate what they can, and to never share income with those who don't help with the work. People bleed themselves dry, spending hard earned income on underemployed family members.
.....
 We are going to produce moringa powder and other dried goods for the foreign market. Everyone in the community, will be offered the opportunity to produce it and market through me. Everybody has eaten it, but few would know that there is a world wide shortage. One farmer with 25 pounds of dried leaf,  is going to have a tough time selling it. That quantity might bring more than he made last month, so I'm sure that after seeing what we do,  others will seize the opportunity.
......
 My wife will handle everything to do with checking quality of what people bring in and then paying them, always getting something in writing, acknowledging that they have been paid.

 People like to be paid twice or three times. We experienced this with taxi drivers and at various roadside attractions. A price is stated, to go swimming. But then they tell you, you must rent a table to eat at, and the bathrooms cost 20 pesos and there's a 50 peso environmental fee, although they have never cleaned up any of the mess around them.

This idea of getting paid more than once extends to land sales and employee payment. Suppose a family sells some scrubland. Then they come back 5 years later and see that there's a nice house and gardens and the trees are 40 feet tall. And they tell themselves that this is what they sold.

And then they all get together to talk to Uncle Dominic, because he's the one who made the deal. Everyone got a little share, and they all want Dominic to give them more... They have legal people whose job is to go around and get signatures from every family member, when a piece of land is being sold. It basically states that I know how much the land is being sold for, and I agree to it, and I won't bother the people who bought the land. So, if there is some dispute about how that money was allocated, that is just something within our family and nothing to do with the new people... That's roughly what the lawyer told me is part of closing a deal.

 Sometimes, one sibling, from a large family, will try to sell land that is owned in common. People will also try to sell land that they have no claim to.

Employees also like to get paid more than once. Many choose the worldwide standard, which is simply stealing. The most accepted method of stealing, is to simply do nothing, while on the clock. But there are those who don't steal your tools but instead they'd like to renegotiate the cost of their labour, after the job is done. That's part of why I will never hire a contractor for anyting. I will only hire labourers or bricklayer or whatever, but never any sort of construction foreman.

 And that's why everything must be written down and even put on video. It must be clear that they received this much money for this much work, and that transportation from some distant island, because they went to visit their grandma, is not something I'm going to cover.

When something is purchased, it needs to be clear weather transportation is included, and if it is, are they going to charge you to lift it off of the truck. Lumber could show up, with all of the materials paid for and the trucking paid for, so you think you're done. But then the driver tells you that it costs 50 pesos to unload the truck. That sort of thing usually ends the moment he sees you calling his boss.
.....
The White Tax... Maybe it's just the foreign tax, because they do it to everyone who's not from there. They know that Japanese and Koreans are wise to it. It basically comes down to taking advantage of ignorant people who don't know how much to pay for things. Mostly people in transportation or others who come into contact with tourists. I've never had anyone try to charge me double for bananas.

I don't pay the white tax. I pay exactly the same price at the fish market, as someone who has lived there forever. I don't pay taxi drivers one peso more than they should be paid. They always get a tip, unless they pretend to not have change.

Overall, the advantages of being a foreigner greatly outweigh little inconveniences. Most people are more than willing to help, and it's easy to get good service. I've had to point out to cashiers, that someone was ahead of me, when they try to serve me first.

This happens all over. In Nairobi, an old man was experiencing the Danny Glover effect when trying to catch a taxi. I stuck my white face into the roadway and waved my arm. Two seconds later we had a taxi. The old man showed the driver that he had money, and they were off. I wouldn't have had to show him the money. Danny Glover had plenty of money to pay for his taxi, and that's part of why he was so pissed off, especially at black drivers who wouldn't pick him up.

Having a Filipino wife and looking the part of someone who is living there, rather than visiting, will help me avoid dealing with shysters. They almost always self identify , by yelling something like "hey, my friend." The moment someone I don't know addresses me as "my friend", I know that I'm about to be hustled.  Dealing with these jokers is an irritating, but harmless, part of the white tax. When they first start trying to chat me up, I tell them that I'm aware of the price of everything, and I don't pay for any service that I don't need. That usually ends it. Sometimes I tell them that I don't plan to spend  5 pesos today, because we have everything we need.

On the subject of money, I expect to invest about $100,000 in the initial stage of this. I mean in the first year. That should be enough time to get the basics up and running. Then, depending on how it's going, I will invest more. I don't anticipate ever seeking investors, but who knows.
 
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