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Compacted Desert Soil + Low Levels of Organic Matter = Need for Repair  RSS feed

 
Collin Vickers
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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Greetings Permies,

I live on five acres in an arid region, (about 14" precipitation per annum,) which has been used over the last seventy years almost exclusively for livestock production, and mowed repeatedly to avoid vegetative growth as a means of wildfire prevention. As a result, a majority of the property is densely compacted and there are large expanses of exposed soil. Grasses on the property only grow for three months out of the year. Native volunteers on the property include: mequite trees, opuntia cacti, soap tree yucca, Apache plume sunflowers, buffalo grass, a deep-rooted pioneer known locally as sticker grass, ragweed and milkweed - this does not include ephimeral wildflowers. Prolific introduced species include: arrowleaf clover, which grows locally only in winter, and buffalo gourd (some consider it a naturalized species in the area).

My landlord will not consent to avoid mowing a two-acre expanse proximal to the house and other structures on property - less than an inch of spring growth remains as stubble during summer and fall, it doesn't grow again until rains in late winter, and most of this area is bare soil damaged constantly by visible wind erosion.

There is very little slope in the land, (I wouldn't have permission from my landlord to dig swales or keyline trenches, anyway).

I have not identified a local means of constructing hugelbeets which would not require a significant financial investment, (and I wouldn't have permission to build them, anyway). If I were to do so, there is an ample supply of mesquite wood and cultivated hay/straw.

My question are:

1. Under the circumstances, what would be the best longterm sequence of improvements to promote water absorption/retention and growth of soil-repairing plants?

2. What is a good mix plant types to consider? (I'm not necessarily asking for a list of specific species, but perhaps something along the lines of X% nitrogen-fixers, X% grasses, X% deep rooted herbaceous, etc.)

My hope is to use this information to persuade my landlord toward a more responsible approach to land management.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9734
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Buffalo Gourd is native to Texas, and has tasty edible seeds.

http://www.permies.com/t/16571/wild-harvesting/Buffalo-Gourd

 
Collin Vickers
Posts: 104
Location: Rutledge, MO
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According to a local archaeologist who specializes in Texan Native American groups, buffalo gourd are originally from further west in AZ or NM, but I'm no authority on the matter, personally. (In fact, the plant became a topic of discussion during a lecture they gave, which is the only reason I remember any supposed distinction.) I do know lots of them grow wild around here, and I love to eat the seeds too.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9734
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
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That's the first time I'd heard they're not native to this region! And not totally convinced..... Oh well, whatever, they're here now. And they actually grow and produce food in tough conditions.

 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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you are not going to have much luck getting stuff started, without breaking the soil crust.

I have spent tons of money on seed, trying to get it to start, then survive.
Ya gotta bury some organic matter.
Does he have a bunch of bad hay?

All these seeds germinate at different times in the SW, so it is tough to get a carpet going, to get, and hold moisture down in the ground.

have had good luck here tho

Plants of the SW
http://70.47.99.86/contactus.asp

and

http://floridawildflowers.com/pages/Southeast-Region-Seed-Mixes.html

and there is a great NM rehab seed co, but can't find it right now. Do lots of roadside repair, and great seed for desert.

decent read-me below

http://www.permies.com/t/10717/plants/dryland-plant-succession-soil-rehabilitation
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9734
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
180
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Texas native seed: http://seedsource.com/

Could try chisel plowing.
 
Geoff Lawton
permaculture expert
Posts: 48
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Hi Colin
try showing him these:



John Lius Green Gold Documentary (English).mp4

http://youtu.be/J3WisjXYik4

John D. Liu - Part 1 - International Permaculture Day

http://youtu.be/mXJPpo01jOc

John D. Liu - Part 2 - International Permaculture Day

http://youtu.be/oD7Nhy-CCTA

The world is closer to a food crisis than most people realise
Unless we move quickly to adopt new population, energy, and water policies, the goal of eradicating hunger will remain just that

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/jul/24/world-food-crisis-closer?intcmp=122

Dambisa Moyo: 'The world will be drawn into a war for resources'
The controversial writer and economist on why she believes the economic rise of China, combined with the west's complacency, leaves us facing a future of terrifying global instability

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/jun/24/natural-resources-and-development-china

The Resource Shortage Is Real
It's the rule of supply and demand: we simply don't have enough
Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/08/the-resource-shortage-is-real/#ixzz21YRcGoq1

The reason I wanted to have you speak to John Liu is due to his effectiveness in communicating this message and the manner in which he's expressed the need to act. His expertise is in media. There are plenty of opportunities here to create something innovative and potentially enormous, economically speaking. But we require the help of someone who understands how the financial and economic mechanisms work in order to pitch this correctly - which describes YOU.

John addresses the critical issue that must be confronted in establishing what I'd like to think of as the 2nd Industrial Revolution - only this time, the infrastructure is ECOLOGICAL - not industrial:

Functional Ecosystems as the Engine of the Green Economy

John D. Liu, Senior Research Fellow, IUCN, Director, Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP)

http://www.stakeholderforum.org/sf/outreach/index.php/inf2day1home/90-day-2/738-inf2day2item4

Quoting the piece:

"We know that the Earth’s naturally functioning ecosystems are the basis of life on Earth, providing air, water, soil fertility, raw materials and energy. It is also clear that the global economy does not recognise that the production and consumption of all goods and services depends entirely on the ongoing functionality of these ecosystems, and, as a result, fails to value it correctly.

From the study of natural ecosystems comes an economic answer that goes to the fundamental question of ‘what is wealth?’. Although everything that is produced and consumed comes from the bounty of the Earth, according to current economic thinking, the value of ecological function is zero. We now calculate the economy and money as the sum total of production and consumption of goods and services. By valuing products and services without recognising the ecological function from which they are derived, we have created a perverse incentive to degrade the Earth’s ecosystems.

Functional ecosystems can be shown to be more valuable than production and consumption. A pathway to sustainability appears if, instead of the economy being based on production and consumption of goods and services, it were based on ecosystem function. This would mean a fundamental transformation of human society. This development trajectory can be seen to address all of our most pressing problems. In an economy based on ecological function it would be economically disastrous to pollute. A functional economy would mean that conservation is not considered an expensive luxury, but the way to preserve wealth. It would also mean that restoration of degraded lands would be recognised as a means to increase wealth. Sequestering carbon would be a matter of course rather than an afterthought. A functional ecosystem-based economy would be much more fairly distributed, because those responsible for maintaining that function – currently those who suffer worst from the degradation inflicted by consumer capitalism – would be compensated for restoring and maintaining ecosystem functions."

John has some interesting data lending credence to this idea. Rwanda, for example, has made changes to its national economy, orienting it more towards an ecosystem function-based arrangement, rather that one built on the production and consumption of good & services. They've achieved 8% economic growth in the middle of a global recession as a result.

We need find a way to take the above and make it ACTIONABLE. ASAP.

The most likely interested parties that come to mind would of course be any holder of land based capital: nation states/governments would seem to top that list.

The "products" most needed to do the work would seem to be the most likely immediate candidates for investment opportunities, partnerships, sponsorships, etc. These would include manufacturers/producers of the following pieces of equipment:
Hydroseeders/Hydromulchers
Chippers/Shredders/Mulchers - Arboreal equipment/tools
Agricultural implements (like subsoilers, Yeomans Plows)
Tractors
Rubber tracks ( http://www.soucy-track.com/en-CA/home)
Earthmoving equipment (i.e. - excavators, bulldozers)
Trucks (i.e. - UNIMOGS from Mercedes Benz)
Compost turners

Cheers geoff lawton

Check out www.permaculture.org.au/permies


 
Ed Colmar
Posts: 47
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Hi Collin

I am also in the desert (New Mexico). I started off with terrible soil, and have come a long long way in repairing it.

Water is obviously critical out here.

If you can't do passive water capture, what about drip irrigation?

After that, start thinking in terms of nitrogen fixers and trees. The areas around my native (pinon & juniper) trees have produced the healthiest soil that I had to start with.

Also check out my garden in my sig if you want to see specific examples of plants I am using.
 
Neil Evansan
Posts: 69
Location: Valley of the Sun
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Collin Vickers wrote:My hope is to use this information to persuade my landlord toward a more responsible approach to land management.
Aloha Collin! Good Luck with your landlord.

I think one of the best approaches you can take is to think from your Landlords perspective - "What's in it for Me?" and then come up with as many answers to THAT question as possible. He probably doesn't care much about the land or responsible land management, but I'd bet he DOES cares about the overall value of his property. If you can come up with a 3-5 year objective, and give him a real-world dollar figure, based on an educated guesstimate using better land utilization and stewardship, you'll be in a much more favorable position to do some of what you'd like to do, while improving the value for him.

Without the "What's in it for Me" aspect, you already know you are talking to an adobe wall.
 
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