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Changing from a Conventional Farm  RSS feed

 
Nathalie Poulin
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Hey everyone,

I live in Ottawa, Canada and I have a few questions for any farmer's out there, specifically who are implementing permaculture in their farm or who have converted from a conventional farm to permaculture.

If I knew a farmer who grows a monocrop of corn, who had just discovered permaculture and wanted to start changing the way he grows things to incorporate permaculture into his farm, what would be a good place to start?

How do you begin implementing changes to a farm that has been primarily monocropped/conventionally grown? What are beginning and middle steps to take, plants to help bring back fertility, keeping in mind that winter's here are very severe and constitute snow that can be many feet deep and freezing temperatures of (sometimes more than) -28C (-18F) in January. How can this farmer maintain the same yield of corn (or more?) while preserving soil fertility and diversifying crop?


Thank you!

 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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it is hopeful hearing you want to change from monocrop corn to something permaculture..as all the farms in our area are changing from hay to monocrop GM corn..yukko.

I am not the one to ask about how to change from the corn, but I praise you for doing it.

Obviously you still want the corn..by your thread..so I can't really help you other than suggesting that you grow other plants before and after and during the corn cycle..maybe clovers, alfalafa, or some other cover crop and possibly some other crops like squash, beans whatever..however..if you are going to use conventional planting and harvesting equipment, I'm not familiar.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Since you still want to grow some annual crops, you might want to look into alley cropping and pasture cropping, which mix perennial systems with annual ones. Whatever you do, I suggest you make small, incremental changes rather than trying for an immediate drastic change. It's easy to bite off more than one can chew!

http://permaculturenews.org/2012/06/30/pasture-cropping-an-integrated-approach-to-grain-and-pasture-production/

http://permaculturenews.org/2011/08/09/agroforestryalleycropping-video/
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I used to live on an 800 acre conventional farm in South Georgia that is now well on the way to transitioning toward permaculture. They discovered that conventional row crops (corn, soy, cotton, etc.) were simply not profitable, so they let these fields go fallow for a few years while a redesign was considered. Fortunately they had some timber to harvest and some percentage of land in pecan orchards, so there were some transitional income streams. Now the former row-crop land is turning into a rotational-grazing setup for grass-fed beef, with sheep and poultry. I think this was a wise choice. A big challenge on larger acreages is labor....there simply aren't enough people on the land to manage tight, dense polycultures, especially not for economic yield. Forestry and animal grazing systems are the classic sustained yield systems for thinly populated broadacre sites....
 
Nathalie Poulin
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Thank you for the responses! Definitely some great stuff to consider.

Tyler, I loved the links on agroforestry and alley cropping!
 
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