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(Sub)Tropical permaculture for animal feed production..?  RSS feed

 
                          
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Hi friends,

I'm an arch. student doing an urban design case study for an animal shelter in south Florida. It's quite a big facility, and I think I'll propose they should think about building up a permacultural cycle of sorts to augment their independence and income. I'm thinking along the lines of biomass growing -- cricket feeding / food animals production -- Tilapia pond(s) w/aquaponic system, with subsequent dung composting to enhance and build up local soil (it's VERY sandy right now...).

What are your thoughts on the rough outline? It's probably an ambitious idea for them, but worth proposing, I think..

What plants do you think would be most suitable, especially taller trees, as that'd be good from a bioclimatic point of view (too much shrubby ground cover obstructs wind movement real nice..).

I realize this is a VERY broad question, so let's just get a free association chain going here. Ideally, the vegetation would also be native, but perhaps that's pushing it.

Best wishes & thanks,

Max
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 483
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Perhaps a bit more info.  What kind of buildings do they have, what is the land space and current land use pattern?  What is the current soil condition?  Are you looking to provide feed for the animals, if so what is the usual mix of animals?  Any other details you can provide would be helpful.
 
                          
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here's the soil report:

3—Arents, organic substratum-Urban land complex
Map Unit Setting
Mean annual precipitation: 60 to 68 inches
Mean annual air temperature: 72 to 79 degrees F
Frost-free period: 358 to 365 days
Map Unit Composition
Arents, organic substratum and similar soils: 55 percent
Urban land: 45 percent
Description of Arents, Organic Substratum
Setting
Landform: Rises on marine terraces
Landform position (three-dimensional): Rise
Down-slope shape: Convex
Across-slope shape: Linear
Parent material: Sandy dredge spoils over organic material over sandy marine
deposits
Properties and qualities
Slope: 0 to 2 percent
Depth to restrictive feature: More than 80 inches
Drainage class: Somewhat poorly drained
Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): High to very high (5.95
to 19.98 in/hr)
Depth to water table: About 24 to 36 inches
Frequency of flooding: None
Frequency of ponding: None
Maximum salinity: Nonsaline (0.0 to 2.0 mmhos/cm)
Sodium adsorption ratio, maximum: 4.0
Available water capacity: Moderate (about 8.3 inches)
Interpretive groups
Land capability (nonirrigated): 7s
Typical profile
0 to 12 inches: Gravelly sand
12 to 38 inches: Sand
38 to 52 inches: Muck
52 to 72 inches: Sand

Animal mix is all over the place, many domestic animals (rabbits, pigs, small domestic animals like hamsters, domestic birds of all kinds - yet NO cats or dogs) as well as wild animals: racoons, squirrels, opossums as well as many ducks, pelagic birds, raptors, reptiles and turtles - a cross section through the south FL ecology, really. Many of the feed requirements are rather special as animals also undergo treatment- I'm only aiming at a "base line" that might potentially provide some fish and insects for the birds, but that is open to debate. Anything would help, really - my primary interest is in finding out whether the general idea is potentially feasible, with later variables a research project on its own.

Buildings are scattered trailers as well as outdoor enclosures, though a plan is made to strengthen their building portfolio to accommodate larger multi-use spaces. There is currently no agricultural or permacultural land use; vegetation provides shading as well as visibility barriers between enclosures, and that's pretty much it.

Thank you for your interest!!

Max
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 483
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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Is permaculture feasible, always! Your Annual precipitation is quite good for growing just about anything you care to.  The soil looks somewhat on the poor side but having the animals indicates having feces which can be readily composted to enrich the soil.  I live in NE Ontario so can't help you too much with the Florida environment.  The project can be done, just keep in mind what limitations there might be, such as peoples time to continue developing the systems, once you leave.

Max K
 
                          
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thanks!! yes, there are plenty of feces.. tho many won't be used due to parasite loads etc. but bunny crap will do and is a-plenty  
 
Max Kennedy
Posts: 483
Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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noci wrote:
thanks!! yes, there are plenty of feces.. tho many won't be used due to parasite loads etc. but bunny crap will do and is a-plenty  


A metal tray, a scrap glass window and a day of sun.  fill a deep tray 2/3 full with feces, cover with the window and set out in a day of full sun.  By evening baked parasites!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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I bet that muck layer has lots of good stuff: another reason to plant tall species, is they might reach down deep enough to tap into all that.

Most birds really like certain varieties of sorghum. I've read it roots deeply, tolerates poor drainage, and produces lots of biomass. There are perennial varieties available. And the stalks, if they mature past the danger of HCN poisioning, are tasty to lots of animals as well. Just don't choose the varieties intended for beer: those sorts were bred to not be palatable to birds.

Some birds also like fruit. Seminole squash (using trees as a living trellis) and papaya might be worth looking into, if only for the pigs. The former has some huge benefits, like being native and having a long shelf life.  There's also a native tuberous legume that likes swampy areas (Indian potato, although other plants go by that name) and that the pigs would probably love.

Bamboo will be very useful, both for feed and timber (I hear parrots can gnaw through perches pretty quickly). I like the idea of containing it on an island in a pond.

I don't know what sort of tree would be best for feeding rabbits.

Would it be possible to substitute red wiggler worms for crickets? I think there's more expertise on raising the former here.
 
                          
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thank you for your superb post, Joel!

yes, I think going for worms instead of crickets would be doable. in any case, I'll just assign "growing space" in the programme so the folks could get an idea where to locate it on the site.

another system I'm looking into is aquaponics combined with rainwater harvesting. that would have the benefit of producing vegetables as well as some fish, while due to its loop synergy being more sustainable than just fish farming (think Tilapia farm... grossly unmanageable in this case).

Max
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
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There are huge possibilities and potential there.  Even if it were to simply start out as growing or collecting carbon materials to use in composting all the animal manures.

The biggest challenge is going to be the people I expect.  Observing the site, trying out things to see what works and promoting a diversity of the things that do work takes people willing to do it.

I've heard that cricket growing isn't all that difficult, worms are very easy so long as you have the space and feed/bedding for them.  Black Soldier Fly larva (BSF) are also a great creature to grow as a disposer of waste as well as a supplement to feed for birds/fish/lizards/rodents etc.

I would stay start with manageable bits at a time (trying to make over the whole place at once would probably be doomed to failure without a huge team involved in the project.)  Say get some composting going first while researching what plants might be most useful to the animals and best suited to the soil/environment.  Collecting organic materials for use in the composting as well as mulching and possible use as bedding materials can be ongoing all the time.

I've found that shredded corrugated cardboard makes wonderful worm bedding and BSF larva seem to like my worm bins as well.  I don't have personal experience with growing crickets.

I do aquaponics but that can tend to be a whole big project in itself.  However, some research into aquaponics might offer some ideas how to filter and recirculate water for ducks and in the filtration beds one might grow fodder or bio-mass crops or bedding crops.

I have Muscovy ducks and chickens, I am still working out what plants are good fodder for them but I have noticed that in my Central Florida yard there are many plants I can grow that they love to eat, I've lately even noticed the ducklings eating the leaves off the banana suckers.  For summer, I'm getting papaya, banana, sunflowers, sweet potato, cow peas, beans, moringa, and peanuts going for the birds, they also love pumpkin, squash, and melon seeds and innards.  In winter I plant lots of extra salad, arugula, kale, broccoli, radish and turnips for the birds.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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for the rabbits, there is a great thread on homesteadingtoday.com that has tons of info on feeding from foraged or intentionally grown plants. 

http://www.homesteadingtoday.com/showthread.php?t=211220

pellets are a nice backup in a pinch, but there are many weeds and invasives the rabbits will gladly take care of for you.
 
Ken Peavey
steward
Posts: 2524
Location: FL
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The environment is hard on the soil.  Regular humidity, ample rainfall and intense sunlight combine to promote microbial growth.  The result is organic matter breaking down rapidly, with any remaining nutrients leaching through the sand and away from the roots of small plants. 

Plants with deep roots may be able to reach the muck layer, giving them an advantage.  Fruit trees can reach deep, provide fruit for the animals, and offer shade when the sun is not directly overhead.  Since the animals are indigenous, go with the plants that have supported their species for eons.  Mango, date palms, dates, figs, olives, pawpaws, avacado, sweet cherry, all sorts of options.

For shallow rooted plants, the ground needs to be tended, with great volumes of organic material added regularly.  A thick mulch will offer protection from the sun, slow the drying of the top layer of soil, and help to cool the soil.  Still, the environment will be ideal for soil bacteria.  They will have a field day, populating the soil and consuming everything.  The advantage is the organic material is rapidly chelated for the plants being grown.

I'm in north Florida.  I've got bamboo growing in the yard so thick I can't see my neighbor.  Handy stuff.  Takes no time or inputs, produces a continuous crop of straight sticks, useful for building animal cages, and can offer ample shade for animals, structures or people.

Vines do well.  Catsclaw, virginia creepers, and wisperia will grow to cover an enclosure.  Kudzu may be something to consider.  Combined with bamboo, its a living wall.

For organic matter, compostable materials may seem to be highly available, but this is an animal hospital.  Cross-contamination may be an issue to the operators.  Saving the doo from a sick cockatoo might come back to sting you.  For use on lawns or areas not used by the animals or their feed, the cross-contamination issue may be moot.

If compost is the path being followed, it will need to be given enough attention to develop thermophillic activity.  A big boost will come from the daily tempertures well above 80 for much of the year.  Curing the stuff should be for an extended period (1-2 years) to destroy parasites.

Florida soils are predominantly highly acid in the north, alkaline from seashells in the south.  Plants that offer food for animals would need to be tolerant to the high acid/alkaline levels. 

Lettuces and leafy greens do well in this environment.  Rapid growth and the ability to pick some leaves and come again can offer a regular food source.  Animals need vitamins and minerals just like people.  Some animals will have issue with some crops.  I'm guessing the animal care providers will have some knowledge on the subject and may be able to provide input.

With 60 inches of rain per year, rainwater harvesting would offer a copious water source.  Groundwater is frequently contaminated with medications, hormones, and whatever else drains in from industrial agriculture, metropolitan pollutants or added by a treatment facility.  Rainwater may be a fine source of clean water for sick or recovering animals.

The amount of sunshine that falls on the unshaded roofs of these structures could probably offer all the energy this place can stand.  Photovoltaic electricity is an option.  Solar hot water heating is especially cost effective, and if set up with foresight can reduce the cooling demand of some spaces.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I think I would start by getting a list from the operators of what foods their animals need, and see what could be planted there. 

We lived at Homestead AFB for a year, but were in base housing, so couldn't grow much (plus, I was pretty preoccupied with three little ones), but I remember the huge avocado trees in a neighbor's yard!

Kathleen
 
                          
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Posted by: TCLynx : "The biggest challenge is going to be the people I expect."

yes, I agree.. this sort of a programme would take many many years to implement, and as volunteers might get involved who frequently cycle in and out of the system, they'd need an institutional memory space of sorts- to document results and archive procedures. I think that'd be vital..

Ken - thank you for your comprehensive post!! Bamboo will come in handy, I agree.. as Joel had also mentioned.
The cross-contamination topic is indeed a touchy one.. I'm just glad they also have domestic animals that are potentially more controllable in their health, but that will be something for them to figure out as a collaborative effort between caretaking and medical staff, as well as the folks tending to the site.

Kathleen - yep, creating a plant list would definitely be the way to go.. also, they could just start with that way before any measures on the site are taken.

I'm really soooooo stunned by the wealth of superb ideas, thanks again to you all. I'm sure the folks at the Wildlife Care Center Ft. Lauderdale (that's them!) will agree, but there's still some time until I have to hand in my thesis (thank heavens.. I am procrastinating!! lol)

x
Max
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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