It seems there is a lot of splitting down the details in permaculture. You can even see this on Permies, with it's many sections for all sorts of topics. I'm not bashing this, since people so often forget about the small details, but there is a significant lack of looking at the big picture of how things can be connected on a farm.
I've always been fascinated with ecosystems. Not on a large environmental scale, but on the small farm/homestead scale. There are so many connections to be made, to add new products and enhance reactions multiple ways. I'm not even sure if anything I'm writing is going to make sense to other people, but maybe some discussion will help elaborate.
What I'm looking for is help to create a really thorough design of an ecosystem covering all possibilities and for utmost efficiency. For example:
Aquaponics are the most basic and well-known.
Significant(Not talking about air or sunlight) External Input: Fish Food.
Human food Human food
But if we expanded this, it could be:
Fish innards go to the chickens > Their poop produces biogas > Spent biogas waste is used for BSFL > Then earthworms > Compost is used for compost tea
| | | | |
Chickens lay eggs Biogas cooks egg/fish BSFL are used as protein source Boosted earthworm population Compost tea is used to grow
| | for fish helps garden duckweed which feed fish
Eggshells go half to chickens, half to Humanure output goes
garden tomatoes to compost
A complex system like this was explored by Velacreation's Food Web Concepts:
But these are little projects and really not entire-farm scale, hence they don't cover choices which other people might pick.
The good thing about this is rather than starting something from scratch and isolated, you use the previous thing to set the precedent for another project.
There are many isolated designs that only focus on one area. Such as plant guilds.
A step up are Aquaculture systems which maximize yields by combining Free-floating, Emergent, Submergent, and Floating-leaved plants. Or 9-Layer Food Forest systems which combine (Canopy-Subcanopy-Shrub-Herbaceous-Groundcover-Vines-Aquatic-Mycelial-Underground) for maximum production.
But all these don't integrate animals well. They are often isolated. Or often are for the use of only one animal, be it a human harvesting fruit from a tree guild, goat browsing in silvopasture, or fish grazing in the aquatic system. It is too limited, very often too long-term for the number of times they are recommended, and they only fit into their own section or zone.
My point is not to make a farm plan that's entirely realistic or humanly possible, but to explore all the possible connections. See the potential everything has (waste not want not). Then people can check out the ideas- If they're just starting out, find a corner and expand. Or for established permaculturists to find ways to expand in the best manner, and even better--notice waste streams that they hadn't realized before. Just because everything can be composted, doesn't mean it should!
Thoughts? Comments? Links to other systems? Additions to a current system?