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Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) Applications for Permaculture?  RSS feed

 
N. Taylor
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Does anyone know if anyone has tried to apply the principles of Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) to Permaculture?

I did a quick search of the forums and didn't come up with anything.

Things like retaining walls and even walls for earthships and the like come to mind. I'd just like to know if there is already a body of experience in the area out there somewhere.
 
Travis Johnson
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There was some discussion of it buried inside some WOFATI threads. I would be hard pressed to find the information again as I spend so much time here that I cannot quickly recall where I saw it; only that I saw it. I watched a video (posted by another Permie member) where a guy was describing how they built a church using mechanically stabilized earth, then peeled back some of the earth to make a vertical wall. In the video it came from a question of his interns/visitors and was humorous as well as informative.

Myself, having a bulldozer; it is the ideal machine for building things out of maniacally stabilized earth and do a fair amount of projects around the farm using it. A great resource for me has been the Mid West Plan Service which has plans for farmers going back 6 decades or more. They did then what I do no...Use What They Got. Dirt is cheap, and pushing it around and compacting it only costs a very small amount in diesel fuel so it is one of my go-too methods of construction. For those reasons they have a lot of plans that include, or are entirely made up of mechanically stabilized earth. Often times they are outdated, or at least to the point that modern materials may work better, however they also cost money! I have sheep and with sheep it is a very low tech, low cash-flow type of farming system, so it lends itself well to old school ways of farming. Sure I can buy concrete, but for every cubic yard it would require one lamb sale. Compacted earth however...I could move thousands of yards for that same single lamb sale. That is how I have to allocate things as a sheep farmer: "this project would require x-amount of sheep to re-pay". With earth, I can accomplish projects for less.

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Hi Travis.  I went to that Midwest Plans site and they sure do have a lot of plans, but I didn't see any specific information or internal link to plans that were specifically about building walls out of bulldozed earth.  Or are the plans using this method for walls?
 
Travis Johnson
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No it is not really set up for easy browsing that is for sure. Take for example some plan they have for a sheep barn built out of loose straw. Yes it is 5 decades old, but for us Permie People, quite workable and the plans are right there. But to find it you have to go into Sheep Plans then kind of search around until it is found. The same is true for Mechanically Stabilized Earth. In order for me to stay in compliance, I need manure storage on my farm. By looking through the manure storage plans, I found a mechanically stabilized manure pond that would work. So it is kind of backwards in how a person finds what they are looking for. But the plans are free, engineered for you, and many of them exist, it is just a time-suck finding them if they do exist.
 
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