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Sepp Holzer

 
master steward
Posts: 27819
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
hugelkultur trees chicken wofati bee woodworking
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My curiosity about the origins of hugelkultur is pretty small.

My curiosity about the variations and optimizations and types of success is quite large.

 
Posts: 46
Location: Lexington, Kentucky Zone 6
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When using swale and hugelkulture like I've heard Jack Spirko talk about (swale on contour with hugel immediatly downhill and parallel to the swale) would it be best to plant trees (dwarf apple, dwarf peach) on the hugel mounds or immediately down contour of the hugelkulture beds?

Also...I made 3 or 4 hugel beds in Jan/Feb this year and made them before I read about the benefits of building them on contour...how important is this? The ones I built perpendicular to contour seem to be awfully dry right now...would it be a good idea to re-build them in fall winter and incorporate a swale on contour? In Lexington we have good precipitation in spring/winter/fall but get really dry from mid-may until late august/early september. When we get rain in summer it usually is associated with thunderstorms and falls fast and hard but is over quick. I was thinking swales might be a way to capture these storm events and put them into the hugels.

On another note...i second Paul, Tyler and everbody else on permies who is more interested in application/trials/expirements of permaculture concepts/ideas than debating semantics. Thanks for doing a great job keeping your site above water and "nice" Paul...much appreciated!!

Edit: I got carried away and forgot this was about Sepp...I should have posted this into the hugelkulture section...sorry!
 
steward
Posts: 7926
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Think of swales and berms on contour as a 'poor man's' terrace. It keeps/spreads the rainfall throughout the slope, rather than having all of the runoff accumulate in the valley floor at the bottom. If the berm itself is a huglekulture bed, you have killed two birds with one stone. The top soil in the bed gets its share of the rain, while the swale feeds any runoff into the bottom of the bed. The lumber in there will soak it up like a sponge, and during dry months, that water will wick into the bed's soil.

 
Andy Sprinkle
Posts: 46
Location: Lexington, Kentucky Zone 6
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Thanks John...would I plant the trees on top of the hugel bed or down slope of it? All of my hugel beds have settled ~25% the first year...will that effect the new tree if planted on top of the hugel?
 
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
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This is a partial reply to Paul Wheaton's post of 22nd of June on the second page of this thread. It would get really messy if I quoted that very long post.

Paul, You have said you are a "numbers man" so I am concerned that you believe that anybody (even Sepp !!) could accurately estimate rainfall by what they see, staying on a site for a week or two. You are right I have not stood exactly on that site but I have been very close! Alot closer than I believe you ever have. Plus as I said before, I did lots of research before I came to Portugal because the climate was essential to the sort of farming I wanted to do, and am doing. Its a very good thing I based where I lived on proper research than the guestimates of others who had spent a week or two here.

Remember It was in an old podcast with Maddy Harland where she talked about how Sepp had greened a desert, and that Tamera only got 2-3 inches of rainfall a year, that started this whole discussion off. Shortly after that I stated here on this site, that Tamera must recieve alot more rain than that, and that in fact it was very similar to the climate where I lived.

In a recent podcast (No. 175) Paul again discussed with Maddy Harland the 'myth' of Tamera in Portugal NOT having a desert climate. In relation to that Paul said

"I believe I have thoroughly, and completely, and utterly unraveled it.... I am going to debunk this myth... it is a desert, and the annual rainfall there is approximately six inches"

In relation to recent discussions with Sepp about rainfall at Tamera, Paul went on to say "I asked Sepp this question very directly, Sepp puts his hands apart to show to show how much rainfall they get per year, and it looked like six inches is the average, but he said last year they only got three". Which is odd because Sepp in the past had written that in fact Tamera recieved around 24 inches a year.

Paul went on to say "I have checked with many different sources and I have heard anywhere from six to seven inches or so....this particular spot in Portugal is a desert".

I had this thought. Who really knows the truth ? So I decided to write to the people of Tamera and ask them if they recorded the rainfall there or not. They do. Now I have those figures. I will post this, then give you all the real figures in my next post.



 
Mark Harris
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
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For those interested in the climate of Portugal there are some nice climate maps here, including ones for rainfall. Thanks to the person who went to alot of hassle to find my private e-mail address to send this link.


http://www.dfisica.ubi.pt/~artome/Siam1_Clima_Completo.pdf





 
Mother Tree
Posts: 10876
Location: Portugal
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As I said last month...

Burra Maluca wrote:The confusion is because, despite Paul's best efforts, Sepp and Maddy were talking about two different places.

Sepp was talking about the project in the Extremadura, in Spain, which I'm quite prepared to believe has only 6" of rain.

Maddy was talking about Tamera, which has 24" or so of rain.



 
Mark Harris
Posts: 73
Location: Portugal
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In the more recent podcast (175) where Maddy and Paul again spoke about this, Paul said he asked Sepp a very specific question about the rainfall at Tamera in Portugal. It was very clear. Paul said he had checked with around six different sources to confirm the six inches of rainfall figure. Maddy didn't say 'I got it wrong in the past' , but I believe she is aware she did get it wrong, because she said something like well 'Tamera is in a hot mediterranean climate that is suffering from desertification (because of the past farming practices) even if it isn't technically a desert'. Note that is not a quote but what I remember as the gist of what she was saying.

I deliberately didn't put up the rainfall figures yesterday of our farm as a comparison (from my wifes recorded data) because I didn't want to confuse people. But our figures are very similar to that of Tamera. But in fact we (my wife and I) and Burra are closer to the Extramadura region in Spain than Tamera. I Have just done a couple of quick searches on the climate of Extramadura and it seems quite similar to here. Caceres for example with quoted figures of 523 mm (20 inches) per year, and Badajoz with 491mm (19 inches). I find it difficult to believe that anywhere in Extramadura got only 76mm (3 inches) of rain last year. If that were so you might have expected our rainfall in this region also to be only a tiny fraction of the norm, but it was not. In fact rainfall here was good if not above average 754mm (30 inches).



Its not raining as I type but the thunder noises means I am going to go now before our internet connection goes. No its actually now raining here....
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 27819
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I periodically check the stats on lots of things. This morning I checked the stats for the new hugelkultur video. 80,000 views already! Excellent!

Youtube has a feature where it will tell you where those views are coming from. Look at all these cool places .... and, WOW! 43 views from krameterhof.at! That's Sepp's site! I found it at the top of the videos page. Neat!

Check it out: http://krameterhof.at/index.php?id=videos

 
Posts: 42
Location: Central Minnesota USA and Paris France
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congrats on the quick spread of this video - very cool. think of all the water saved...well done PW!!
 
steward
Posts: 3116
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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Sepp Holzer's video page in English has a different URL: http://krameterhof.at/en/index.php?id=videos

At this page the videos below Paul's Hugelkultur video are narrated in English, which I find helpful, as mein Deutsch ist nicht so gut. (Ich kann nur ein Bischen Deutsch sprechen. . .)
 
Posts: 113
Location: Boreal Alaska
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paul wheaton wrote:
Apparently somebody just completed a five year study of Sepp's techniques showing how Sepp's techniques can feed 21 billion people without petroleum or irrigation.



Hope I'm not too out of line bumping an old thread, but this is one of the few references to this claim on the interwebs. In Desert Or Paradise (2012), Sepp makes the claim explicitly: "I am convinced that our planet can feed three times as many, that is 21 billion instead of 7 billion people." (p. 117) Is the reference to the study available? Is the study really real? I'm sure he's put some thought into the number either way, but wow... it would make our lives so much easier to just be able to cite a study and leave the skeptics to their own devices.
 
pollinator
Posts: 303
Location: Montana
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Andrew Scott wrote:Is the reference to the study available? Is the study really real?



I could be wrong but I think the report Sepp was referencing in Montana is the UN Report on "AgroEcology and the right to food." This report has been mentioned on a couple of threads. I put the quotes that I found most elevator talk worthy on a Thread Here.

The report concludes that global food production can be doubled in 10 years using agroecology. I haven't by any means read all of the studies they reference, but from pursuing just a few of them I believe Sepp's techniques are a tremendous improvement over the techniques researched in these studies. To me these projects represent just the very beginning of establishing a symbiotic relationship with nature. If they are seeing a doubling of production in 10 years I would postulate that Sepp's techniques would result in at least an order of magnitude more production over the long term. That would make three times the population a very conservative estimate.

There is also an ecological modeling study on the Krameterhof (as best I understand it) that is available only in German. I have found it before, and have seen it referenced, but I wasn't able to find it in my search tonight. The study is only available in German, and you have to purchase it to even view it. The journal website was all in German, and it is not clear if their are any claims like what is stated above in this study.

 
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