My parents own several traditional farms a few states away in Tennessee. The land is rented out and has been farmed on for centuries (yes centuries- wanted this out there for help on soil improvement) for farming purposes from tobacco to corn and now we primarily grow cotton. I convert our farms over to permaculture in stages from small to encompassing all of our farms.
Problems: 1. I know very little. (I am currently reading Gaia's Garden by Toby Hemenway and this forum but I just joined less than a week ago): Local educational resources would be School of Permaculture & Internet... Or perhaps YouTube would be a better lol.
2. Every 3-5 years they get flooded and the crop gets hit hard. I have tried combing through flood-plain permaculture articles, the good, the bad, and the ugly, but I am just not finding enough. Especially on successful floodplain permaculture studies or documentaries.
3. I don't know how to approach my farmers. They are very knowledgeable and excellent at what they do, but I am a firm believer in permaculture in that it gives just so much to everyone and thing around it. Plus from the little and I do mean little (2-3 articles I have dug up) it seems that floodplain permaculture would be far more ideal for farming vs. traditional cotton farming, but this goal falls short due to not having enough information.
4. Finding data on large scale farms. Sure I have run across several blurbs on the pros and cons but no long term large farms. \
5. How do I start?
Goals: I know it will take me a while to become knowledgeable but right now I want to start learning with the goal of converting traditional cotton farms to permaculture farms.
Putting floods aside, the best first step is leaving the residue in the field, cover cropping, and no drill planting. Soil health is critical. Not sure if this can be accomplished with cotton. If im correct, a poison is sprayed to drop the leaves of cotton plants to aid in harvest. If this is true, this is not the crop to grow.
Corn would be better. Watch gabe brown on utube. Cover crops can be grown with corn, at a height low enough to not get in the way with harvesting. After harvest, he lets cows in to eat the stalks and cover crop. He prob makes more from the cows than the corn. He adds no fertilizers, the manure and cover crops take care of it.