Dan Poole

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since Jan 25, 2011
Central TX - Zone 8b
Central TX
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Recent posts by Dan Poole

I was just thinking about the concept a little bit more. In the context of polycultures, one could think of the higher order effects of planting multiple plant types together in a guild. Together they are greater than the sum of their parts due to the interactions between the plants.
8 years ago
Using order, as I've described it, in a design could be done in a variety of ways. One might be to take 'low order' patterns and make them higher order to increase edge effect along their boundary. For example, instead of straight hedgerows or row crops, use a sine wave. This increases the amount of linear edge (at the expense of land surface area), and has many potential benefits over a straight edge. A higher order pattern also might involve fractals or complex arrays. For example, maybe you are trying to catch and slow runoff/debris from storm situations. I don't know, but it would be worth investigating whether a series of small catchments would be more effective (per amount of effort you put into building them) than larger features like long swales or ponds. The catchments could be arranged in a cascading array or fractal pattern, requiring less total digging but giving a similar benefit. Just speculating there.

Using the other sense of order I described, you might use the higher order effects of fluid flow to do something useful. For example in the Permaculture Designer's manual, Mollison talks about creating turbulence in swirl basins (I forget the exact name used) to oxygenate and sanitize water. Fluid flow is the best example I can think of now (because of my familiarity), but I'm certain there are more. Basically any physical system will have higher order effects that can sometimes be ignored, sometimes not. The trick is knowing when those effects are important and how they can be used for your benefit.

8 years ago
Coming from an engineering background, I've always assumed that order in this context is referring to some mathematical function describing the system. In a mathematical sense, order describes a type of differential equation. First order equations contain first derivatives, second order equations contain second derivatives and so forth. Often, engineers will talk about a 'first order approximation' of a system that doesn't include 'higher order effects'. For example, you might be trying to mathematically model the air flow over some terrain. A first order approximation might look at the gross aspects of fluid flow, i.e. the air velocity is low in the boundary layer close to the earth, but increases with height. In this model, you might ignore turbulence. This would be a fine assumption for flow over a flat plane where there is no roughness to induce turbulence, but over a forest, higher order effects like turbulence can cause drastically different behavior. So that is one way to think of it - more complicated, possibly small scale aspects of a system model.

Another way that Bill Mollison uses the term is in describing patterns. He will talk about the order of harmonics in a wave. Check out the wikipedia page on harmonics for a detailed description. In essence, when talking about higher order harmonics, Mollison is talking about higher frequency, more intricately undulating shapes within a pattern. This is compared to, for example, a simple curve or straight line.

This is what I get from it at least.
8 years ago
A few you could try:

agarita - very thorny, but hardy as hell and edible berries. The birds would probably like it. Fragrant flowers for bugs.
Anacacho orchid tree (bauhinia lunarioides) - nitrogen fixer with lots of nice flowers
Texas kidneywood - another nitrogen fixer with nice flowers.
8 years ago
Looking good Ludi! How much land do you have? I recognize a lot of that vegetation from your pictures.

This is the sort of thread that I'd be interested in seeing more of - people sharing their projects/experiments, successes, and failures. I hope you keep adding to this thread.
9 years ago
I have both the hard copy and the scanned pdf version of the Designer's Manual. I like to support the causes I care about, but having a pdf is pretty handy in many instances, so I don't feel bad pirating something I already own.
9 years ago
I am not, which is why i didn't want to suggest that it would be easy to do. I do have a programming background, and I'm sort of half software engineer for a living, so I could learn it given enough time to play around.
So we have a login that Paul gave for general wiki editing, but would it be possible for everyone to just use their forum name and password for the wiki too? I tried mine and it didn't work. I know it might be a thing that's easy to say, but not so easy to implement, but it could ease contributing to the wiki, making the chance of success higher.

Also, might it allow the ability to track who changed/added what?
That sounds like a fine idea Saskia. Signature added to my profile as well. Hopefully when I get more time (thats the catch!) I will work a bit on condensing some of the board topics that i find interesting. Maybe eventually others will do the same.
Thanks Paul. I had seen mention of an existing wiki on this site, but had never been able to find it.

I suppose I am in the other camp as far as the desired outcome of the wiki goes....or maybe a hybrid camp. There is lots of information out there about applying the principles of permaculture in general terms. Yes, some of the books are expensive, as are the courses, but there is also a lot of free information. I don't have a problem with an open source sort of design course, in fact I think its a good idea, but in my mind a more useful resource would be real life examples. There are certain knowledge barriers, and what seem to be voids in the collective knowledge, that slow down the effective implementation of permaculture principles.

For example: what is a tried and true pecan tree guild for central texas (where I live so my mind jumps there first). Sure, people can figure it out given enough research, study of existing pecan trees, and trial and error, but there must be people around who have already done this and know the potential pitfalls. I could at least get a good starting point by looking at what someone else has tried. What if its a more obscure plant? What could go in a sapodilla guild? Maybe no one knows.

Again, we should leverage existing knowledge to the best of our abilities.

I suppose, Paul's original intent for the wiki is more along the lines of what I'd like. There is a ton of information available on the boards here, but it can be pretty tough to sift through it and determine what bits of it are worth paying attention too. I wonder if it would ever go anywhere though without some people obsessive enough to essentially write summaries of board topics.

I don't see why the wiki couldn't be both things (and Paul wants to keep it that way anyway it seems), that is a free PDC and a distillation of board topics. The main barrier to the wiki being something useful seems to be getting people to contribute to it. Maybe if it had a more obvious link on the main page?