The front and back fields on the farm schematic make up the intensive perennial cropping zones of the farm. They are patterned according to our overall Keyline layout, allowing for continued pasture development between the tree lanes over the subsequent years. The sequence of planned cultivation to allow for rapid & easeful tree planting wasdiscussed in this article.
Pasture is not the optimum starting point for establishing trees. Grasslands are bacterially dominated through to balanced fungal:bacterial ratios in the late successional grasses. Shrubs and vines tend to thrive in F:B ratios of 2-5:1; whereas with our tree crops we are talking F:B ratios of 5-100:1 or more (up to 1000:1 with conifers and old growth forests). Cultivation of soil selects for bacteria.
In addition, the cultivation will lead to a profusion of grasses. It does, however, give us opportunity to sow a diverse cover crop and plant trees and shrubs into well-prepared ground whilst dealing with the overall water considerations of the site. Our job as engineers of this designed process is to help steer everything possible towards the set of chain reactions (the succession) that we desire.
As with any design work, the mapping and conceptual design process leads us to an accurate digital layout where we can generate a bill of quantities efficiently. The length of tree lanes and our chosen spacings allows rapid calculation of plant stocks required.
Main Tree Crops
Main Shrub Layers
Marginal & Contour Plantings
Chinese Mahogany (leaf crop pollard)
European Lime (leaf crop pollard)
Support Species List (hand broadcast seed)
Our groundcover mix was sown into the formed tree beds immediately after mulching trees & shrubs to quickly establish perennial groundcover. The multiple benefits we are looking for are nitrogen fixing, mineral accumulation, edible crops, insectary and nectary sources as well as protecting the soil. Having perennial support plants helps tip the F:B ratios in our favor, and the addition of chop and drop mulch and woody compost from deconstructed biomeilers will ensure a good supply of fungal food is present. Rock dust, kelp, provide the wide mineral spectrum being necessary to encourage fungi in depleted agricultural soils. Whilst there may be a few annuals and self-seeders in the mix, some of useful perennials we include are;
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Our first job was to subsoil the paddocks on the Keyline patterning explained in the previous article. The tree lanes were marked out on the 12m spacings we are working on in the front field with 18m on the top fields. 10m headlands allow easeful turning of machines, which in our case is likely to be Keyline subsoiling over the next years, small hay cutting rigs and quad bike harvesting in the future. One of the benefits of the systems we are establishing here is that we will not need anything larger than an old 2nd hand machine after this initial work is complete.
After deep ripping with the Yeoman's plow we tested the Simon bedformer and to our surprise it cut through our fairly dense sod with no problems. We took 2 or 3 passes to get the finish we wanted, the 3rd pass necessary only in the front field which has a higher clay content.
4 hrs machine work (Keyline Plow & Bedformer)
180 human hours for major plantings/ mulching over 5 days
100,000 SEK: plants (although includes perhaps 25,000 SEK for other plantings)
4,000 SEK: 2000 tree guards
5,000 SEK: seed mix
2,000 SEK: 40m2 wood chip delivery
500 SEK: 10 L concentrated kelp extract
500 SEK: 4 tons rock dust
750 SEK: 15kg mycorrhizal inoculant
150 SEK: fuel for vehicles picking up waste resources
15,000 SEK plant delivery (Self drive through 7 countries!)
Total: 127, 900 SEK (Approx. Eur 14,000/ $19,000 USD)
Associated costs (Not included as they can be rented to offset their cost to the business)
75,000 SEK Yeoman's 6SB Keyline Plow & Shipping
15,000 SEK Simon 1.8m Bedformer
3,000 SEK Lely 3m Power harrow
- Visualising process through many times in detail, making notes
- Communicating/ breaking down process with others and delegating areas of responsibility/ documenting
- Rationalizing plantings for cropping efficiency
- Workflow design, teamwork, motivation
- Utilizing waste resources to keep costs down
- Observing & responding in the moment rather than following set ideas/ recipes
- Weather (Perfect timing for transition of bare root trees from UK & rain for 3 days after seeding!)
- Bored bigger shear pins for bedformer (1st half only broke 1 bolt, 2nd half broke 4 in 3m!)
- Started soil prep. longer in advance (better grass kill back)
- Finished machine mods for single pass capability to reduce tractor time (not a big deal on this scale)
- Had more stockpiled clothes/ gear for poorly prepared folks (Got quite cold & hard to dry clothes)
- A couple more farm managers wouldn't go amiss the pace we're moving!
10 WEEK Permaculture INTERNSHIP PROGRAM 18TH JUL - 26TH SEPT 2014
The 10 Week internship includes over 530hrs of curriculum based learning & 5 Certificate Courses;
- 90hr+ PDC certified by PRI (Aus) & PC Assoc (UK)
- 5 day Forest Gardens & Perennial Cropping
- 5 day Regenerating Soils
- 5 day Keyline® Design & Holistic Management®
- 5 day Teaching Permaculture Creatively
You can read the prospectus from the current Internship here. Booking & details for Jul- Sept training here.