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cassy

Examples of farming without animals

Someone recently asked if anyone could cite successful examples of farming without animals or off-farm inputs. There is an article in the latest Agroforestry Research Trust newsletter about Wakelyns Agroforestry, where the Farm Woodlands Forum held their annual meeting this year.

Wakelyns Agroforestry
Farm Woodlands Forum

Some interesting points were slowing the spread of potato blight; using genetically diverse seed and the final paragraph of the farm visit discussing yields.

Another newly set up silvopastoral farm, which is part of the same trials is Whitehall Farm, but as it's newly established there is obviously no info available on yields yet.

I think mixed agroforestry systems will always be are more flexible in terms of the land they can make use of esp. where machine use is not practical, but thought might be of interest to other people.
Rob R

That was interesting, thanks. They've come up against the same problem as most organic systems though;

Quote:
At Wakelyns, we use no inputs at all (except for tractor diesel)


The only way I can see around that is using human or animal power, or some form of non-animal renewable energy source to replace the diesel - more biodigesting of human sewage, perhaps?
Nick

Assuming that produce will leave a farm usually, is it reasonable to expect zero inputs?
cassy

That was interesting, thanks. They've come up against the same problem as most organic systems though;

Quote:
At Wakelyns, we use no inputs at all (except for tractor diesel)


The only way I can see around that is using human or animal power, or some form of non-animal renewable energy source to replace the diesel - more biodigesting of human sewage, perhaps?


Yep, it will never work properly unless there is a mass return to people working the land, living close to where their food is produced and closing the cycle by using all that wasted fertility.

Do you think it will ever happen?
oldish chris

That was interesting, thanks. They've come up against the same problem as most organic systems though;

Quote:
At Wakelyns, we use no inputs at all (except for tractor diesel)


The only way I can see around that is using human or animal power, or some form of non-animal renewable energy source to replace the diesel - more biodigesting of human sewage, perhaps?


Yep, it will never work properly unless there is a mass return to people working the land, living close to where their food is produced and closing the cycle by using all that wasted fertility.

Do you think it will ever happen? It is happening - in Cuba, google words like "Cuban agriculture" and "organoponico". Agriculture is a modern technical commercial industry, driven by costs and profit. As costs (selling and buying) change, agricultural practices change.

Worth noting that Victorian science was simple: fertilisers such as ammonium nitrate and insecticides such as lead arsenate. We are now in an era of ecology, much more complex and leading to much less damaging agricultural methods.
judith

Night soil always used to be collected from the cities for spreading on the fields in outlying areas. At some point we became a little squeamish about the idea. cassy

It is happening - in Cuba ...
Yes, but that has been driven by some fairly extreme circumstances that we do not have to contend with in this country at present. Agriculture/horticulture in Cuban cities is an excellent example of closing the distance between producers and consumers but I'm not sure that's going to happen in this country without some cataclysmic event/s.

Because of that, I think although the agroforestry systems under discussion are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, they are a step in the right direction and research into alternatives has got to be a good thing.
Rob R

That was interesting, thanks. They've come up against the same problem as most organic systems though;

Quote:
At Wakelyns, we use no inputs at all (except for tractor diesel)


The only way I can see around that is using human or animal power, or some form of non-animal renewable energy source to replace the diesel - more biodigesting of human sewage, perhaps?

Yep, it will never work properly unless there is a mass return to people working the land, living close to where their food is produced and closing the cycle by using all that wasted fertility.

Do you think it will ever happen?

In short, no, with the effort required to produce food at commercial levels and market price it will always be left it to other sources of energy and/or animal farming - managing the land is so much easier that way. In times of hardship, following extreme events as we sometimes see in other countries, would also see animals favoured over crops. Animals are portable, whereas crops have to stay in one place for months or years and are therefore more vulnerable.

There is every chance it could happen though, in the hands of the trully dedicated, but even there I see mixed farming as being more likely, to cover all bases.
Shane

Night soil always used to be collected from the cities for spreading on the fields in outlying areas. At some point we became a little squeamish about the idea. It's unacceptable from a religious point of view in some of the world, too (i.e. here). Doesn't bother me, though, I have to say. oldish chris

Night soil always used to be collected from the cities for spreading on the fields in outlying areas. At some point we became a little squeamish about the idea. It's unacceptable from a religious point of view in some of the world, too (i.e. here). Doesn't bother me, though, I have to say. Religious reasons? Here? Pretty sure that the decline in the use of night soil coincided with the decline in religious observance. The use of night soil declined for reasons of national health - the sewer system was developed to deal with human excreta. The loss of a fertiliser was replaced with nice clean chemicals manufactured using the Haber-Bosch process. Shane

Your here is different to mine Wink

This came up in a discussion with a water treatment vendor I was talking to a while back. They have some impressive reedbed technology that takes industrial scale waste water and turns it into fresh water suitable for use in irrigation. I asked why they don't use it to treat all the sewage that the region produces and was told that it's unacceptable round here to use anything derived from human waste on crops. Hopefully the learned sages in Saudi that recently discovered a previously-unknown passage in the Quran banning public protests will discover some text okaying the use of number ones and number twos in agriculture when the fresh water runs out over here.
tahir

Hopefully the learned sages in Saudi that recently discovered a previously-unknown passage in the Quran banning public protests will discover some text okaying the use of number ones and number twos in agriculture when the fresh water runs out over here.

Laughing

No problems using number 1s or 2s in Pakistan
dpack

pre columbian forest gardening in amazonia made salad ,fruit and carbs ,

an allotment can do the same

protien is an issue with no animals
shadiya

It is happening - in Cuba ...
Yes, but that has been driven by some fairly extreme circumstances that we do not have to contend with in this country at present. Agriculture/horticulture in Cuban cities is an excellent example of closing the distance between producers and consumers but I'm not sure that's going to happen in this country without some cataclysmic event/s.

Because of that, I think although the agroforestry systems under discussion are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, they are a step in the right direction and research into alternatives has got to be a good thing.

I hate to be the voice of doom and gloom but the Cuban example is no longer the beacon of hope that it was. With Chavez telling the US to take a hike,( which is a good thing), Cuba got access to oil again and seem to have ditched their organic growing in favour of the easy option, (which is not). We mustn't forget that pre collaps, they had an industrial agriculture, much like we have over here, courtesy of Soviet oil.

So it's a good example of what can be done when the chips are down but only because Castro, whatever you think of him, is pretty much a benevolent dictator. By that I mean that he does actually have the concerns of his people at heart, so after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a food allowance for everyone was introduced, much like rationing during the war. It meant that while people may have lost a bit of weight, they survived. The status of farmers was also raised as people finally (hallelujah!) worked out how important it was that someone grew food, rather than getting a proper job in advertising or marketing or whatever!

Despite being veggie, I like having animals on the farm. However, take a look at what my friend Tolly is up to, stockless farming is perfectly doable and efficient http://www.tolhurstorganic.co.uk

Their carbon footprint for the business, which supplies approx 120 tonnes of veg a year direct to people, works out at 8 tonnes, slightly more than the average household.
Shane

In my opinion (and experience), dictators are only as benevolent as they need to be to prevent mass revolution. cassy

That's really interesting, thanks shadiya. Very Happy Marches

I found those links interesting, I'd never really thought much about agroforestry before.
Sure, I've always liked hedgerows and trees in a pasture, but I always thought in arable land they'd be in the way but seeing that has opened my eyes to how they can be integrated into arable land.

Personally though animals will always have a place in my idea of farming even if just for dairy products and fertiliser and no meat.
Mutton

A friend who travelled in India about 20 years back reported on the piggy loo. A little hut on stilts, with a ramp, or hole, down which the lump departed. Up trotted pig and slurped up snack.

Hope no-one was eating when they read that. Very Happy
sean

It's not *that* long ago that you'd have found them in western Europe too.
When it became illegal to castrate choirboys, claiming that they'd gone to the loo and been bitten by a pig was the favoured cover story for the op.
Marches

It's not *that* long ago that you'd have found them in western Europe too.
When it became illegal to castrate choirboys, claiming that they'd gone to the loo and been bitten by a pig was the favoured cover story for the op.

Yeah, I heard about that. As a male it terrified me even thinking about it... Rolling Eyes
I heard something involving hammers and them ending up like pulp...

Quote:
A friend who travelled in India about 20 years back reported on the piggy loo. A little hut on stilts, with a ramp, or hole, down which the lump departed. Up trotted pig and slurped up snack.


I really hope they don't eat the pig at a latter date. Surprised
dpack

piggies do seem to have a fascination with human centric copraphillia

they can be "questionable of manners " but it saves the trouble of digging a new hole when this one is full Laughing
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