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Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Grasshopper


20 comments:

Shunda barunda said...

Very interesting.

I have been making my own landscaping tools with varying success, though landscaping is probably a dirty word to a crop grower like Adam!

robertguyton said...

What have you come up with?
Your swede et al is sitting, wrapped and addressed, on my kitchen table.

Shunda barunda said...

MMMM swede et al!!

I have been developing ideas and tools to minimise the use of machinery like diggers and tractors and the damage they can do to the soil.

Unfortunately I haven't had as much time as I would like to develop them further.

Some of them are for leveling lawn areas!, which are still in demand as the backbone of the urban section (unfortunately).

I know you don't like rotary hoes, but using them for sculpting and making swales etc is far less destructive than heavy machinery. I try to use the smallest piece of equipment that will do the job, I once saw the council 'cutting' long grass with a 20 ton digger!!

robertguyton said...

Good thinking. The Grasshopper can sort that lawn issue for you though :-)

Shunda barunda said...

One thing I struggle with is the idea that no cultivation is required, (though I guess some lawns do develop a very rich topsoil layer with reasonable structure).

Is this a method that requires a preexisting soil type/structure, or is it limited to crops that cope with a more compacted soil base?

robertguyton said...

The proof is in the pudding, Shunda. There are some very amusing before and after shots available, should you be interested and if i was able to find them. Broad beans go well into lawn, as do tick beans. Peas too. Something vigorous that will beat grass regrowth. A dose of Roundup helps the process along immeasurably :-)The new crops de-compact the soil.

wildcrafty said...

"A dose of Roundup helps the process along immeasurably"

Is that a joke?

robertguyton said...

It's a fact, wildcrafty. It is possible to hard-graze the sward to make the progress of the machine easier, or cut it super-short with a mower, but regrowth of grass will be challenging. Glyphosate will knock the pasture back more effectively than any other method, whether we like it or not. I'm not a fan, but it's a fact. It's not necessary to the success of the method, but it does improve the odds.

wildcrafty said...

I haven't read the article yet (will wait for a paper copy with bigger text), so I may have missed something. I don't think it is any surprise that glyphosate knocks back pasture better than most other things, I just thought you were advocating its use. Which did surprise me.

robertguyton said...

It would. The article doesn't mention it at all. I'm an organic man, me.

wildcrafty said...

:-)

Shunda barunda said...

I think going organic is a great goal, but I also think there are times when practical considerations need to be taken into account.

For example, spraying off long grass with a low toxicity spray like glyphosate before planting native shrubs will improve the success of the project immensely.

Modified environments often require modified methods.

robertguyton said...

"Modified environments often require modified methods."

That's a very profound statement, Shunda.

Shunda barunda said...

It's true though Robert.

If we want to save our native species we are going to have to drop the holistic 'preservationist' approach and think outside the box.

I call it the concept of the environmental gradient, a merging if you will, between developed/undeveloped. The goal is to avoid sharp changes in habitat and understand the needs of all native species and how to meet them.

For example, if extensive tracts of lowland flax or kowhai are no longer possible, use Australian banksia as a source of reliable nectar (which due to winter flowering provides birds with a high energy source right when they need it).

Obviously there are areas like national parks where the preservationist approach is appropriate, but in highly modified environments I think we need to get a bit more creative.

wildcrafty said...

"For example, spraying off long grass with a low toxicity spray like glyphosate before planting native shrubs will improve the success of the project immensely."

Or we could use permaculture techniques that both reduce competition from grass species and improve the microecology of the tree/shrub that give it a much better chance of success than the spray and drop a tree in a hole approach currently favoured.


Permaculture and other disciplines specialise in responding to modified environments by mimicking nature rather than using the more problematic techniques like spraying.

robertguyton said...

Your two approaches, wildcrafty and Shunda, seem at odd with each other. I think this is a critical debate and one that's not being had anywhere, to my knowledge. I hope you continue with it here - the results would be valuable. As someone who espouses the permaculture model, I believe I know where wildcrafty is coming from. As a friend of Shunda's, I believe I know what he's on about. As the father of the 'grasshopper' man, I know some of his views. He knows very well that glyphosate greatly enhances the type of planting he's envisaging (though I don't believe he's ever used any) but has read extensively on the topic and is a powerful thinker. Wildcrafty and Shunda, I don't know if you read the link to the 'hazelnuts will save the world' article, but you'd both find it fascinating I'm certain and it pertains to this argument. For the record, I would adopt a permaculture approach to any 'replant the planet and save humans from disaster' programme, providing it was, on the balance of all things' bound to succeed. If it was shown to be going to fail, I'd look to the system that guarantees success and if that involved the use of glyphosate, I'd be in, with a grin.
This is, in my opinion, a hugely important issue.
I'll find the link and post it as the next comment.

robertguyton said...

http://permaculture.org.au/2012/07/27/woody-agriculture-on-the-road-to-a-new-paradigm/

Shunda barunda said...

rather than using the more problematic techniques like spraying.

Personally, I like to limit the use of sprays as much as possible, but I fail to see what is "problematic" with using glyphosate for native restoration.

The species being sprayed are usually species like yorkshire fog and rye-grass, species that dominate and exclude all others from taking hold (including beneficial permaculture type herbaceous plants).

It if the goal is to replace long grass with native plants, then I see little problem.

Far too often plantings done with schools etc end up being overwhelmed by grass in the first 6 months which leads to disappointment and disengagement.

It is really important that success is achieved for sourcing new funding and continuing public involvement.

If a bit of glyphosate can assist this then I really think it is a necessary evil (at worst).

Shunda barunda said...

Robert, the Hazelnut article is very interesting indeed, this sort of thing fascinates me and if I had a bigger chunk of land it would be something I would seriously consider doing.

I may still try a few in my new project ;)

robertguyton said...

Shunda - we are in agreement with the 'school project buried by cock'sfoot' problem. Herbicide isn't the only way and I cheer those project managers who successfully use non-toxic methods. That said, I'm a suspicious of cardboard and carpet as I am of Roundup. If there were enough hands involved, any 'chool/community group'project can be done without herbicide. The problem i with scale and I concur with the comment that I've posted lately, that broad-scale farming isn't at all interested in permaculture because, in part, of 'it's' failure to make the logical and need jump to pragmatism. I guess it's the dreaded 'off-set' concept, one that is a boon and a curse, depending upon interpretation, application and intent.