Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

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tmac
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Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by tmac »

Based on some of the comments on the water pumping thread, I’m going to start a separate, new thread devoted to this question.

I am genuinely curious about people’s’ thoughts about what kind of agricultural production model(s) and scale(s) of production are going to be most sustainable in a long-term SHTF scenario? And what is your reasoning? For purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “long-term” as anything over two full years. And I realize some don’t believe any realistic SHTF scenario could/will last that long.

By production model, I’m referring to produce (fruit & vegetable) farming, versus grain production, versus hay production, versus livestock production, including essentially all species, as well as dairy, etc., and production methods, including everything from plowing with oxen to “smart pharming.” And, by scale, I am referring to size.

Again, mostly just curious.
Last edited by tmac on March 18th, 2023, 4:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Niemand
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

I think the American dustbowl experience (and equivalent in Russia) points towards a simple fact, that one must adapt cultivation methods to the local environment and if possible use appropriate crops. Use of tree cover can prevent erosion and evaporation as well as sheltering from wind.

If there are low light levels, we are in trouble but growing fungi could be an option.

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Original_Intent
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Original_Intent »

tmac wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:18 pm Based on some of the comments on the water pumping thread, I’m going to start a separate, new thread devoted to this question.

I am genuinely curious about people’s’ thoughts about what kind of agricultural production model(s) and scale(s) of production are going to be most sustainable in a long-term SHTF scenario? And what is your reasoning? For purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “long-term” as anything over two full years. And I realize some don’t believe any realistic SHTF scenario could/will last that long.

Again, mostly just curious.
I don't have any answers, but I also have been thinking of "How small can you go?" and wondering if 100 families would be enough of a community (given that they had enough land) to be completely self sufficient. I mean technically one family can do it if they are willing to cut a lot of things out of their lives. I am thinking stuff like cattle rancher/butcher, dairy, doctor, construction, etc. Even at 100 families it seems like you would need people to have an income to get products like fuel (for tractors, etc) from outside. I think that going back to plowing with horses etc. would be super inefficient, but again you could make your groups smaller if you really cut ties with civilization, like the Amish,

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

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tmac wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:18 pm Based on some of the comments on the water pumping thread, I’m going to start a separate, new thread devoted to this question.

I am genuinely curious about people’s’ thoughts about what kind of agricultural production model(s) and scale(s) of production are going to be most sustainable in a long-term SHTF scenario? And what is your reasoning? For purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “long-term” as anything over two full years. And I realize some don’t believe any realistic SHTF scenario could/will last that long.

Again, mostly just curious.
This is a big question without knowing how many people I need to feed, where the land is, how much land, growing season length. how cold does it get in winter for perennials? Are we starting from scratch or has the land been taken care of prior to starting? I could say a lot about what a person should be doing now to prepare. One thing that won't work is starting when SHTF starts. Are we assuming no water will be available?

A regenerative ag model that keeps a living root in the ground at all times is what I'm focusing on. No tilling and very little fertilizer. Honestly, people need a few years of starting most things from seed and paying attention to local weather trends to be ready. A garden journal for multiple years would be nice. This topic is vast but I'm all in. Focusing on perennials can be helpful. My problem is I live in a neighborhood so my growing area is limited. I really try to encourage neighbors but it isn't easy. Food is easy to get. Ideally, we would all have gardens and trade with each other. Some could focus on winter squash and potatoes and others would succession plant summer stuff. Even if only 5-6 homes on my street had a garden and some level of commitment we could make it work. Natural water sources, water storage and or rain catchment is a big deal here but less so with soil that has a lot of carbon and biology in it.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

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Original_Intent wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:45 pm
tmac wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:18 pm Based on some of the comments on the water pumping thread, I’m going to start a separate, new thread devoted to this question.

I am genuinely curious about people’s’ thoughts about what kind of agricultural production model(s) and scale(s) of production are going to be most sustainable in a long-term SHTF scenario? And what is your reasoning? For purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “long-term” as anything over two full years. And I realize some don’t believe any realistic SHTF scenario could/will last that long.

Again, mostly just curious.
I don't have any answers, but I also have been thinking of "How small can you go?" and wondering if 100 families would be enough of a community (given that they had enough land) to be completely self sufficient. I mean technically one family can do it if they are willing to cut a lot of things out of their lives. I am thinking stuff like cattle rancher/butcher, dairy, doctor, construction, etc. Even at 100 families it seems like you would need people to have an income to get products like fuel (for tractors, etc) from outside. I think that going back to plowing with horses etc. would be super inefficient, but again you could make your groups smaller if you really cut ties with civilization, like the Amish,
I would say a dozen families in a neighborhood. In the right situation and area I would scale up. I wouldn't plan on a tractor though. Do not till that soil unless you're doing it for the first time ;) No till and use cover cops to feed to bacteria and fungus that will take care of your plants. I know of several big ag operations who do this and have scaled way back on nitrogen use growing corn. They have achieved amazing results with no nitrogen or phos added. It is amazing what happens when the microbes find the nitrogen and minerals for you rather than having to dump it in. But you can't leave it dead over winter. I could go on and on about the miracle of soil life here but I feel like I'm preaching now.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by RaVaN »

I would recommend reading "Parker on the Iroquois" by Arthur C. Parker. It was rereleased a while back and covers what was pretty much the standard native system of food production for small and large scale agriculture. It also contains one of the best examples of all things common I have ever seen that was done on both a large and small scale. It's actually three books in one and each one worth the read.

Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants

The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet

The Constitution of the Five Nations

The code of handsome lake has what I suspect is the three nephites in it pre1800. Plus just some other amazing things. Anyhow, good book that witnesses the truth of the book of Mormon while just being filled with usefull information on feeding people in north America.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by LostCreekAcres »

Just as a point of interest. My local nursery sells lots of trees. Last year I went to purchase a fruit tree and they asked if I'd like to by some Mykos Mycorrhizal. (Theirs comes inn a blue tub, but I can't recall the manufacturer) They indicated that they would guarantee their trees for a year normally, but if you bought the Mykos and used it to plant your tree, then they would guarantee it for FIVE years! I've used it on all of my trees, and so far so good. Also, last year, I actually hired a professional arborist to come to my home and answer a bunch of questions I had. In the end, he suggested using Mykos on any trees I planned to plant. So... two professional growers pushed the stuff. After reading about it, seems like a good product. Just FYI.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

Original_Intent wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:45 pm you could make your groups smaller if you really cut ties with civilization, like the Amish,
The problem seems to come out of taxation. Taxation originates in mediaeval feudalism and rents, and is similar to protection rackets. When people live successfully but don't pay tax, the state gets interested... unless they're at the top of the tree.

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Niemand
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

RaVaN wrote: March 19th, 2023, 10:12 am I would recommend reading "Parker on the Iroquois" by Arthur C. Parker. It was rereleased a while back and covers what was pretty much the standard native system of food production for small and large scale agriculture. It also contains one of the best examples of all things common I have ever seen that was done on both a large and small scale. It's actually three books in one and each one worth the read.

Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants

The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet

The Constitution of the Five Nations

The code of handsome lake has what I suspect is the three nephites in it pre1800. Plus just some other amazing things. Anyhow, good book that witnesses the truth of the book of Mormon while just being filled with usefull information on feeding people in north America.
Native Americans used to grow spearmint alongside maize and potatoes, because it fixes nitrogen in the soil and deters pests. It has taken years for modern agriculture to get back to the idea of companion plants.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

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tmac wrote: March 18th, 2023, 4:18 pm Based on some of the comments on the water pumping thread, I’m going to start a separate, new thread devoted to this question.

I am genuinely curious about people’s’ thoughts about what kind of agricultural production model(s) and scale(s) of production are going to be most sustainable in a long-term SHTF scenario? And what is your reasoning? For purposes of this discussion, I’ll define “long-term” as anything over two full years. And I realize some don’t believe any realistic SHTF scenario could/will last that long.

By production model, I’m referring to produce (fruit & vegetable) farming, versus grain production, versus hay production, versus livestock production, including essentially all species, as well as dairy, etc., and production methods, including everything from plowing with oxen to “smart pharming.” And, by scale, I am referring to size.

Again, mostly just curious.
The early LDS as a whole, had a few of those "SHTF" situations wherein their literal survival was at stake. The Missouri governor literally signed an extermination order against them specifically. Then they were also ran out of the state of Illinios, and then they went on an exodus to the SLV, they were fed "manna" (quail) on the way, then after landing in the SLV the crickets about starved em out. But it all was ultimately for their good. But in SLV, they built canals, ditches etc, for survival. They planted the few seeds and seedlings that they had, worked their asses off and also prayed like it was all up to God.
Like good ol BY said, work like it's all up to you, pray like it's all up to God.
"And like your fathers were led at the first, so shall the redemption of Zion be".
I see manna/quail on the horizon.
:D

But first comes a cleansing/separation/destruction etc. When the destroyer shows up, let's just make sure we're not on his list.

Joseph stored grains that lasted for 7 years in Egypt, I wonder exactly how he did it at that kind of massive volume.

Tribulation is coming, do we fight? Do we hide? Do we run? Do we do what Lehi and family did? Do we qualify? Do we just hang out like Lot did in Sodom till the last moment?

If any man lacketh wisdom.....

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tmac
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by tmac »

Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?

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Niemand
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:08 am Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?
They lived on a flood plain, it meant that their soil was continually renewed each time the Nile burst its banks.

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tmac
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

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In other words, natural irrigation, right?

So, was irrigation their hedge against climate change?

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:13 am In other words, natural irrigation, right?

So, was irrigation their hedge against climate change?
Not just water, but also soil from upstream.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by simpleton »

Niemand wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:10 am
tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:08 am Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?
They lived on a flood plain, it meant that their soil was continually renewed each time the Nile burst its banks.
The Mississippi River is also a flood plain , it just plain out, floods out your crops, fields, houses barns etc. :D The river giveth and the river taketh away. I live on a river, it giveth and it taketh away.
But, water is life and an absolute necessity. And the closer to the source, or the higher in the hills to the source, the cleaner and better.
I've heard diatomaceous earth was mixed in those grains, in Egypt.
But I think that the very first and continued survival method is to be right with God, everything else is secondary.

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tmac
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by tmac »

simpleton wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:23 am
Niemand wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:10 am
tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:08 am Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?
They lived on a flood plain, it meant that their soil was continually renewed each time the Nile burst its banks.
The Mississippi River is also a flood plain , it just plain out, floods out your crops, fields, houses barns etc. :D The river giveth and the river taketh away. I live on a river, it giveth and it taketh away.
But, water is life and an absolute necessity. And the closer to the source, or the higher in the hills to the source, the cleaner and better.
I've heard diatomaceous earth was mixed in those grains, in Egypt.
But I think that the very first and continued survival method is to be right with God, everything else is secondary.
Good points. And I agree. But were the Egyptians “right with God”?

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tmac
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by tmac »

Niemand wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:21 am
tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:13 am In other words, natural irrigation, right?

So, was irrigation their hedge against climate change?
Not just water, but also soil from upstream.
Good point, silty, bottomland, Delta soil is virtually always better. So, better water and better soil, that is why those areas are usually controlled by the people with all the power and resources. Since the dawn of humanity it has virtually always been thus. So, if that’s the crowd you run in, you should be in pretty good shape.

And, since you’re a Scot, Niemand, you may be interested in what Malcolm Gladwell has to say on the subject — which is that the highlanders, who don’t have access to the prime bottomland soil, often develop a much bigger, defensive chip on their shoulder, and resulting cantankerousness, which he attributes to a good share of the innate Scots/Irish mentality — which as a Mac, I can relate to.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by mudflap »

tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:08 am Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?
ok, so I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a 1967 ford 3000 diesel tractor. I need to open the engine and see if I have a broken lifter (that's the sound it's making). Parts for this tractor are plentiful and cheap, because they used them all over the world. They are still heavily in use in India, I suppose, because a lot of parts come from there. Anyway, it has almost 0 electronics on it (battery and starter / lights, and a dashboard). And being a diesel, I could probably run it on vegetable oil.

But then BigGov came up with "we need to ban propane!" and it's not much of a leap to see that they could probably ban gas and diesel too.

Growing:
Tilling the garden is the big thing everyone does with their tractor around here in the spring, so I've been thinking: "how can you productively feed yourself without a big tractor to clear the planting beds every year?" I started searching for farming methods that don't take a lot of machinery, and I've settled on the "no till" method as one way I'm very interested in.

Besides, I'm also reading that tilling tends to break up beneficial bacteria in the soil - you're basically ripping a gash in the earth that it then tries to heal itself (usually with weeds). Of course, I also believe the scriptures that very clearly state that man is meant to till the earth, so...trying to combine those two in a beneficial (beneficial = growing crops) way.

But there is "no free lunch" - if you till, then you have to provide amendments (fertilizer). If you don't till, you have to provide amendments (fertilizer). Since Russia is the biggest supplier of nitrogen used to make fertilizer, it seems like something we should try to limit in case it suddenly becomes scarce or pricey. Plus, a bag of fertilizer (in my mind) is like pill-popping the soil (BigPharma) = not natural. And if there's one thing these BigGov types have exposed about themselves, it's that they don't give a lick about the environment (war in Ukraine/ East Palestine OH / flying to their environmental conferences in big jets) - they don't really care about human life (or life in general, apparently). So it's best to come up with a method that you can do independent of any craziness going on around you (supply lines = not necessary).

Really it seems to boil down to mulching and composting - any method you look at, you are going to need tons and tons of mulch and compost. You could buy it, sure.....for now. So in a SHTF, it seems like your best bet is to make your own mulch and compost. That's where I'm focused right now.

Turning tons of compost with a pitchfork seems like a lot of work, but thankfully, there are other methods - one that is extremely interesting to me is Rye grass - you grow it, then mow it , then tarp it to kill off the roots, and voila! planting beds without tilling. For clay soils, there are cover crops with tap roots you can grow to break up the soil with their tap root, then you mow them (or scythe them), tarp them, and the tap root decays, but leaves a structure and path for nutrients in the soil to follow.

The more I read, the more it seems to me that we (modern humans) know almost nothing about soil health.

and you folks out west have the additional burden of storing water, so you'll need extra parts for irrigation lines and tanks and stuff.

Storing / processing
you also need a place / method to store what you've grown: canning supplies (and backup supplies - o-rings, extra lids, seals, - the old adage: "two is one, and one is none" seems to hold here). root cellars, solar powered fridges and freezers, extra parts for all of them. organized seeds, keep careful track of what you eat so you know how much to plant. Since we eat a lot of grains - cereals, crackers, spaghetti, bread, we want to ensure we have every piece of equipment needed to process grains. grinder (we have 1 electric and 2 hand cranks), scythes, winnowing tools, etc.

what to grow:
I think in terms of calories and nutrients - nothing has 100% of what you need (eggs come close), but there are a lot of foods that are packed wtih nutrients. It should be easy to grow, easy to store, pack a lot of calories, and resistant to disease.

- Sweet potatoes are probably #1, IMO, for a survival food. Nasa did a program to evaluate growing them on Mars after researching caloric and nutrient density. everything on the plant is edible - roots, leaves, vines, flowers.
- Wheat. It's just grass. stupid easy to grow. humans have been growing wheat since time began. nutrient dense. stores practically forever. 200'x10' plot should be enough to give you 2 loaves of bread a week for a family of 4 for a year.
- winter squashes: pumpkins, acorn squash, etc. store very well, lots of calories.
- fruit and fruit trees: apples are very versatile - vinegar, shampoo, applesauce, apple chips, cider, juice. Can substitute applesauce for eggs in muffin recipes. blueberries and all berries that stain are great antioxidents, anti-cancer, vit c, plant them once then just prune and mulch every year.
- corn - like wheat, very versatile, stores well. A bit harder to grow, but probably worth it.
- beans: pinto, black, navy - very high in protein. if you can't get meat, you might do with beans instead.
- chickens - meat and eggs from the same animal. their poop is useful as well - lots of nitrogen. so much that you should use it sparingly so it doesn't "burn" your plants.
- bees: humans have been keeping bees as long as they've been tilling the ground. honey stores practically forever. Hives are easy to make with just a table saw - instructions all over the internet. propolis can be used as toothpaste, wax for candles. plus they pollinate your garden, so....

just ideas off the top of my head....

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technomagus
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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by technomagus »

The best processors of plants and food waste are animals. Evey regenerative Ag system needs to use animals to cycle the land. But you need to follow natural processes and move those animals around. They can't stay in one place or they destroy the land.
A decent doc is Kiss the Ground on Netflix https://www.netflix.com/search?q=kiss%2 ... v=81321999
Regen Ag uses earthworks to direct and catch water. It uses animals to till and eat and process plant material to renew the soil. It uses trees to shade, direct windflow, protect the soil, and to of course have a crop. Agroforestry has a lot of benefits. Consider that the vast majority of tilled land goes to feed animals in CAFOs, then secondarily processed food. Because they use chem fertilizer, and clear the land after, that soil is essentially dead. It will take 10 years of running animals to fix it. What if majority of the animals lived out on that land, eating grass, and a wide variety of crops were grown alongside? A good exmaple of such a farm is Polyfaces. No fertilizer runoffs anymore, spilling into rivers and poisoning the rivers and the oceans.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Seed Starter »

RaVaN wrote: March 19th, 2023, 10:12 am I would recommend reading "Parker on the Iroquois" by Arthur C. Parker. It was rereleased a while back and covers what was pretty much the standard native system of food production for small and large scale agriculture. It also contains one of the best examples of all things common I have ever seen that was done on both a large and small scale. It's actually three books in one and each one worth the read.

Iroquois Uses of Maize and Other Food Plants

The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet

The Constitution of the Five Nations

The code of handsome lake has what I suspect is the three nephites in it pre1800. Plus just some other amazing things. Anyhow, good book that witnesses the truth of the book of Mormon while just being filled with usefull information on feeding people in north America.
You gotta be kidding me... I literally wrote a substack post about the Iroquois, maize, nixtamalization, and a brief mention of Handsome Lake. It is interesting that the Maya people used the Three Sisters method thousands of years ago and then it seems to spread north up to the Iroquois. The Maya referred to companion planting as milpa. Nixtamalization is an incredible nutrient booster. It kept them from getting niacin deficiency diseases like Pellagra. If anybody wants the link to my substack send me a message. I'm excited to check out the book you suggested especially since it witnesses the BOM. If the Three Sisters ag model worked for them it can work today.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

Oats are hardier than wheat. Barley and rye are to some extent too.

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Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Seed Starter »

mudflap wrote: March 19th, 2023, 12:55 pm
tmac wrote: March 19th, 2023, 11:08 am Good observations.

But what production models/methods and scales will survive?

What was the Egyptians’ production method that allowed them to produce and store excess food?
ok, so I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have a 1967 ford 3000 diesel tractor. I need to open the engine and see if I have a broken lifter (that's the sound it's making). Parts for this tractor are plentiful and cheap, because they used them all over the world. They are still heavily in use in India, I suppose, because a lot of parts come from there. Anyway, it has almost 0 electronics on it (battery and starter / lights, and a dashboard). And being a diesel, I could probably run it on vegetable oil.

But then BigGov came up with "we need to ban propane!" and it's not much of a leap to see that they could probably ban gas and diesel too.

Growing:
Tilling the garden is the big thing everyone does with their tractor around here in the spring, so I've been thinking: "how can you productively feed yourself without a big tractor to clear the planting beds every year?" I started searching for farming methods that don't take a lot of machinery, and I've settled on the "no till" method as one way I'm very interested in.

Besides, I'm also reading that tilling tends to break up beneficial bacteria in the soil - you're basically ripping a gash in the earth that it then tries to heal itself (usually with weeds). Of course, I also believe the scriptures that very clearly state that man is meant to till the earth, so...trying to combine those two in a beneficial (beneficial = growing crops) way.
Agreed. I interpret that to mean use the earth to feed ourselves, not literally tilling. I think tilling is just a way to distinguish from Eden where food was just taken care of through a perfect food forest. The more we cooperate with God's system the more successful we will be. I don't think God tilled the garden. Jut my opinion of course.

But there is "no free lunch" - if you till, then you have to provide amendments (fertilizer). If you don't till, you have to provide amendments (fertilizer).
Sort of disagree but only with the bold line. Inoculating soil with Biology can source that nitrogen for you. Even corn farmers can cut back and even eliminate adding nitrogen. Check this out for evidence:
and this one
The reason below are great reasons to get away from it all.

Since Russia is the biggest supplier of nitrogen used to make fertilizer, it seems like something we should try to limit in case it suddenly becomes scarce or pricey. Plus, a bag of fertilizer (in my mind) is like pill-popping the soil (BigPharma) = not natural. And if there's one thing these BigGov types have exposed about themselves, it's that they don't give a lick about the environment (war in Ukraine/ East Palestine OH / flying to their environmental conferences in big jets) - they don't really care about human life (or life in general, apparently). So it's best to come up with a method that you can do independent of any craziness going on around you (supply lines = not necessary).

Really it seems to boil down to mulching and composting - any method you look at, you are going to need tons and tons of mulch and compost. You could buy it, sure.....for now. So in a SHTF, it seems like your best bet is to make your own mulch and compost. That's where I'm focused right now.
Compost builds good soil texture but the instant benefit from a little nitrogen can be washed out pretty quick. The real nutritional benefit from compost is in the long term. The biology must break things down and convert nutrients into a form plants can use, see video above. For a big piece of land I wouldn't try to manage any compost other than perhaps building a JS bioreactor to produce a little. From that I can make a compost tea in a bubbler to grow the biology and then inoculate the soil with a bit of that extract during planting and even a foliar spray. That biology will get nutrients that are already there but unavailable to the plant. Moving animals around is the natural way to build biology. Diversity of crops is also important. When microbes in the soil reach a given population or quorum they are able to change their own genetic expression as well as switch genes on and off in plants. They know they've reached a quorum through biochemical signal called an auto-inducers.

When they reach a quorum they can act to decide who does what like source nitrogen or protect a plant root with a rhizosheath. If they don't reach a quorum NOTHING HAPPENS. That nothing, is what we want to avoid. Microbes "can communicate with other species. By detecting biochemical signals microbes can determine how many different plants are growing in a particular soil, and how many functional groups are present." This is a miracle to me. If microbes can switch plant genes on and off that has implications for so many things from drought tolerance to pest/disease management to how nutritious our food is. Crop variety is so important so that we have all the biological players needed and one predator doesn't reach a population that screws up the balance in the soil The more I investigate this the more this understanding feels like how it was done in Eden. As with most things we just have to avoid screwing things up and have an understanding of what the goal is to make this work. Food production need not require as much sweat of thy brow as I once thought. To be clear this is not a criticism of anything you wrote. I felt inspired to share it with all of you. I'm just a backyard gardener and have no ag background YET ;)


Turning tons of compost with a pitchfork seems like a lot of work, but thankfully, there are other methods - one that is extremely interesting to me is Rye grass - you grow it, then mow it , then tarp it to kill off the roots, and voila! planting beds without tilling. For clay soils, there are cover crops with tap roots you can grow to break up the soil with their tap root, then you mow them (or scythe them), tarp them, and the tap root decays, but leaves a structure and path for nutrients in the soil to follow.

I've had green Rye peeking through the snow in most of my beds all winter for the first time ever actually. I already have good soil but keeping a root in the ground gives the biology a reason to stick around. I could mow it but I'm going to crimp it with a board and cover it for a few weeks. Perfect mulch and it helps build soil quality as you mention above.

The more I read, the more it seems to me that we (modern humans) know almost nothing about soil health.

and you folks out west have the additional burden of storing water, so you'll need extra parts for irrigation lines and tanks and stuff.

YES!

Storing / processing
you also need a place / method to store what you've grown: canning supplies (and backup supplies - o-rings, extra lids, seals, - the old adage: "two is one, and one is none" seems to hold here). root cellars, solar powered fridges and freezers, extra parts for all of them. organized seeds, keep careful track of what you eat so you know how much to plant. Since we eat a lot of grains - cereals, crackers, spaghetti, bread, we want to ensure we have every piece of equipment needed to process grains. grinder (we have 1 electric and 2 hand cranks), scythes, winnowing tools, etc.

what to grow:
I think in terms of calories and nutrients - nothing has 100% of what you need (eggs come close), but there are a lot of foods that are packed wtih nutrients. It should be easy to grow, easy to store, pack a lot of calories, and resistant to disease.

- Sweet potatoes are probably #1, IMO, for a survival food. Nasa did a program to evaluate growing them on Mars after researching caloric and nutrient density. everything on the plant is edible - roots, leaves, vines, flowers.
- Wheat. It's just grass. stupid easy to grow. humans have been growing wheat since time began. nutrient dense. stores practically forever. 200'x10' plot should be enough to give you 2 loaves of bread a week for a family of 4 for a year.
- winter squashes: pumpkins, acorn squash, etc. store very well, lots of calories.
- fruit and fruit trees: apples are very versatile - vinegar, shampoo, applesauce, apple chips, cider, juice. Can substitute applesauce for eggs in muffin recipes. blueberries and all berries that stain are great antioxidents, anti-cancer, vit c, plant them once then just prune and mulch every year.
- corn - like wheat, very versatile, stores well. A bit harder to grow, but probably worth it.
- beans: pinto, black, navy - very high in protein. if you can't get meat, you might do with beans instead.
- chickens - meat and eggs from the same animal. their poop is useful as well - lots of nitrogen. so much that you should use it sparingly so it doesn't "burn" your plants.
- bees: humans have been keeping bees as long as they've been tilling the ground. honey stores practically forever. Hives are easy to make with just a table saw - instructions all over the internet. propolis can be used as toothpaste, wax for candles. plus they pollinate your garden, so....

Awesome suggestions here!

just ideas off the top of my head....

RaVaN
captain of 100
Posts: 662

Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by RaVaN »

I am going to say again, the book I mentioned has all of this information, and so much I can't do much besides say read the book and add it to your knowledge base. Your area is ideal mudflap.

Parching corn has similar benefits to nixtamalition. There was a reason people carried a bag of it with them since a tablespoon could sustain a person for a day.

. Anyhow, read the book.

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Fred
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Posts: 7995
Location: Zion

Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Fred »

7 years is not very long for a seed to last. I have seen areas that go a decade without rain and then when it does, the seeds sprout and there are bazillions of them. Green like a football field in the desert.

Flood irrigation is ok if you have no water shortage. Most farmers now days use sprinkler systems instead. Far better.

The climate can not be depended on. I still have over a foot of snow on the ground and drifts over 4 feet deep. Middle of March. Most Februarys I can go outside without a shirt. Not this year. So I recommend a greenhouse. You control the climate. Water drip system automates it. Easily supply multiple families.

Neighbors specialize in certain areas. One raises beef. One vegetables. One milk. One fish. One wildlife. One clothes. One repair. Many perform multiple.

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Niemand
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Posts: 14501

Re: Most Sustainable Agricultural Production Model(s)/Scale(s)?

Post by Niemand »

Fred wrote: March 19th, 2023, 3:53 pm Neighbors specialize in certain areas. One raises beef. One vegetables. One milk. One fish. One wildlife. One clothes. One repair. Many perform multiple.
Barter is worthwhile too. I think it will become more important if we go cashless.

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