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Is There Scope For Limited Herbicide Use Within Permaculture
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
Posts: 2447
Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 1:28 pm    Post subject: Is There Scope For Limited Herbicide Use Within Permaculture Reply with quote

I attended a great one-day course yesterday, organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation. It was mainly for crofters looking to establish woodland on their crofts, so was essentially a beginner's guide to designing and establishing productive woodland.

The course was led by someone from the Woodland Trust and a freelance forestry consultant, and included a trip out to a croft in which 10 Ha of mixed woodland has recently been established.

We had an "honest and open" discussion about the use of herbicides (specifically glyphosate) during the first couple of years of woodland establishment. Opinions varied a lot! The issue is how to protect the trees from competing vegetation during the first couple of years after planting, especially in fertile conditions where ground cover growth is prolific.

No solution is perfect; mulch mats can overheat the soil, natural mulch can leach out nutrients, even targeted grazing may not be enough to keep the vegetation down. Then there's the limited use of glyphosate in selected areas around each planted tree for the first two years after planting, to give the trees a head start.

My immediate reaction was; "No, this is what I am trying to avoid". But after consideration, I found my self thinking that it may be a small price to pay, environmentally, for the environmental benefits of the forest ecosystem that will result for the next several hundred years. The crofter had taken this seemingly pragmatic approach, although his natural persuasion was towards avoiding artificial inputs as much as possible. (The rest of his croft is given over to vegetables and he has organic status for this).

Just wondered what other viewpoints are out there?
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Is There Scope For Limited Herbicide Use Within Permacul Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
I attended a great one-day course yesterday, organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation. It was mainly for crofters looking to establish woodland on their crofts, so was essentially a beginner's guide to designing and establishing productive woodland.

The course was led by someone from the Woodland Trust and a freelance forestry consultant, and included a trip out to a croft in which 10 Ha of mixed woodland has recently been established.

We had an "honest and open" discussion about the use of herbicides (specifically glyphosate) during the first couple of years of woodland establishment. Opinions varied a lot! The issue is how to protect the trees from competing vegetation during the first couple of years after planting, especially in fertile conditions where ground cover growth is prolific.

No solution is perfect; mulch mats can overheat the soil, natural mulch can leach out nutrients, even targeted grazing may not be enough to keep the vegetation down. Then there's the limited use of glyphosate in selected areas around each planted tree for the first two years after planting, to give the trees a head start.

My immediate reaction was; "No, this is what I am trying to avoid". But after consideration, I found my self thinking that it may be a small price to pay, environmentally, for the environmental benefits of the forest ecosystem that will result for the next several hundred years. The crofter had taken this seemingly pragmatic approach, although his natural persuasion was towards avoiding artificial inputs as much as possible. (The rest of his croft is given over to vegetables and he has organic status for this).

Just wondered what other viewpoints are out there?
My initial instinct would be to say no to all herbicides in order to follow a fully natural process. However, we live in a man made and unnatural world. If the aim of the crofters is to get the landscape back to something resembling a natural habitat and, if that is speeded up and aided by an initial application of herbicides then such an initial, albeit unnatural, form of help may be legitimate just so long as once the habitat is set up it is then left to nature to look after itself..
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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Location: Ross-shire, Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 7:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Is There Scope For Limited Herbicide Use Within Permacul Reply with quote

stevecook172001 wrote:
Tarrel wrote:
I attended a great one-day course yesterday, organised by the Scottish Crofting Federation. It was mainly for crofters looking to establish woodland on their crofts, so was essentially a beginner's guide to designing and establishing productive woodland.

The course was led by someone from the Woodland Trust and a freelance forestry consultant, and included a trip out to a croft in which 10 Ha of mixed woodland has recently been established.

We had an "honest and open" discussion about the use of herbicides (specifically glyphosate) during the first couple of years of woodland establishment. Opinions varied a lot! The issue is how to protect the trees from competing vegetation during the first couple of years after planting, especially in fertile conditions where ground cover growth is prolific.

No solution is perfect; mulch mats can overheat the soil, natural mulch can leach out nutrients, even targeted grazing may not be enough to keep the vegetation down. Then there's the limited use of glyphosate in selected areas around each planted tree for the first two years after planting, to give the trees a head start.

My immediate reaction was; "No, this is what I am trying to avoid". But after consideration, I found my self thinking that it may be a small price to pay, environmentally, for the environmental benefits of the forest ecosystem that will result for the next several hundred years. The crofter had taken this seemingly pragmatic approach, although his natural persuasion was towards avoiding artificial inputs as much as possible. (The rest of his croft is given over to vegetables and he has organic status for this).

Just wondered what other viewpoints are out there?
My initial instinct would be to say no to all herbicides in order to follow a fully natural process. However, we live in a man made and unnatural world. If the aim of the crofters is to get the landscape back to something resembling a natural habitat and, if that is speeded up and aided by an initial application of herbicides then such an initial, albeit unnatural, form of help may be legitimate just so long as once the habitat is set up it is then left to nature to look after itself..


That's exactly the thinking, with the proviso that "initial" means for about two years after planting. That's the general view of the time scale beyond which the trees won't need vegetation control around them. I reckon you'd be looking at one, maybe two, applications per year in the immediate vicinity of the tree.

Of course, left to its own devices, the open grass and scrub would eventually mature into woodland anyway. However, in a managed woodland, questions arise such as:

Would sufficient trees survive, close enough together, to achieve staright growing timber, sufficient yield from the land area, etc.

There are compromises to be made.
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RenewableCandy



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least you don't have to support monsatan: there are generic glyphosates iirc.
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, patent expired in 2000.

http://www.icis.com/resources/news/2000/12/11/128125/us-patent-expiry-of-roundup-creates-uncertainty-in-glyphosates/

Quote:
Following the expiration of the US patent for Roundup (glyphosate) in September, a key question is how Monsanto Company, now of subsidiary of Pharmacia Corporation and the holder of the glyphosate patent, will respond to declining prices and generic competition.


The answer, as we now know, was to try to monetise DNA! Rolling Eyes
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I've been reading about an alternative technique called "chop and drop", which I hadn't heard of. You basically interplant your desired trees with fast growing, nitrogen-fixing pioneer species. The additional shade produced by these helps suppress the vegetation and you prune the "sacrificial" trees, using the prunings as a mulch. This suppresses competing vegetation further, and returns nitrogen to the soil.

Expensive option as I imagine they would need tree shelters and stakes if they were going to thrive sufficiently to have any effect!

Or I could just stick a load of chickens in there. I get the feeling that would definitely fix it. Any thoughts?
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eatyourveg



Joined: 15 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
Actually, I've been reading about an alternative technique called "chop and drop", which I hadn't heard of. You basically interplant your desired trees with fast growing, nitrogen-fixing pioneer species. The additional shade produced by these helps suppress the vegetation and you prune the "sacrificial" trees, using the prunings as a mulch. This suppresses competing vegetation further, and returns nitrogen to the soil.

Expensive option as I imagine they would need tree shelters and stakes if they were going to thrive sufficiently to have any effect!

Or I could just stick a load of chickens in there. I get the feeling that would definitely fix it. Any thoughts?


Yes. Foxes.
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

eatyourveg wrote:
Tarrel wrote:
Actually, I've been reading about an alternative technique called "chop and drop", which I hadn't heard of. You basically interplant your desired trees with fast growing, nitrogen-fixing pioneer species. The additional shade produced by these helps suppress the vegetation and you prune the "sacrificial" trees, using the prunings as a mulch. This suppresses competing vegetation further, and returns nitrogen to the soil.

Expensive option as I imagine they would need tree shelters and stakes if they were going to thrive sufficiently to have any effect!

Or I could just stick a load of chickens in there. I get the feeling that would definitely fix it. Any thoughts?


Yes. Foxes.


Electric netting?

http://www.agrisellex.co.uk/electric-poultry-net.html
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Little John



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The chickens would probably eat the young tree saplings.
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Tarrel



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point, but they'd be in tree shelters to protect against deer and voles. One thing I learned on the course is what a pain voles can be. They nibble around the bark at the base of the sapling, effectively ring-barking the tree and killing it.

We have a couple of buzzards that hunt over the woodland and surrounding fields, which I mentioned. The course leader reckoned they would just scratch the surface of the vole population.

Oh, and we do have foxes. I've seen a couple and found some of their cr*p today. I've also seen vole holes.
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peaceful_life



Joined: 21 Sep 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
Actually, I've been reading about an alternative technique called "chop and drop", which I hadn't heard of. You basically interplant your desired trees with fast growing, nitrogen-fixing pioneer species. The additional shade produced by these helps suppress the vegetation and you prune the "sacrificial" trees, using the prunings as a mulch. This suppresses competing vegetation further, and returns nitrogen to the soil.

Expensive option as I imagine they would need tree shelters and stakes if they were going to thrive sufficiently to have any effect!

Or I could just stick a load of chickens in there. I get the feeling that would definitely fix it. Any thoughts?

Geoff Lawton, is your man for 'chop and drop'.

It sounds like your question isn't one of using chemicals, more one of how can you achieve the same ends at the same speed as using chems. If you utilise animals in a controlled manner, like mob stocking (you'll need electric fencing or mesh), you'll keep the vegetation down no problem...and fertilise the soil to boot. It could also be an added income for you.

It's probable that you'll have gorse around, gorse is a fantastic tree nursery, the babies take a while to get going, due to dappled light, but the protection is excellent and gorse is also packed with nitrogen. Once the tree takes good hold it's growth is accelerated thanks to the gorse, as the tree begins to 'top out', cut the gorse back, this 'shock's it and it releases more go-go juice for the tree.

Remember, the further away your commercial wants are from natural processes, then the harder you're going to have to work to try to bend nature to that aim. Think about how you can yield from taking what it gives you as opposed to what the market wants, this is our overall problem, as the man made world we live in was only ever a temporary one.

http://www.naturalforestpractice.com/howdoesnature.html


Last edited by peaceful_life on Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic advice, thanks. Smile

Thanks also for the link. Much interesting reading there.

I'm with you on "taking what it gives". Our main aim is for the woodland to meet our practical needs in terms of heating and food. If we are able to sell some produce, then all well and good. Our overall strategy is to disconnect as much as possible from the financial system anyway.

Eventually, I hope there will be enough abundance there for people to make a living from it without undue stress on the wood, or "manipulating" it too much. We'll see.
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peaceful_life



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
Fantastic advice, thanks. Smile

Thanks also for the link. Much interesting reading there.

I'm with you on "taking what it gives". Our main aim is for the woodland to meet our practical needs in terms of heating and food. If we are able to sell some produce, then all well and good. Our overall strategy is to disconnect as much as possible from the financial system anyway.

Eventually, I hope there will be enough abundance there for people to make a living from it without undue stress on the wood, or "manipulating" it too much. We'll see.


You'll sell, gift, or share produce no problemo...all day long, you can also create as much abundance as you can shake a big jaggy thistle at, provided you go with what it's doing, it won't mind if you get some aquaculture in there, get your stacking systems in, plenty of diversity in flora and fauna and work on the micro climates. Cooperate, don't manipulate.

I'd love to see the crofting fraternity go full on with permaculture, it wouldn't take much to tip it.
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Tarrel



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are definitely changes afoot in crofting, driven partly by legislation, partly by trends and partly by necessity.

A big change happened in 1991 (I think) when the definition of "purposeful use" was broadened. Before that, it basically meant "grazing sheep". This has led the way to the idea of Woodland Crofts.

Farmers' markets, with the opportunity to sell quality produce at high prices, have created a new outlet for crofters' produce. Also, the Crofting Federation have created a new branding / quality mark, called Scottish Crofting Produce. Organic status carries weight in this market segment.

Separately, costs of inputs such as fuel and fertlisers are rising and these affect crofters more due to their small buying power. This creates an argument for working with the land and making use of natural and complementary processes.

So, there are definitely factors tipping crofting towards a permaculture approach.

From my experience of the training I have attended so far, the crofting movement seems to have one foot in the traditional way of doing things (sheep, traditional outlets, artificial inputs) and one foot in "sustainability" (diversification, better land management, reducing inputs, etc). So, as you say, on the cusp of change. Permaculture as a word has not been mentioned in my experience, but a lot of permaculture principles are discussed.
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peaceful_life



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tarrel wrote:
There are definitely changes afoot in crofting, driven partly by legislation, partly by trends and partly by necessity.

A big change happened in 1991 (I think) when the definition of "purposeful use" was broadened. Before that, it basically meant "grazing sheep". This has led the way to the idea of Woodland Crofts.

Farmers' markets, with the opportunity to sell quality produce at high prices, have created a new outlet for crofters' produce. Also, the Crofting Federation have created a new branding / quality mark, called Scottish Crofting Produce. Organic status carries weight in this market segment.

Separately, costs of inputs such as fuel and fertlisers are rising and these affect crofters more due to their small buying power. This creates an argument for working with the land and making use of natural and complementary processes.

So, there are definitely factors tipping crofting towards a permaculture approach.

From my experience of the training I have attended so far, the crofting movement seems to have one foot in the traditional way of doing things (sheep, traditional outlets, artificial inputs) and one foot in "sustainability" (diversification, better land management, reducing inputs, etc). So, as you say, on the cusp of change. Permaculture as a word has not been mentioned in my experience, but a lot of permaculture principles are discussed.


Input costs are having the main influence, which makes ears more likely to listen. Many farmers are just another price hike of the diesel bowser away from not making it, not to mention flux in weather and soil erosion.

That's the thing with the crofting, it's got the archetypal model correct already, but there's a hankering to drift back to 'traditional', which although practical in many ways, and least of all resourceful, still lacks the scope of what can be done, so just needs some layers added atop of the nostalgia.... respectfully.

Funny isn't it, that the 'quality' mark is but a niche, when in fact, it should be the default for all food production...and anything else have to justify itself as to why it's otherwise.

Scotland should really be putting ecological food production to the fore in terms of a ride on the independence ticket, with correct land distribution and stipulated biodiverse methods, it's a win win winner, yet...it's not on the table, not even next to the, ahem....oil decanter. They're missing a trick there, but that's another conversation.

Think the woodland crofting came into being only last years didn't it?

Perma-crofting, I like it!
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