First of all, let me begin this article by stating that I hate the word “pest” to describe POLLINATORS ( which is what many insects are, not just bees ), or to describe whatever else might be in your garden, orchard, or crop fields. I only use this word ( “pest” ) because it best grabs the attention of those whom I want to reach, and hopefully influence to change their practices with respect to “pest control” – particularly in agriculture – but more broadly this article is about the planning of a sustainable civilisation by a marriage of technology and permaculture on many levels.
As many of you are probably aware, there’s a massive problem with bees dying off as a consequence of the indiscriminate use of pesticides, along with other consequences of pollution and deforestation. What you might not be aware of is the loss of insects more broadly, and this is a seriously catastrophic ecological issue, because the symbiotic relationship between these pollinators and the flowering plants of the world has been vital for tens of millions of years or more, and we are not capable of adequately replacing that relationship, nor should we want to be.
Another thing you’re probably not aware of is the catastrophic loss of the planet’s soil biome.
If the insects all die out, we die with them, because this will cause a collapse of species of flowering plants, causing a further collapse of other species, a collapse of the integrity of the soil biome, and we won’t stand a hope in hell of stopping that downward spiral.
So you might say something like:
- once the insects are gone, we won’t need to use pesticides anymore … or;
- how will we eat for ourselves if pests eat all our crops? … or;
- surely this is alarmist, and what about robotic bees? What about hydroponics?
Whatever your excuse for not seeing the severity and seriousness of the situation … listen up, because the death of bees is just one of many interconnected issues we face.
answering those negatives:
- It’s irrelevant if we don’t need to use pesticides anymore having wiped them out, if they’re gone, we’re fucked;
- Its easy to keep “pests” down without pesticides, that isn’t even a challenge;
- No it’s not alarmist, we need an entire stable biosphere, not just isolated ecosystems.
Insects aren’t the only creatures that eat food crops, you’ve also got to content with bats, birds, and many others, but there’s no reason to kill any of them, plenty of reasons not to kill any of them, and there’s also no need to expend vast resources deterring or attacking them in any way – this is fundamentally the purpose of permaculture, to make ecosystems that provide food, and use nature rather than combating it – and to work with nature rather than against it, we have to look at everything we do.
But first, we have to understand our evolutionary and historical place in this situation.
flowering plants and their interspecies symbioses:
The first flowering plants evolved on Earth many millions of years ago, they’re one of the oldest evolutionary branches of all life, many of them more recent additions to that branch, but the common ancestor of all flowering plants first appeared somewhere in excess of 150 million years ago ( MYA ), possibly as much as 200 – 250 MYA when they diverged from gymnosperms in the Triassic.
At first their “pollen” ( or equivalent – as we’re not sure how all the details of that evolutionary transition occurred ) must have been transferred on the wind in local populations, but with increasingly geographically spaced populations, as seeds were carried far and wide, you begin to see divergent evolution of populations, ie – the early stages of speciation ( the development of new species ), but as they’re still capable of interbreeding, what happens when an insect gets pollen on it, and then flies to another population and spreads that pollen? Well, you get an increased variation in the allele frequency of that population, and since genetic diversity often equates to a more robust capacity for a population to survive extreme but unusual events, what we’re seeing here is the value of attracting insects, and the more insects a flowering plant can attract, the greater the genetic diversity of that population.
So during this speciation between 200-250 MYA, these early flowering plants would have evolved their petals and perfumes, ie – the things that attracted the insects – therefore this is one of their oldest characteristics and earliest symbioses with other species or organism. It is therefore also inherently vital to their survival, and their ongoing genetic and species diversity.
But there’s another critically important symbioses flowering plants have – aside from the one common to all plants, being the symbiosis with the soil biome – and that is their symbiosis with “seed carriers”, aka fruit eating animals … you and I are seed carriers. This particular symbiosis is important to species diversity, because animals can take seeds even further afield than bees can carry pollen, and humans have carried seeds over the surface of the entire globe.
For this and other reasons, I’m really not a fan of seedless grapes. Grape seeds are great, because they let you plant your own grape vines, but they also carry extremely potent antioxidants that are good for your health, so removing them makes no sense … and to all the people who created the commercial incentive for seedless grapes, I just want to say “fuck you”.
All jokes aside ( I’m not joking ), this is an important symbiosis, as the seeds in your gut will have part of their protective shell digested a little, and when you take ( or more accurately ‘leave’ ) a dump, you’re depositing a seed in a nice little pile of fertiliser and moisture. If you crunch up the occasional seed, that’s no great loss to the plant, and the plant has advantage by providing you with the healthy fruit pulp, skin, and seed properties ( including dense proteins in those seeds ), because of the occasional seed that goes through without getting chewed, and grows into a new plant.
Interestingly, some fish have evolved a similar relationship with birds, such that eggs eaten pass through the bird’s gut, and hence fish can be transported even to an inland lake half way up a bunch of mountains.
human evolution and agriculture:
So a few tens or hundreds of thousands of years ago ( we’re not really sure when ), humans started farming, although it’s entirely possible our ancestors were doing it before then. Our evolutionary history as revealed by our own bodies shows us that – for the majority of our evolutionary history – we were largely fruit eating creatures ( though possibly consuming insects and other small creatures as well, hence the omnivorous aspect of our dietary history ).
Your eyes see the colours containing red hues, and this evolved from our relationship with flowering plants. Plants were at a disadvantage if animals ate the fruit before the seed was mature, so they delayed development of the fruit ( and it’s nutritional value ) until the seed was mature, and then as the fruit matured, introduced red hues to indicate readiness for consumption, thus in turn providing an evolutionary survival advantage to those creatures that could see the red spectrum, which could take advantage of those ready fruits and their nutritional bounty.
Your gut – relative to body mass – is extremely long, which is not the characteristic of a scavenger, nor even so much that of a carnivore – yours for example is about 25-30 feet long, but a lion ( as much as 4 times your body mass or so ) has a gut of only approximately the same length despite the far greater mass. However despite seeing red, despite having mostly herbivorous teeth ( its possible your “canines” are incorrectly named, as canines were evolved for face-first hunting, which no human ancestor needed to do, so it’s more likely they’re actually more closely related to the husk-breaking/ripping teeth of herbivores ), you do have more potent stomach acid than most omnivores, but not as acidic as scavengers, we know the more acidic it gets, the more susceptible the person is to stomach ulcers.
None of which is to say “never eat meat”, but to at least encourage you to seriously decrease your consumption.
The reason for this seeming contradiction in your physical morphology, is probably due to something like the following:
- we begin with our much smaller ( pre-primate ) mammalian tree-dwelling ancestors, whom evolved alongside flowering plants as seed carrying omnivorous-fruitarians/vegetarians;
- this evolves much of our gut and capacity to see red hues, with the omnivorous aspect of diet ( insects etc. ), giving us a backup food for times of scarcity ( eg: drought ), and protein supplement;
- we then hit an ice age, plants die off except at the equator, food becomes scarce, and in desperation, some fruitarian and omnivorous creatures turn carnivorous, but retain a gut largely not well suited to the practice;
- the planet warms, we return to eating a largely vegetarian but still omnivorous diet, evolving closer towards modern primates;
- another ice age hits ( or similar event ), again killing off plants, forcing again a switch to carnivorous diet;
- this pattern repeats, and eventually our stomach pH becomes more acidic;
- each time we return to vegetarian/omnivorous diet, the pH trends to alkaline, each ice-age it trends to acid;
- the planet warms after our most recent ice-age, and we return to eating plant crops, develop ( or renew ) agriculture, but also continue eating meat, largely out of habit more than necessity.
Along comes technology, the industrial revolution, and agriculture can grow more food than we need.
When we start farming we have no pesticides, and yet we do just fine, probably because our farms are small and surrounded by ecosystems of other species – the frogs, lizards and birds eat “pests”, and we monitor our crops to keep them pest free ( plus use tools like nets, cages, and scarecrows ), and to deter other creatures from eating what we want for ourselves … but then along comes capitalism, more technology, and farming for profit wants to do this with less cost, so we foolishly develop pesticides herbicides and fungicides, we deforest large areas, isolate crops from ecosystems in massive monoculture agribusiness, we reduce biodiversity, kill off the soil biome, increase desertification … and so on. On top of which of course we have the deforestation, cruelty, and pollution of animal agriculture.
Pretty soon, we’ve got a disaster on our hands. It seemed great at first, but through selfishness we failed to see the disaster in the making.
So how do we develop better farming without GMOs, without fungicides herbicides or pesticides, maintaining genetic and species diversity, maintaining biodiversity ecosystems, and providing enough food for human requirements?
To have better farming, we cannot look at this in isolation from everything else we do, so the permaculture way is to look at it holistically ( in context ).
geological and geographical planning:
The first thing we want to do is get our land allocation right, which means maximising food crop potential, while also maximising biodiversity and securing wilderness areas for other species’ habitats. So let’s do this by looking at several types of geographical region of the planet.
polar and tundric:
In the polar ( Arctic / Antarctic ) and tundric regions of the world, without technology, people are forced to eat a largely meat based diet, and without going into the ethics or sustainability of eating meat, these are not – and unlikely ever to be – highly populated regions, but for arguments sake, if they ever were, how would such an area feed itself? Well aside from a meat based diet, there’s two other possibilities:
- importing food grown elsewhere;
- growing in greenhouses and underground.
The first of these goes without explanation, but the second needs a little.
Even in an area as cold – and lightless half the year – as the poles, we can use eco-friendly and sustainable energy for full-spectrum lighting, heating, hydroponics, sewage processing to create biomass for soils and soil biome, then insulate it all either in glass/green-houses or underground facilities.
Since there’s unlikely to ever be a massive population centre in such a region, there’s not a huge concern about the impact on local wilderness and species, except in so far as that human activity in general – particularly fishing – has reduced food availability for other species like penguins, seals and polar bears, but that’s a separate issue which is resolved by better global farming practices, and a reduction in dependence on ocean marine animals as food. The point being we are unlikely to ever have so many polar greenhouses that there’s no wilderness left for penguins, seals or polar bears – but we do have to stop global warming, and we do have to reign in fishing and fish farming.
The polar and tundric regions are considered “frozen deserts” as opposed to dry deserts, both primarily distinguished as a “desert” as a consequence of low precipitation, excessive/deficient heat, and ultimately by low biodiversity and sparse life – thus we also have high altitude deserts, where precipitation is low, sun exposure is high, and thus very little life exists. Such areas are not devoid of life at all, and many things do indeed live there, but the biodiversity and density of organisms is low compared to other areas.
As a consequence of this low density of life, but the high availability of sunlight energy, the world’s deserts are a vast and largely untapped potential for food crops, without causing too much disturbance to other species IF we farm in an ecologically sensitive way – in fact our farming in such regions could actually be beneficial to local species, if we do it correctly, and hence the value of permaculture for such an approach to desert farming.
Strangely the world’s population density of humans in such areas of the world can actually be extremely high, but this is primarily a consequence of the existence of oil, and the great food production capacity of nearby river systems, such as the extremely fertile Nile delta and farming along the Nile flood-plains upriver.
If human beings – using our technology – can bring additional water to such regions, via passive solar desalination/condensation, sewage processing ( which can also gain organic nutrients for soil – if the sewage is kept chemical free, ie: non-industrial sewage ), and other means; we can then have forests that attract their own rainfall, provide shelter, reduce evaporation, etc.
Clearly here it would be of great benefit to have low density underground housing for farming families, which are naturally insulted, cooled further from above by an ever expanding forest ecosystem – which can then support aboveground tree-houses – and such forests can be interspersed with pockets of farming ( as per the details I’ll go into in the next major section of this article following the details of these region types ). Thus human habitation of an area can actually improve circumstances for local species of plants and animals.
Mountains have varying ecosystems depending on both latitude, altitude, and surrounding geology – but the first thing I want to talk about is their largely untapped potential as human habitat, and how we are doing it wrong currently, when we residentially develop in mountainous areas.
Where mountains exist at the right altitude, latitude, and with the right surrounding geology, they represent areas of the greatest biodiversity on the planet, and there are various reasons for this as follows:
- mountains provide shade;
- mountainous altitudes below a certain threshold bring rainfall as clouds condense moisture;
- mountains collect water in pockets, which slowly release to the local environment;
- mountains are often formed with some level of volcanic activity, which brings mineral diversity and carbon concentration.
So what we don’t want to do is upset these vital areas by incorrect design principles; let’s look at how we get it wrong …
People often want a nice view, and almost always deforest an area to build their house, but if you’re in a hot environment, what does it do when you deforest a mountain ridge-line?
The forest canopy preserves a microclimate of lower temperature and higher humidity, plus higher ground moisture, which provides shelter for low-light plants and animals alike, along with also protecting the soil biome from evaporation, and creating permanent water pools and streams.
When you denude a forested mountain ridge, what you’re doing is providing a chimney for evaporation, so it’s absolutely the worst place you could possibly remove the forest canopy.
Instead we should do 3 things:
- tunnel underground into the mountain;
- build balconies and terraces amongst the trees;
- build tree houses and tree-hanging gardens, plus slung-walkways.
Imagine you had a beautiful spacious home tunnelled into a mountain, with large rooms and passageways, every one of them featuring amazing crystalline rock structures, with beautiful cool air, full spectrum lighting, indoor gardens ( including small food crops ), natural ventilation moving fresh air upwards and out from the lowest levels, and your sewage powers your home, supplemented if necessary from the grid ( also underground ). THEN when you come outside you have balconies, deckings, and stairways amongst the cliffs, gullies, etc., plus treehouses, slung-walkways, flying-fox ( gravity powered ) travel down cables between trees or towers amongst them, and this transport system generates energy in the process of slowing you down, rather than using energy ( then you get your exercise and time out in nature ( if you want ) by walking back up, but if you’re in a hurry or carrying a load, there can be a powered cable-car return, and/or underground elevator from an underground car park, or even a higher altitude aircraft drop off ( where no forest existed anyway ), with again a gravity assisted return to point of origin.
Around the trunks of trees we can hang edible gardens, accessible by slung pathways, all watered by collection and redirection of water trickling down the branches when it rains, plus perhaps a backup for drought periods to deliver water via pipes and hoses attached to the trunk. Additional food can be grown in the valleys and fields below the mountains, and imported from other regions.
high altitude mountains:
At higher altitudes we come across conditions similar to the frozen deserts, typically the domain of hardier coniferous trees, plus grasses, shrubs, and other plants that can survive winter beneath the snow and ice. In such an environment, we would use a combination of the techniques and principles described for mountains, and for the polar/tundric regions, ie: including green/glass-houses, underground cropping, full-spectrum lighting, heating, hydroponics etc., plus food imports.
hills, valleys, and fields:
These lower altitude areas ( often surrounding taller mountains ), can also contain incredible biodiversity, but we’ve already converted most of it to agriculture, forestry ( plantation ), human habitation, industry, and other infrastructure.
In terms of natural visual appeal, the flatter the landscape, and the less biodiversity, the less aesthetically appealing; but also: the flatter the landscape, the greater the cropping and farming potential, and the easier the construction for the built environment ( commercial, industrial, residential, and other infrastructure ).
In such environments we can also build underground and treehouses to preserve wilderness and space for farming, but we also can develop very sophisticated “earth-ship” housing – ie: a structure built above ground, with soil then placed on top, and things growing on top of the structure.
Coastal environments are often extremely ecologically sensitive, and vital to both land and marine species, so it is vitally important we stop fucking this up ( which is precisely and only what we have been doing, especially of late ).
It is understandable that people love going to the beach, enjoying the ocean views, and enjoying the rivers that empty into the oceans – but we have too often cut off access to the oceans and shoreline for land mammals, polluted the rivers, and destroyed the breeding grounds for fish species, such as the brackish waters of mangrove forests.
Roads need to be built either on stilts – so that land mammals can walk underneath – or in tunnels, and the dune and ocean outfall river ecosystems, need to be connected by unbroken natural corridors, all the way to each other, and to the nearest elevated hills/mountains … and that’s what I’ll be describing in the next section, the mechanism for Allocation and connection of distinct wilderness, agricultural, commercial/industrial, and residential zones ( plus other infrastructure ).
Before I continue to the next section though, there’s another important construction style for coastal areas – which could also be used for any fields and plains – where such areas are subject to flooding, tsunami, or cyclones/hurricanes/typhoons; this technique could also be handy for protection against bush/forest-fire.
Since there may be limited availability of naturally occurring ( and protected ) high altitude points, or other mass shelters, not to mention a lack of warning or capacity to reach such shelters, I propose this new form of structure, which combines above and below ground living, via a central mass produced and extensible core unit.
The basic idea is a hydraulically extensible/retractable set of telescopic cylinders.
The smallest cylinder is an optional air-lock, designed such that – in an emergency – late arrival(s) can gain safe entry to the secure room beneath the ground.
The next cylinder is above ground, and would be ( ideally ) central to the house, so that you could enter that cylinder from one of multiple doors, before sealing the doors and retracting it into the largest of the cylinders underground.
Aesthetically speaking you could design any kind of house around this that you want, but in the case of a flood, hurricane, tsunami etc., the rest of the house is sacrificed, and you retreat underground to safety, with enough food and air supply to outlast the trouble, at which point you then hydraulically push back upwards through the debris ( hence the need for the power of hydraulics, as you could be buried under metres of sand – and in which case, certain versions could be designed with much greater capacity for extension than would usually be required for retraction from the household above ).
Ideally coastal ecosystems should be preserved for wilderness and recreation, and while such a component of housing allows people to live safely, it still needs to be combined with good planning for ecology, farms, and other human infrastructure/needs.
Many of you might have seen a form of mapping that uses a grid of interlocking hexagons, and this can be combined with triangular sections if you want to create a shape that can be folded around to create an approximate sphere – the advantage being you get extremely good scaling and relative positioning when moving between 2D and 3D, and because you can also combine different scales of hexagonal mapping both on paper, or more dynamically and powerfully in a digital form.
This form of mapping and the combining of different scales is extremely handy for both small scale local planning, as well as much more complex and grander regional ( continental ) and global project planning.
Take for example the concept of an underground vacuum sealed tunnel carrying a maglev train. In the examples of this we see proposed by serious developers, they simply draw a line from point A to B to C etc., then turn the corners into curves … but there’s an obvious flaw to this approach, and it causes many missed opportunities.
Here’s the correct way to do an underground maglev train tunnel:
- since it is not as practical or valuable for short distance travel, we must remember in our design intention that roads will always be necessary for ground based vehicles;
- since those ground based vehicles will also perform varying long distance journeys, it is vital to connect the two systems;
- since journeys of different distances exist, we must plan a layered system of tunnels at different depths underground ( instead of the inevitable spaghetti mess of current planning proposals );
- spiralling loop tunnels can then easily connect the varying depth layers, and create an interconnected system from the above ground local, to the local underground, to the regional underground ( deeper ), and the global underground ( deepest );
- bikes, cars, trucks, and even pedestrians could enter a maglev “pod” – this pod enters a local air-lock, and then proceeds to accelerate into the maglev tunnel network – each pod has its own air supply, a kitchen, a recreation, and a rest area;
- a large city has a single large loop at its perimeter, based on a hexagon which can be divided into 7 smaller hexagons ( one at the center of 6 others ) – since we have already built these cities, it is a waste of those spent resources to attempt to abandon them, nor does everyone desire such abandonment, so it is vital we adapt them to greater efficiency, hence the use of local maglev trains – your pod would enter one of the smaller hex-based loops, and then travel around that loop, or spiral into an adjacent loop, or via spiralling into the largest loop, you could quickly jump across the other side of town, or spiral again into an adjacent local, or deeper regional tunnel, and from there onto an adjacent regional or deeper global one;
- the deepest ( global ) tunnels would be arranged to run along the longitudinal lines of the planet, but we wouldn’t be able to construct these until we developed the engineering capacity to construct and operate such things at an immense depth below the crust ( which may never be possible as a consequence of plate tectonics ), so in the meantime or alternatively, we’d replace them with sub-surface oceanic tunnels, based on a hex-size that approximately fits each ocean between continents, and where the spiralling loop tunnels that connect to/from these continental and oceanic tunnels, may need to go via additional air-lock sections, to allow for flexibility of connections, which adjust at a very slow rate according to the slow movement of continental plate tectonics and the expanding mid-ocean ridges;
- a country like Australia that occupies the majority of a single continental plate, would be tunnelled by placing the largest hex approximately ( though not necessarily exclusively ) inside its boundaries, with 7 equally sized smaller loops inside that, at the deepest level – the nearest cities to each of those smaller loops are mapped out, with a new hex-size chosen to create the best connection loops at a depth just above those deepest tunnels, and then the biggest cities would have another set of 7 inside a single large loop, at the shallowest depth;
- where a country shares a continental plate, or crosses over a major fault line or plate boundary, tunnels and hexes are always based on the geology, not the political boundaries;
- since deeper tunnels have greater access to geothermal energy, heat exchange generators are used to power the entire thing – so not only is it extremely energy efficient, but the energy source is carbon neutral, and completely eco-friendly, renewable and sustainable;
- these tunnels could be divided into smaller parallel tunnel loops, with some dedicated to water, data, and power transmission, others perhaps dedicated to emergency services, such that we can have extremely fast global healthcare and emergency/humanitarian evacuation.
In case you’re wondering, yes there’s a way to both speed up our tunnelling technology AND reduce the energy required to tunnel each cubic metre of rock ( with additional benefits vs. present tunnelling techniques and technology ) – but no, I’m not telling you ( unless you have millions of dollars on offer to fund it, and on my terms ).
The point of all of which is that we can reduce the wildlife toll of roadkill, and make our transportation systems far more eco-friendly, efficient, and sustainable ( not to mention much faster ).
land zoning / allocation:
The same hex mapping approach helps us plan our land usage roughly as follows:
- pick a geological / geographical feature of significance;
- select a largest hex based on its total size AND its ecological influence on adjacent areas AND based on the largest selected hex size of those adjacent areas – the idea is to be able to deal with this object as a single item, as component regions, and as an object of influence to adjacent areas;
- so for example: we can have a single hex around a mountain range – which may overlap adjacent non-mountainous areas, or which is large enough to include adjacent non-mountainous areas ( depending on our purpose and goals ) – and we can use this large hex and its 7 smaller internal hexagons, to map out general regions of interest and influence of the mountain range … we can simultaneously select an individual mountain within this mountain range, and give it a hex of another scale, to map the interest and influence associated with that mountain, or perhaps for a river that starts in those mountains but travels through other adjacent areas;
- what we’re looking to do with these overlapping hex-maps of various scales, is to plan our agriculture such that each mountain ecosystem has connecting natural corridors of appropriate size to every other mountain ecosystem, via the best geographical corridors of biodiversity potential, and via the rivers, all the way to the inland or oceanic extent of those waterways, with similar areas chosen for lakes and coastal ecosystems;
- the land in between these corridors is available for farming and other above ground human usage, but should be divided again into large hex shapes ( each with their 7 smaller internal hexes ), and the centre hex of those 7 should be a communal green space, connected via at least 1 of the outer small hexes, to the equivalent neighbouring group of 7 hexes – in this way, every human community is connected to parks, farms, and other green spaces, each of which in turn is connected to every other green space, and eventually to wilderness;
- each hex dedicated to farming should be divided into 7 hexes, and of those 7 at least 2 ( including the centre ) should be some kind of wild area ( preferably native regrowth ).
… and here’s the reason we’re doing this complex land zoning.
Plants evolve in ecosystems, so their specific behaviour and biochemistry is dependant on those evolutionary pressures, but we’ve taken our food crops out of these systems, therefore away from their interspecies symbioses, and away from that evolution. Now in some respects this can be a reasonably beneficial thing for ourselves in the respect that we can breed in the characteristics we want, but in other respects it is a foolish thing, as we do so with complete disregard to all other ecological concerns.
By allocating land for farming ( as described ), we ensure every farm is at least adjacent to an area of regrowth wilderness, or park, that is connected via other such areas, eventually to the areas of highest biodiversity in the mountainous rainforests, and the coastal river deltas, mangroves etc. This in turn means we can grow crops in the areas most likely to support the similar/same species within a natural ecosystem, and thus ensure that not only do our farms receive the many other benefits of being adjacent to such wilderness areas, but that cross pollination continues to occur between wild and domesticated species, and thus we get the advantage of combining natural with human selection, in the ongoing evolutionary process.
natural permaculture “pest control”:
Now that we have our zoning and planning right – to put communities, farms, and wilderness areas in harmonious connection to each other – now we want to protect our crops, without poisoning ourselves, without wiping out insects, and preferably without killing other creatures either … here’s how we achieve that.
We want to surround individual raised garden beds with a wall made of untreated wood and rocks – because you want the wood to rot, as that feeds the fungal layer of the soil biome – as the wood gradually disappears, the stones will hold those raised beds in place, the fact they’re raised gives them good drainage in storms, the stones slowly ionise new minerals into the soils via the water, as well as being broken down by lichens and mosses.
A similar low wall of rocks and wood should – where you allow chickens to scratch around the area – connect each raised bed, thus providing a protected transport corridor between each bed for frogs and lizards that can hide amongst the rocks and wood, not get eaten by the chickens, and help keep down the “pests”.
- weeds and grasses growing amongst the rocks and wood provide alternative food for “pests”;
- a pond here and there instead of a raised bed, provides an aquatic home for frogs, and drinking water for chickens;
- chickens help turn the soil, and of course fertilise it, reducing resource requirements of alternatives;
- goats can clear an area and reduce weeds between harvest and sewing a new crop;
- fenced sections can segregate chickens or goats from crops at critical stages of development;
- similar low walls can connect trees in a fruit orchard to protect frogs and lizards;
- elevated ponds also make it hard for cane toads in the Australian case, as cane toads ( unlike frogs ) can’t climb.
Another useful tool here is “companion planting”, so for example plant something that attracts lady beetles if you have an aphid problem, leave spiders alone, and plant things that attract praying mantis.
For birds, bats, and other larger creatures that are attracted to fruit trees, either leave 1 in 10 or 20 trees with its fruit unprotected ( don’t put bags over the fruit on those trees or cages around those trees ) – or leave some proportion of the fruit on each tree unprotected – the reason being that the animals aren’t stupid, so they’re not going to waste time trying to get through a bag if you give them plenty of easier targets, and since they’re not as fussy as humans, the visual aesthetic of a piece of fruit half pecked won’t put them off eating it, and you can get all the bats/birds eating the same pieces of fruit, instead of ruining it for human consumption and losing more of your crop ( where they take 1 bite then move on ).
If you choose to sacrifice specific trees, the bird poo will collect in that location, where you can more easily scoop it up as free fertiliser.
GMOs, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, and fertiliser, are all entirely redundant technologies.
I rest my case.