[permaculture] Jean Pain + Brushwood + Biogas + Compost

souscayrous souscayrous at wanadoo.fr
Thu Mar 7 03:41:12 EST 2002

Steve, thank you, excellent sources as always.

In a discussion of the Fukuoka Farming list at Yahoo Groups the connection
was also made between Jean Pain and the intriguing work of Lemieux at Laval.
The essential difference between them being the actual breakdown of the
woody matter:  Jean Pain used the traditional thermophyllic breakdown of any
compost pile (bacterial) while Lemieux suggests that the breakdown of his
ramial wood chips should be by basidiomycetes - white rot (fungal).
Why the difference?  Lemieux makes the claim that fungal breakdown of wood
produces upto 50% more humus (humic acid) than does bacteriological
breakdown, due to chemical nature of the breakdown of the lignin, unassisted
by heat.

For anyone who has not yet seen Lemieux's work, I recommend it highly,
http://www.sbf.ulaval.ca/brf there is much in English amongst the French.
The underlying premise of Lemieux's work is that all fertile soil comes
originally from climax hardwood forests and that without renewal of climax
hardwood breakdown products this soil will eventually become exhausted.  A
salutary reminder that although humic acid is an extremely persistent
molecule, it does eventually degrade to leave the soil practically worthless
for crops (before nature returns with its plant successions, until, hundreds
or thousands of years later, the soil has again been recovered by hardwood

Jean Pain and Gilles Lemieux both have important things to say, not the
least of which is to concentrate our minds on building soil and not
producing crops (the latter being simply the product of the former and never
the reverse).

In reference to Jean Pain's biogas work, contact me off list if you would
like more information souscayrous at wanadoo.fr and if anybody has any sources
of further information on the Templar origins of Jean Pain's work I would be


-----Original Message-----
From: permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:permaculture-admin at lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Steve Diver
Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2002 12:58 AM
To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [permaculture] Jean Pain + Brushwood + Biogas + Compost

The Jean Pain method came up; i.e., using chopped brushwood to generate
biogas and/or to wrap water pipes around a very *large* brushwood
pile for the purpose of  capturing heat from thermophyllic composting
(for example, to distribute hot water through hydronic tubing in
greenhouse production beds in association with rootzone heating).

An interesting parallel to the Jean Pain method is the Ramial wood chip
mulching work at Laval University in Quebec.  Several years ago a
farmer here in the Ozarks imported a special brushwood chipper to
generate mulch for their organic orchard / farm.  I talked to them last
year and they said they love the benefits of the brushwood mulch,
but it is a lot of labor to cut enough brushwood and chip the material
to generate the bulk quantities of mulch needed each spring, coming
also at a time when the farm is really busy.

Here are some web notes I collected May 2001 on the Jean Pain method.

Jean Pain resources, 5-11-01

There's some interesting material on Jean Pain + brushwood + humus in
these notes.  A tale unfolds where Jean Pain got his idea on brushwood
mulch from medieval templar monks, who understood humus at a deep
level centuries before the Industrial Revolution racheted things out
of whack ....

The Le Jardinage Naturel material looked pretty good, and worth
re-exploring, but that link now appears to be gone like an Internet
memory; though Google has a cache page which you can access
for a glimpse.

Steve Diver

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