[permaculture] Cut-and-carry forage systems in Central America

Niels Corfield mudguard at gmail.com
Tue Jul 11 05:50:19 EDT 2006


I think it would be valuable including JB Friday in this discussion.
Did you mail him yet?
I'll cc him.

He has some real experimental data on this subject.

One thing that strikes me is that cattle stall, initially, should be as 
close to the centre of your pastures as possible.
Then you have a variety of options for cut and carry forage sources, 
that will be more or less equidistant.
Then perhaps think to place it a little further downhill than central 
for less uphill carrying.
Then probably implant a garden/nursery right next to the cattle stall, 
to take advantage of the available manures.

I think plan to be staying with cut and for at least 2 seasons, before 
expanding the herd.

Perhaps Bermuda grass is not such a good one? Don't know, everyone says 
it's such a bugger to get rid of, perhaps Vetiver would be better?

Raymond Robitaille wrote:
> Thank you Niels,
> I like the idea of going from cut-and-carry to self forage.
> I have been thinking of creating a series of 4 mini-pastures of about 
> 1,500 square meters around which I could have the forage banks (or 
> protein banks) growing. Could these mini-pastures be what you call 
> stalls? I would have a one-month cycle, with one week per mini-pasture. 
This will I think be more suitable in the future when forage species are 
> But maybe it would be better to have a larger number of smaller 
> mini-pastures and have some of them brought out of circulation for 
> other purposes. But then again, my original idea was to seed these 
> mini-pastures with a permanent grass and legume combination (such as 
> Cynodon dactylon, bermuda grass with Arachis pintoi, forage peanut) 
> that can withstand intense grazing, in order to avoid as much as 
> possible soil erosion. But this way these pastures would be permanent, 
> leaving apparently no place for growing other annual plants.
Go for a tree and legume based forage system before grasses.
Tight grazing with cattle and finished with chickens could allow an 
annual phase.
Or perhaps Kudzu or Mucuna phases before shift to annuals.
Though remember there are a swathe of edible/forage perrenials that 
could be integrated.
Perhaps other stocking might give more options, someone I correspond 
with is thinking of Llamas.
Miguel any thoughts?

I will cc him and onto a couple of other lists.

Any possibility of pictures?
> A design criteria of mine is that that the forage to be cut should 
> always be located within 50 meters of the feeding site.
> I am wondering what the ideal size of such mini-pastures, or stalls, 
> would be for 8 head of cattle or for 25. Is 50 square meters per 
> animal enough, considering they would probably spend the day there? 
> The animals would have shade of course and maybe even water. They 
> would not need to move much to feed themselves.
> The farmhouse on the farm is located at one end of the farm, on the 
> poorest soils. So in this specific case, it is not economical to keep 
> the animals confined at the farmhouse because carrying forage all the 
> way to the farmhouse would be very time-consuming. This is a very 
> common problem in the area.
> I could create a series of smaller barbed-wire fenced minipastures 
> (about 500 meters) and at the same time plant highly selected forage 
> trees in a level contour hedge very near the minipastures. Once the 
> forage trees are sturdy enough, I could enlarge the minipastures, 
> using the contour-grown forage tree hedges as living fences.
> Raymond
> Raymond Robitaille
> Certified Translator EN>FR (OTTIAQ)
> Interpreter EN<>FR<>SP
> (514) 270-2656
> rer at cooptel.qc.ca  robitaille4 at sympatico.ca
> Fax: (514) 227-5532
> 5740 Waverly Street
> Montréal, Qc
> Canada  H2T 2Y1
> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Niels Corfield" <mudguard at gmail.com>
> To: <MULCH-L at cornell.edu>
> Sent: Friday, July 07, 2006 5:41 AM
> Subject: Re: Cut-and-carry forage systems in Central America
>> Raymond,
>> Have at look at the work of JB Friday:
>> http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/forestry/Data/timor.html
>> *This Method Can Work*
>> There is certainly much scope for cut and carry and also self forage, 
>> as a method of increasing farm outputs.
>> I would say that once you have well established mixed forage 
>> plantings you may well be able to shift to a self-forage system also.
>> So from a Cut-and-carry through to self-forage. A kind of succession.
>> Also consider using forage hedges around animal stalls, and having a 
>> number of stalls that can be rotated through the year.
>> Old stalls could be integrated into a rotation with annual cropping 
>> or gardening. Since land will be weed-free and well manured.
>> *Another Take on Animals and Land Use
>> *I strongly feel it would be worth considering increasing the scope 
>> of the project to more than just cattle forage.
>> It is clear they should be a key outcome but I think it would be more 
>> fruitful to include them in a wider design.
>> There are of course many alternative stock or crops to include.
>> In your pastures for example, that are primarily geared to cattle 
>> forage (cut and carry), you might range chickens from the second season.
>> Perhaps also integrate fruit-trees and shrubs in these areas as well? 
>> So you have a human element here also.
>> Make sure plenty of leguminous species are included at all levels 
>> (tree, shrub, groundcover).
>> Fungi will also be a possible output, in well vegetated forest-like 
>> environs.
>> As the cover/canopy becomes more dense and the area/field more 
>> thickly vegetated you could introduce a selective-browsing species, 
>> say from the 5th season and by year 10 you could have full-blown 
>> mixed-pasture with integrated forest elements and this could be 
>> suitable for year-round self-forage for cattle and other browsers.
>> *Back to Basics*
>> Again, though, I think the priority is to have well vegetated upland 
>> cover that will provide a diversity of outputs for human and animal.
>> One that achieves bio-diversity goals, enriches/builds soil and 
>> eliminates erosion as well.
>> *Sources of Knowledge*
>> I think Permaculture knowledge and that of Masanobu Fukuoka will be 
>> very helpful in realising your objectives.
>> Let me know what you think.
>> Check my delicious account for more links on the topic.
>> All the best,
>> Niels
>> http://del.icio.us/entrailer
>> http://nocompost.blogspot.com/
>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/65387153@N00/
>> Raymond Robitaille wrote:
>>> Ken,
>>>  Actually, in the area of Nicaragua where I have the farm, most of 
>>> the families own less than 2 hectares of land. Also, the land is 
>>> relatively poor and very mountainous. Over 80% of the land is 
>>> considered appropriate only for forestry and not for agriculture nor 
>>> cattleraising. In the hills, grazing causes serious erosion. It is 
>>> very hard to do grazing correctly with appropriate grasses and 
>>> legumes and grazing periods. Invariably, the animals are sent in too 
>>> early, stay too long and eat up all the cover crops, leaving the 
>>> soil bare. Also, the animals are undernourished, especially during 
>>> the dry season. The most popular grass in the area is jaragua 
>>> (/Hyparrhenia rufa/) which has a very low protein content. If you 
>>> have any advice or references to suggest regarding grazing methods, 
>>> I would be much obliged.
>>> You might ask, well, why don't people simply grow trees and forget 
>>> about cows and cereals. People are very poor in the area and 
>>> practice subsistence farming for their personal feeding needs. Most 
>>> of them don't have enough land for one grazing cow.
>>> Those are a few of the elements of the equation.
>>> In my case, I have 6 hectares available for cattle raising. With the 
>>> unimproved grazing method that I have been applying up to now, I can 
>>> only have about 5 animals. Maybe I could have a little more with 
>>> improved grazing. With the cut-and-carry method, I believe I could 
>>> have 25 animals on 3 hectares.
>>> I intend to use mainly dwarf napier (Pennisetum), guinea (Panicum) 
>>> together with forage trees, such as Leucaena sp., Moringa oleifera, 
>>> Guazuma ulmifolia, Albizzia niopoides, as well as shrurbs and 
>>> twining plants such as Mucuna pruriens, Aeshynomene americana and 
>>> Centrosema sp. These are all well adapted and/or native to the area.
>>>  With cut-and-carry, I believe I can solve the erosion problem and 
>>> at the same time have more animals that are better fed, greatly 
>>> increase the overall biomass on the farm, diversify production with 
>>> timber and fruit trees, etc. etc.
>>> It seems to me that cut-and-carry represents at best the way to go 
>>> for subsistence farmers in the area, and at worst something worth 
>>> trying out.
>>>  Raymond Robitaille
>>>     ----- Original Message -----
>>>     *From:* Ken Hargesheimer <mailto:minifarms at gmail.com>
>>>     *To:* MULCH-L at cornell.edu <mailto:MULCH-L at cornell.edu>
>>>     *Sent:* Wednesday, July 05, 2006 3:03 PM
>>>     *Subject:* Re: Cut-and-carry forage systems in Central America
>>>     Raymond,
>>>      I am curious why a small farmer would want to use cut/carry for
>>>     cattle. That would be wise for those under, say 2 hectares but
>>>     above that grazing provides much lower cost if done correctly.  An
>>>     NGO in Chile proved this many years ago.
>>>      Ken Hargesheimer
>>>     USA:   TX, MS; FL, CA, AR, NM;  Mexico, Rep Dominicana, Cote
>>>     d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Haiti,
>>>     Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, England, Nicaragua, India,
>>>     Uzbekistan
>>>     Workshops [urban & rural] in organic, no-till, permanent-bed,
>>>     gardening, mini-farming, mini-ranching,
>>>     with bucket drip irrigation, worldwide, in English & Español
>>>     minifarms at gmail.com <mailto:minifarms at gmail.com>
>>>     USA: TX,  MS, FL, CA,  AR,  NM;  Mexico, Rep. Dominicana, Côté
>>>     d'Ivoire, Nigeria,
>>>     Nicaragua, Honduras, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Haiti, England,
>>>     India, Uzbekistan
>>>     Workshops in organic, no-till, permanent bed gardening,
>>>     mini-farming and mini-ranching worldwide in English & Spanish
>>>     minifarms at gmail.com <mailto:minifarms at aol.com>
>>>     *Proven Practices for Family Food Production *TW
>>>     **
>>>     These are based on the internet, US & international agriculture
>>>     magazines, experiences teaching agriculture in many countries,
>>>     research and farmer experiences in those countries and a
>>>     demonstration garden .  _They are ecologically sustainable,
>>>     environmentally responsible, socially just, economically viable,
>>>     humanely managed and Biblically based _  There is unlimited,
>>>     documented proof.  On mini-farms the following will double the
>>>     yields and reduce the labor by half compared to traditional
>>>     methods.   There are 90,000,000 no-till hectares worldwide.
>>>     Fukaoka Farm , Japan, has been no-till [rice, small grains,
>>>     vegetables] for 70 years.   An Indian farmer has been no-till
>>>     [vegetables] for 5 years.   A Malawi farmer has been no-till
>>>     [vegetables] on permanent beds for 25 years.  A Honduras farmer
>>>     has been no-till [vegetables & fruit] on permanent beds on the
>>>     contour (73° slope] for 8 years.  Ruth Stout [USA] had a no-till
>>>     garden for 30 years and 7,000 people visited her garden.
>>>     No technique yet devised by man has been anywhere near as
>>>     effective at halting soil erosion and making food production truly
>>>     sustainable as 0-tillage (Baker, 1966)
>>>     1.           Open mind.
>>>     2.           Willing to make changes   [first, in the mind and
>>>     then, in the field & pasture]
>>>     3.           Restore the soil to its natural health. 
>>> [Contamination: inorganic pesticides, insecticides & fertilizers,
>>>     etc.  Certain plant decontaminate soil]
>>>     4.           Maintain the healthy soil which produces healthy
>>>     crops which have few diseases, pests and weeds.  Healthy soil
>>>     produces healthy crops to produce healthy animals to have a
>>>     healthy family.
>>>     5.           Feed the soil; not the plants.
>>>     6.           Increase the soil's organic matter every year
>>>     7.           Maintain plant diversity [with crops and/or green
>>>     manure/cover crops]
>>>     8.           *Little or no external inputs* [It is not necessary
>>>     to buy anything, from anybody.  Certain things are recommended]
>>>     9.           Plant every hectare every year [no fallow land]
>>>     10.        Leave crop residue on top of soil [no burning]
>>>     11.        *0-tillage: **no digging, no plowing, no cultivating 
>>> *[No hard physical labor is needed so children and the elderly can
>>>     garden this way ]
>>>     12.        Permanent beds [crops & green manure/cover crops]
>>>     13.        Permanent paths   [walking]
>>>     14.        Sloped-land   [beds on the contour;  no trees, grasses,
>>>     no alley cropping, no terraces, no SALT]
>>>     15.        Hand tools and power-hand tools
>>>     16.        12-months production [economical in nearly all 
>>> climates.]
>>>     17.        Organic fertilizers
>>>     18.        Organic disease control.
>>>     19.        Organic herbicides.
>>>     20.        Organic pesticides.
>>>     21.        Biological pest control.
>>>     22.        Attract beneficials   [bats, birds, insects, toads,
>>>     spiders, non-poison snakes, lizards, grasshopper mice]
>>>     23.        Protect pollinators   [honey bees, native bees, wasps,
>>>     yellow jackets, dirt daubers, butterflies]
>>>     24.        Protect soil organisms   [worms, micros, dung beetles]
>>>     25.        Soil always covered
>>>     26.        Use mulch/green manures/cover crops
>>>     27.        Feed the soil through the mulch.
>>>     28.        Organic matter   [Free?  When economically feasible,
>>>     transport to the farm.  Use as mulch]
>>>     29.        Compost   [For special uses or to use excess organic
>>>     matter.  No vermicomposting]
>>>     30.       Wastewater for irrigation.  [cleaned with plants]
>>>     31.       Pump water  [hand or foot pumps]
>>>     32.       Bucket drip irrigation  [Imported bucket drip kit, US$12
>>>     or drip system using local tubing made by farmer, $3].   A drip
>>>     kit will irrigate two rows of vegetables, 33 meters long, with
>>>     only 20 liters of water per day.
>>>     33.        Seed [open-pollinated ]
>>>     34.        Cassava–[plant & harvest; no hilling
>>>     35.        Crop rotation.
>>>     36.        Inter-cropping
>>>     37.        Rice  [SRI-System of Rice Intensification]
>>>     38.        SRI practices [applied to sugar cane, finger millet,
>>>     cotton]
>>>     39.        Coffee  [shaded]
>>>     40.        Muscovy ducks [should be on every farm]
>>>     41.        Grass/forage-based small livestock production
>>>     42.        Rotational grazing
>>>     43.        Perennial grasses
>>>     44.        Forage and/or grain crops [annuals]
>>>     45.        Confined livestock. [Only if a must.  free; no tying]
>>>     46.        Small livestock in pens over forage beds
>>>     47.        Holistic animal health care
>>>     48.        Purebred/crossbred livestock
>>>     49.        Bicycle with trailer   [units for cargo, passengers, 
>>> small livestock, etc]
>>>     50.        Protect nature [wildlife, native plants, streams &
>>>     riparians, lakes & ponds, wetlands, forest, jungle and prairies]
>>>     51.        Imitate nature. Most farmers fight nature. *¡Nature
>>>     always win!*
>>>     Ken Hargesheimer
>>>         Gardener/Farmer Training
>>>     The gardeners/farmers need help to reduce their labor, provide
>>>     better food for better health and increase their income.   This
>>>     training helps people help themselves.  Many are hungry and/or
>>>     suffering from malnutrition and there is no excuse for that.  
>>> *50% of the hungry people in the world are subsistence farmers. 
>>> *They have land, water and labor; all they need is knowledge.  These 
>>> practices stop the migration of farm families from rural
>>>     areas to urban areas [Honduras].  Nothing else will.   These
>>>     practices make farming profitable.
>>>     Every gardener/farmer in the world should use the following.  
>>> There is unlimited, documented proof it works.  I teach:
>>>     *A.    **No** -outside inputs*:   You do not have to buy anything,
>>>     at anytime, for the farm or ranch.
>>>     *B.     **Organic*:  Reduces inputs to nearly zero.  Organic
>>>     fertilizers, etc. restores/maintains a healthy soil.  Little or no
>>>     compost making.
>>>     *C.    **No-till: no plowing, no digging, no cultivating, no
>>>     machinery: only planting and harvesting **. * After two or three
>>>     years the yields can double while reducing the labor by half
>>>     compared to traditional farming.  One farmer can farm ten acres
>>>     alone using hand tools only [ Honduras].  On mechanized farms it
>>>     reduced production cost 30% the first year and tripled profits in
>>>     five years [Argentina ].
>>>     *D.    **Permanent beds*:   They were used 2000 BC in Guatemala,
>>>     Mexico and many other countries.   Because 15% to 20% of the land
>>>     is in permanent paths/tracks that saves 20% of the seed,
>>>     fertilizer, irrigation water and labor but yields will be higher.
>>>     No technique yet devised by mankind has been anywhere near as
>>>     effective at halting soil erosion and making food production truly
>>>     sustainable as no-tillage (Baker , 1996)
>>>     *E.   _Bucket drip irrigation_ *should be used to produce food
>>>     during the dry season and in areas of low rainfall:   Bucket drip
>>>     kits are US$15.  A bucket drip line made locally from poly tubing
>>>     [US$3, Nicaragua] will irrigate a row of vegetables 33 meters long
>>>     using only 20 liters of water per day. Water can be from a stream,
>>>     pond or well.   Two lines will irrigate all the vegetables needed
>>>     by a family of seven during the dry season [Kenya].  A drip
>>>     returns $20 _per month _to the farmer [FAO study].
>>>     _Hillsides:_   Can be used on steep hillsides which many
>>>     subsistence farmers must use.  In Honduras [Aug 99] I saw beds on
>>>     73º slope with no erosion from the flooding rains of Hurricane
>>>     Mitch.   No grasses, rocks or trees used.
>>>     _Seeds for new crops_ : The farmers are more interested in this
>>>     than anything I do.  There is no profit in corn, rice, beans,
>>>     coffee, pineapple or bananas except by alternative marketing.   I
>>>     take open pollinated seed for many new crops.
>>>     _Hand tools_: I take samples many of which they have never seen: 
>>> planting hoe, digging fork, hedge trimmers, hand clippers,
>>>     loppers, weed cutter.  A blacksmith can make most of them.
>>>     _Cold weather_ :  Most countries can produce food all year.  In
>>>     hot climates, provide shade.  In cold climates or high elevations
>>>     in the tropics, use hoop houses.   The farmers make these.
>>>     Workshops are practical and how-to.  I take reference books,
>>>     videos, order free magazines [English, French, Spanish,
>>>     Portuguese] if there is a library/office.   I demonstrate the
>>>     bucket and DIY drip irrigation, tools, make a no-till bed.
>>>     Ken Hargesheimer
>>>      On 7/4/06, *Raymond Robitaille* <cusuco56 at sympatico.ca
>>>     <mailto:cusuco56 at sympatico.ca>> wrote:
>>>         Good day to all of you!
>>>         I am implementing a cut-and-carry forage system on a small
>>>         farm in the
>>>         mountainous region of northern Chinandega Department in
>>>         Nicaragua. I am
>>>         looking for a farm or an organization that practices this type
>>>         of cattle
>>>         raising, with a minimal amount of pastures, where the animals
>>>         are generally
>>>         confined and the forage is cut and carried to them. It seems
>>>         to me that this
>>>         type of cattle raising would fit very well with cover crops.
>>>         It would be
>>>         particularly useful to me if the farm were small and in a
>>>         mountainous region
>>>         of southern Honduras or western Nicaragua with relatively poor
>>>         soils. That
>>>         way, I could easily visit the farm accompanied by people I
>>>         work with in
>>>         Nicaragua.
>>>         Thank you,
>>>         Raymond Robitaille
>>>          P.S., Please note my new contact info below.
>>>         Certified Translator EN>FR (OTTIAQ)
>>>         Interpreter EN<>FR<>SP
>>>         (514) 270-2656
>>>         rer at cooptel.qc.ca <mailto:rer at cooptel.qc.ca> 
>>> robitaille4 at sympatico.ca <mailto:robitaille4 at sympatico.ca>
>>>         Fax: (514) 227-5532
>>>         5740 Waverly Street
>>>         Montréal, Qc
>>>         Canada  H2T 2Y1
>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
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