[permaculture] TESTS & EQUIPMENT required for a functional SUSTAINABLE AG LAB?

Douglas Hinds cedecor at gmx.net
Mon Mar 4 18:26:53 EST 2013

On 03/04/2013 loren luyendyk wrote:
> Douglas-
> You may also consider what types of crops you are studying/comparing, for example- row crops, forestry systems, and pasture, as often these systems are not totally integrated.

Since the lab we intend to establish will offer it services to the 
public, we should be prepared to perform both conventional and cutting 
edge types of analysis and especially the latter, for which other 
sources of support may not be available.  We also want to make a real 
difference and help those using our services to use them to diminish 
their risks and increase their chances for the success of their efforts.

More than a Lab, what we establish will constitute a single source for 
each of the elements required to create a sustainable, equitable and 
integral agricultural production and distribution project, from start to 
finish (which is what the word integral signifies, for us).  What we are 
prepared to provide (or help provide, as needed) includes:

   The Organization of Participants in the appropriate legally 
recognized entities;

   Technology Transfer and Training;

   Packing, Processing and Shipping Infrastructure;

   The appropriate Inputs, Machinery and Financing required, and

   Direct Links to Distribution Channels in which quality is recognized.

While that doesn't address your commentary, it explains our orientation 
and what we are prepared to accomplish, which will depend on the results 
generated by our presence, once established. (which would not have been 
possible prior to the recent administration change).

A discussion regarding "Types of Crops" must distinguish between 
recognized and as yet unrecognized "Types".  For example: "Organic 
Avocados" (a Tree Crop commercially cultivated as an Orchard consisting 
of significant numbers of grafted trees of the same named variety, a 
phenomena that doesn't occur within nature - its' a man-made phenomena, 
since the progeny of trees tend to be as distinct as the children of 
people), yet THAT -even within supposed "natural farming" circles like 
"Organic", is the NORM, and no one is asking (yet) for "Organic Avocados 
from Seedling Trees" or "Organic (or uncertified) Avocados grown under 

And _for me_ *that* is where the future of agriculture lies.  However: 
Until now, no effort has been made to distinguish, define or monitor the 
significant metabolic and nutritional differences that undoubtedly exist 
within naturally occurring fruit trees compared to those found in 
composite organisms surgically joined by unaware men.  Therefore, the 
question of what to measure and where to begin will have to addressed 
with no historical antecedents we can rely on, but that's an acceptable 
challege we are prepared to deal with.

Since natural fruit trees can become quite large, the distance between 
each tree must contemplate the amount of space required when fully grown 
and during the period preceding that, the same space can be dedicated to 
cultivating other crops, between the trees and between the rows.

Additionally, some crops loan themselves well to arbor structures which 
you apparently specialize in.

> There would likely be different parameters measured for different systems.  I have been thinking how to compare monculture organic to food forest systems and will be creating a metric to measure the amount of calories in and out on our new research farm here in Southern California in the next few years.

The range of interactions occurring between diverse varieties of plants 
and the rest of the organisms inhabiting the same Eco-sphere is still a 
long way from being adequately defined, and I would be interested in 
receiving information regarding the measurements taken, methodologies 
used and results obtained.  Efficiency is a valid indicator of 
sustainability and I suspect it can be applied to metabolic processes, 
also (and perhaps in trees).

> One interesting metric to measure is soil organic carbon (SOC), in relation to all these systems.  By measuring the %SOC we can actually show how soils are improving in tilth and also SEQUESTERING atmospheric carbon dioxide and depositing it in the soil.  This is a direct solution to "global warming/climate change" whatever you want to call it, and governments are looking at including carbon sequestration/SOC in the carbon credit scheme...
> http://www.soilcarboncredits.blogspot.com/

Like Organic Certification, Carbon Credits have become an established 
feature of the current socio-economic-political system, so we might as 
well work with it, if feasible.  Personally I have reason to believe 
that Global Warming (which I prefer to call Atmospheric Instability) 
depends on much more than the carbon cycle but like the other 
established norm (Organic Food), it's on the map and can be considered a 
valid point of departure, for the moment. And since the principles and 
motivation underlying it are valid and the demand for it exists, we 
ought to include it. (IOW, it was a good suggestion).

> I was looking into this in NZ for a client with the idea to take a baseline measurement of SOC based on conventional pasture management and then compare it to the RegenAg HM/pasture cropping/keyline/compost tea treatments after a few years and try and figure out how much CO2 per acre was being taken out of the atmosphere just by shifting our management regime.
> Peter Donavan (has some pretty simple but profound ways to look at pasture health and I think the Carbon Farmers of America and Abe Collins can answer more questions about actually measuring SOC as it is pretty tech and takes some special equipment.
> http://www.managingwholes.com/

I'll check that out.

Thanks for the response.

Douglas Hinds

> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uXJeEVrc-A
> Loren Luyendyk
> 805-452-8249
> Permaculture Design and Education
> ISA Certified Arborist #WE-7805A
> www.sborganics.com
> www.globalpermaculture.com
> www.surferswithoutborders.com
>> Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2013 21:14:28 -0600
>> From: cedecor at gmx.net
>> To: permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org
>> Subject: Re: [permaculture] TESTS & EQUIPMENT required for a functional SUSTAINABLE AG LAB?
>> On 03/03/2013 03:25 PM, Chris Carnevale wrote:
>>> Hi Douglas,
>>> I'm not sure about what kind of equipment you would need, but certainly
>>> soil testing would be important.
>> Particularly to quantify the presence of nutritional elements and the
>> microorganisms that constitute the soil food web.
>> I would also like to be able to identify the substances being created by
>> those organisms, the activity of each substance and define the
>> conditions required for the production of same.
>>> If seed regulation is something you want to do, you might want the capacity
>>> to test the viability of batches of seeds.
>> Good idea.
>>> A germplasm repository would be very helpful (similar to the
>>> University of California germplasm repository).
>> Another good idea. (A friend of mine is in charge of the germ-plasm bank
>> of the National Forestry Institute located in this city, so I should be
>> able to calculate what that would take. Also, when coordinating with an
>> existing external facility is advisable we can outsource that part of
>> our labors).
>>> If you want to conduct research at the laboratory, a breeding program/variety trials for your
>>> locale would be valuable.
>> We are in an urban setting but the University (a partner in this
>> venture) has it's own experimental farms.
>> Thanks for the ideas, Chris.
>> Douglas Hinds
>> Guadalajara
>>> Chris Carnevale
>>> Charleston, South Carolina
>>> On Sun, Mar 3, 2013 at 10:17 AM, Douglas Hinds <cedecor at gmx.net> wrote:
>>>> Farmers, Academics and Rural Development Specialists:
>>>> The Alliance for Social and Environmental Responsibility in Development
>>>> (formed by the State Biological and Agricultural Science Faculty, the
>>>> two major Collective, Independent and Indigenous Farm Organizations and
>>>> the Center for Community and Rural Development), have decided to
>>>> collaborate and reopen lab facilities closed a few years ago by Mexico's
>>>> worst ex-Secretary of Agriculture and increase the services offered, to
>>>> support the needs of Permaculture, Organic and Fair Trade Farmers.
>>>> To that end, I am soliciting opinions regarding the Tests and Equipment
>>>> required to perform an optimally useful and comprehensive service in
>>>> support of a Sustainable, Equitable and Integral Society, in which both
>>>> farmers and consumers have access to the information they need to be
>>>> aware of what the food they consume actually contains.
>>>> Identifying the variables present in the Environment food is grown in
>>>> (soil, water, beneficial and pathogenic organisms present, the
>>>> substances those organisms produce and the conditions they require to do
>>>> their work) are valuable adjuncts to farming and help assure desireable
>>>> results.
>>>> The studies performed should also be able to determine whether
>>>> transgenic genes and / or toxic chemicals are present in tissue, soil or
>>>> water samples, as well as appraise the soils fertility and determine
>>>> which (if any) nutritional elements are lacking for optimal as well as
>>>> any other factors relevant to granting or denying organic certification.
>>>> In conclusion:
>>>> Which kinds of analsysis should be offerred by a competent Agricultural
>>>> Laboratory in support of Organic, Biologically Integrated, and / or
>>>> Sustainable Farming Systems?
>>>> And
>>>> What equipment is best suited for carrying out that purpose?
>>>> Thanks in advance for your creative and / or constructive suggestions.
>>>> Douglas Hinds

More information about the permaculture mailing list