Importance of Natural Resources

Permaculture’s Resilience


– Hi Geoff Lawton here. Here in Australia we’re
in an extreme drought. Even in the subtropics here where normally if we have a drought it means
we’re still getting rain but we don’t have any runoff, we don’t have any gully run, there’s no recharging dams. But right now we haven’t had any rain for two months in mid summer. So it’s a deep drought it’s gone right down into the ground. The dams are drawn right
down with evaporation and out of our 25 bodies of water, you couldn’t call them all
large agricultural dams, some of them are small ponds, but out of that 25 we’ve
already pumped down six. So we have 19 to go. That’s because we’ve made an investment in good design which starts off with water harvesting and rehydration. So we have 25 impoundments
of different sizes but we also have three
kilometers of swales which are inputting water
into the soils and subsoils and that’s slowly soaking through the landscape which has allowed
us to tree the landscape, reducing evaporation,
reducing runoff speeds so the runoff speed is very slow. It’s infiltrated into the land. So we’ve stopped the water we spread the water we soak the water and we include natural
nutrients of animal manures and ecosystem assemblies
of plants and animals as nutrient runoff. It’s trickle down nutrients
through the subsoils and it takes thousands of times maybe tens of thousands,
even hundreds of thousands of times slower to run off this property. So we have retention. Plus we’re very careful
how we use the landscape. We move our animals in
very specific cycles through specific size cells. We don’t stress the landscape. We have grass up to the belly of the cow and the horses when we
put them in to a new cell. Come with me and let me show
you some of the comparisons between our property,
which is only 18 years old from the initial start of
our design process here and some of the neighbors
in the local area just down our road. There’s total bare soil. The pasture looks like it’s been burned. People have been feeding cattle right nextdoor to us and all the way through this landscape and we’re on the coast. If you go to the interior
it’s an absolute tragedy. And in some cases there’s been
years of drought and it ends with a flood where the
animals end up drowning. After all this time of putting
money into saving stock. We have systems that we’ve
designed where we can moderate the floods and the droughts. We can buffer these extreme events. And by revegetating the landscape we increase the precipitation
with condensation. And we’re recharging the
clad base with transpiration and some evaporation off dams. Yes we’ve pumped down dams we have some empty dams. But we are drought proof. And we are flood proof. Because just a few years ago
we had a very large cyclone where we had half a meter of water come through in 24 hours. Half a meter of rain. Some people have had half a meter of rain in one hour in Northern
Australia recently. These are extreme events. But permaculture gives us a design that moderates energy and captures energy in life systems which are rich in diversity that’s interactive. And that’s how we repair the world. That’s how we go into abundance with extreme diversity of
nutrient density in food and absolute stability in
ecosystems and product yield.


Reader Comments

  1. After 17 years and such stark differences, I think it's safe to say you've got some stubborn neighbors.
    Your government is subsidizing feed and water for cattle farmers I believe… they should be subsidizing permaculture projects instead.

  2. Thanks you for giving hope and pratical example to how to do nice work with respect of natural principles, inspirating lifestyle

  3. This is my favourite Geoff Lawton vid ever. What a contrast! Hopefully this will be a good opportunity to spread the word to regenerate landscapes.

  4. The animals don't add anything to the system, they only reduce carbon sequestration and emit methane. Even if there was some kind of shit-magic going on that would not require you exploiting and murdering them for your own gain. Furthermore any animal product consumed is of net detriment to human health leading to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's etc. Slaughterhouse workers have the highest rate of PTSD of any civilian occupation. You're promoting and contributing to the most corrupt and destructive industry on the planet and there is no right way to do the wrong thing.

  5. Another great video Geoff! Here in Florida we’re just going into dry season. I wish we had the topography in our landscape to play with, it’s very rare here in Florida.

  6. Not far from Zaytuna, we had the driest January in over 100 years of records.
    It knocked 75% off the previous record-setting minimum – proving to be a real statistical outlier (and making news nationally).
    We need to plan for this uncertainty, the last few centuries have been a golden age of mild weather most suitable to agriculture.

  7. Flying over eastern Australia was so sad, dry grass as far as the eye can see. I wish more people would give permaculture a go…

  8. They are next to your farm and thei'r brain don't tell them anything. They don't take the example and put it in practice. The stupidity!

  9. We are 6 years in drought and set up our systems when we moved there 6 years ago
    Our systems have never been able to work because the rain stopped just after we set them up
    How is permaculture working for us ?
    Lucky for some they set up 18 years ago
    However 6 years of little rain near the coast of qld makes no difference with swales etc

  10. Absolutely wonderful work, I'm surprised that the neighbors don't take note and learn from you! I would like to learn how to work Swales and berms in a flat landscape for where I am in Colorado in a high mountain valley its flat until the mountains that surround me. It's harsh dry, windy, and cold come winter. One of the couldest in the continental US. 40-50 degree difference from day to night. I love it here but water is irrigated for farmers to grow high water demand in a place that on average gets maybe 10 inches of rain.. I haven't seen close to that living here 5 years. Last two years we haven't even gotten our "monsoon season". It's devastating to see desertification taking place and little being done.

  11. such a good video, When are you coming to Mexico Geoff ? i get the feeling that its going to swing your way geoff, more people start to realize that this is the way.

  12. I'm glad you talk about these issues, and how it translates into your landscape. Here in the Lockyer Valley, further inland, the drought has been going for more than 2 months. I'm losing mature plants, for a lack of ground water. We don't have any water to pump, even though we've built ponds and swales by hand, and will continue to do so. That's the limitation to hand earthworks though – you cannot build large dams. So you're still utterly dependent on enough rain falling.

    What I find really sad, is how much money is required to do this kind of drought proofing on the larger scale. Even though I don't have livestock, I imagine those farms are barely making money on their animals – so how can they invest tens of thousands of dollars, on earthworks too? It's a catch 22. I'm still glad you talk about the solution and can demonstrate the results, I'm not criticising that. But if there's any reluctance to change the way things are done, I'd say it comes down to a lack of funds.

  13. Hi, I'm Mark, a young Filipino. I'm aware what's happening to our nature. I need help in putting such permaculture in my country.

  14. @ Geoff/ WebMaster How can I contact you all? Also need info on apprentice programs if there are some still.

    Going Galt and would like to network with proper humans.
    Thank you for your time.
    Trevor.

  15. Goes to show just how stupid, stubborn and arrogant the general population is. Proof of the success of permaculture design is right there, staring them in the face and they can't see it.

  16. Just wondering if PCI has reached out to your neighbors and maybe offered some (limited) grazing with your animals in exchange for say putting some swales on their land or something as an experiment. Or maybe offering advice or a place in your workshops? Most farmers that i know in the U.S. have access to a backhoe or front end loader and could make swales to harvest water and or a stock pond fed by them. perhaps offer a tour or something

    I think that if your facility could offer some assistance in a crisis as an act of neighborly hand up it would spread permaculture principles even if only in a limited fashion at first it may be a way to help it spread to the average farmer.

    The reason I ask is my Uncle is a mono crop farmer with some livestock and he takes one look and writes it off as weirdo hippy nonsense and runs in the opposite direction. I do know that during the farm crisis of the 1980's here, when he lost 3 of the 4 farms he owned to the bank he was desperate enough to try just about anything and when you start seeing what you have worked so hard for start circling the drain you tend to get a little more open minded.

    If you already do this or have tried this my apologies. Just an idea.

  17. To those tempted to criticise Zaytuna's unfortunate neighbours, the stark differences might only have been evident for *1 season*, not 17 years.
    Australia is famous for droughts, but coastal and near-coastal NSW has not historically been a major victim of AGW-related shifts in weather systems.

  18. How long to neighbors (or regulators / law makers) look at this before they say – wait a minute. What the fuck are they doing over there, and how do I do it too? Let me go find out. Then they can extend the systems to follow contours even if they go off one property and on to the other. Plus look at all the plant resources, the people resources. They probably could hire some of the people from Zaytuna or passing through, or get educated themselves. I'm trying to "permaculture" my 2 acres. It's on a South facing slope. It's got a large part of the yard using a septic system – I'd love to go to fully composting humanure and reclaim all of that space for gardens / orchards. We have a ton of rain here . I have a creek that flows over the land from a Spring above us that flows sometimes when there's been heavy rain. There's run off everywhere. I have some water catchment and one little swale and one little pond. The overflow from water goes into the swale with some 4 inch corrugated flexible pipe and the pipe in the swale is perforated and the swale is filled with wood chips – so it's a swale trail. And after a year or two, I plan on cleaning all those chips out and expect to find super nice soil / worms. I want to extend some swales and plant trees underneath. The swale is above my vegetable garden. I've got 6 paw paws that are a foot high and three persimmons that are head high. I planted about 15 pecans that are about a foot and a half – they came bare root for almost nothing – 25 trees for, maybe, $40. There are these state nurseries that sell things like that. I want mulberries. I've got wine berries starting – 2nd year here now. They were planted last fall. Anyway – it's coming along slowly. I was scything today – I've got a ton of grass and was having scything problems – but just filing it with the rough stone seemed to help – I'm sorry. I don't know what the fuck this comment has to do with the video – but the whole thing is so inspiring – especially intelligent design in structures, and legal and community relationships – look at these guys being their own landlords and even apportioning costs based on income – making it affordable and a super investment. Nothing is going away to some middle man or landowner – why the fuck don't people own the land that they live on and design it to provide for themselves. I mean, I know people are trapped in a consumer, cycle where they're working to pay bills and don't see / have these opportunities – but if having fulfilled happy people living in an environmentally friendly way – if true human happiness and security were embraced we could make stuff like this truly affordable and we'd all be a lot happier / healthier / secure and so would our children.

  19. A true exemplified solution to so many of the world's problems- and it only has almost 14,000 views. This should be top trending on YouTube!

  20. No disrespect to the neighbors, but I find it hilarious someone would live next to Geoff Lawton and not start adopting some new habits

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