PDC Reading 2/6- P 4 – 5th February 2017

Permaculture Design Principle: “Apply self-regulation and accept feedback”

Topics and key points included:

  • “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation” – long-term impacts of activities
  • Feedback is key to how nature operates in self-regulating systems in dynamic equilibrium
  • Oxygen is a key element that allows processes to occur in living organisms and is very reactive
  • Fungi are key species – their ability to break down cellulose in plant material is very important for energy/nutrient recycling within ecosystems.
  • Mycorrhizal fungi are important for nutrient exchange in plant and tree roots
  • Fungi can have symbiotic relationships with other species, e.g. lichens are symbiotic organisims of fungi and algae
  • Parasitic fungi are also important
  • Association with fungi can affect the thermotolerances of plants
  • Plants that are able to grow on rock, e.g. mosses and sedums, deposit material that starts soil formation
  • Bees are key species, pollinators that require nectar and pollen
  • Natural regeneration as a catalyst for a sustainable future
  • Ecotourism
  • Work of Yakouba Sawadogo (The Man Who Stopped The Desert) – small strategic actions with long-term impacts, land regeneration
  • Trophic levels in food chains
  • Dynamic interactions between predators and pests, e.g. ladybirds and aphids
  • Favouring of beneficial species that control pests, e.g. by habitat creation, nest building, etc.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for whole systems management
  • A key point is that we must expect and accept some crop losses due to pests
  • Polycultures are key to reducing pests in crops
  • High biodiversity enables system stability
  • Animal droppings are important as they contain nutrients for soil fertility and can also contain seeds, e.g. birds, bats and other mammals
  • Creation of different niches and microclimates
  • Tree coppicing as a sustainable way of using and storing carbon, can be done with hand tools
  • Input : Output Analysis of systems, e.g. energy and materials within a farm system
  • Chickens are very useful, e.g. they turn the soil, eat insects and slugs, add nutrients to the soil via droppings, etc.
  • A key point is that an unmet need in a system creates work. Work is a symptom of bad design!
  • Succession – changes in plant communities over time
  • Grazed -v- ungrazed land and use of grazing animals to manage stage of succession
    Primary colonising plants
  • Leguminous plants and trees and nitrogen-fixing bacteria in symbiotic relationship, increasing soil fertility, e.g. broom, gorse, beans, peas, carob trees.
  • Alder trees (not leguminous) in association with fungi also fix nitrogen
  • Major plant nutrients – Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium – NPK fertilisers
  • Irrigation using porous clay pots in the soil
  • The soil seedbank and soil disturbance leading to germination
  • Vermiculture and composting
  • Hydroponic systems, aquaponic systems, vertical growing units
  • Key point: An ecosystem needs all of its elements to function efficiently – the removal of an element destroys the system
  • Soil inoculation and root inoculation with fungi or bacteria
  • Keypoint: Forest soils are dominated by fungi
  • Keypoint: Grass/cereal-growing soils are dominated by bacteria


  • The Biospheric Project, Salford – Phytoremediation of heavy metal contaminated soils, roof garden, vermiculture & composting, wholefood shop – http://mif.co.uk/about-us/our-story/mif13/the-biospheric-project/
  • Viktor Schauberger – Water – http://schauberger.co.uk/


Reading Area Networks & Groups:

  • RISC
  • True Food Community Coop
  • Facebook – Reading Permaculture Group
  • Food For Families
  • Braziers Park
  • Repair Cafe
  • Transition Town
  • Rising Sun
  • Reading Friends Of The Earth
  • South Street
  • Reading Food Growing Network
  • Reading University – Harris Garden
  • Global Justice Network
  • Permaculture Association
  • GREN (Greater Reading Environmental Network)

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