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What is Synergistic Farm Design?

Synergistic Farm Design is an amalgam of successful design techniques taken from Permaculture Design and Keyline Systems. There is much overlap between the systems so we choose the best of both worlds.

It uses the best of practices native to:

  • Biodynamics
  • Biological Agriculture
  • Korean Natural Farming (JADAM)
  • Natural Sequence Farming
  • Organic Farming
  • Regenerative Agriculture
  • Traditional Agriculture

Synergistic Farm Design functions well because of the diversity of options it makes available to the designer. Each option integrates well with the others and produces little unusable waste. We have an unfair advantage when our inputs and outputs have all lived at some stage – compost!

The primary goal of Synergistic farm design is to improve the natural aspects of the farm – to use natural processes to do the heavy lifting for us and therefore improve our production and so increase our profit.

Table of Contents

Synergistic Philosophy​

According to Google, “Synergistic” means “relating to the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

The philosophy is more related to efficiency and is well defined in the quote below:

  1. Any need for an element that your system cannot provide results in work
  2. Any yield of a function that cannot be used by your system results in pollution
  3. Work and pollution create drudgery which is the punishment for poor design

Diversified Farming

In order to maintain alignment with the Clean, Efficient and Profitable methods of Synergistic Farm Design, we recommend the selection of multiple income streams.

This will provide a degree of stability when the fortunes of rural production change so often. This year there will be a couple of products that are doing well, some that are OK and a few that are not good at all. Next year it the same, but with different products. This will even out the total income and reduce the gamble.

If you only have one product the same thing occurs – some years you do well, others it is a bit ho-hum and others not well at all. This seems to me to be a risky way of operating!

Farm Design Systems​

There are many farm design systems available. I have chosen components of two which are compatible and efficient. These are:

  • Permaculture
  • Keyline

Permaculture Design

Permaculture Design is one of the best farm design systems available. 

It has received a bad reputation over the years due to people using it as a method of promoting themselves and not understanding it.

I was taught some time ago to liken Permaculture to an old sturdy wardrobe. The hanging space contains the main agricultural operating systems. The drawers contain the individual techniques and the shelves are a stack of  quick grab methods to solve immediate problems. You reach in and use whatever technique best suits.

Food forests and herb mandalas are only techniques to be used when appropriate – they are not all that Permaculture offers. They may be used when called for and are ideal for small or residential blocks where no larger scale production is planned.

A trained designer has a good knowledge of climate, soils, land form, air flow, water flow, fertility systems as well as plant and animal behaviour and the hundred other factors needed to create a sustainable and profitable farm plan.

What is keyline design farming?

Percival Alfred Yeomans (1905 – November 1984) was an Australian inventor known for the Keyline system for the development of land and increasing the fertility of that land. As a mining engineer and gold assayer, Yeomans had developed a keen sense of hydrology and equipment design.

Keyline places great emphasis upon systems designed to increase proper water management and improve soil fertility. Under Keyline management, the soil environment rapidly accelerates soil biological activity, thus vastly increasing the total organic matter content within the soil.

Keyline systems are more concerned with the distribution of water and the creation of soil on a property. It is a base system for Synergistic Farm Design.

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