The big picture goal of this pilot project was to create a self-sustaining ecologically balanced horticultural system where each process plays a role in the system supporting and strengthening the other processes.
So to this end we took a broad look at each step in the horticultural process, its various inputs and outputs, to see how we could support, manage, or improve that step.
In doing this, we identified 5 discrete but interrelated focal points that act like nodes on a web.
Nutrient cycling and waste management
Energy inputs and outputs
Pest and pathogen management
As well as representing key steps these focal points are also, to one extent or another, always involved in each step.
The term "environmental conditions" refers to things like temperature, humidity, atmospheric content, water quality, and availability of sunlight to list a few. Furthermore, in addition to the overall environmental conditions, each process within the system will require it's own unique set of environmental conditions. When all of these aspects are taken together, the environment conditions represent the single biggest factor shaping an ecosystem.
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This is a fact we can capitalize on. Because environmental conditions have such a strong impact on an ecosystem, managing them can bring exponential returns.
Carrying this idea forward, we focused on finding ways to manage and improve these conditions at every step. This approach has led to a variety of unique and elegant solutions.
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A significant portion of these solutions have been systems to monitor and stabilize the environment allowing us to optimize conditions to our desired range. But it has also meant finding new ways to manage the steps and individual processes involved in the system.
For soil productivity and nutrient cycling & waste management, the solution was the development of our O.O.R.B. system and Balance Bac. Engineered humus.
For pest & pathogen management this has meant using an integrated pest control approach relying on a mix of environmental and biological controls, with a heavy focus on mutualistic relationships and the plant microbiome.
And for energy inputs & outputs we looked to the past and found a way forward with downdraft gasification. With some improvements, this has proved to be an ideal solution for a sustainable way to meet energy demands. It allows us to generate a clean burning biogas while simultaneously sequestering carbon in the form of biochar for use in soil amendment, making it a truly carbon-negative energy source!