There are four outcomes from this philosophy:
- No digging
- No weeding
- No bare soil
- A closed system
The philosophy on which The Change Underground System stands is the mimicking of nature. Nature does not dig, weed, allow ground to stand bare nor operate an open system.
This runs counter to 12,000 years of Old World agriculture but by operating on a small scale we are able to act as system managers rather than using energies (tractors, horses, bullocks, fertilizers) to force the land to provide returns.
To take this to a deeper level, Nature is composed of interlocking webs of energy flow. The microbes in the soil essentially work and stay within the soil. Yet they interact with the atmosphere through the actions of earthworms, plants and vertebrate animals. The plants form a link between the atmosphere and the soils by the actions of their life cycles and vertebrate animals, by consuming plants, indirectly interact with the soils, the atmosphere and the sun.
These interconnections can be identified almost ad infinitum.
The aim of The Change Underground System is to purposefully create interlocking systems that will, over time, allow Nature to produce deeper and more complex systems. Any micro niche not part of the design will be filled by opportunistic species. This is the key to the system. The aim is to ensure these opportunistic species are beneficial to your goals and not destructive. Remember, Nature will always fill empty niches and achieve the four outcomes mentioned above.
We need to ensure that the natural balance is maintained after we have removed our “surplus”. There is no surplus in Nature, only exploitable resources or niches. Thus when early farmers started storing grain, they created the ideal conditions for rodents. Relatively minor species prior to the development of agriculture they have thrived ever since. Every action we take will have an effect. Not always the one we intended or considered at the time. According to archaeological evidence, growing and storing grain provided an important source of food for Neolithic farmers, however one of its unexpected consequences was that it also ensured the bubonic plague would sweep through the world due to the explosion of rats who fed on the stored grain. While the spread of disease wasn’t a problem for the people of Neolithic times, it highlights the unexpected consequences of actions far into the future.
The two most important things any farmer can do is: sit and watch.
In the watching and observing (Read Sherlock Holmes if you don’t understand the difference.) we sense when a problem is arising before it happens. With time we develop the skill necessary to know the correct preventative actions to take long before the system becomes unstable for our needs. By working on a small scale we have access to and can monitor the whole production system everyday. Imagine trying to maintain and nurture 10,000 acres! Weed eruptions, feral animal outbreaks or ill stock could go unnoticed for months. Stay small, stay in touch, and stay close to the ways of Nature.
The ultimate aim is to create a closed system with only sunlight added. (See Fractional Farming.) Now this may not always be possible. Added cardboard sheets and newspapers for the gardens, seaweed meal for the animals and packaging for sale items are not likely to be produced from the land. But we can work out energy exchanges to come to an energy neutral system. This means that we have, in effect, a closed system.
The system then becomes self sustaining. By this I mean it does not need any inputs from outside suppliers. Seeds are collected from open pollinated plants. Stock reproduce with careful breeding management. The soil is continually renewed from within. All of this is driven by the sunlight falling upon the land.