Permaculture aims to make agricultural processes as natural and sustainable as possible. Every product in permaculture should benefit people and the ecosystem, with zero waste.
Permaculture has many important advantages but there are still shortcomings related to the practice. Permaculture enables people to create sustainable food sources, build healthier homes and create a productive ecosystem.
The following are the advantages and disadvantages of permaculture:
1. Waste Reduction
Reduction of waste by ensuring that resources are used in the most efficient manner. Permaculture is built on the principle of reducing waste and that the available resources should benefit the public and nature.
Ideally, the waster production in permaculture should be significantly lower compared to conventional agriculture. Permaculture avoids burning or depositing waste into landfills which is detrimental to the environment.
Get to know the 12 principles of permaculture.
2. Prevents soil pollution
Permaculture is a good way to prevent soil pollution. There is very little waste in permaculture and thus a lower risk for soil pollution. Conventional agricultural practices use pesticides and fertilizers which are harmful to the soil and impact its fertility in the long run. Permaculture requires fewer chemicals and fertilizers and thus the quality of soil is maintained.
3. Combats air pollution
One of the main goals of permaculture is to make agricultural processes more sustainable while protecting nature. Permaculture uses fewer agricultural machines and aerosol sprays that emit harmful substances into the atmosphere.
Additionally, there are fewer transportation distances in permaculture which limits the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.
4. Reduces groundwater pollution
Soil pollution gradually leads to pollution of water sources in the landscape. With changing global weather patterns due to global warming, rainfall patterns will be disrupted potentially leading to widespread water scarcity.
It is essential to preserve the purity and accessibility to groundwater sources for the future. Permaculture does not involve the use of harmful chemicals that may be retained in the soil and washed into groundwater.
5. Produces clean energy
Permaculturists produce their own energy and utilize renewable energy sources in farming like solar energy, wind energy or hydropower. Permaculture is positive for global energy production as you get cleaner and more efficient power.
6. Diversification against risk
Farmers can diversify against risks by planting polycultures to limit the impact of pests on their plants. Companion planting helps to protect certain plants against extreme weather elements and therefore maintains the productivity of the land.
7. Water conservation
Permaculture encourages efficient and sustainable use of water. This can be achieved through the collection of rainwater for agricultural purposes.
8. Protects wildlife and endangered species
Permaculture supports the protection of natural habitats which can aid in the thriving of endangered species. In the long term, this is essential to restoring natural biodiversity and maintaining ecological balance.
9. Lower cost of living and food production
You can sustain yourself off your land, since there are very few expenses. It may also help the stimulation of local economies as farmers sell their surplus in the community.
There is no need to use large machines or intensive labor to boost the productivity of your land. You do not need to maintain your permaculture garden after you plant your crops. Since it aims to replicate nature, permaculture will not require you to do a lot of work on your garden.
10. Creates awareness on conservation
One of the key pillars of permaculture is care for people. It increases awareness on the need to take care of the planet for better living conditions.
11. Permaculture saves space
Modern urban farming techniques are reliant on permaculture for sustainable food production. The methods applied in permaculture allow the use of small spaces with high productivity rates.
Disadvantages of permaculture
1. High start-up cost
Permaculture can be expensive to implement on your land. It can be costly to adjust agricultural processes and infrastructure to ensure sustainable production from your garden. Permaculture is based on long-term gains over short-term benefits. It takes a while before your permaculture garden can begin producing enough yield to support yourself. Farmers will have to invest a lot of time to reap the rewards of permaculture, but it is well worth it in the end.
2. Low access to education and permaculture resources
This is more of a challenge facing permaculture as a movement. Changing from conventional farming to permaculture is looked down upon due to the uncertainty surrounding the yields. There are risks associated with permaculture and thus farmers may be reluctant to switch from their familiar traditional methods.
Many farmers across the world are not knowledgeable of the concepts and applications of permaculture. They do not know how to adjust the agricultural processes in their locality to match with the permaculture principles. It would require a lot of education to guide the farmers on how to use more sustainable means to achieve yields from their farms.
3. Low yield in the short term.
Permaculture farming intends to achieve sustainability by focusing on long-term productivity goals in your farm. Farmers have to look at the long-term gains which may interfere with their financial stability as they await the land to begin producing a consistent yield.
Permaculture may not be sustainable for the fast turnaround needed in mass production. The consumption needs for the world are growing as the population increases. It is therefore important to meet the demand for higher agricultural production, which may not be feasible in permaculture.
Chemical fertilizers are used to optimize crop yields in a short time and thus get food to the plate faster. Permaculture is a slow process, which may not produce adequately to support the needs of the population.
4. Smelly compost
I have to say it, compost stinks! But you get used to it and if you do it well, you can eliminate most of the odor. Composting involves the use of natural resources, which produce a bad smell when decomposing. And what likes smelly stuff? Flies.
5. Increased labor needs
You cannot use industrial chemicals in permaculture. Therefore, you do a lot of manual work to keep your land weed and pest free.
6. Buying new equipment and inputs
You have to purchase farming equipment and certain seedlings and plants which may not be readily available in the local market. E.g, no-till planters.
7. Permaculture requires ownership of land
You have to own the farm in which you are practicing permaculture. In a permaculture farm, you have to keep the plants on the ground for years to avoid disturbing the ecosystem. Therefore, if you do not own land, you might have to purchase or long lease, which can add to the costs of operation.
Permaculture has many advantages and disadvantages. It is important for farmers to enjoy the long-term benefits of permaculture and minimize its downsides. This is the only efficient way of ensuring consistent production and sustainable living. Permaculture is not a mainstream means of agricultural production, but its advantages outweigh the disadvantages. It is environmentally conscious, good for your soil and sustainable to live off a small farm.