Can Agroforestry and Perennial Farming Solve Drought?
From greening the deserts of Jordan to planting nut trees for community food security, permaculturists put a lot of faith in perennial agriculture and agroforestry as a means to alleviate drought and maintain food production in a changing climate. Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture has a great interview with agroforestry and forest gardening pioneer Martin Crawford on why a move away from annual cereal crops could be crucial in our near future:
In terms of looking at the future - if we're going to grow more of our own food as a country and as a region, this is going to have a significant impact. And on a larger, world-wide scale, it's actually quite bizarre in some ways. If you look at it in an ecological way, it's quite bizarre we've based almost our whole agriculture on annual plants because if you look in nature, annual plants are rare. You only get them if there's been a soil disturbance, and then for a short time because they've been taken over by perennials. So in a sense our whole agriculture is quite unnatural, based on annual plants, and very prone to any kind of climate extremes - whether it's drought or water-logging from extreme events or whatever.
Check out these posts on perennial fodder crops and permaculture design tips for perennial polycultures for more on this fascinating subject.