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Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre
Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre
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Pigs at Work

Project: Djanbung Gardens Permaculture Education Centre

Posted by Robyn Francis over 12 years ago

Pigs are amazing biological ploughs – their snout designed for excavating the earth - read the story of our pig tractor garden at PCA Djanbung

Pigs are amazing biological ploughs – their snout is exceptionally strong and designed for excavating the earth in search of tasty morsels buried underground, especially tubers and roots, and also fungi and insects. In Permaculture there is frequent reference to use of pigs as tractoring animals and I’ve always been intrigued as to how effective they would be.

This is the story of Polly and Pudge, two lucky pigs living at Djanbung Gardens...

In 2006 I was gifted a pair of 4-month-old piglets for Djanbung Gardens, supposedly miniature, though now fully grown are about half the size of commercial or large pig breeds. The pigs, named Polly and Pudge, were initially kept in a mobile pen (made from 6 old metal bed bases) to get to know them and their behavioural patterns to inform the design of an appropriate system to integrate them into the scheme of the gardens.

I soon discovered that within a day or 2 of being put on a fresh spot they would have the entire area turned over and within another day or two had seriously compacted the earth. With the combination of our heavy clay soils and high rainfall, the issue of compaction was exacerbated and their pen would become a quagmire after rain. Okay, you might think, ‘happy as a pig in mud’, however muddy conditions are conducive to parasites and problems with footrot.

The good thing about having Polly and Pudge in the mobile pen initially was that it gave me an opportunity to observe their behaviour and identify potential problems to inform the design for permanent housing, for health, hygiene and ease of collecting their manure for the compost heap.

Pig Tractor Garden

I’d seen pig pens in New Zealand using old roofing iron for fencing so in spring 2009 we created our first pig tractor garden in an grassed area that had been reserved for future main crops, well away from the intensive vegie garden.

The pig tractor area is in part of the original permanent pasture and compacted from almost a century of grazing before the covered with well established pasture grasses: kikuyu, couch, paspalum, summer grass etc. They had a great time digging up the soil and after a five days had completely demolished all vegetation and tilled the soil.  To establish the garden we used the Gundaroo tiller to loosen the compacted soil below the pigs tractoring, then shaped the beds, mulched them and planted cassava, sweet potato, potato, pumpkin and gourds.

the above extracts are from a more in-depth article and photo journal at permaculture.com.au


Img 9592 Pignmainbldg

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