Inputs and outputs in permaculture
This is a permaculture design concept that anyone, regardless of their level of experience, can apply and start building a productive ecosystem.
- First, list the foods (or other useful plants, such as biofuel) you would like to grow.
- For each element, list its inputs/needs and outputs. Example: A chicken needs food (grain and insects), water and warmth. It outputs eggs, feathers, meat, feces, urine.
- Now comes the interesting part - for each need of each element, find an output of a different element that matches it. Example: An output of the potato is leaves that are inedible to humans. Rabbits eat leaves like this.
- In an ideal world, you would have found that every output connects to an input, and every input connects to an output. However, the world is not ideal, and you doubtless found that there were gaps. For each unfulfilled need, introduce a new organism to the ecosystem that will output this. Example: Introduce clover to provide the rotting organic matter trees need. For each wated output, think about how that could feed back into a beneficial organism. Example, an output of humans is faeces; this can be composted and become a useful input for plants.
- Continue to introduce organisms until you have an ecosystem in which every output is used and every need is fulfilled. (There is one exception to this, one substance that is a necessary input for all organisms, and yet produced by none of them. If you played along, you will know what this substance is.)