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Speakers Polycultures and Permaculture
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Conference ‘Polycultures and Permaculture’

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Alfréd Szilágyi - Pollinator communities and agrobiodiversity in conventional, organic and permaculture farms on Szentendre island, Hungary

Barbara Gemmill-Herren (keynote speaker) - Biodiversity Underpins Agriculture, Let Agriculture Foster Biodiversity

Denise Dostatny - Is it possible to create a model refuge of agrobiodiversity?

Iryna Kazakova - Assessment of the application of eco-intensive practices in European agriculture and future recommendations for Ukraine

Iryna Kravets - Growth and Development of Kernza® in the Conditions of the Right-Bank Forest-Steppe of Ukraine

Joanna Bojczewska - Polycultures of learning: towards the dialogue of diverse knowledges in farming

John Valenzuela, David Shaw - Create Ecosystems of Abundance with Productive Perennial Polycultures

Laura Piedra-Muñoz (keynote speaker) - Evaluating sustainability of agri-food certifications

Linda Blattler - Ecosystem services provided by permaculture

Lyubov Margitay - Polyculture in space and time - the key to preserving biodiversity, soil relatives, human health and the path to prosperity

Marta Łukowska - How to self-diagnose your farm ecosystem

Melissa Vogt - Comparing and seeking complementarity between four farm design approaches;

Conference resolution with policy recommendations to support biodiversity based agriculture (discussion)

Naomi K. van der Velden - Polycultures, people and permaculture: Citizen science investigations of productivity

Oleksii Vasyliuk, Oleksii Marushchak - Developing of Emerald Network  for nature conservation in Ukraine

Paul Alfrey - Trial design for a comparative study between growing Apple Polyculture vs Apple Monoculture

Pavlo Ardanov - Developing an algorithm and software for designing crop polycultures (discussion)

Robert Borek - Agroforestry as a profitable alternative for sustainable agriculture

Sieglinde Snapp - Legume-based multipurpose polycultures for soil health and climate resilience

Sonia Priwieziencew - Restoring biodiversity orchards – local ecosystems in Poland

Sonja Brodt, Nina Fontana - Exploring Agroforestry in California: Opportunities and Challenges for Diversifying Industrialized Agriculture in Mediterranean Climates

Valentin Picasso (keynote speaker) - Agroecological design of perennial polycultures for grain and forage

Łukasz P. Nowacki - Perennial polyculture design in practice: integrating pasture poultry and pasture egg production with perennial polyculture in the context of large land fragmentation in Central Poland

Sorted by topic

Biodiversity in agriculture

Crops and farming systems


Policies and regulations

Citizens science, education, and polyculture design tools

Barbara Gemmill-Herren (keynote speaker)

Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Ph.D

Senior Advisor to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Associate Faculty, Prescott College

Senior Associate, World Agroforestry Centre

Barbara Gemmill-Herren coordinates work on pollination services at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and have carried out or supervised students in work on pollination of eggplant, cocoa, forage resources and other crops. She is very interested in work that documents good practices to conserve and manage pollination services in agroecosystems.

Biodiversity Underpins Agriculture, Let Agriculture Foster Biodiversity

Agriculture and food systems are fundamentally biological (and social) systems. All agricultural sectors- fisheries, forestry as well as agriculture – do not need to - in fact should not - destroy nature. These productive sectors in every country, every region of the world, can be designed to build upon and harness the forces of biodiversity. They can serve to arrest the declines in biodiversity while regenerating their natural resource base. This is increasingly being recognized on all levels including the international, intergovernmental level, as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is working together with the Convention on Biological Diversity to “mainstream biodiversity” across all agricultural sectors. This keynote will review the great potential to recognize the contribution of biodiversity to agriculture, and in turn to cultivate forms of agriculture that foster biodiversity, including polycultures and permaculture, including the discussion currently underway at the intergovernmental level.

A homegarden in Chitwan, Nepal.

Valentin Picasso (keynote speaker)

Valentin D. Picasso is an Assistant Professor in the Agronomy Department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Uruguay. His research focuses on forages and perennial grain crop polycultures, resilience to climate change, and ecological intensification of dairy and beef systems. He leads trans-disciplinary research projects to link science and policy for sustainability. He teaches courses on International Agriculture, Forages, Agroecology, Environmental Impacts of Livestock Systems, and Perennial Grain Polycultures.

Agroecological design of perennial polycultures for grain and forage

Ecological theory and empirical studies support the hypothesis that biodiversity improves ecosystem functioning in agroecosystems. Identifying species, combinations of species, and management practices that optimize multiple functions is the basis for successful agroecological design. Perennial crops in polycultures can fundamentally transform agriculture systems, and reconcile food production with environmental sustainability. Compared to current annual crops, perennials have extensive root systems which reduce soil erosion, nutrient runoff, water pollution, and pesticide requirements while increase farmer income due to decreased inputs and costs. Intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) is the first perennial grain crop in the world, currently marketed as “Kernza”. Developing this perennial crop into a dual-use, grain and forage system, will increase profitability, reduce adoption risks for farmers, and facilitate a landscape-scale transition to perennial agriculture. Intercropping intermediate wheatgrass with forage legumes in polycultures, may provide additional ecological and economic benefits, but also some trade-offs. Results from large field experiments in the US Midwest provide insights into the feasibility of current perennial polyculture systems, and the potential for future agricultural systems.

A picture from our research plots in Wisconsin.

Laura Piedra-Muñoz (keynote speaker)

Laura Piedra-Muñoz (female) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics and Business and Vice-Dean in the Economics and Business Studies College at the University of Almería (Mediterranean Research Center on Economics and Sustainable Development, CIMEDES; Agrifood Campus of International Excellence, ceiA3) in Spain. She received her BS in Business Administration in 1999 and her PhD in Economics and Business Administration in 2005 from the University of Almería. Her research interests address the following topics: sustainable development, environmental economics and agriculture economics. She has published numerous scientific articles in international journals.

Evaluating sustainability of agri-food certifications

The demand for certified products has grown greatly in recent years and therefore different types of certification have emerged. In this context, their impact on sustainability have been widely discussed in the academic arena. The objective of this study is to verify the sustainability of certified against conventional Ecuadorian banana. SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture) is a new sustainability assessment tool that still lacks wide application in developing countries and it is chosen for the present analysis due to its ease of application and understanding. The results show that, in general, organic and fair trade farms achieve a more sustainable yield than conventional ones in terms of governance, the environment and the economic dimensions. However, conventional banana farms have better results in social sustainability issues. This seems to be due to their size and production processes rather than certification standards. Furthermore, certifications are ineffective in correcting some crucial points that affect the sustainability of the whole system such as the monoculture and the use of no renewable materials. The system is structured in a monoculture since all product is directed to exportation. Crop rotation and intercropping are an exception that is possible only in agri-forest farms, which are a small fraction of total producers, and this fact affects biodiversity. Researchers and practitioners can use this study as a valid reference point for the implementation of SAFA in other agricultural systems and decision makers as a guide for the regulation of processes in the agricultural sector directed to augment the biodiversity and sustainability of the farms’ processes.

Sonja Brodt

Nina Fontana

Sonja Brodt coordinates the Agriculture, Resources, and the Environment theme for the University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, part of the Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis.  Major initiatives and projects over the past 5 years include the California Nitrogen Assessment, greenhouse gas and energy footprinting of several California food production and supply chains, identification of global agricultural sustainability indicators, and development of an integrated outreach approach combining new social networking tools with traditional extension methods to communicate sustainable agriculture information to farmers and other stakeholders. Sonja aims to integrate social science and agroecological perspectives into her work. Sonja completed a B.A. in Biology, an M.S. in International Agricultural Development, a Ph.D. in Geography, and a Permaculture Design certificate.

Nina Fontana is a Ph.D. candidate in the Graduate Group in Ecology. She is passionate about understanding the co-evolutionary relationship between people and plants through a traditional ecological knowledge lens. In addition, she has conducted agroforestry research at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, looking at the scope, benefits, and drawbacks of agroforestry systems prevalent in California.

Exploring Agroforestry in California: Opportunities and Challenges for Diversifying Industrialized Agriculture in Mediterranean Climates

California agriculture is a prime example of intensive industrialized farming systems focused on high-yield output of mono-cropped specialty crops. These systems typically require high levels of external inputs, including, in the case of California, substantial amounts of irrigation during the primary growing season. This study sought to identify and explore the feasibility of alternative, more diversified systems, with a focus on agroforestry systems that capitalize on the fact that California already successfully produces many lucrative tree crops. Our goal was to examine the hypothesis that diversified perennial farming systems could enhance ecological intensification, thereby reducing the need for external inputs and increasing the economic resilience and environmental sustainability of agriculture.

We conducted 26 phone and in-person interviews; 16 with farmers practicing agroforestry, and 10 with researchers and extension professionals. All questions were open-ended and focused on descriptions of the agroforestry practices being used (in the case of farmers), motivations for trying agroforestry, and perceived benefits and challenges. Among the farmers, we found seven different agroforestry models being practiced, from cover cropping in single-species orchards to multiple cash crops being combined in multi-story systems that also integrated livestock grazing. Respondents noted benefits of reduced inputs and production costs, and better nutrient cycling, soil health and pest control. Trade-offs and challenges included increases in labor requirements and management complexity. Knowledge gaps included lack of guidance in biophysical systems design, lack of clarity about economic tradeoffs, and lack of information about ecosystem services benefits.

To expand acreage of agroforestry systems in California, we identify needs for improvements in several realms. First, more science-based information is needed for creating optimal species combinations that facilitate essential ecosystem functions. New land tenure institutions could allow multiple farm managers to utilize the same piece of land for their diverse crops. More small-scale equipment must be available to work better under tree crops. Finally, payments for ecosystem services based on agroforestry systems may incentivize more farmers to make room for lower-value annual crops amongst their higher-value tree crops.  

Mixed fruit trees with vegetables intercropped between tree rows in Sacramento Valley, California.

Sieglinde Snapp

Sieglinde Snapp is a Professor of Soils and Cropping Systems Ecology, Assoc. Director, Center for Global Change Earth Observations at Michigan State University. She is ‘Mother of the Mother and Baby Trial’, used in dozens of countries as a participatory action approach to improve research relevance. Through interdisciplinary, open-access science, her team has identified multipurpose legumes options, helped shape agricultural policy in Malawi, flagged declines in soil productivity, and identified overlooked forms of crop diversity for sustainable food systems. She is an Agronomy Fellow and a Soil Science Fellow, and received the ASA International Service Award.

Legume-based multipurpose polycultures for soil health and climate resilience

Denise Dostatny

Dostatny D. F.: PhD in Biology in 2000, a scientist at the National Centre for Plant Genetic resources in the Plant Breeding and Acclimatization Institute in Poland. Botanist who works in the field of genetic resources conservation, plant collecting team leader. Planning and implementation of various projects in the field of diversity in agroecosystems. Scientific interests include conservation of plant genetic resources of wild and cultivated species, studies on inter-species and intra-species variability of plant species and plant selection and assessment for organic and low-input farming.

Is it possible to create a model refuge of agrobiodiversity?

The pace of extinction of species on Earth is so rapid that it might be impossible to discover them all. Among species, varieties and local populations threatened by extinction are agricultural plants, vegetables, medicinal and aromatic plants, orchards and crop wild relatives. In the past people knew how to use natural resources skillfully. However, over time they learnt to employ new technologies and unthinkingly ignore the laws of nature.

Shifting from hunting and gathering to farming caused replacement of the mosaic system of habitats by a growing number of single species cultivation. By simplifying the complex ecosystems and eliminating the unwanted species, human beings made their diet poorer and changed the habitats of wild flora and fauna completely. In the face of extinction of species and monoculture, the only way to save endangered species is to maintain the still existing biological diversity both in natural and agricultural ecosystems (genetic resources conservation). In order to preserve the agrobiodiversity a variety of methods need to be implemented, one of these is to create models of agrobiodiversity refuges in different areas of a given country.

Robert Borek

Adjunct professor in the Department of Bioeconomy and Systems Analysis in Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation – State Research Institute in Puławy, Poland. My scientific interests are focused on agroecology, agroforestry, short-rotation woody crops, low-carbon farming practices, sustainability assessments at a farm level, greenhouse gas emission estimations in agriculture, water balance of cropping systems, biodiversity and CAP policy. Since 2015, I am the chair of Polish Agroforestry Association, established in the same year.

Agroforestry as a profitable alternative for sustainable agriculture

Agroforestry (AF) is a climate-smart agriculture practice of deliberately integrating woody vegetation (trees or shrubs) with crop and/or animal systems to benefit from the resulting ecological and economic interactions. AFINET project allowed identification 32 viable AF innovations useful for Poland. Among them we can define: rotation cattle farming in traditional orchards, beef cattle farming on wooded pastures, production of shade tolerant herbs/medicinal plants under canopy of fruit bushes, planting mid-field microclimate windbreaks, or forest garden. Moreover, main bottlenecks and challenges to develop AF in the country have been recognized. Recommendations include: to introduce the definition for “Agroforestry” into Polish legal nomenclature; promotion of knowledge about AF, collaboration between experts, establishing demonstration sites and local ventures developing innovative AF products. In order to intensify cooperation among experts on AF, the current reform proposals of Common Agricultural Policy 2021-27 by Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, submitted to public consultation will be presented.

Marta Łukowska

Marta Łukowska - doctor of psychology, a graduate of the Ecological  Folk University in Grzybów, an activist of the Nyeleni Polska Food Sovereignty Movement. She is on the road to becoming an ecopsychologist, beekeeper and organic farmer.

How to self-diagnose your farm ecosystem

Both agroecology and permaculture stipulate to work with nature as much as possible when creating and sustaining a farm ecosystem. However, it is impossible to work with nature when one does not know one’s farm ecosystem. Therefore, the first  step to understand the farm ecosystem is to observe it for a long time in all the complexity of its internal and external interactions. Here, we propose a tool that will help a farmer systematically examine his or her farm. We are going to present a process of the tool creation as well as the tool itself with instructions on how to use it for self-diagnose a farm. Finally, three case studies will be described to illustrate how the tool can be applied on a farm to diagnose to what extent it fulfils the assumptions of agroecology and permaculture.

Linda Blattler

Linda Blättler obtained both her BA (2003) and MA (2006, Management of Civic Sector) degree from the Faculty of Humanities of Charles University in Prague where she is currently pursuing a PhD in Environmental Studies specializing in the assessment of ecosystem services in permaculture.

She has been interested in human health since ever and always suspected that human- well being is somehow connected with the degree of connectedness/contact with nature. That’s why the concept of ecosystem services caught her attention and that’s why she has constantly been interested in exploring alternative ways of food production. In 2009 she did her PDC in permaculture and has been exploring it since, practically as a volunteer and a permaculture gardener and now also at the academic level.

Ecosystem services provided by permaculture

Permaculture has presented itself as a way of healthy food growing since 1970 and it has also gathered a large group of supporters all around the world since then. Theory confirms that permaculture could solve many of the environmental problems of conventional agriculture. Occasionally we encounter functioning permaculture projects that seem to prove that also the practice is bearing the promised fruit. These promised fruits should have been healthy ecosystems that mimic natural ecosystems which on top of delivery of regulating and supporting ecosystem services also produce food, e.g. provide us with provisioning services. The satisfaction of the practitioner of permaculture could be further translated into cultural services. That means that permaculture could potentially be richly delivering ecosystem services of all four kinds to humans. But a scientific analysis of this kind is missing, and permaculture movement does not know what the real impacts of permaculture practices on the corresponding ecosystems are. The author is combining quantitative measurements on 9 permaculture farms in the Czech Republic and in Belgium with qualitative methods to describe the ecosystem services of this way of growing food and to get a holistic portrait of permaculture farming. We would like to emphasis, that the research is in process still, so no results can be announced yet but an overall information about the research will be presented.

Joanna Bojczewska

Agroecology and permaculture educator, with experience in organic market-gardening (EKOPOLETKO). Graduate of Ecological Folk Highschool (EUL) and collaborator in the Food Sovereignty Movement NYELENI POLSKA; initiator of the AGRO-PERMA-LAB political cross- sectorial training in Agroecology. Her theoretical background is in Social Anthropology, in the area of learning, enskillment and knowledge transmission (London School of Economics and Political Science 2008-2012).

Polycultures of learning: towards the dialogue of diverse knowledges in farming

Learning depends on trust. The presentation explores case studies of decentralized and free (open licence) education in agroecology, permaculture and organic farming in Poland, where learning relies on relations of trust (peer-to-peer, apprentice-mentor).

Grassroots networks facilitate currently dynamic processes of extra-familial co-production and innovation in farming knowledge. Good practices in education and personal enskillment can have an enormous impact on developing biodiverse, climate-resilient food-growing ecosystems and increasing the number of economically-viable food-growing sites on micro-scale (farms, gardens and city farms). I propose that the new modes of learning can be scaled up and are successful because they are built on trust and dialogue of diverse perspectives and knowledge (local practices, realities and global processes). They politicise learners about risk-sharing in agricultural production and the need for shared ethics and cooperation.

Melissa Vogt

Editor of ‘Sustainability Certification Schemes in the Agricultural and Natural Resource Sectors’. Developed Ecological Sensitivity within Human Realities (2014): a concept for human natural-environment interactions in agricultural landscapes where commercial requirements inhibit optimised functional biodiversity. Complementarity and reciprocity between ecological conditions, productive intentions and commercial requirements are encouraged. 3 years educating for MPH courses. Has considered the influence of sustainability and trade for environmental and societal outcomes for ten years, including the study of various farm design approaches.

Comparing and seeking complementarity between four farm design approaches

Increasing functional biodiversity in agricultural systems and landscapes is a positive environmental outcome. Farm and landscape design offers an opportunity for improved consistency. In literature, comparison and considerations of complementarity between design approaches, even at a theoretical level is not amply available. Improved understanding is expected to increase design use and consistency in functional biodiversity outcomes.

Four farm design approaches are considered by narrative literature review. The article uses the ecological sensitivity within human realities (ESHR) conceptual frame to select and assess information determining contribution of each design to functional biodiversity outcomes. The ESHR draws attention to dimensional biodiversity as essential for functional biodiversity. Farm designs and unique techniques are explained and identified through this lens. Findings are applied to a coffee farm and landscape context. They are presented visually and through specific written examples to demonstrate new understandings.

Each farm design results in slightly different biodiversity outcomes, more recognisable at an ecological and human realities level. Unique techniques from some of the farm designs offer opportunity for combinations and complementarity to improve niche ecological conditions and eventually functional biodiversity outcomes.

Improved understanding of each farm design and of the presented results can contribute to future research and practice. ESHR aligned design offers an opportunity for niche and consistent functional biodiversity outcomes for coffee systems and landscapes. It can facilitate capability and allow for varying productive intentions.

Conference resolution with policy recommendations to support biodiversity based agriculture (discussion)

See conference resolution here.

John Valenzuela

David Shaw

John Valenzuela is a horticulturist, consultant, and permaculture educator. Living in Hawai'i for 15 years, he studied and practiced tropical permaculture while teaching throughout the Islands to a wide range of people — children, students, professionals, farmers, displaced sugar workers, owners and renters.

He has been a lead permaculture design course teacher at the Bullock Family Homestead in Orcas Island, Washington, for 10 years, also having taught in Costa Rica and throughout urban and rural California. His special interests are home gardens, plant propagation, rare fruit, food forests, agroforestry, ethnobotany, and native ecosystems.

He is now based in his original home state of California, where he maintains ornamental and edible landscapes and a small nursery, while sharing his passion for plants. John has served as the chairperson for the Golden Gate Chapter of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association.

David Shaw is a Permaculture and whole systems designer, facilitator, and educator. He founded Santa Cruz Permaculture, the UC Santa Cruz Right Livelihood College, and the UC Santa Cruz Common Ground Center. He serves on the World Cafe Community Stewardship Council.

He supports communities locally and globally to transform their shared future through strategic dialogue and collective action. In order to meet the challenges of today, he is creating an urban farm and inter-generational learning center that fosters hands-on farm and wilderness skills, social entrepreneurship, conversational leadership, and collective action. He lives in Santa Cruz.

Create Ecosystems of Abundance with Productive Perennial Polycultures

Perennials can be successfully combined in space and time with annuals and animals in mixed polycultural systems. These growing regimes can reduce risk by adapting to variable weather, diversifying yields, and extending harvest seasons, with great potential for value-added products. These advantages hold true because polycultures support a healthier farm by providing enhanced ecosystem services. We will discuss these types of mixed plantings, including potential crops for interplanting, succession, catch-cropping strategies, cover crop and ground-cover options, hedgerow habitats, and animal rotations as ways to increase long-term diverse yields and foster ecological resilience.

Alfréd Szilágyi

Alfred is cofounder of the Hungarian Permaculture Association (MAPER), partner organisation of Visegrad Permaculture Partnership. He organises and manages the research work team in the Association while doing his phd research at the Szent Istvan University, Institute of Nature Conservation and Landscape Management. His main focus is evaluating sustainability and ecosystem service provision of permaculture farms in comparison to organic and conventional farms in Hungary.

Pollinator communities and agrobiodiversity in conventional, organic and permaculture farms on Szentendre island, Hungary

Permaculture is the conscious design of agricultural landscapes which mimic natural patterns and uses natural cycles to provide human needs in a sustainable way (Mollison 1988). As a farming system it builds on high level of diversity in all levels: on the biodiversity level, on the farm structure level, and on the land use level. In our study we aimed to compare different sites regarding pollinator communities’ abundance and agrobiodiversity of the three farms. The main consideration was that scientific knowledge on permaculture systems in regards to biodiversity indicators is missing.

Pollinators were assessed by visual sampling method. We recorded which crops, or plants were most attractive to pollinators.

Permaculture farm had the highest frequency and functional group diversity of pollinators, but with highest standard deviation. Flowering weeds seems to have huge impact on the results. Pollinators often preferred the diverse weed flora patches over the cultivated crop. Herbal plants and cover crop mixtures (rich in flowering crops, such as Phacelia tanacetifolia and Eschscholzia californica) were most attractive for pollinators.

Oleksii Vasyliuk

Oleksii Marushchak

Oleksii Vasyliuk, Ukrainian ecologist, zoologist, musician,  environmentalist and public figure, was born on August 23, 1983 in Vasylkiv (Kyiv oblast). Currently he is a Junior Scientist at the Department of Animal Monitoring and Conservation in I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, NAS of Ukraine. He is also a co-founder of non-governmental organization “Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group”. Oleksii is an author of more than 650 scientific publications, mainly pop-science papers, 30 books and brochures, several scientific monographs and reference books among them. Moreover he is either an author or co-author of justifications of about 40 objects of Nature Reserve Fund. Since 2019 Oleksii Vasyliuk is an assistant of Yu. Yu. Ovchinnikova – people’s deputy of Ukraine. Oleksiy, as an environmental expert, is often addressed by the media for comments on various environmental issues in Ukraine.

Oleksii Marushchak is a PhD student at the Department of Animal Monitoring and Conservation in I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, NAS of Ukraine. His main area of interests includes herpetology, environment protection, GIS-modelling, nature reserve fund, responsible herpetoculture and ecology in general. Currently he is author and co-author of more than 90 scientific publications (including papers in journals from Scopus, WoS lists). Oleksii has been working with designing of Emerald Network since 2016. So far he participated in 3 international workshops of the Berne Convention and visited more than 30 international scientific conferences in 8 countries so far. Oleskii usually gives interview about conservation of amphibians and reptiles participating in many nature conservation projects. He is also a co-founder of “Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group”.

Developing of Emerald Network in Ukraine

Emerald Network (EN) is a new Environment protection tool in Europe, which is being introduced in Ukraine today at the legislative level. National legislation on the Emerald Network is also under development. This network is being developed as part of the implementation of the Berne Convention (the Convention on wild flora and fauna species and habitats in Europe), as well as in the framework of meeting the requirements of the Association Agreement with the EU. European countries are trying to bring environmental issues into the common denominator with the help of Berne Convention. First of all, it identified, by unified criteria, the lists of species and habitats that need protection throughout Europe. For this purpose, a new biogeographic approach was used. In addition, the Convention recognized that species and habitats can only be protected on the areas where they naturally occur. Only by retaining suitable conditions and territories for the existence of rare species and habitats will we be able to save them. For this purpose, the creation of a new, one-of-a-kind Europe-wide network of conservation areas has been launched, with the aim of introducing specific conservation measures for the species and habitats identified by the Convention. The network was named Emerald. It is a complete analogue of the Natura 2000 network operating in the countries of the European Union. After Ukraine's accession to the EU, these territories will be automatically included into the Natura 2000 network. Development of the network in Ukraine lasted from 2009 to 2016, but unfortunately, it only led to the development of considerable funds and the inclusion in its composition of only well-known reserves and national parks, for which the actual included network is irrelevant because they already have protection status. Such a network did not include most of Ukraine's truly important natural areas. Starting from 2016, the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group (UNCG) started developing new proposals for network expansion. During the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Berne Convention, on December 3-6, 2019, Ukraine's proposal to include 1.6 million hectares of natural territories in Ukraine into the EN was officially accepted. The decision to include new territories was the result of 3 years of work by UNCG experts. Following the conceptual approval and review, we have prepared proposals for 106 new Emerald sites to be submitted by the Ministry to be officially proposed to the Convention. All of these territories were incorporated into the Emerald Network on December 4, 2019. At this time, we have prepared the next proposal to expand the EN, which we expect to see in 2020. It includes another 2 million hectares, mainly steppes, river valleys of the steppe zone, primeval Carpathians and important marine areas. In 2017-2018, thanks to the support of our Polish colleagues - the Natural Heritage Foundation, we managed to conduct a series of trainings (covering 400 scientists and 400 students in 12 cities in Ukraine) and webinars. In addition, we have published a series of EN development guides ( However, it was the work of developing new EN sites that had no special funding and was carried out by scientists and students on a volunteer basis.

Paul Alfrey

Founder of Balkan Ecology Project and The Polyculture Project. Paul been practicing and teaching regenerative landscape design for the last 14 years and have worked as a freelance Arborist in the UK for 20 years. He currently runs a plant nursery, market garden and polyculture research program and consult and design for landowners and farmers across Europe.  

The project mission is to develop and promote practices that can produce food and other resources for humans while enhancing biodiversity.

Trial design for a comparative study between growing Apple Polyculture vs Apple Monoculture

It's a comparative study between growing Apple in polyculture vs Apple in Monoculture.  We'll be running 4 trials.

1. Polyculture 1 -  suitable for broadscale application: apple interplanted with nitrogen fixing shrubs (Elaeagnus umbellata) and bulbs at the base. The spacing of the shrubs and bulbs are such that a Compact utility tractor can operate within the orchard leaving two strips of wildflowers between tree and shrub rows.


2. Polyculture 2 - intensive polyculture: only really practical for gardens or small market gardens, schools, parks, small scale landscaping, in general. It will be high maintenance sysem.


3. Organic apple cultivation: with the full works of organic synthesized proprietary products applied (all recommended fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides)


4. Conventional apple cultivation with the full works of synthesized proprietary products applied  (all recommended fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides)

What we will Record:


  • Time to set up each plot
  • Cost to set up each plot
  • Time to manage each plot
  • Invertebrate surveys -  2 weeks in May - July, and September
  • Annual soil test-  N-P-K-Mg-Ca and soil organic matter
  • Apple Tree Growth rates


Record of inputs and outputs

  • Inputs - Fertility - Water - Labor
  • Outputs - Yield - Biodiversity - Soil Health - Biomass (from the nitrogen-fixing plants in polyculture 1)
  • Weather Data

Iryna Kravets

Dmytro Adamenko

Oksana Sukhomud 

Iryna Kravets - Assistant Professor of the Department of Plant Protection and Quarantine of Uman National University of Horticulture, Ukraine. She has a PhD degree in Agricultural Sciences. Studies pests, diseases and quarantine organisms that cause damage to plants. She is developing technology for growing perennial cereals for food and feed. Research on Miscanthus giganteus, Helianthus tuberosus as a source of renewable energy for the production of pellets and biogas.

Growth and Development of Kernza® in the Conditions of the Right-Bank Forest-Steppe of Ukraine

Thinopyrum intermedium, known commonly as intermediate wheatgrass, is a sod-forming perennial grass in the Triticeae tribe of Pooideae. It is part of a group of plants commonly called wheatgrasses because of the similarity of their seed heads or 'ears' to common wheat. However the wheatgrasses, in general, are perennial, while wheat is an annual. The grass is native to Europe and Western Asia.

Trials with intermediate wheatgrass, the product of which is trademarked by the Land Institute as "Kernza," show that it can be grown as a “multi-functional” crop, yielding various commodities as well as ecosystem services.

In the conditions of the Right-Bank Forest-Steppe of Ukraine, observations on the growth and development of Kernza® showed the following:

1. Kernza® showed  high plasticity to the adverse environmental conditions.

2. Kernza® plants are resistant to diseases widespread in the growing area, affecting the winter wheat and intermediate wheatgrass.

3. The growth and development stages of Kernza® during the first year of cultivation significantly prevailed in time in comparison with the winter wheat.

Изображение выглядит как трава, внешний, растение, дерево

Автоматически созданное описание

Kernza® Plants on July 9, 2018.

Изображение выглядит как зеленый, фрукт, сидит, еда

Автоматически созданное описание

Kernza®  grains obtained in Ukraine.

Iryna Kazakova

Environmental economist, sustainable development and  permaculture supporter. I have a PhD in Economic Sciences and during my scientific career have been conducting research related to economic and ecological aspects of resource-saving technologies of growing crops, mineral nutrition of plants, rational use of soil resources and soil fertility restoration.  I believe that permaculture principles can be and should be implemented as ecointensive practices not only in small and middle farms but also in large-scale agriculture. Currently I am coordinator of Ukrainian network permaculture education and demonstration centers and work on increasing public awareness of multifunctional agriculture.

Assessment of the application of eco-intensive practices in European agriculture and future recommendations for Ukraine

Ukraine's European integration is a complex of foreign and domestic political efforts of Ukraine to move closer to the European Union. However, research and implementation of the best practices of European agricultural policy is important not only due to the need to create the necessary prerequisites for EU accession in the future, but in connection with the reform of the agricultural sector and the introduction of the land market in Ukraine. Uncertainty of the main priorities for the development of the agricultural sector and the mechanism of "greening" agriculture at this stage can lead to catastrophic consequences.

We have examined the effectiveness of implementing CAP’s environmental measures in different EU countries, focusing on (a) changes and critiques of these changes in the new EAS after 2020; (b) usage of environmental measures by farmers and the reasons for choosing one measure over another. Based on European experiences, we have identified the first priority measures to be implemented in Ukrainian legislation to support eco intensive agriculture.

Ukrainian agriculture features are large land fund (nearly 43 million hectares of agricultural land); high soil fertility (about 40% of all agricultural land are chernozems); favorable economic and geographical location; absence of significant natural disasters; leading positions of world exporter of vegetable oils, barley, corn; 12% of GDP and 40% of total exports; 31 % is rural population and every 6th person in the country is employed in the agricultural sector.  

On the other hand, we have many years of non-observance of crop rotations (preference is given only to commercially viable crops); reduction of soil fertility and land degradation (about 15 million hectares of degraded land and as a result decreasing crop yield by 10-30, 30-50%); dehydration of areas and reduction of groundwater; destruction of the steppe as a natural biome etc. As a result of negative anthropogenic factors, more and more species of animals and plants in Ukraine are at risk of extinction.

When developing both mandatory and voluntary agoecosystems, we must consider the following factors:

  • Economic determinants that encourage farmers to choose the least costly and productive practices;
  • Political and administrative factors that determine the risk level of verification and identification of inconsistencies in the application of practices, the level of "lost opportunities" in the event of a complete refusal of their application;
  • General awareness of farmers and perceptions of eco-intensive practices and farmers' perceptions and knowledge of obligations to provide schemes.

Given the particularities of land use in Ukraine, the most relevant practices and technologies that should underpin the mandatory requirements and voluntary eco-schemes should be as follows:

  • Measures that will contribute to the removal of degraded soils from production: maintenance of permanent grasslands, afforestation, meadow;
  • Measures that counteract soil degradation: forest strips and hedges, green cover, crop rotation, lying fallow as part of crop rotation;
  • Measures to sustain soil fertility: areas with N-fixing crops, catch crops;
  • Measures promoting biodiversity and protecting ecosystems: buffer stripes,  landscape features, mowing the grass in a clearly defined period and others;
  • Measures to improve the efficiency of crop production: agroforestry and others.

Naomi K. van der Velden

I am a plant ecologist with an interest in spatial and temporal patterns of plant community development. I am especially inspired by food-producing plant communities such as mixed-veg polycultures and forest gardens.

I started working with the Permaculture Association in 2011 to investigate productivity of household systems using these mixed veg systems (see Research and Mixed Veg pages of the PA website). These systems look to be highly productive (up to 100 tonnes per hectare (if we had 1000 households each planting one square metre)! See the full results here.

I've worked as a Lecturer in Physical Geography at the University of Leeds, and a Senior Lecturer in Ecology and Sustainability at the University of Cumbria.  I did my PDC in 2009.  I now work for the Permaculture Association and, in collaboration with other excellent partner organisations, on the GROW Observatory to further citizen research.  

Polycultures, people and permaculture: Citizen science investigations of productivity

Polycultures have the potential to enhance agricultural ecosystems without compromising productivity. The majority of the world's food producers operate at scales of 2 ha or less, but much of the research that does exist targets larger-scale mechanised farming.  Are polycultures similar in production to monoculture in real-world, smaller-scale growing conditions?

Citizen researchers from across Europe participated in a comparative trial of three crops grown in polyculture compared to the same crops grown in monoculture. The three crops were climbing beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and radish (Raphanus sativus) in 2018 and beans, Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla var. flavescens) and radish in 2019. Citizens were trained in both the measurements needed and in how to design and conduct research through free massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Results showed significantly greater productivity in the polyculture plots, and over 70% of individual participants also had higher yields from the polyculture. This field would benefit research into appropriate mixes for different ecoregions or bioclimatic zones.

Łukasz P. Nowacki

Łukasz P. Nowacki: Futurist and regenerative designer. Founder of the TRANSFORMACJA Foundation, Director of The Polish Permaculture Research Institute, a pioneer of permaculture movement in Poland, ecological and regenerative design teacher. He received his Master's Degree in the field of ecohydrology and ecosystemic biotechnology from the University of Lodz. After graduation he worked as a consultant in sustainable landscape architecture, specializing in organic gardening and sustainable urban landscape design. Fascinated with the idea of autonomous settlements (author of the concepts: SolarHAB Project and BIOshelter Project) and the design of functional biosystems (Constructed Wetland and Buffer Zone for Urban Water Management – SWITCH Project). Now working as a permaculture designer and certified project manager in the energy efficient building industry. In addition he is a practitioner regenerative farmer working on his permaculture farm - Dolina mgieł.

Perennial polyculture design in practice: integrating pasture poultry and pasture egg production with perennial polyculture in the context of large land fragmentation in Central Poland

Due to the lack of well tested models in the field of regenerative agriculture and permaculture it is hard to convince conventional farmers that establishing of a mixed annual and perennial polycultures of plants can make a huge positive impact on soil regeneration, organic and inorganic carbon content and long term CO2 sequestration combined with a higher overall yield.

The team of practitioners and scientists from the Polish Permaculture Research Institute is currently testing a very simple model allowing the establishment of mixed annual and perennial polycultures on a very narrow and long pieces of land, that has been used for more than 20 years for the cultivation of triticale monocrop. The key issue of the proposed model is to use mobile pasture poultry (meat chickens) and egg laying hen systems, protected against predators with solar powered electric fence.

The aim of the project is to analyze the potential role and long-term effects of field perennial polycultures mixed with annual and perennial grases and vegetable market-gardens under the influence of pasture poultry and egg production systems and its capability of regeneration of degraded arable land, the increase of soil organic and inorganic carbon content, measuring required inputs entering the pasture poultry system and the future outputs from this type of constructed agroecosystems. The project is also focused on the profitability of such models of small scale, integrated food production.

Lyubov Margitay

Was born in 1970 in the picturesque Transcarpathian village. PhD, Doc. in Uzhgorod National University (Ukraine), Department of Fruit and Vegetable growing and Viticulture, agricultural expert and advisor. Lyubov teaches soil science, land reclamation, and agrochemistry. She has more than 80 academic and methodical publications, around 15 presentations on local and national TV, as well as a number of presentations at the international research conferences. Lyubov practices permaculture design, organic technologies for fertility enhancement, organic methods for cultivation of fruits, vegetables, berries, grapes, medicinal, spice and aromatic plants, ornamental crops, as well as ecotourism.

Polyculture in space and time - the key to preserving biodiversity, soil relatives, human health and the path to prosperity

Permaculture forestry is the best example of a man-made multicultural complex that has high productivity and sustainability. Permaculture forestry should include not only different types of fruit, berry, spicy, aromatic, medicinal, vegetable and forest cultures, but also different varieties within the same species. For its implementation, local varieties that have developed resistance to major diseases over the centuries and adapted to local soil and climatic conditions can be used. Aboriginal varieties disappear and are replaced by new, popular varieties. Therefore, it is necessary to preserve the gene pool of these varieties.

Sonia Priwieziencew

Sonia Prinieziencev represents Agrinatura Foundation. She has worked with farmers' converting their farms into ecosystem-based models.

A graduate of the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris, she wrote her master's thesis on changes in Polish agriculture. In 2007, she founded the Foundation for Agricultural Biodiversity AgriNatura and in 2015 the Institute of Conscious Nutrition. He has been running a small organic fruit and vegetable farm in Mazovia since 2009, which was the first in Poland to test the direct sales system known as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). For over 10 years, he has been carrying out projects and conducting trainings on organic farming, local processing, biodiversity, food sovereignty ecotourism and sustainable development.

Restoring biodiversity orchards – local ecosystems in Poland

Pavlo Ardanov

Dr. Ardanov is playing a key leadership role in the NGO Permaculture in the Ukraine, and his project “Designing Crop Polycultures for Resilient Ecosystems” has been supported by the Fulbright fellowship at the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, University of California, Davis. After completing his PhD in 2013 on the role of endophytic bacteria in potato disease resistance and growth promotion, he has established a grassroot NGO “Permaculture in Ukraine” which organizes courses, publishes book on sustainable living and biodiversity-based agriculture, and integrates sustainable holistic education to the University curriculum.

Developing an algorithm and software for designing crop polycultures (discussion)

The aim of my research is to define plant functional diversity for agroecosystem design and to develop design algorithm for terrestrial crop polycultures using a participatory approach. Survey of farmers, growers, agronomists, environmentalists, conservation biologists, and policy makers is conducted to co-develop ecologically self-sufficient and market-oriented polyculture design algorithm tailored for specific farmers’ needs and conditions and accounting for the role of agroecosystems in biodiversity maintenance and carbon sequestration. Design approach and avenues of future collaboration towards developing polyculture design algorithm and software will be discussed.