Open source software for permaculture
Proposal: I would like to see a piece of open-source software that helps with permaculture design. It would be an expert system doing the work of a permaculture designer, for free.
Maybe something like this already exists and I don't know about it. If you know of such software, please add a link to this page.
A fairly simple, but very helpful, algorithm would go something like this:
- You input things you want to grow. This could be specific plants (e.g. 'Little Gem lettuce'), or broad categories (e.g. hard timber, grains)
- You input climate information. Or better yet, you input your location and the software finds climate information online.
- The software accesses a database of organisms (possibly derived from Plants For A Future). It knows the inputs and outputs of each organism and matches them up; where one element can work in synergy with another, it points that out to the user and suggests they be planted near each other. (e.g. Fruit trees need rotting matter, strawberries produce that when they die, so plant your strawberries near your fruit trees.) Where none of the elements you listed cover the needs (e.g. you want fish, but have no food source for them), it suggests an element that could fill the need and is appropriate to your climate.
- It should also be able to access a database of pests and weeds and suggest ways of dealing with them. (e.g. If you grow cabbages, it would suggest chickens to eat the slugs. If you grow vegetables, it would suggest spearmint to repel insects.) There are databases online that could be mined for this information (like Biorationals); see the links at biological pest control.
Additions: I think the above is a good start, but to get a really accurate modeling of a permaculture patch one has perhaps to do some more magic. So the Software should additionally
- be able to cope with micro climate measurement to find suitable niches for plants on the area (the overall climate is of course important, but the affections of micro climate are often overwhelming). The micro climate could be collected through something like an micro climate measure stick, getting information on wind, radiation, moisture, soil moisture, soil temperature as well as temperatures in different heights.
- have access to a database of predefined permaculture patterns (like a potato-tower with a squash upon it and surrounded by some legumes growing up the tower but with the plants outside the tower so that the potatoes and legumes do not interfere) and characteristics for the zone in which it grows good, animal impact an plant impact for the whole pattern. In the above example you would get an error when you want to put potatoes also on the ground next to this pattern, as legumes and potatoes don't grow good next to each other etc. This database should be open with an good interface t collect best practice approaches. To have patterns simplifies also the computational effort of checking if the plants match to each other. Especially as there are so many parameters, that PFAF won't cover all of them
- take the temporal evolution of the system in account. e.g. to suppose planting different herbs under trees in the first years and make suggestions for the development of the patch when the trees, shrubs etc. get mature.
Edit We could look at the USGS data collection standard operating procedure for a good how-to guide on this. Also data may already exist for some locales in GIS format.
 Similar Proposals
http://www.appropedia.org/Permaculture_wiki is the idea and http://www.appropedia.org/Chickens is an example of adding subpages to a wiki element, so that there are inputs, outputs and used-in elements. A database of the elements present at FeF might be a good example with which to test this, and might atract appropedians. LucasG 13:56, 25 March 2012 (CEST)
- Note that Appropedia now has Semantic MediaWiki, so we can build an interesting database of permaculture elements inputs, outputs, functions etc. The Freebase example looks good, and could serve as a good target for a set of templates on Appropedia.
- Who knows Semantic MediaWiki enough to help us get this going? (We're looking for interns, so that might be our answer - if we can find one with Semantic experience, that could be magic.) --Chriswaterguy 09:06, 27 March 2012 (CEST)
http://www.freebase.com/view/base/permaculture - a prototype built on Freebase, well fleshed out.