A film about the sustainable use of water by Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer.
Fishponds on a mountain farm: an unusual sight at these altitudes. On an Austrian mountain, permaculture farmer Sepp Holzer created more than 70 ponds and wetland areas covering about 3 hectares.
Sepp Holzer: "In these ponds and lakes the fish are mixed in a colourful way, just like my plants. In a number of places in the ponds I put roots and stones, about 4 to 5 metres deep. It is important that the fish can hide, so they are not being chased all the time. The predator fish can´t enter such a tangle of roots, so the small fry feel safe. If they are being followed all the time they would either die of stress or be eaten. The big fish, the predator, has to get through these roots, but the small ones are faster."
The stones also help to raise the temperature of the ponds: Heated by the sun, the stones transfer heat to the water. And when I let only a little water run into a pond, and when there are many flat zones with stones and roots, the water heats up. It can reach the outside temperature - sometimes 25 degrees up here on the mountain!
Nature provides its own self-service restaurant – organic, of course! To do this he has to balance the food chain so it becomes self-sustaining: algae, insects, newts, small fish and large fish. No one goes hungry and his fine trout end up on many a good cook’s dining table. Instead of costing him money, the fish earn Holzer a healthy income: economically his pisciculture is highly successful. Apart from providing for his own needs the fish are very popular with local customers. Unlike many fish farms, Holzer doesn’t serve his fish processed food.
Sepp Holzer doesn´t irrigate his plants - he prefers nature to do it for him: "If I irrigate, I have to fertilise, too. Irrigation washes out the soil´s nutrients. The nitrogen evaporates and all the other nutrients are washed into the ground water. And the plant is left behind without nutrients. Then I have to feed nutrients again, and then I have to irrigate again, that´s a vicious circle which will never stop. If I don´t irrigate, the plants use less water by folding their leaves a little, but they open up again when there is dew and rain. That´s natural."
"If you have the proper vegetation the plants regulate themselves wonderfully. You need plants with deep, medium and flat roots. Deep-rooted plants bring upmoisture and nutrients from 3 to 4 metres depth and sweat it out on top. They give shade to the plants with flat roots, so they won´t dry out. That´s the exchange – one plant helps the other."
That’s permaculure - working in harmony with nature. Sepp Holzer’s farm has become a Garden of Eden. A garden whose inhabitants, animal and vegetable, are like a team – his team, supporting each other.
Also check out
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Terrasses and Raised Beds