Category Archives: Technology

Tracking agroforest tree plantings and farm features using QGIS

Here is a response I want to share from a question about how tree crop enthusiasts are keeping track of plantings and related info:

Metal tree tags on locust stakes are low-tech and work reliably. For a more advanced, digital approach, I use QGIS. It offers the benefits described in a comment above about ArcMap, but it is free and open-source software. It has a little bit of a learning curve, but it is a very powerful tool and it can interface with other geospatial technology including GPS, Google Earth, and iNaturalist. If you try this route, I recommend focusing on the following steps to begin with.

  • Install (and if you can, make a contribution to) QGIS https://www.qgis.org/en/site/.
  • Find and download raster files (.jpg, .tif) for overhead views of your Area of Interest (AOI). These files are referred to as aerial imagery or orthoimagery, and in the U.S. you can get them from county GIS websites or from https://nationalmap.gov.
  • Follow a basic tutorial about raster vs. vector file types, and creating shapefiles.
  • Create a polygon shapefile for your AOI boundary- Create a point shapefile for your individual plants.
  • Add new attribute fields to your ‘plant points’ shapefile to describe characteristics you want to keep track of. Here’s some fields I use (+ examples/explanation):
    • species (corylus spp.),
    • planted_date (fall 2019),
    • permanent (y/n in case it is to be transplanted),
    • measured (y/n to indicate if its location is precise or estimated),
    • source (to keep track of cultivars, purchases, etc),
    • updated (date for when this entry was last updated, since inevitably the records can get out of date; update this every time you update any other field for this data row)
    • notes (misc info that doesn’t fit cleanly in other fields, try to use this sparingly as it is better to have distinct fields in case later on you want to select or analyze plants based on some attribute)
Screenshot of QGIS in use for agroforestry mapping
Here’s what QGIS looks like in regular use for me. You can add shapes as points, lines, or polygons, which can represent individuals, linear plantings, or orchard blocks. This screenshot shows an individual tree point selected, with the kind of info I described above and more displayed on the right-side ‘attribute table’.

At this stage, you will have a powerful, interactive map of your AOI, with individual points or polygons to depict features of interest on your property, and those features can have a miniature (or massive) database of characteristics associated with them. You can have as many or as few fields as you’d like, and you can even associate fields (e.g. feature_ID) with other datasets, such as yield records or amendment history for an orchard block.

A basic tutorial about Coordinate Reference Systems (CRS) and about Georeferencing would be helpful to get ahead of GIS software’s more confusing aspects. Using an appropriate and consistent CRS is especially important for making accurate spatial measurements. You can also go to https://gis.stackexchange.com with questions.

Example map from QGIS
Here’s a finished map from QGIS. It is not as easy to make proper maps in QGIS but it is possible – a tutorial will save you a ton of time vs. winging it.

Storied Selves

Highlights generously provided by a YT commenter:

– We are all unreliable narrators of our own lives.
– To tell a story is inescapably to take a moral stance.
– Stories are the way we make sense of our lives.
– The way we narrate our lives shapes what they become.
– Change, even really positive change, involves a surprising amount of loss.
– What would happen if you looked at your story and wrote it from another person’s point of view?
– Life is about choosing which stories to listen to, and which ones need an edit.
– There’s nothing more important to the quality of our lives than the stories we tell ourselves about them.

O Sol, InsPHIre I

Sunday: It is all about our unique individuality and what we do with it.

“All that survives of these solar hymns are an altered version of Proclus’ Hymn to the Sun, and the 9th hymn in the Nomoi … the Sun is ruler of the other planets, and with them governs all terrestrial things. …The theory of prayer with which Pletho introduces his hymn is remarkably like the theory of magic behind Ficino’s astrological music; Pletho addresses the gods thus:

‘May we carry out these rites in your honor in the most fitting manner, knowing that you have no need of anything whatever from us. But we are molding and stamping our own imagination and that part of us which is more akin to the divine, allowing it both to enjoy the godly and the beautiful and making our imagination tractable and obedient to that which is divine in us.’

Pletho’s hymns and rites, like Ficino’s do not aim at any objective effect on the deity addressed, but only at a subjective transformation of the worshiper, particularly his imagination.” -(p.61)

Spiritual and Demonic Magic from Ficino to Campanella by D.P. Walker

via Mark Stavish of the Institute for Hermetic Studies

What will come of this?

Year 2222
200 winters away
How many generations will have passed?
What will I&I enjoy in life? What of one's own ways will continue?
What lessons will I&I have learned?
What challenges will I&I face?

What will I&I have of the essential gifts to sustain oneself? Wood, water, air, soil, energy?

#TreesAreTheAnswer #WeAlreadyKnow #Hózhó

Visiting a neighbor’s fire

Though the work is easier together, we spread out in the darkest time of year to cozier burrows, diffusing the weight of winter, lighter on the land.
Though it is dark, we are warmed to know there are familiar others nearby. Our struggles are tied up together, and while one faces scarcity, someone else has more than enough to share, so that we may survive together and work together in brighter times.

So it has been through the ages. So it is still in little ways in overdeveloped places where big systems eclipse mutual aid: we turn to neighbors for power during long outages, for tool shares, for relationship. So it is still in big ways in underdeveloped places where small systems are made sufficient by human relationships: cooperating to cultivate land, to maintain infrastructure for basic needs, for relationship.

The lessons of the seasons proceed before us, though we may be distracted by a house on fire, our own or our neighbors.

May we be there for each other, so that we may all meet our needs, in mutual benefit with the sources of that sustenance and satisfaction. May peace be upon you.


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Deep Ecology Links

A running tab of some beautiful deep ecology links:

Breathing with trees http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/breathing.htm

Where does gold come from http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/gold/havellan.htm

Council of All Beings http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/coab.htm
Briefer description: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/council.htm

Think Like A Mountain text: http://www.rainforestinfo.org.au/deep-eco/TLAM%20text.htm

Agroforestry Cooperative: Succession for Success (and Long-Term Land Tenure)

Temperate-climate agroforestry offers the potential for long-term ecological mutualism with humans and trees, and while it is time-tested in having sustained millennia of our ancestors, there are many hurdles to shifting lifeways toward agroforestry in 2020. In this post I introduce the main challenges I have identified, and I outline a potential approach to overcome these challenges. In short, that approach is an agroforestry worker cooperative that ‘owns’ (has rights of control, and rights to returns) land and practices stewardship so to advance tree crops and sustain itself.

I hope this clarifies opportunities that we can turn into realities, to support multi-generational stewardship of trees for basic needs in a way that is mutually beneficial to all relations involved.

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