Topography and its use from Permaculture

The topography or shape of the land is a characteristic (unalterable or alterable) of a place, it is the physiognomy of the landscape of a site. Although small tasks can modify their nature on a small scale, making large modifications can be very expensive and sometimes even unnecessary, so in Permaculture we are going to take advantage of the topography in our favor.

Topography has an effect on microclimate, water drainage patterns, soil depth and quality, accessibility, and landscape.

To understand its influence on the land, the basic topographic features that must be mapped and noted are:

  • Inclinations facing the sun and in semi-shade
  • Overhanging cliffs or rocky areas
  • Drainage lines (water courses)
  • Broken grounds
  • Good and bad views
  • Hill heights and approaches
  • Swampy areas, susceptible to erosion

In a diverse place, with many of the characteristics mentioned above, it will be more useful, especially the existence of slopes.

Permaculture can be developed in any type of terrain without the need to modify a stable landscape, as each landscape will dictate its own patterns to follow so that it is viable in the long term.

Weather could be the biggest basic limiting factor we can come across. We must know very well the different microclimates that can occur in our area. Even on relatively small areas, there can be differences in rainfall, wind speed, temperature or humidity. Knowing this type of data can be the difference between taking advantage of it and taking advantage of it or having to do more work and care and invest more time to, possibly, not obtain much performance. .

If we are clear about the microclimates of our area, it will be easier, for example, to be able to locate crops in the most favorable areas or even housing, include trees or shrubs that stop north winds, expand the microclimates that are favorable to us. , etc.

Normally in flat areas we will find little variation in microclimates, while in hilly or mountainous areas we will see that there is a greater variety of microclimates.

We will take into account the orientation of the inclinations with respect to the sun, as well as the number of hours of direct sunlight they receive. The slopes facing the sun (facing south in the northern hemisphere and facing north in the southern hemisphere) receive the greatest amount of light if they are also oriented to the east, achieving maximum temperature in the morning; while if they are looking towards the west the maximum temperatures will occur in the afternoon.

Taking advantage of these characteristics of the inclinations would be very useful, for example, the inclinations that are facing the sun favor the ripening of fruits, in the location of the house so that during the winter it is warmer, and on the contrary the plants or structures that need shade are located on the shady side of the slopes.


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