Commercial Farm ProjectsGlobal Warming/Climate ChangeSoil ConservationSoil RehabilitationStructure

TERA (Tracked Earth Repair Apparatus) For Large Scale Earth Repair

“Mechanized labour” in the form of earthmoving equipment, tractors, and the myriad attachments that may be utilized in conjunction with their use provide us with an amazing opportunity to perform a great deal of beneficial work. They help in rapidly establishing efforts to reverse land degradation and desertification on a grand scale. It’s an immense job requiring considerable work input. Given the urgent importance of undertaking this activity, finding the right tools becomes hugely critical.

Many of us who spend lots of time thinking about this topic are always trying to identify methods, techniques, and strategies to advance the earth repair/ecosystem restoration/regenerative design agenda as broadly and effectively as possible. There were a couple of ideas I wanted to quickly mention here which have piqued my interest and may prove to be useful to others working in a similar vein.

To begin with, the relatively widespread availability and use of “mechanized labour” at this point in human history affords us a unique “technological opportunity” to do an enormous amount of beneficial reparative work on damaged landscape, assuming the use of these technologies is motivated by a well-informed, rightly guided intention. Therein we find the problem inherent in the development and use of technology — the intent, not necessarily the tool in and of itself.

In particular, I’ve been focusing on developing an ‘ideal’ work platform based on a commonly used, widely available piece of agricultural equipment we often take for granted – the tractor. Tractors embody an enormous amount of work capacity when one considers how, for example, a moderately powered unit of 150 to 200 horsepower translates into virtual “manpower” — an archaic 18th or 19th century unit of power equal to 1/12 (approximately .083) of a horsepower (therefore, 150 – 200 horsepower = 1800 – 2400 manpower).

The term (manpower) was used in the early days of the steam engine and the internal combustion engine to describe the power of small engines. It corresponds fairly exactly to the amount of power a healthy man can exert over a period of a few hours. —

Because tractors typically come equipped with PTOs (power take-offs), 3-point linkages, and hydraulics a variety of attachments and implements may be used, making it a very potent and versatile base to operate from. However, the use of heavy equipment is not without problems. It’s not uncommon for significant damage to be done to landscapes due to the high pressures exerted by the tires through ground contact because of their relatively small contact pad area:

This often causes compaction and rutting — in addition to incurring a high risk of losing expensive equipment during very wet conditions.

Thankfully, recent developments such as rubber track direct replacements for tires has eliminated these problems and opened the door for a variety of new possibilities and capabilities in the tractor’s employment as an earth repair tool — especially in creating features which can help to rehydrate and re-aerate landscapes, which forms the foundation of ostensibly all of our work.

There are three specific attachments that are of special interest in this regard: the Yeomans Plow of Keyline Design fame, the Dixon Imprinter, and the Delfino Plow used in what’s known as the Vallerani System.

These are all highly effective tools in their own right individually, but my aim has been to combine the use of all three as part of an earth repair “kit” with the tractor serving as an idealized equipment platform (what I’ve temporarily named the TERA or Tracked Earth Repair Apparatus) which could be combined with other implements – a prime example would be compost processing and the production of mulch material (i.e. chippers/shredders and windrow turners):

Yeomans Plow

Dixon Imprinter

Delfino Plow

Chipper/Shredder (PTO)

Compost Windrow Turner (PTO)

In the aggregate, a formidable instrument for augmenting efforts to rehydrate and re-aerate damaged landscapes (in addition to re-introducing organic matter and habitat for a diverse array of micro- & macro-biology) is formulated. The stage is now set for the “accelerated succession” of living systems to become re-established with the essential natural infrastructure in place significantly increasing the chances for success.

Further Reading:

Rhamis Kent

Rhamis Kent is a consultant with formal training in mechanical engineering (University of Delaware, B.S.M.E. '95) and permaculture-based regenerative whole systems design. He has previously worked for the renowned American inventor and entrepreneur Dean Kamen at DEKA Research & Development, with subsequent engineering work ranging from medical device research and development to aerospace oriented mechanical design. After taking an interest in the design science of Permaculture, he sought extended training with permaculture expert and educator Geoff Lawton at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. This led to his involvement with design work connected to the development of Masdar City in UAE after Mr. Lawton and his consulting company (Permaculture Sustainable Consultancy Pty. Ltd.) were contracted by AECOM/EDAW to identify solutions which fit the challenging zero emissions/carbon neutral design constraint of the project.

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