Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are extremely useful for both small-scale urban and broad acre Permaculture design projects, where it can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of the land owner or Permaculture designer.
GIS can significantly shorten observation time by integrating: geospatial datasets of soils, hydrology, elevation models, solar radiation models, land cover and vegetation communities, human footprint, remotely sensed imagery, structures, and zones. Further, GIS can reduce design time by replacing manual drawings with easy-to-edit digital designs, and by automated tools which are able to model water flow and catchment, and optimize the placement of swales and ponds. Digital designs can then be exported to Computer Assisted Design (CAD) to work with engineers and landscape architects, or exported to any number of other formats (e.g., Pdf, GeoTiff) for landowners and permaculture designers to use in their permaculture designs.
Brent has been using GIS since 1998, and completed his Master’s degree in Physical Geography from the University of Calgary in 2013. He is experienced in GIS analysis, Computer Assisted Design (CAD), and geospatial modelling. Permaculture uses ecological principles to design food production systems, tailored to the climate and available resources. As such, GIS can be used to access and analyze a multitude of freely available data to assist with ecological design.
We use GIS to:
1. model water catchment, design swale or keylines;
2. produce maps for landowners or Permaculture designers to assist with their designs; and
3. produce Permaculture designs.
For $150, we can provide the following for your permaculture project in Alberta (data availability is more limited for BC and Saskatchewan):
1. Adobe Acrobat (Pdf) map (user specified paper sizes, including 8.5 x 11, 11 x 17, and up to 34 x 44 inches) with selectable layers (below) which can be turned on and off;
2. Elevation data, with a minimum horizontal resolution of 30 m (up to 1 m, subject to additional data purchases), vertical resolution of approximately 15 m (2 m where available), and spatial accuracy root mean square (RMS) error of 15 m (2 m where available), which will be provided as:
i. Topographic contours at user-specified elevation intervals;
ii. Aspect and percent slope;
iii. Hillshade relief to visualize elevation on top of soils and land cover information;
iv. Watershed models, including aerial extent of catchment, water flow direction, water accumulation, total volume of water which can be harvested, based on local precipitation data. Models can be scaled up or down to include roof catchment;
3. Soils information, including 1:1000000 scale products, up to 1:30000 scale products where available. Soil polygons and data reports will contain the following information: percent organic matter, percent fraction of sand, silt, clay, and gravel, by strata including topsoil, A, B, and C horizons, as well as parent material;
4. Landcover circa 2010, with 24 landcover types including wetlands, ponds, or other surface water features. This information, in addition to soils and water information will help determine expected plant community types, which help determine local and potential microsite growing zones;
5. True colour and false colour infrared (IR) high resolution cloud free satellite imagery (spatial resolution 15 m, horizontal accuracy 15 m), or where available, high resolution orthophotos (spatial resolution .5 m, horizontal accuracy 2.5 m); and
6. Spatial extent of the property, and footprint of existing structures.
Additional data/analysis can provided (at an hourly rate of $30/hr) including but not limited to:
1. Refined elevation data based on actual property surveys, provided as:
a. Topographic contours at user-specified elevation intervals;
b. Aspect and percent slope;
c. Hillshade relief to visualize elevation on top of soils and land cover information;
d. Watershed models, including aerial extent of catchment, water flow direction, water accumulation, total volume of water which can be harvested, based on local precipitation data;
e. Recommended placement of swales or key lines to maximize water capture;
2. Geospatial analysis for identification and recommended placement of zones and structures. Zones and structures may also be digitized based on hand-drawn sketches or photos.
3. Tree placement, including optimal spacing by species;
4. Solar radiation models, which may be used with local climate data to estimate insolant radiation (W/m2) for solar PV or heating;
5. Air photo interpreted surface features (e.g., wetlands, existing trees, hard surfaces);
6. 3 dimensional animations of the property, including simulations of the proposed project in user defined time increments (e.g, 1, 5, 10 years after installation);
7. All digital spatial data, provided in user-specified format (e.g., Google Maps GPX, ArcGIS geodatabase, QGIS database);
8. Digitization and integration of legal survey plans with all other geospatial data;
9. Identification and/or recommended development of microsites which support additional growing zones;
10. Erosion models, including water erosion potential, and recommended placement of erosion control;
11. Estimated biomass production potential, based on tree/grass species and local climate; and
12. Wastewater (grey or black) management potential based on hydrogeological modelling.