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Re: [permaculture] Jean Pain and Com-Post-Modernism

Thanks for sharing, Keith.  That is an excellent article by
Peter Bane regarding the work of Jean Pain.  

The black and white images from the old Jean Pain
book are very helpful to visualize the process, and Peter
is an accomplished writer and permaculture thinker
who ties the pieces together.

Also see the following Permaculture postings for background

[permaculture] Jean Pain + Brushwood + Biogas + Compost
Steve Diver
Wed, 06 Mar 2002 17:58:26 -0600

[permaculture] Jean Pain + Brushwood + Biogas + Compost
Thu, 7 Mar 2002 09:41:12 +0100

I think you can use The Wayback Machine to get to my old
Rhizosphere II web page, containing the "Jean Pain Resources,

These two posts note that the Ramial wood chip/humification
methods from Laval University were a spin-off and modernization
of Jean Pain's method.  

We had an organic orchardist here in Northwest Arkansas
who invested in one of the Danish implements for ramial
wood chipping to mimic the soil building process.   Their
comment was that it is very labor intensive to cut brush
and chip it.   So keep that in mind.   There is enormous
labor to collect all that brushwood.   At a minimum, some
mechanization is needed to chip the pieces.  There are now
forest chopping implements that go through trees like
butter and create "mulch", but probably very rare as
an option to rent and downright astronomically expensive,
so not an option to acquire for the individual land manager.
The orchard was active for years, but they have since moved
and I don't know what became of the Danish implement
which was imported and fairly rare in America.

In the process of communication with the orchardist and
the network of permies here in the Ozarks, I came across
a photocopy of Jean Pain's book.  But in addition there
was a Jean Pain network that published a newsletter on
Humus.   The links from my post of May 2001 might
contain web links to the network.  Interestingly, it was
surmised that Jean Pain had gained inspiration about
the secrets of humification by French monks from much
earlier ages (as I recall).  

Here is the web portal to Professor Gilles Lemieux at
Laval University of Ramial Wood Chipping and soil
building through biology and humification

Groupe de Coordination sur les bois raméaux

Jean Pain's methods were integrated and locally
appropriate.  They integrated local brushwood
biomass with both biofuels energy production
and soil building humus.   So it stands alone
and continues to inspire people to try things
like biothermic heating of greenhouses.    

The other soil building technology that uses indigenous
materials -- besides familiar biological farming methods
like cover crops, green manures, and composting -- that
comes to mind for land managers trying to mimic humification
and soil building processes is terra preta and bio-char,
the use of charcoal and charred biomass to form
organo-mineral complexes in soils that are stable over
the longterm.  

These bio-char based organo-mineral complexes contain
hugely increased cation exchange capacity and nutrient retention.  
The other incredible aspect of bio-char combined with
humic structures in soils is that bio-char contains enormous
porous surface area that provides a habitat for soil
microorganisms to inhabit, especially fungal hyphae....
including the beneficial symbionts known as mycorrhizal

Bio-char can be made from local biomass sources including
timber and bamboo.  There are online manuals for making
such things as Bamboo Charcoal and Carbonized Rice Husks.
These charred materials can be added to potting mixes and
to garden soils.

The terra preta phenomenom has jolted the paradigm
of Western agriculture, it has shocked soil scientists.  
Amerindians were developing these Amazonian black
earth soils as far back as 2,500 years before the arrival
of Columbus and the Spanish explorers. These black
earth soils are still fertile and productive today.

Merry Christ-mass to All,

Steve Diver
Northwest Arkansas

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