What’s The Difference Between Syntropic Farming And Permaculture?

Syntropic farming fits perfectly under the permaculture umbrella of whole system design, providing clear steps, practical detail and instruction taking the “food forest” element of a permaculture design system to the next level. 


The main difference: 

Permaculture = designing the entire habitat. 

Syntropic Farming = designing the food forest part. 


Syntropic farming and permaculture have very much in common.

Both permaculture and syntropic farming are sustainable design systems that model natural ecology particularly of forests to create sustainable food systems for humans. 

Both permaculture and syntropic farming have their strengths and weaknesses, both compliment and overlap each other in their breadth and depth nicely. 

Permaculture is more a whole property design approach that deeply examines holistic design of entire habitats.

Permaculture provides the insight, training and tools to ascertain and design everything that is needed on a property; from access, structures, water systems, finances, time frames and of course including within this food production systems for flora and fauna.


The food forest aspect

One of the main features of permaculture design is a focus on food forests.

Permaculture develops an intimate view of not just a sustainable, but a regenerative food forest, that is a forest majoring in food that produces excess, or abundance of top soil, air and biomass.

A permaculture food forest will still include non-food flora to provide needed fuel, building material or even aesthetics; anything needed by the overall development. 

The point is, there is a diversity of flora designed to grow in a mutually supportive system, requiring less and less labour and no chemical support from humans as it establishes. 

Syntropic farming’s sole focus is on the food forest aspect; following precise step-by-step instructions.


The food forest layers

A permaculture food forest is designed to comprise of 9 layers in space known as stratification and multi layers in time known as succession all the while focussing on interactive mutually supporting elements known as guilds.

Permaculture design proceeds to provide principles, tools and training to flesh these layers out by design and then implement this design.


Syntropic farming and permaculture are both modelled of a forest 

Syntropic farming has emerged in recent years from the ecologically and financially viable field of agroforestry.

Syntropic farming and permaculture are both systems which are modeled of a forest, with its focus on growing trees in a polyculture (a mix of species).  

Syntropic farming takes the agroforestry concept more in the direction of permaculture by introducing and even focusing on food, while still utilising long term fuel and building crops, just like in permaculture. 


Specific metrics and scalable design data

To this end, syntropic farming stands out with its development of very specific metrics and scalable design data describing exactly what is needed for each of the layers in space based on light needs (stratification), progression in time (succession) and associated or companion planting (guilds). A number of unique refinements and much work has resulted in a process allowing for very accurate design and layout of highly productive and very financially, commercially viable systems utilising syntropic farming. Has to be seen to be appreciated! 


A must-watch video about syntropic farming:


Syntropic farming & permaculture courses:

At Noosa Forest Retreat we run weekend courses for syntropic farming, as well as residential permaculture courses and online.


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