Soil, Yield and Biodiversity Tests Project


Download the files at the bottom of this page.

The Association is identifying and developing a number of simple tests which can be used by researchers and practitioners throughout the world. These include tests for measuring biodiversity, soil quality and cropping.

The aim is to create a simple, comparable, scientifically valid, monitoring toolkit that can measure and document key indicators of success for permaculture projects across the world. Many of these tests already exist (e.g. Holisitic Management grassland 'bullseye' tests developed by Kirk Gadzia, or OPAL's citizen science tests for soil, air and water quality and biodiversity).

We are popularising them within the permaculture network and identifying tools for use in a range of climates. The tests will:

1. provide growers with a simple agro-ecological measuring toolkit that will help them understand their system – what is working, what needs more attention;

2. help farmers and growers maximise social and environmental health, make practical project improvements and try new strategies;

3. increase learning and reflection leading to improvements and developments in both local projects and worldwide permaculture practice;

4. deepen understanding of permaculture principles and design approaches;

5. create a stronger empirical evidence base, and an understanding of significant practical challenges that can lead to a clear practitioner driven research agenda; and

6. ultimately provide a practical way to integrate a 'citizen science' research approach into the permaculture design process and address one of permaculture's most critical weaknesses – a lack of documentation and empirical data.

Funding from Lush Cosmetics 'Slush Fund' enabled us to develop permaculture soil tests during 2014. These are now complete and ready for use. 

Download them by clicking the links below, and send us any feedback once you have used them to [email protected].

We are currently seeking funding for more work on metrics, focussing on the performance of permaculture systems in smallholder farming communities in the Global South.

We offer the soil tests as a free resource, but welcome donations to support this and future research projects.