The plan: Create a website. A comprehensive list of nitrogen fixers for each region/zone. Include enough information so people can get on with the task at hand (conservation, cultivation, restoration, all 3 according to zone).
The vision: Anyone can access atmospheric nitrogen using the knowledge provided. Each area has a list of nitrogen fixing plants (trees, shrubs, herbs, annuals and perennials) with lots of useful information attached including their symbionts and methods and/or sources to obtain said plants AND symbionts.
Information useful to practitioners: Wind resistance, drought tolerance, salt tolerance, growth habit, size, mycorrhizal status*, (add category if you wish this will evolve as permies input ideas).
So here's the rub. This is a huge project. I've started with my area (New Zealand), as a labor of love, but ultimately, I need to pay the rent. I have the skills (botany, ecology, microbiology, poet, comic) to do this really well (relevant scientific content, not scientific boring), but I totally lack the skills to monetize information. I see my ideas bandied about from close to decades back in certain forums... monetized ideas now. Meanwhile, I'm sick of being poor and giving all. Our last PM gave someone $50 000 for something I'd invented 14 years prior. It becomes tedious, people, BS. I'll produce the results, but now, I got to pay the rent.
I'm thinking eventually plant suppliers and biotech (symbionts) might be good advertisers/sponsors. Am clueless though re that interweb thingy and how you get localised ads across to locals on an international site...
Am here for a rant too. Some early botanists called every local phenotype of certain genera a species. Now I've so much garbage to discard due to them loving to see their names in print.
I know nothing about monetizing ideas.
Usually if I want information on nitrogen fixers for a certain niche, I start at the Plant for a Future website.
They cover quite a bit more than nitrogen fixing.
Some say their entries are inaccurate, so I always check the plants out elsewhere.
I specifically check the Green Deans web publications for information on edibility.
Just putting this out there, but temperature ranges and hardiness zones? Perhaps the other functions the tree/shrub/plant can fill? Status as invasive (where it's allowed, and where not), maybe?
This is a great idea. And we're posting on a website right now. A website whose business it is to perpetuate and support ideas such as yours.
I was going to say, maybe a wiki would be a good format on this site, but that doesn't help you monetise the idea.
Is there a way that we could all get together to compile a database? I mean, you'd basically have to go over every submission to check its veracity, which to my mind justifies your paycheck when you publish, or however you choose to do it. And if you felt like you needed to contribute back to the community, should we help sufficiently, you can always make a donation to permies.com.
Could we crowdsource the rough research for your project?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
With 18000 leguminous species alone, this task seems unreasonably large. However, dividing by geographic region and listing by endemic and native species will reduce the workload considerably.
More importantly, data will be relevant, while not overwhelming the end user.
Introduced legumes are ubiquitous, and may play an important role in all but strict conservation efforts. However, these plants would be listed in their own category. It stands to reason local plants may be best adapted to local climate, local inoculate, and local fauna. Restoration of large areas require STUN (sheer total and utter neglect) methods in many cases. Wherever natives are available for such a job, it stands to reason they may be most suited. Through inclusion of nitrogen fixers and microbial and fungal associates, all restorative efforts might be enhanced considerably. The more topsoil we restore, the more humus we create, the more forests we grow... the more carbon gets sequestered; habitat, shade, water holding capacity, fertility, water and soil health, and more.
The aim of the website is to make it easy for anyone to do this.
The entire (global) task can be reduced to templates for local academics/permies/students to fill out, and then we peer review each other. These helpers will be lured by the promise of glory/money/helping to save the world. The templates will go into a database which can be categorized and formatted for viewing in as many ways as is practical to do so.
Looking at my local data, I (think I) can cover NZ in a reasonable time frame, maybe other areas/countries will need several helpers according to the diversity there, we shall see.
Leguminosae (Fabaceae) are approximately 1/12 species. Overall (native and endemic) plant diversity of an area will give a rough idea of the nitrogenous species there. The huge numbers give an idea of how vital these species are.
I'll do a bit of work each day, see how I go with the locals.
Plants for a Future. Hey, great website, didn't know it existed but I live in a bit of a bubble.
First thing I read
7000 + Plant Pages
I'll be trying not to do that. I'll do this:
"18 000 LEGUMES" LOL!
The trick is not to scare the normies away.
Fantastic tool thanks for the tip. About some of the entries being under debate... botanists are always debating, and so those with their information are also confused. I wanted to be a botanist but the sandal:sock ratio was out of control.
Cross referencing is vital especially in this age of disinformation. Do the best you can with what you got aye, what else can ya do. Genetics is way superior to morphology, phenotypic plasticity can be extreme. Long may debate continue, and the facts as they emerge.
Temperature range and hardiness zones would be good information to include. What I'd like to see (so far), while my descriptions may need revising... I don't want to use any jargon I can avoid, which will be difficult, but helpful to the most people.
Name (Latin, common); Size (range); Zone/s; Water (Aquatic, bog, damp/drainage, dry); Sun (Full, partial, shade, shade young); Wind (sheltered, need aeration, use as windbreak); Temperature (range); Flowering (season); Habitat (e.g. coastal, pasture); Symbiont/s; Notes; Links (suppliers, DIY seed, symbionts, cultivation tips).
Further information is always useful, but clutter comes fast. Even links supposedly removing clutter, clutter pages.
Are the above factors I've listed even necessary? Be brutal! If a person new to the concept of nitrogen for free wanted free nitrogen for their land/project - what would they need to know to get on with it? Possibly species for a specific habitat type or restoration goal should come to the fore e.g. pasture, orchard, native woodland, wetland...
I think one introductory article for the concept will (try to) explain the global importance and context, and then locally: A short article for each region/country/states unique habitats and (N-fixing) species would be absolutely brilliant, and over time might be realised by collective enthusiasts of the planet. I do think open-sourcing the research will be the way to go wherever it is possible.
Local information for global solutions.
I envision localisation (reduction of information) has synergy in that it brings focus and ownership (your home, your environment, your plants you grew up with and maybe never really saw before). The website will of course have vast quantities of information eventually, and I want it easy to find. But I want to drip-feed users what they need if possible, not bombard them with content. A local repertoire will be significant in and of itself.
If I'm talking nonsense feel free to point it out.
Bounced out of bed with head full of this legume-rhizobia stuff. This is a very good sign. It's on. I then located a recent doctorate "Systematics, Specificity & Ecology of NZ Rhizobia" which is just perfect reading right now. When the energy is aligned, the right stuff often just pops up.
As we know, a general rule, mycorrhizal fungal types are largely promiscuous (many hosts) among the herbal plants, but there is a lot more specificity with trees. And it seems rhizobia follow a similar pattern. A general pattern is also found where: the closer two legumes are related to each other, the greater the chances of successful nodulation from one plant species to the other.
'Temperature range' wont be included as zones are directly correlated to temperatures so this would be superfluous.
I've added 'Status' e.g. least concern, vulnerable... Descriptors from IUCN redlist. This information will allow users to quickly identify local species that need attention if they wish to go the conservation route.
We have a critically endangered legume, it is beautiful. Clianthus puniceus 'Kaka Beak'
Another issue is that not all leguminous species support nodulization, and yet are widely reported (assumed?) to be nitrogen-fixing. In some cases there is ambiguous research out there suggesting that some of these species fix nitrogen by other means, theorized but hardly fit to be characterized as proven. An example from my land is the HoneyLocust, which is usually listed as a fixer despite no nodulization and one study showing weak secondary evidence of nitrogen fixing.
Thus in many many cases you will find that there is no firm evidence that the leguminous species in your database are actualy nodualizing/fixers. You may be at risk of having a database with thousands of species, the majority of which perforce have a niggling asterisk but no actual assurance of utility...
In some cases...? Mate there's plenty of ambiguity out there. We do what we can with what we have to date. Phenotypic plasticity baffled the best of us. Take a look at the cyanescens complex of fungi, mind blowing to think they are all genetically the same species. I found a new morphotype that persists above ground for months... crazy. We did a lot of classification by shape... I know a dude changed the shape of algae using sound.
Recent studies show consistency of (rhizobium-host) results or lack of them. Using DNA of host and rhizobia we find most non n-fixers in the Fabaceae are closely related. Nodulation is not proof of N-fixation either; there are weedy or parasitic rhizobia as there are weedy mycorrhizae.
It is only recently that technology has enabled us to begin unraveling the decades of arguments based on morphology and observation. DNA is becoming more affordable, the data processing is orders of magnitude better, huge revisions are taking place in the microbial kingdoms... and the debates will rage on.
I'm glad everyone was checking everyone else's shit. Cos as you know, a lot of it was...
But now we have access to affordable, timely, DNA analysis... it is a game changer.
Will the website be perfect, no. Will I give it a damn good shot. Yes.
There is a lot of information to put out but I'm going to take it slow and work out what is needed vs what is me enjoying the use of big-ass words. I'll go slow slow, as in I might take a year till I'm happy with my local data set.
But that will be a template so those who go next have it far easier. Far less ambiguity to unravel.
To monetize your research, you need to put it in book form, gear it for the average gardener and get it published. From there you can build a fantastic website that has free areas and pay to view areas.
If you come up with an idea that could be utilized by others you need to apply for a patent, patents can be international and national at the same time, this means you can license companies that want to use your idea, (steady income source when it happens).
With as much information as you will have, any book should be broken into volumes so people will be able to lift the book (think of how cumbersome the PDR is currently, huge books are usually only handled by scientists because we have to use them).
The project you are working on could end up an encyclopedia and it could be published in encyclopedia form, that means you can have the information broken into easier to use form. (again we have to think on the average persons level)
"To monetize your research, you need to put it in book form, gear it for the average gardener and get it published. From there you can build a fantastic website that has free areas and pay to view areas."
I'm not happy with charging people money when the plan is to have this information freely available.
Of course reality calls, and some money might be needed for sedatives to dull that.
Somehow, I raise cash to launch a site and give information freely. Advertising of suppliers and associated industry on the site makes sense to me as it's not only revenue, it is useful to local gardeners and business. I could start with the NZ info (small market), but build on that. Especially if patterns and methods cross borders. And why wouldn't they...
The endemic/native leguminous genera of NZ are also represented at species level in many other countries. e.g. Patterns for Sophora spp. here might apply elsewhere.
You have local insight. If I may:
Q: You (US) have Sophora spp. Have their Rhizobia been checked? - are they typically/predominantly Mesorhizobium.?
And the Acacias - Bradyrhizobium.?
These are patterns found in NZ, Australia and Europe. And perhaps the world?
Although there are 18K leguminous species I think it's just over 100 genera. As for the rhizobia, many of the specimens collected here in isolated biomes still map to type species from other locations. Considering our geographic isolation, rhizobia get around.
Long story short: this very large body of work might be simplified and condensed considerably if genus level predictions I imply here turn out to be true. The evolutionary trajectories of host and symbiont seem to align well considering the symbionts are not obligate. Close relatives of both host and symbiont 'might just do the trick'.
Some useful notes for biogeography could come of all this too.
I appreciate the input re money ideas. That's a good plan for the 'halfway through/distracted by a Masters didn't finish the book' book I was already writing. It's worth money. But it needs a fair bit of attention yet.
I'm quietly confident I can communicate the idea simply, there's always feedback to guide me if I go rambling off. The above was not aimed at a layman.
I was just looking at plant hardiness zones overlaying satellite imagery. Love it. I think it will be really useful to present species distribution maps where the data are available.
It can be the base substrate that determines range of leguminous trees rather than the hardiness zones at times. Plants may cover several zones, but not necessarily all the areas the zones encompass. Or at least, they'll not grow readily there. Distribution maps (where to plant) remove the guesswork, and theoretically reduce plant maintenance as pampering should not be needed (as much).
I think plant growth rates and n-fixation rates would also be great to have, but don't imagine too many endemic/native studies are available as compared to their industrial leguminous counterparts. Unless the plants are pretty.
It's a botany, microbiology, biogeography, ecology, mish-mash. My cup of tea entirely.
How did we get so divided. Four experts to learn to properly plant a legume haha.
1. Get the flowering and fruiting seasons of local native legume species.
2. Source and identify species of interest using flower ID and information.
3. Harvest seeds when season arrives.
4. From the same plant, at or just out from the drip line if it is a shrub or tree, uncover and remove a portion of nodulated root matter. Most legumes are hard as nails, but be sparing/careful with rare plants. Younger plants are easier to retrieve nodules from.
5. Check a nodule for colonisation. Slice it in half. Larger helps distinguish between: If you have a cream to brown even tending to orange color in the nodule, it's probably not inoculated. But a purple through to reddish color signifies nitrogen fixation taking place.
6. Shake out excess dirt and put root materials in a plastic bag then on ice. Then in your freezer.
7. Get local instruction concerning growing your local seeds to time next step.
8. Thaw root materials and dissect out nodules with a clean blade, wash nodules thoroughly in water.
9. Grind nodules to paste and dilute with de-chlorinated water, use slurry in process to wet media e.g. soak into some peat, for your seeds.
10. Plant seeds.
I've not investigated the symbiont coating the seed (9) part of it very well yet. The peat is a mycorrhizal trick I like.
It would be nice if a maker of seed balls chimes in and help inform this part of the process for wild and STUN plantings.
The above will get you both nitrogen fixers and practically guarantees the symbiont, if present, is correct = Free Nitrogen.
If only everyone was as easy to teach as Permies, you folks with your quaint knowledge and such.
May hordes of microbial chemists enrich your landscapes with their bounty. Free nitrogen for all!
NZ data set nearly ready. Free P methodology also worked out. Can't for the life of me think why I'd want to help the human race today. They've involuntarily committed a local MP who was outlining corrupt Govt practise government. I'm F-ing livid.
Might write it up tomorrow if I can face the world without vomit in my throat.
Just in our little islands I am finding native legumes that live in places from swamps to deserts, from limestone rich organic soils to scree and rocky outcrops. Plants from the coastal dunes to the mountains above the treeline. Where plant life holds on by a tenuous thread, legumes.
One way you can monetize the information online while still providing it for free is to offer it in a couple different formats.
Free format - blog posts or pages on your website.
Paid format - books and courses.
Both can contain the same information but the books and courses would guide someone step by step from start to end. The blog posts would get someone there too but it might take a dozen or more blog posts to equal the information in one book. Those blog posts might also be published over say a year instead of all together - though they could link to each other.
Now someone could go through the site and find all the blog posts and put it all together themselves. But for many people they would rather just pay say $7 USD for an ebook or say $15 USD for a print book and have all the information right there without spending all the time doing the independent research.
For my own site that makes sense to me. That way people who want to spend the time researching the info themselves can and they have access to free info. But the books/courses are for people that want a little more hand holding / guidance or just want the information all in one nice package.
But if someone asks me a question I can just send them a link to the free info.
This way I can pay the bills but also put out tons of free info to help others.
Of course you can also put ads on your site and use affiliate links to make money and never charge for the information you are giving away. I plan to use affiliate links too but not ads. You can also do YouTube videos and use ads on there and do sponsored blog posts and make money from those. I'm not a big fan of sponsored posts but they can be done well.
There is also patreon which could be an option if you have a community that is supportive of your efforts. People sign up to give you $X per month or per article depending on how you set it up. Can be a great way to get a small regular income for your work.
Good luck with your project.
Cultivate abundance for people, plants and wildlife - Growing with Nature
OK, that sounds pretty good. I'm not actually anti publishing I love books. My pride of joy is my shelves full of Biology, Permaculture and Stamets. I read textbooks I used to love fiction but have gone off it.
I seem to process advice by arguing (with myself mostly) and it may come across as being reticent to suggestions but I have noted, and re-read all ideas in this thread.
Like zones. We don't use them. But the more I think about them, the more useful they seem.
I'm actually trying to format one page of what I'd like a book to look like this morning. I'm pretty terrible visual-art wise, but I'm in powerpoint adding images and text boxes of what I think I will need and I'll shuffle things about try get a general feel for it. I can always ask for help with peers who were good at this stuff.
I'm thinking a key for the book to explain certain icons would give massive amounts of information simply.
Icons e.g. a shaded sun, a partially shaded sun, a full sun. It's easy to guess what's going on. And with a key you'll be following along fairly quickly. A water drop's levels to depict water requirements, cloud blowing wind for wind tolerance, etc. It works for weather presenters...
I appreciate the time you and others have taken and the ideas you've generated. A book to fund a site seems the way to go. If I can state my case well enough kick starter might also be an option to fund said book.
I'm a bit reticent to have an 'open' forum style thing. Or maybe have one but my webmaster bans me from unedited replies haha. I'm both Aspergers and PTSD. On a bad day I bite. I hate it, but still can't seem to put it in a cage long term. Probiotics help tremendously but I still can be a total jerk and I shoot myself in the foot.
I was wondering though, this morning after being a dick, if Aspies are part of evolution, canaries in the coal mine, so to speak, who will state truths rather than dance around on eggshells. In this age of misinformation where every idiot has a browser and an opinion, I may be onto something.
I don't like the idea of (free) information being a task for others to compile. I'm a trained researcher and putting this together is damned hard. My mission is to make this easy for everyone, as it should be we pay for the science already.
But books are something a lot of people love. Off grid a good book is a goldmine. I'm really warming to kicking it all off with a book. And maybe I keep dropping tidbits here and people can 'work for it' hehe.
What a show! What atmosphere! What fun! What a tiny ad!