Started reading Back from the brink by Peter Andrews today. He's discovered that the best farming practice in Australia is to recreate how it was before white settlement. Scratch that, before human settlement. He claims that:

I'm not entirely convinced of his arguments, he tends to reject all science (crackpot sign #1), nobody will listen to him(#2), and he is self-published(#3). However, much of what he says is logical, at least at the surface.

I find it funny to think that, we've carefully forced all the rivers into narrow drains, only to pump them out and spread the water on the ground again with cloggable irrigation systems. Andrews claims that the original water systems worked by spreading the water out in floods, and hanging onto the water for the rest of the time. It certainly is easier to spread water around in times of flood.

Based on the logic of his book, I predict that plants from dry, poor soils should have slow to breakdown leaves. Certainly the slowest leaves to break down I know of are photinia leaves. Don't know whether these come from dry poor soils though, I can only find that they come from the Himalaya.

It is instructive to compare to our garden soil management:

On the topic of greywater, Josh Byrne and I had a chat last year about his greywater systems and their complexity. He has been promoting complex systems that filter and store large quantities of greywater. I feel that this is a big mistake, having tried to handle greywater with think pipes in the past. Greywater does not move like potable water - it clogs pipes, forms slimes and smells bad after a while. Oasis design discuss this in more detail. To be fair to Josh, he said that by law only these systems are legal in some states (I wonder how long before they work out their folly), and he couldn't promote on national TV something that is only legal in one state.

A number of people have independently told me that they are considering (or have ordered) such complex greywater systems. Many were not convinced of my basic strategy (only use shower and bath, everything else is too hard to handle and may harm the soil; run water in a single short length to a wide, mulch filled drain watering a bunch of fruit trees and corn. I've been doing this for at least 8 years and the results have been fantastic. In our current house the total cost has been $30 for some PVC replumbing and diverter valve, and the labour...

Found the cause of the blown fuse on the watering system - somehow the insulation on the joins to some of the solenoids came off and the wires shorted together. Now I need a new fuse and a new power supply.