"As is the case with most elements and systems at PEG, the Bamboo Windbreak is a very multifunctional element."
The major function of these windbreaks is that they reduce the negative impacts of wind, especially on their west side (prevailing wind from the east). This is important for a farm because wind causes stress on plants, much greater evaporation than sun exposure and erosion of exposed soil. All of those impacts directly impair crop production.
In addition to crop protection, these bamboo strips produce their own harvests. For one, bamboo is very valuable building material that can be used in the construction of future PEG buildings (such as the ones shown in Phase 3). This is likely the most valuable of use, but it also provides the additional functions of providing a food source (bamboo shoots), plant material for use around the property, and an additional revenue stream as plant for sale in the nursery. Bamboo nurseries can be extremely profitable.
As a part of PEG’s whole, the bamboo strips offer connections into the other project components. The functions mentioned above create business opportunities for entrepreneurs and craftspeople, the bamboo contributes to the cycle of green waste through the PEG system as compost and mulch, it benefits the property’s aesthetics,and it shares in the global impact that PEG can have of sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, and if you ever have any misplaced Pandas on property, they can eat it!
As a windbreak, bamboo is a combination of 1 and 2, the variables are the differences in species and harvesting.
Unharvested bamboo will be less permeable, as well as more vulnerable to being blown over or broken by hurricane winds.
Qualities of the Bamboo Windbreak
The Bamboo Windbreak is designed to produce a profitable crop while requiring a minimal amount of management and labor. It has a number of qualities that allow it to function this way
Easy access for harvesting, thinning
and collecting shoots.
The planting pattern for the Bamboo Windbreak is designed for maximum production of bamboo in a relatively small space while also having windbreaking effects on the landscape. The optimum planting pattern is dependant on the variety of bamboo planted.
Because of Barbados’s strict laws regarding the importation of plant material, sourcing for this bamboo could potentially be a serious impediment to getting many of the varieties listed. We recommend seeing what is available for use in Barbados and trialing 4/6 of the species in your first Bamboo Windbreak.
The spacing between bamboo plants depends on the variety being planted, but a general rule of thumb is that the size of the bamboo determines the planting density. Smaller bamboo can be planted at a higher density, while larger bamboo should be planted at a lower density.
Because we are planting this bamboo to act as a windbreak as well as a productive plantation, we want to plant in a checkerboard pattern.
"For a medium diameter species, like Guadua angustifolia and Dendrocalamus asper , a 5 x 5 meter spacing is ideal. This results in ~160 clumps per acre, which is approximately the initial Bamboo Windbreak to be planted."
"For smaller species a 4 x 4 meter spacing is ideal."
"For some of the much larger species like Dendrocalamus giganteus the spacing canincrease up to even 10 x 10 meters."
Bund & Pit Method
"A few days before planting, thoroughly turn the soil in the pit."
To Prepare for Planting into the Pits
"Supplementary watering during the first two to three years will assist the bamboo establishment greatly."
In heavy clay soils, like those at PEG, it is best to irrigate one to two times per week. The timing and quantity of water applied will vary based on the size of the clump, soil health/type, weather patterns, and the time of year.
Here is a rough guide for bamboo’s water need. Depending on the rainfall these numbers may be reduced during certain months of the year
Apply 5 to 10 liters, 1 - 2 times per week depending on the moisture in the soil
Apply 10 to 30 liters, 1 - 2 times per week.
If the bamboo looks strong and well established, you should experiment with discontinuing watering. Try a small portion of the clumps to see how they respond, and then base future irrigation decisions on the results that you observe.
The Karst Factor
Because of the shallow topsoil at the site, it may be that the bamboo needs to be irrigated every year. This is uncertain at this time, but we are hoping that the bamboo manages on its own.
"The maintenance of the bamboo will be determined when the exact varieties are chosen and for what primary purpose."
The proper maintenance is extremely important, as a clump of bamboo can quickly become unmanageable when left without maintenance, but the maintenance regime depends heavily on the variety of bamboo and its purpose.