The sun, along with water, is the primary fuel for your permaculture farm, and the more you can get, the more energy you’ll have to do and grow things. That’s why it’s important to determine how much sun the prospective site actually receives throughout the year.
Here, you’ll want to look at two criteria:
- Site’s aspect
- Sun’s movement across the site through the year
By assessing these two parameters you’ll know how much sunlight or shade you’ll be getting. That way you can decide what’s acceptable and what’s not according to your needs.
First, you need to determine the aspect of the slope, not every possible one but rather the general average slope orientation of the property, in case you get more complex terrains. You can do this from the comfort of your own home by using Google Earth.
Following this, you’ll have to make observations on the site itself with a smartphone app, as only in this way can you directly see the path of the sun across the sky.
Type #1 Risk Assessment:
Solar access is a priority for any permaculture farm. Variety of microclimates is good but the overall site aspect should allow favorable solar access, generally southern aspects (Northern Hemisphere) and northern aspects (Southern Hemisphere). The second best is SW, SI (NH) or NW, NI (SH), the third best E, fourth W. A northern aspect for Northern Hemisphere and southern for Northern Hemisphere are not preferred and present a type #1 error risk.
In addition, access to the sun shouldn’t be obstructed by landscape or infrastructure features in any significant way that takes away hours of solar radiation. This is especially important during winter days. Lost hours of sun exposure cannot be substituted by anything so if there is a significant obstruction that leads to decreased solar exposure then avoid the site altogether.