Food production at the Sítio Sabores is a pure expression of the ART method. We want to demonstrate the rising curve of soil and landscape regeneration through the production of fruits, vegetables and aromatic-medicinal plants. We are starting the second year, soon installing the irrigation system. So far we have used our regenerative fertilizers in almost all areas: RCW, dense green manure and management of broadleaf weeds and we can count on a more regenerated and fertile soil than when we started. Desavanazing was another practice used, giving conditions to practice no-till due to mulching layer.
Nowdays we have as productive areas: vegetable gardens, which are enriched with forest strips and a guava orchard.
The forest strips run through the gardens, with a spacing of 18 / 18m. They are composed by double rows of fertilizer trees, in a final stand of 500 trees / ha. The strips are irrigated, allowing the production of 10 to 30 ton. of RCW / ha from the 3rd year ahead, which will be used in vegetable garden beds. They are the real factors of a regenerating fertilizer. As the strips are 4 meters wide, they can also include the planting of tropical fruit such as tangerines papaya. All irrigated. This is not a loss of productive area. It is about the autonomy of the place in fertility and the stablishment of a healthy microclimate for growing of vegetables and medicines between the bands.
Vegetables are grown on beds covered by a good mulching layer. In this condition biological activity of the soil is favoured, maintaining high levels of physical fertility, such as (i) macro and (ii) micro porosity and WRC (water retention capacity); it's very important! (iii) the freshness of the topsoil, a necessary condition for its vitalization and for saving humus, once humus burns at a high temperature. Chemical fertility follows physical and biological fertility, providing what we can call a regenerative rate: a mild nitrogen deficiency (only mild!), thus favouring the plant health and the quality attributes of the food, such as flavour, colour, vitamin content and functional compounds.
The guava orchard is already in its 5th year of development. Since we arrived at the Sítio Sabores, it has been undergoing regenerative management: desavanization between lines, application of RCW in the projection of the canopies and the management of the broadleaf weeds. In addition, we are inhibiting leaf cutting ants activity. These 4 management are promoting the recovery of guava trees that have been pruned. We have observed the sprouting of new branches after pruning and a good flowering followed by the presence of fruits. Soon we will start the polycultivation by introducing new species in the guava monoculture (tangerines and uvaias /Eugenia pyriformis).
In conceptual order, not alphabetical
(most terms are shared with agroforestry and organic agriculture)
ART: Tropical regenerative agriculture.
Savanization (of Brazilian landscapes): introduction and spread of African grasses.
Desavanization of a production area: elimination of grasses, by selective weeding, until the decrease of propagules which happens after several cycles / years.
Selective weeding : elimination of grasses, favouring broadleaf weeds. Grasses exert a clear negative allelopathic action, inhibiting broad-leaved species.
Regenerative fertilizers: they are fertilizers that protect the soil from the rain and from the sun, favouring biological activity. In the ART method we apply the following three types of fertilizers:
• RCW - ramial chipped wood: they are the branches of trees and bushes chopped up by a shredder, which generates a biomass rich in young lignin.
• Dense green manure: 2 complementary species are planted in high density such as corn + pigeon pea; corn + mucuna; rye + vetch; sunflower + lab-lab.
• Management of broadleaf vegetation: in dissavanized areas there is an accelerated growth of broadleaf vegetation, which can be cleared at various heights, providing biodiversity and mulch, enabling the practice of no till.
Mulch: layer of mowed green manure and fragments of rameal wood (RCW) which cover and protects the soil from destructive action of the sun and rain.
Soil structure: “bonding / connection” of the soil components (sand, silt, clays and organic matter) resulting in its structuring, with an abundance of macropores, suppling oxygen for the roots and the biota of the soil.
Green soil cover: it happens when a soil is covered with green manures and/or broad leaf weeds, avoiding biological emptiness.
Biological emptiness: it happens when there is no growth of spontaneous plants, resulting in deficient biological control of root pests (nematodes) and root diseases.
Forest strips: They are strips of exotic fertilizer trees planted in single or double rows of exotic fertilizer trees. Up to 500 trees/ha are planted at ART to supply 10 to 30 ton of CRW/ha/year.
Fertilizer trees: are trees planted with the purpose of supplying their branches every two years, to be chopped, resulting in CRW, an important regenerative fertilizer.
Regenerative landscape management: it is the management of productive landscapes, going far beyond the regeneration of the soil. It demands the installation of forest strips which are sources of fertility (CRW) and are multiple sources of biological resources for (i) ecological control of pests: from birds and bats predators of butterflies and moths, to the installation of spider webs by the tree tops; (ii) pollinators agents such as bees, wasps, insects in general; (iii) microclimate equilibrium, due to the windbreak effect, and regulation of the humidity of the air and (iv) improvement of photosynthesis, the most important physiological process.
No till in the garden: it becomes possible when weeks or months after the application of a regenerative fertilizer, the soil becomes porous and penetrable. It happens due to the action of the soil life, where we can seedling or plant vegetables and aromatic medicinal, without mechanical movement of the soil. There is a “bio-preparation” of the soil.
Soil biopreparation: it consists of soil macro porosity maintainance or increase by the action of biological agents: roots, meso and macro fauna which create galleries.
Monoculture: planting of only 1 specie in the planting area.
Poly cultivation: planting of 2 or more species in the planting area.