The desert is coming to Europe: Soil and water are the first line of defense.
Due to drought, increased temperatures and unsustainable agricultural practices, many previously fertile fields in Andalusia are now desert. The level of destruction in the wake of this natural disaster threatens the livelihood of thousands. Forest fires aggravate the advanced soil erosion and speed up the desertification process. In 2015, 12,650 hectares of forest area caught fire and the average annual rate of soil erosion is significantly higher than the rest of Spain. Andalusia’s geographical location makes it particularly vulnerable to climate change and with soil actively degrading, local farmers struggle to grow their products in sustainable and profitable ways.
What are we doing about it?
Bringing Back the Biodiversity
Healthy soil is abundant with life. It is it’s own ecosystem that creates a sponge-like effect for storing water internally. The level of organic matter in the soil determines its fertility and water holding capacity. Microbial species like bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, yeast, protozoa, algae and nematodes all forge beneficial relationships with plant roots helping them access nutrients. This enables water and air movement and controls disease.
If soil is dead, we depend on chemicals to grow crops. If the soil is alive, we depend on biology to grow crops. That is our goal.
Our volunteers are busy seeding microbes. We maximize our biological resources through creating a extract – literally strained from our compost – to be fused with water and sprayed in order to inoculate soil with microscopic life, speeding the healing process and fostering organic growth.
Our “humanure” compost toilets use modern science to convert human waste into a useful fertilizer for the land and you will see a hearty bee population busy pollinating our garden.
Increasing Soil Carbon Sequestration
It is time for the 4th Agricultural Revolution and we want to be a part of it.
It is time for the 4th Agricultural Revolution and we want to be a part of it. We are replanting grasslands prioritizing ground cover to protect the soil and care for the multitude of flora and fauna that are indigenous to Andalusia.
We are counting on our hearty pioneer trees (we planted 4,900!) to photosynthesize. In addition to their immediate ability to provide shade, resist erosion and create microclimates to foster life. Moreover, the five pioneers we selected are super hearty and can survive the desert conditions while feeding local wildlife.
As the trees grow, they will require more resources. After the first year, our team will engage in regular trimming and thinning of the forest to speed up the process of nature by building organic material in-place, managing male-to-female ratios and becoming a self-sustaining.
Creating Microclimates and Defending Against Erosion
Microclimates are established through planting a diverse group of species where shade is created in order to allow for the multitude of living organisms necessary for productive soil to thrive. A great indicator of the success soil is checking in to see worms and insects.
Plants play a significant role in keeping the water clean and clear. Half of the water used on planted landscapes is lost to evaporation, runoff or infiltration beyond the root level.
A substantial amount of groundcover thanks to our pioneer trees will reduce the risk of topsoil going airborne in gusting winds or washed away with runoff.