“All ancient civilizations disappeared for one reason – due to the depletion of resources. And we repeat the same mistake, ”says Ernst Götsch, a farmer and researcher of a new approach to agriculture. Using the principle of successive vegetation changes, he brought back to life plantations that had no commercial prospects. Now they are profitable and are an exemplary example of the right path. For Ernst, as a scientist, this is the most important achievement in his work, as he has been looking for natural methods of organic farming since a young age.
Agroforestry is an experimental technology for the revival of abandoned lands. It allows not only to saturate large areas with useful components, but also to establish the arrival of water in the upper layers of the soil. The rains are returning, the earth is moistened and the ears or fruits of berries have time to ripen. The fields turn green and delight with the harvest, and a couple of years ago they were devastated as a result of chemical processing of the fields and gradual drying out. This land revitalization process is called “syntropic agriculture”, which was developed and tested by Ernst Götsch and his students in Brazil. The specialist himself calls this innovative approach “growing food in the forest”. The functioning of the rain forest was taken as a model – the constant renewal of the rich fauna with the remains of trees. Here some plants grow, shed their leaves and die, and in their place others grow. The so-called continuous cycle of green mass, where everything is perfectly interconnected. Therefore, the animals that live here always have shelter and food. The scientist is not only engaged in farming, he teaches his young followers and conducts training seminars. After all, this way it is possible to involve more people for the implementation of syntropic agriculture. If you find 15 minutes to watch the video, you will receive a brief but most useful information on the activities of Ernst Götsch.
The combination of agroforestry with agriculture is an ideal concept for the proper functioning of large areas of land, in harmony with the natural laws of the coexistence of different plant crops. These two areas of activity complement each other and actively support the vital activity of beneficial microorganisms. Fresh biomass from low trees is mixed with the soil – and rotting, it becomes an excellent medium for growing cereals, legumes or fruit and berry bushes. It should be noted that the farmer-researcher also makes considerable profit from the plantations organized in this way. The point of his main job is to prune branches that grow back. If you are familiar with the cultivation of silkworm mulberries, you can imagine the process well. Trees are renewed more intensively from periodic cutting of branches. As a bonus, in the areas cultivated according to the Ernst Götsch system, it rains more often in this area and all the streams that dried up several decades ago have recovered.
How to restore a piece of land
The orange lines in the photo show the plots of land cultivated according to the principle of syntropic agriculture.
But what does amaranth have to do with it, you ask? The fact is that in the Ukrainian reality it is difficult to imagine plantations of low trees so densely that between the rows there was an opportunity to sow and process popular wheat, buckwheat or sunflower. Tall stems with good foliage amaranth and their intensive growth organically lead to the same organic farming. Amaranth, systematically restores the soil, becoming an excellent component of the regenerative concept. Having a well-known reputation for excellent green manure, amaranth is on a par with the same forest plantations used in Brazil to renew the ecosystem. Here the only difference is that amaranth in Ukraine is sown in order to mow and chop it, and there – trees constantly grow in one place.
Amaranth for soil restoration
What do Ukrainian farmers get using amaranth for soil restoration:
- Having an increased rate of photosynthesis, in 1-2 months the stems and leaves of amaranth gain volume and absorb carbon dioxide in mega steps. Is it not such a universal plant that ecologists are looking for? It quickly converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- Amaranth is not afraid of drought: firstly, because the taproot penetrates so deep (up to 7 meters!) That it receives the desired moisture. And, secondly, the leaves of amaranth slightly curl up on hot days and do not give up water, which they got with such difficulty. It is important to note that this feature of water intake only applies to adult plants. At the early stage of amaranth growth, watering is required!
- Early varieties of amaranth make it possible to fertilize the soil more quickly in a “green manure method”, on which in the same season you can already plant the crops you need. These varieties include: Ultra, Valentina, Helios. Tall tops become a natural shade in the summer and keep your area dry. You need to mow it before the ears appear.
- Amaranth should not only be dug into the arable land, but also grind in order to speed up the process of entering everything useful in the topsoil. The volume of freshly cut raw materials is on average 2000-3000c / ha. Can you find so many organic fertilizers with such a rich chemical composition at such a good price? Various elements and amino acids feed the crops that will be planted next. So, the question “where and at what cost to buy nitrogen” will disappear, because it is with this substance that amaranth leaves are generously saturated.
- The stems of the plant have two-type roots at the same time – pivotal and superficially fibrous with fine hairs. They loosen the ground perfectly. By the way, almost all varieties of amaranth are very resistant to herbicides. Perhaps because the wild species, the squid, went through a long period of natural selection and was forced to actively fight for survival in various conditions.
- To increase fertility, amaranth siderates can be taken for any soil, and best of all they saturate loamy and sod-podzolic areas. For small-scale farming, amaranth tops can be sown along with other garden crops and alternate crop rotation up to 3 times during the warm season. Adhere to one of the main rules of organic farming – the land should not be bare. We removed the amaranth for feeding – planted a salad, harvested this crop – sow other siderates again. And so – until late autumn.
I will share my own observation in caring for garden crops. Last spring and early summer were generous in the rains. It was not even possible to weed out fresh weeds in time, which were already annoyingly interfering with the corn sprouts. The wild beetle drank a lot of water and grew up to 7-12 cm, and small sprouts of this amaranth representative appeared nearby in bulk. When it was all overwhelmed, I noticed one moment. On both sides of the site are the fields of local farmers who consistently applied herbicides and other chemicals that farmers usually never add to what they themselves eat. So – the condition of the soil for me and that of the neighbors was significantly different. Mine was loose and deep black, and also slightly oily, indicating a high concentration of nutrients. And on farmlands, the soil is more compressed and lumpy. This is how I realized that the tradition of manual weed removal, maintained in villages for more than one generation, has a very important value. Anything that seems to have grown too much in the garden is actually material for fertility. Each weed cut adds a unique set of trace elements to the soil.
The Brazilian experience is also another type of ecosystem return to its original state. The journalist Diana Adrade from the above video notes: “We know that one of the most aggressive actions towards the land is agriculture.” Unfortunately, this is a fact that scientists from all over the world will subscribe to.
Modern methods of cultivating agricultural crops, although aimed at improving the fertility of fields, are major antagonists of nature. We do not use what she has already created so that forests and fields, flora and fauna exist in a simple symbiosis. Constant replenishment of the soil with organic layers must be provided with leaves, branches of fruit trees, green manure crops with a spreading ground part. This is an affordable way in terms of technology and more acceptable from a financial point of view. The organic farming system will provide itself with all the unique fertilizers and even increase the soil layer. The experience of Ernst Götsch clearly shows that with this approach we have a chance to restore huge areas of lost land. It is possible that we will even be able to re-return those territories in Ukraine, where the sands have already begun to attack the once green meadows and steppes. Dry winds and lack of rain are the result not only of global warming, but also of the deceptive arrogance of agrochemical producers. Tons of harmful substances are transported to our fields annually, and subsequently they end up on our plate. For example, these chemicals trap moisture, fight pests and keep weeds from growing. But why irresponsibly mutilate what belongs not only to us, but also to future generations? The ecological farming scheme exists on the planet as long as forests and wild grasses grow in meadows.
You cannot taste the lemon if you are taking a vitamin C pill, and for the full benefit you need the lemon itself. So here too – no fertilizer or chemical element of artificial origin will give the earth everything that other plants contain. The synthropic type of farming is the basis for the restoration of land and obtaining high yields of good quality. Amaranth, with its great potential as a siderata, is one of those blessed plants that takes part in this great mission.