What is syntropic agroforestry?
THE Central Burnett Landcare group is planning their next workshop for Saturday, March 30, on syntropic agroforestry.
Project officer Marion Denholm said this system was developed by Swiss farmer and researcher Ernst Gotsch, who moved to Brazil to experiment with turning degraded farmland back into production by mimicking natural growing systems.
"In many tropical countries, the slash and burn method of agriculture is used, that is, an area of the natural forest is cut down and burned and crops are planted,” she said.
"Once the soil fertility is used up, the farm is abandoned and another patch of forest is selected to begin the process again. It can take the natural forest quite a while to regenerate as the goodness from the soil has been exhausted.
"Where the natural cycle has been disturbed like this, pioneer plants (hardy plants including weeds) are the first to re-grow, slowly followed by the usual plants that grow locally, until the previous system has been restored.”
Mrs Denholm said syntropic agroforestry speeds up the process and allows farmers to continue making a living from the same piece of land.
Last year presenter Scott Hall travelled from Murwillumbah to meet the group and presented an initial workshop and field day to introduce the system.
This time he will be accompanied by Patricia Vaz from Brazil, who has worked with Ernst Gotsch.
Mrs Denolm said she was keen to see the system extended to drier areas with a different weather regime and different vegetation and crops.
Livestock such as cattle or goats can be integrated into the system as well.
"Syntropic agroforestry has the ideal of restoring natural forest, but in sensible ways that allow people to make a living from the land too, using practical methods that have been developed over many years of trial and experimentation,” she said.
Enquiries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning Marion on 41654531.