The ground beneath our feet

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A big part of regenerative agriculture is creating a permanent cover of living and decomposing organic material over our soil. As Kirk Gadzia, our Holistic Management teacher says: 'Bare soil is public enemy number one!'.

The facts are pretty impressive. For every 1 part of organic matter you return to the soil you can hold more than 4 parts more water in your soil. That equates to 144,000 litres of captured water per hectare for every 1% of organic carbon in your soil.

In a harsh brittle environment like Spain that means the difference between success and complete failure of your crops and your farm and your livelihood.

Think also what it means for a rain soaked non-brittle country such as the UK. Imagine all that water being held safely in the soil instead of rushing into the flood plains of the Somerset Levels.

And guess what happens to all that carbon when you don't capture it in the soil. It happily bonds itself to oxygen and disappears off into the atmosphere to contribute to our ever more confusing change in climate.

It's easy to be fooled by a landscape in the spring when you look across your Finca and see a sea of flowers and new grass. The first trick of Holistic Management is to look down at your feet and the square metre around them instead of admiring the view. That gives you the true story.

Even in our almond grove, where it's looking lovely and green right now, (and a million times healthier than the bare car park under our olives), the truth is, we have huge amounts of work to do.

We've been very encouraged though by the medicks and vetches and other legumes that are coming up now to add nitrogen and fertility to the soil. Add the controlled soil disturbance that chickens and sheep bring, managed well in a planned rotational grazing system, and we will rapidly move in the direction of our goal:

100% ground cover, 100% of the time.

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