Soil microbiology by the Mexican master

Some of the leading regenerative agriculturists come from Latin America where they are inventing home made biofertilisers and soil improvers, enabling peasant farmers to cut loose from expensive chemical inputs. Reducing costs is a great way of convincing farmers to turn organic, but the regenerative philosophy is not to just replace chemicals with organic equivalents, but to restore and boost the elements in the soil that make it healthy. 

Nacho Simón from Mexico is currently on an Iberian tour which gave us a marvellous opportunity to learn some of these techniques first hand.

The principle is simple: working towards a dynamic equilibrium of micro-organisms, organic matter and minerals that constitute the fertility of the soil. The three operate together in an integrated manner and struggle to function if one or two elements are missing. A farmer may have added compost to his field, but if he is killing weeds using herbicide which in the process kills the micro-organisms in the soil, his plant will struggle to take up nutrients from the compost without the bacteria and fungi that transform nutrients to a digestible form for the plant.

One of the campesino techniques involves harvesting bacteria and fungi from a healthy ecosystem such as a forest, multiplying them by feeding them molasses and wheat bran and applying them on the land together with organic matter and minerals. We can't wait to start using the recipes on our land!

We managed to catch another guru in the regenerative field last year, the American Kirk Gadzia, when he led a course in holistic management in Catalunya. Long gone are the days when we used to dream of seeing Pearl Jam live...

Although Dan has just said, 'speak for yourself, sunshine!'