The pilot farm where the demonstration of the Polyfarming project is carried out is Planeses, an 80-hectare farm located in the region of La Garrotxa, 40 km north of Girona (Catalonia, Spain). The climate is humid Mediterranean, the soils are limestone and the vegetation is dominated mainly by holm oak forests. These holm oaks were traditionally exploited until the 1970s as a low mountain for the use of coal. Later on, they were abandoned becoming a dense and impenetrable forest, with sporadic use to obtain firewood. Currently, thanks to the co-financing of the LIFE program of the European Commission, the Polyfarming system, which combines the resources of the forest, livestock and crops to recover fertile soil, is implemented in Planeses to restore the farm activity.
These techniques, in addition to improving soil fertility, are a great opportunity to mitigate the climate change, both to sequester the large amount of atmospheric carbon that trees contain, and to use better the water in a drought situation that it will be increasingly frequent.
Livestock is another key piece to enrich the soil. On the one hand, the management of small animals: chickens and rabbits, is carried out with mobile farms. On the other hand, “Programmed intensive herding” is used in Plans, with this method the cows graze each day on a different plot and take around 50-60 days to return to a plot where they have already eaten.
In this way, the livestock do not damage the regrowths of the first plants that they ate, but they do improve the fertility and biodiversity of the soil with their excrements.
Self-management of mountain orchards without plowing, so the soil structure is not broken. Its maintenance consists, on the one hand, of an irrigation system that provides water and biofertilizers and, on the other hand, spreads biochar and BRF to improve the chemical and physical properties of the soil. The small animals are another essential tool for management: they eliminate insects, fertilize the soil and eat weeds.
In this way, the maximum improvement in the content of organic matter and soil structure is achieved, but the fertilization costs and water consumption of mountain orchards are decreased.
Multiple management of fruit trees with pasture production, using livestock and forest products such as BRF and cultivation on wooden beds to fertilize the soil.