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‘Soil & agriculture’ Category

Les foodingues at David Lynch’s Parisian Club !

September 11th, 2013

Silencio, Paris – Sept 7, 2013 / 8 PMsilencio_program1
The Crazy wild plants and the Foodingues are taking over a few hours, the Silencio, the private club designed by David Lynch, just for a casual culinary performance made up of wild forage plants, for the club members, at the occasion of the release of the book le “Manifeste Gourmand des Herbes Folles” , the wild forage plant manifesto, written by Diana Ubarrechena, George Oxley and Gérard Ducerf, at the éditions du Toucan.

Bunches of wild flowers are glittering in neverending vasarelian mirrors… nithing about decoration…

we are talking serious food to be crunched by special gourmets.


The menu has been designed according to the salvage natural of the master of the place, David Lynch :

GREEN VELVETS : a shot of green aphrodisiac Gazpacho of hogweed, Hieracleum sphondyllum, meadowsweet, Filipendula ulmaria, plantain, Plantago lanceolata and Plantago major, and bishop’s weed, Aegopodium podragraria.

CRUSTY MEDITATIONS : Croustillant of comfrey, Symphitum officinalis, bladderwrack seaweed, Fucus vesiculosus, Nori, Porphyra, chickweed, Stellaria media… on a creamy line of weld Reseda phyteuma

MULHOLLAND SEEDS WITH THE LOST DUO OF ODD SALMONS : quinotto of whelk broth and grilled psychedellic seaweed , with a salmon preserved in carob syrup, carbonised seaweed and mandarine flavored Hogweed seeds, with its’ companion salmon preserved in meadowsweet with ultradry sherry wine, altogether topped with a bunch of Cardamine sprouts.

LOST HIGHWAY SHERBETS : 1 spoon of frozen blackberry on top of a blackberry sprout sherbet; a glass of Frozen yogurt with meadow sweet and malt.

We wellcome our guest on green velvet… starting with an aphrodisiac shot, unhibiting, to shape our guest in the best form possible in order to appreciate this feast and wipe off all the residues of bad, fast and too heavy Parisian food from the outside : the ultra fresh aphrodisiac hogweed, with it’s chlorophylle to the top, mixed with two varieties of plantain against allergies, Meadowsweet the best digestiv and vein cleaner, and the gout weed or bishop’s weed, to drain all the heavy food excesses.

Then it is a brick of false fish with fake mustard : We are just being the stock exchange, the temple of virtual money, so a bit of irony will do: why not give some fake stuff which is better than the true one : F For Fake, thank you Orson Welles… comfrey is the Dover sole of the forest, a total fraud when mixed with the glutinous seaweeds… Chevreul_nadar a mix of nori, the ones of the sushi, but crop by us under the cliffs of Varengeville and the Fucus the famous bladder fucus sold in farmacy as diet food complement to loose weight. To this one line of Reseda cream, the plant which led to the discovery of cholesterol and the antioxidant : the lucky charm plat of the famous chemist Chevreuil, who has search all his life on the tricks and principles of immortality , who died at 104 of sorrow to have lost his 85 years old child. He was given a burial with the National honour for the foundamental services he rendered to humanity.Chevreul_nadar

After these meditations on immortality, the truth and the fake which finally comes out victorious; we decided to put our steps in the sinuous ones of David Lynch to finally bump into a salmon duo lost in Mulholland drive : a banality at first, which sinks into the gluey moving grains of a quinotto to finish on spines which are in fact savory carbonised crispy seaweeds. It is precisely there that we collide with these big pinkish salmons, banal and vulgar, fresh from the deep American MidWest, with king size carton schooners in their hands. But the intriguing was that from the near, their Irish orangy pink was in fact black for the one and green for the other; a complexity with undescribable tastes that merits a little pose in order to start writing a TV soap opera. By chance here is just a tousled hairy Cardamine ! It stand for “to tame the heart” in Greek and scientists just found that it produced nevronic acid the precusor of the myeline of our brain… enough to keep running the serial for many seasons…

Finally lets’ get back on the Lost Highways, that we thought sinister and unhuman, for fantoms and zombis… Yes, yes, they tried to tell just the same things with the hogweed. It is for this plant that was invented the first herbicide : just imagine the favored food, wild forage of the English countryside… the cause of too many births… if you make it disapear there will be less poor in the world… simple no? They even pretended that it was the same plant as the Caucasian hogweed, which produce photosensitivity… A hogweed form the east carpates dracul which turns you into lubricity without any possibility of seeing the sun anymore… and Bram Stoker invents Dracula, the lusty vampire who must hide from the sun…dracul

No! Lost Highways are in fact the last refuge of liberty, where all delight are allowed, wher a frozen blackberry can pose on a blackerry sprout sherbet to get exploded by its’ astringent sweet and sour, where a frozen yogurt birsts with voluptuous meadowsweet and malt, to announce the total licence of the noight…

- Wild forage plants, listen now ! Her is your place, luxury, calm, voluptuous … SILENCIO


I must say as a post scriptum, that the public has been at the height of the place : passionate, curious, hedonists and connoisseurs. I will just unveal the identity of one of them : the great baker Christophe Vasseur , from the bakery du Pain et des Idées, rue de Marseille, Paris 10°, who is now part of the French culinary Heritage though so young, wity and inventiv.

1st Book Prize for the Manifesto of Wild Plants “Manifeste Gourmand des herbes folles” : a growing intelligence between nature and agriculture ?

August 22nd, 2013

The Manifeste Gourmand des Herbes Folles recieves its’ 1st book prize on August the 25 th 2013, at the occasion of the 18th edition of the “Forêt des Livres” at Chanceau-prés-Loche, in Touraine. Sauvages comestibles foret des livres 2013
The Forest of Books is the WOODSTOCK of French litterature , 60 000 visitors in a day, 200 writers among the more mediatic celebs of the time… under the lead of the flamboyant Gonzague Saint Bris and this year the patron of the Minister of Agriculture, Stéphane Le Foll, who is supposed to reward the wild plants.. weeds, just imagine, bio indicator plants, recieving a book prize from the minister of agriculture : Here is the Gourmet Manifesto becoming Revolutionary !
Agriculture by rewarding the Manifeste Gourmand des Herbes Folles gives a tribute to culture, the knowledge of nature; thanking the important work of weeds instead of fighting them always. These plantes which nourrish us without needing to be cultivated, which give us valuableand precise information on the soil to enhance our crops, while giving us precious health support… are suddenly becoming important for the Minister ? Is Agriculture getting suddenly interested by the sciences of life ?
Lets hope so : our future, the one of the farmers depends on it. What a good news : a beginning of the year full of panache and gourmandise.
cuisine sauvage Manifeste Gourmand des Herbes Folles

Facebook and Twitter are mushrooms : fertilizers and pesticides have no future anymore

February 26th, 2010

Once more… One more protocole set up by the team SOS SOiL, to remplace agro chemicals in the fields of Argentina, Belgium etc., approved by an official Institution in France :
“Fungi, an underestimated ressource” this is what announces in magazine of the IRD, which stands for the French Institute for Research for Developping Countries.
We are not the only ones to have revealed the Pandora Box : Robin Duponnois of the IRD, woks in Mali since 2006 on termite dust. He discovered that it was a perfect fertilzer for vegetable.

What is it in fact?

Termites live in symbiosis with mushroom which they grow. These mushroom digest all the plant residu they are bringing back home. With this the mushroom produces sugar, a sort of honey they feed their larvaes with.

In fact it is the mycelium which works, the body of the mushroom; because the mushroom itself, is more like a fruit which bears the spores, waiting for the next breeze with its hat on. The mushroom frees its spores which inoculate the ultra rich humus.

So when we spread the dust of termite mounds on a crop, we are spreading mushroom spores which will soon turn into mycelium associated with bacterias. This gang is getting organised together with the roots from the plants, to supply for all the water and minerals they need. The deal is carbon against fertilizer, water and antibiotics.

It is just like installing the most sophisticated micro irrigation together with the most updated device to feed with oligo elements and minerals, specialy adapted to each kind of plant. What do you say about this?

The extreme interest about mycelium is that it can grow very fast. It runs like Paul Stamets says. And when it doesn’t run fast enough, it “communicates” with its’ social network to organise all the ressources. It uses its Facebook and Twitter. In terms of celebrities, you have only bacterias. But this is what you need here; they bring water in exchange of delicatly prepared carbon.

Nothing sad in the “Malheur National Forest” East Oregon, just the biggest and oldest living being on earth : an Armillaria Ssp., a honey mushroom.

This chap covers 2 400 acres… no kidding, the size of 1 665 football field. It is estimated 2 200 years old. Still you can pass by without noticing it : One day they built a road to cross the mountain… one month later the road had disappeared, completly digested. The mycelium had totally eaten the whole tarmac, turned it into fertilizer…

In fact, many forest glades are runned by fungi. They sustain the balance needed by a natural forest. The Armillaria is a tree killer, as well as a forest regenarator for its biodiversity and its force. As long as the tree is vigourous, it will feed it; but at the slight faint, it has no pity; it will eradicate it to prepare the ground for new ones.

It looks hysterical, I must say. Nothing to do with the old wise man in the woods. But in order to control it, nature has many devices, like yeasts and other fungis : the cauliflower mushroom, Sparasis crispa, for example.

This is for the wine makers and the potato growers: they can control blight by using the same principles. To be sustainable in nature, it is a question of dynamic balance. In fact many mushroom act as prebiotics, favoring good bacteria against bad. But what is good or bad? Man just does not want to think and kills everything with pesticide.

Hence, these deals are the basics of life : a plant brings carbon with its falling leaves and its roots. It is in the interest of the mushroom to accelerate the process and make it grow the faster and the bigger. Logic, isnt’ it?

The consequences of this basic principle of life are numerous :
It acts like an insurance against climate change. If suddenly tthere is no water anymore, it will bring water from deeper and farther. Or it will switch on its’ Twitter and Facebook for its’ associated bacteria network. They are all addicted to sweets. To pay for it they have organised a super growing control device to supply water, and in case it rains too much, stock it in the aquifer for later.

This network, bacteria-mycelium has been organised for more than 600 millions years. Plants joined in 400 million years ago. It is time that man “becomes a fan”, dont you think so?

80% of living beings live in the 15cm of the top soil. One must always remember that the soil is alive. If it dies water cannot penetrate, it will erode the surface and cast the goodies away. The bacteria and all the living beings allow water to penetrate in the earth. The aerobic bacteria are living on oxygen at the surface together with the anaerobic bacterias deep under. It is the basic of Soil life.
So when you till the ground, you just burn the anaerobic with oxygen and suffocate the rest deep under. Henceforth you break up and destroy all the mycelium net. Did you understand? There is no scientific base in tilling: to think it is good for agriculture is cheer credence, nothing else. Evil.

The most funny side of the story, is that the French institution IRD, seems to have discovered moon… when it is in fact the result of long researches from the XVIII century to the XXIst, with a long list of researchers, from Braun Blanquet to Paul Stamets, my two preferates. You dont earn money with fungi and bacterias, like you do with pesticide, fertilizer or even fungicides. Nobody will loan money from the agro banks to pay for the heavy equipment with this kind of set up…

Dont think so fast… people make money with water, why not with fungi or air? In its great dedication to save the developping countries the IRD has patented a living being. It is not the first to do so. Still it has patented life: the result of termites and fungi inoculation.

To set up a start-up company in Senegal to sell inoculated trees and veggies, ok… but to patent life in the name of helping development… there is something rotten. After all, why not? it might be a good thing; if a technology does not cost anything, it is not granted for serious…

On their way they also found out that mushroom could parasite insects and become biopesticides :
Cordyceps myrmecophilia for example, develops itself on wood eating ants. It is used to kill invading termites in the US (not in Europe of course, where we use always more pesticides).

Just imagine: It is absoutly facinating to watch this mycelium taking hold of the body of the ant without affecting its vital functions. You see the white mycelium clearly progressing in the transparent body of the ant… until it decides to reproduce itself. It goes right to the brain of the animal and takes control of it. It orders the ant to reach the top of the highest plant nearby and stiffs it right there. Then the mushroom grows on the head of the ant with its’ cap on top to cast its spores away and reach the next bunch of ants. It is a natural pesticide which reproduces itself on its own. Dont tell… very bad for commerce.

They also discovered that a tree inoculated with a mycelium could grow three times faster than without… Something that is used on the US West Coast since 2002 and especially to replant the forest devasted by the big fires of 2007 / 2008…

They learned that a potato plant can give three times more potato, something we’ve been saying to the small producers in the Andes for the project Tikka Papa, for which we got the FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation) gold medal in 2006… a plant like a vine could grow faster and stronger, producing top quality wine, like we teach in Bas Armagnac since 2009.

These basic processes of life that we learned from the scientific understanding of Masanobu Fukuoka’ natural agriculture in Japan, these French people are patenting it in the name of development…

But the worm is now in the fruit. Farmers from the North, if they say this discovery is only only valid for the South, just wake up and ask yourself. The answer is at hand. To be a farmer today is to play at the crossroad of many sciences, botanics, entomology, mycology, cellular microbiology, genetics… But before all, we are in a world of information : agriculture today has also to do with informing and communicating with your soil.

Are pesticides changing of climate or of planet?

December 11th, 2009

Dear friends, an incredible thing happenned this week, on the side of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, a true mental climate change, heart warming, a real good news : the very respected Routhamsted Center for Research is communicating on the fact that there you dont need pesticide and fertilizer to produce corn.

Yes, you are not dreaming, the news is coming from one of the most advancedhigh tech agro lab in Europe, heir to the 2nd world war effort, to the tradition of the inventors of the Orange Agent, the GM crops, etc. Prof. John Pickett chief of the Pesticide and fongicide department, recently renamed “Biological Chemistry Laboratory” of the centeralso renamed “sutainable pest and disease management centre”, those who have invented the synthetic Pyrethrum, as welle as many other products that we find in the end in our plates, that we fix little by little in our body while eating vegetable and fruits. And suddenly without notice this package of pesticide and fertilizer is producing toxic algaes on our shores, killing the animals which eat them. we would like to transform this biomass but it is not yet a priority, hence the million euros it is costing already (800M euros in France only) (by the way dont see anything religious in the biomass).

Of course the very sympathetic professor Pickett is not denying his old love in inorganic chemistry and magic powders which make the joy of commerce and debt of the farmers. But now his speach is clear and radical on the BBC and on the web “Developping countries, you dont need pesticides and fertilizer anymore to grow your corn: we ahve designed for you the “Push & Pull” technique, which will enhance your crops by 50 to 600%.

What is it all about? To use what nature is offering us to get bthe best out of it at the lowest cost possible.

More than a generous soil and water, to grow, corn needs two things : nitrogen as fertilizer and to avoid the small worms of corn borer, little mothswho elected the corn pods as the five star hatchery of the century. Our brillant lab nspired itself from the research of the famous botanist Josia Braun-Blanquet, published in 1922 in his book “the plant sociology”; a book sold out, which I finaly was able to get when Bradford University’s library decided to clean up its shelves from its’ old books, judged unfitted for the modern farmer.

Still, Braun-Blanquet’s “the Plant sociology” as Rudolf Steiner’s “Agriculture courses” de Rudolf Steiner, the “inventor” of biodynamy, should be the two reference books for any farmer, to my opinion.

So what are we talking about? To plant corm together with two other plants : one to protect it against pests, the other to purvey fertilizer and attract all the insects predators of the pests.

The first is a gramineae, the Pennisetum purpureum, better known as the elephant grass, as it can reach 3m high and is the appreciated by all the dumbos of Kenya. It is also the preferate food of corn stem borers. the little moth which destroys corn likes it better than corn: but when it lay its eggs on it the intelligent plant knows exactly what to do : it produces a liquid which disolve the eggs. How impresive is nature, dont you find? Above all the roots of thos plant does not spread at the same level as corn, it goes far deeper and so it stops erosion and helps water to penetrate the soil far better while keeping humidity for the corn which really needs it in summer. Our herb is stopping soil perspiration. Not bad.

The second plant to be sown together with the corn is a legume, the Desmodium Ssp, a sort of bean. It is well known now, the legumes are champions to fix in the soil the nitrogen of the air, thanks to the nodosities they have in their roots and to the bunch of fungi mycelia it lives together with. So no need of fertilizer for the corn anymore. The Desmodium Ssp. also produce nice little pink flowers which attract all the tiny wasps of the area, like young teens around the last Galliano’s perfume. And guess what? The preferate food of these wasps is the little moths which threat the corns and which our elephant grass attracts in such quantities. Desmodium can fix up to 200 to 250kg of nitrogen in an hectare, Remember in Agriculture the excess is always worse than the countrary. In case there is two much nitrogen our legume are going to provoque the growth of asteraceae, little flowers and medicinal plants which also attract the helpfull tiny wasps and other pollinators.

So as we are planting, why not some asteraceae all around the field, like sunflower or the famous Yacon, Yacon root Smallanthus sonchifolia, and what about some radishes like the Raphanus sativus niger, or maca, Lepidium meyenii, which will bring their dose of sulfur and keep the predators away from our asteraceaes…

The result? Instead of just one crop of corn, we get more and better corn, fourage for the cattle, a crop of sunflower seeds, of yacon roots, black and horse radish and maca full of vitamins. Not bad at all.

Above all we will have a nice green field of year long, full of flowers and life. Because to get a good result we do not till the soil; the desmodium and the corn are sown direct and the rest simply cast on top of the soil. Not too tiring, is it? Above all the desmodium and the elephant grass is perennial. Once it is sown it there for years and the field will always be fertilized and humid.

At the same time as introducing this protocole to cultivate corn in Argentina, we started a second protocole to destress the paesant in charge of the kitchen garden. We called it the protocole of the Inca, as it is inspired from the ancien techniques found in the archeological remains around Puno in Peru, along the Titicaca lake, a technique which is still used by the Hopi indians in the States :

In the same rectangle we have sown all the different varieties of corn we could find, all different colours. The farmer wanted absolutly to till the land by hand, though we told us that it was of no use. You see if he does not work he feals he does not diserve his salary. Any work means to be paid, even if it useless.

At the foot of each stem of corn we told him to plant a pea a bean and a green bean, in between each rows we told him to pant pumkin and other cucurbitaceae. At the end of the row facing the sun a yacon root and opposite a sunflower, all around radishes and maca. His little garden suddenly transformed itself into a plat village, in which each plant has its role among the community in a perfect harmony, enriching the soil and preserving water. All grows perfectly well and in a few days we will get 7 crops instead of our only crop of corn.

With all this biodiversity of food we have now to be clever on gastronomy. If everybody follows this example, it gives hope for the future of food security of our planet.

This is what I call a good demo of agricultural design.

This example needs to be followed, to forget about all these scaremongers who want to sell their chemistry as an excuse to save the planet, when they destroy it. Thank you and bravo Professor Pickett.

Remember, December 1984, 25 years ago : Bhopal, hundreds of thousands of dead in one night and the environment destroyed for god knows ho long. In Bhopal, Dominique Lapierre is still fighting to help the survivors to recover and live decently ; apart from giving all the rights of his world best seller books to the foundation “City of Joy”, he travels the whole planet to spread the message so that it wont happen never again.

If we had explained to the Indian farmers that they could do without pesticide to accomplish the Green Revolution, it wouldn’t have happened. One does not build a factory that creates no benefit.

Remember the Zyclon B of the Nazi camps, 5 million dead ; more recently the organophosphorus gas projectiles received by the Kurdes of Halabja in 1988, Falloujah in 2004, Lebanon in 2006 … Here are the type of “side products” of the research you are supporting when buying pesticides. Think it over, pesticide and herbicide are meant to kill.

There is no use in killing nature blindly. Learn about life and how it works first. You can earn much more by applying the sort of techniques we have described today.

A little further with agricultural design : the solar barn this time a little more grungy

November 7th, 2009

What the hell can a cow dream about?
Simple : about this
And this
But here in the Argentinian North West, in summer you cant dry tadalafil no prescription it, it rains too much, it rots.

We already made the design of a solar barn to dry it up. But who wants to put a dime on grass.

What a weird idea? Grass? It is not serious.

Can’t smoke it.

So we reviewed the copy of our report and came back with a new one : the barn is less glamourous, less techno, it lacks this space shuttle look that farmers like so much, with buttons, computers, noise… now it works with absolutly no machinery, only sun and some small tricks of course :
The hay is thrown on a big rolling walkway, made of recycled farm nets, actioned by a pedal and simple machanism which makes it go 2meters by 2 meters, just enough to spray the hay evenly. The barn is 30m by 10m. Once the sort of pathway is totally covered, the barn is shut the more hermeticly possible. The sun heats the roof, and the air flies away through special chimneys, which look like metallic chef whirling hats; a bit like the mad whirling dervich cook. By doing so it creates a depression, which attracts the air coming from apertures under the hay. The hay is relatively close to the roof so it gets the heat from it, but the air coming from under and passing through, prevents it from cooking. A piece of cake.


The trick? The air coming and going is accelerated by a vortex-like system of cones continuously renovating the air at a fast pace to dry it up quickly. The interior of the barn is cleverly organised to reenforce the whirlwinds, avoiding dead angles which could create counter streams and with small devices to gear humid condensations at the right places. Done, the rabbit is in the hat. The barn is 100% controled by the sun.

It was crucial for us to persevere in this project and insist with it instead of letting it be immolated it on the altar of GMO progress. Just look at what will happen to the cattle in winter if we dont react… new born calves and pregnant cows forced to eat the ground ; just like the people starving in Haïti, you would say?
No, not as bad, here the cows are more lucky than human beings… engineers are taking care of them. All around the world, young agronomists have been taught that you need to feed cattle on corn. You would not even think to give them grass, would you? You cant get a better value than with corn; and it is so easy to grow with GMO technologies; you dont have to think, just buy the seeds, the herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers that go with them, machinery to spray everething on your well compacted and flat field. If you cannot afford all this, you will easily get a loan. Good boy, you are now sustaining a whole economy. Yes you can.

Hopefully, things are changing, slowly. One thing: just remember that corn produces more fat than meat, which is very good when your cow does not move; if not, it will loses it. It is probably why we have created feedlots, sort of concentration camps in which animals are stockpiled to be force fed without moving. 60 to 80% of Argentinian meat is produced this way, same with Brasil, same in France.
The dream team is with the GMO soy cattle-cake. You press the soy oil for cars and give the remaining to the cows. 70% of the cows in France are fed on this. France is now number one importer of GMO soy cattle cake from Brasil. GMO crops are forbidden in France, but the cows which are eating GMO soy in their barn without being able to move, are they GMO? Of course not, logic.

“Colonizar a Amazonia pela pata do boi” “conquer Amazonia by the hoof of the ox”, the great motto of the Brasilian politicians since the seventies is more hype than anytime. To feed each French you need 458sqm of Amazonian soy, according to Greenpeace. And it goes on, the consumption of meat in this year of crisis has risen by 28% in France and since the seventies soy production in Amazonia went from 0 to 21 million hectares. Progress never stops.

But back to our cows; here once the corn has grown, in order to keep food for winter, you let it dry up on its’ pod or you convert it into silo bags; the big black plastic bags laying with big old tires on top, a bucolic neat countryside. The corn is crushed and put to fermentate until the next winter. This method works perfectly in a laboratory, but in nature it is not always easy to control and sort the bacterias which are going to produce the lactic acids and the yeast which are going to produce alcohol. Oh, sweet little devils.
The young calves you see here are totally drunk, loaded, not a single one can walk straight, “they dont need to drive, its’ not too bad” Would you say? In fact alcohol hits directly on the liver which is the place where the immune defenses are constructed, a sort of control tower of your immune system. Not the best thing to do do when you start in life, isn’t it? These calves are going to spend the rest of their life at the vet. To avoid spending a little more today, you will spend a lot more later.

The key problem in Argentina is here : the price of meat is blocked by the government; 20 cent euros a kilo. You cant make a living anymore by producing meat, everybody abandons. “Only the ones on natural pastures can cope”, tells me an agronom engineer. But everybody carries on with corn and soy. Argentina just announced in November 2009 a deficit of 3 million calves. No you are not dreaming, we are talking about Argentina and agronomers… a famous French comic used to say “You put them in a desert, 3 weeks later they come to clame for more sand.”

To produce 1kg of meat you need 7 to 10 kg of food. Quite a carbon footprint; here, according to the calculations we made, on the yields we got this year 12t/ha i.e. 8t/ha dry of GMO corn; I cant say if it is due to the seeds or local conditions. On the other hand well managed pastures can provide 20 to 60 tons/ha. Once it is sown, it comes back every year. No use to buy more seeds, to plant, just harvest. Between this and corn, what would you choose? Corn of course. Logical?

The solar barn : when agricuture design gets luminous

September 27th, 2009

Natural pasture is the best food for cattle.
How odd it is to have to repeat this. It seems so obvious, that people tend to forget it.

Cows get from it all they need to build up their immune system, all the proteins they need for their body and the milk to feed the veals. panopotreros2

Here, under the Tropic of the Capricorne, near Salta, North West of Argentina, it only rains during the austral summer months: December, January, February. That’s it. In three months we get 1000 to 1500 mm, approximatly what Brussels or Brest, gets in a whole year. Summer in the Tropics is also a time when the sun is vertical right up your head, the nearest from earth.

These spectacular conditions give record growths to the grass.
In general the balance between proteins and sugars (fibers) is achieved just when grass flowers. This is about the right time when you can harvest and get well balanced food for winter.

Naively, we could think that corn would be better and give bigger crops… it is  just the contrary.
First corn is not the best food for cows, it brings too much quick sugars which turn into quick disapearing fat or milk without making muscle. Second in our field we get crops of 8 to 12tons/hectare corn as with pasture we reach 20 tons to even 40 depending on the areas. This without having to seed, work on the soil, fertilize, herbicide, nothing… just harvest.
I still dont understand why people continue to grow corn to feed cattle? and above all this single food diet based on corn is nothing in comparison with a diversified meal, mixing all kinds of nourrishing and medicinal plants; a true balanced meal.

But to be able to use hay all winter, it needs to be dry; almost mpossible when it rains 2 hours everyday. We need to find a solution.
The solar barn. The roof to protect against the rain is turned also as an oven to heat the air, which is then propelled under the wet thatch to dry it slowly.
The hay is brought in and distributed by a mechanical fork, which then brings it, once dryed up, to the machine which makes the rolls.
Then the rolls are kept in the other part of the barn to be then distributed where the cattle are.
Here we are talking of 7 000 heads to feed in winter when the grass does not grow anymore, on a surface of about 40 000 acres dedicated to grazing. Which means a lot of kilometers to drive and distribute the rolls everywhere.

500 m3 of grass can be dryed every week, about 200 rolls. In 10 weeks the barn is filled up and we need to get rid of the rolls and distribute them all around.
This is how it works : the air enters the roof to be heated and expelled under the wet grass. The humid air is then expelled out on the top of the roof. A little thermodynamics is needed to calculate the flux of air, so that it does not burn the thatch and that it can stay at about 10°C above outside temperature. At midday, the strengh of the sun gives 15kW/m2, a lot. The speed of air must adapt to it.

The only disadventage of this barn, is that it depends on machines, a powerfull fan and a big fork, running back and fourth, on its’ 30meters long rail… it needs too much electricity to be produced by solar power, it would be too expensive. The machines run on a power generator with diesel. This is why we started our plan to produce biodiesel with micro algaes feeding on agriculture waste… The nearest gas station is 2 hours away by car.

Cows are talking to us : we need food biodiversity

July 25th, 2009

vachefleurfaceMost of cows’ illnesses come from their food. It is the biodiversity of what they eat that build their Immunitary defenses; beware excesses, they can destoy these defenses in a glimpse.


It is the same for man. On a cow it shows almost immidiatly; on man, one gets used to it. For a cow a lack of balance in its meal shows immidiatly on its hair, on the side of its eyes, the cleansiness of its back, the grease of its leather, its liquid shit… A cow constantly talks to us about its’ health : we need to observe it to correct its’ food properly, for the sake of its’ health.


Otherwise these excesses are going to provoque mamites, parasitisms, with abortion and death of young ones.

How can this happen ? A field is overwhelmed with clover, viscia or lotus. Nothing wrong withn this, on the contrary it helps all the gramineas to grow faster; but in excess these leguminous bring too much nitrogen to the everyday menu of the cow : immediatly the cow dung becomes liquid. Then the back gets dirty, small crystals appear on the side of the eyes, the fur becomes messy. In a few days it start to leak its back and grate itslf compulsively, parasitism is starting …

If 2/3 f the cattle shows th same symptoms, you need to take this for serious and act, without mentioning that the white clover Trifolium repens when flowering produces cyanidrides which can be fatal to young bulls.

In fact it happens exactly the same thing if a man would have a year round partying eating and drinking all his soul. The cow tells us though these signs that she eats too much quick fermentable sugars associated with too much nitrogen… the party goes on, but measure for measure. The cow tells us she desparatly needs efficient fibers, rape with lots of very slow sugars.

In case we do not respect what the cow says, the vet bill will skyrocket. The farmer will have to invest in tons of various vaccines to fight against mamites, parasites, blue tong… In reality he acts like he is breaking the thermometer, he cures more the signs of the unbalanced situtation than too the real problem which can have greater consequences in the long term. The problem solved in one end will reappear shortly at the other end.

These simple statements which were shared by all breeders before seam to be totally avoided by agronomy schools today. Only, from what I know, one man Dr Bruno Giboudeau a passionate vet has publicly raised the problem and brought a solution with his theory OBSALIM, which stands for alimentary observation.

In fact, excesses are far more dangerous than the countrary. Comw is ment to eat grass and fibers. But the great majority of the farmers of the world give them corn and soya pies.

In Argentina 80% of the cows ar raised in Feed-lots, sort of concentration for ruminants, with GMO soja pies, residu from biodiesel production. These cows in their artificial environment are totaly incapable of grabbing what they need to build up their immunitary system, therefore the local vet are feeding them with all the pills and vaccine possible for them too reach a reasonable weight too slaughter them… then man eat them, with all their pharmacy…

The problem is also in all the technology flash in the eye which brings the farmer to confuse productivity with profit. The GMO ready made package, with herbicides, seeds and fertilizers raise their price a 25/30% each year. pills and vaccines you need more every year..


But in France or Belgica, where officialy GMO seeds are not officialy planted… except the ones bought in Spain and passed through the gentle customs to be planted by the all time rebel paysant… but anyway the GMO soja torts are imported from Brasil…

But when the cows are raised with natural pasture. Some of the land will be left for hay for the winter. The man will like this hay to be top quality. So he will start fertilizing it… always more, 3/4 crops a year…  Suddenly an explosion of dandelion Taraxacum off. … this is phase 1, the field is all yellow. Then buttercups Ranunculus acris and wild sorrel Rumex obtusifolia... phase 2, when nitrogen of the soil turn into nitrites pathogenous to animals and man who eats them or drink its milk. Nitrites 3+, make activ ions in comparison to nitrogen 2+, with the particularity to weaken all antioxydants. So beware.


There again, organic or not, the farmer will spread fertilizer without questioning the state of his soil.


Is this lot of cow dung really composted? have bacterias had time to transform it? with the cold in some areas it can take a few years… here the compost is still pathogenous for a hay to be eaten by the cattle. But noone thinks it can be harmfull for the cattle during winter.

Therefore it is so important to pay attention to the biodindicator plants. They can tell you about the quality of your hay and the action (or inaction) to take to secure the health of the cattle.

So, during each mission we tend to form the paysants so that he can react the earlier possible to preserve the health of his cows. When h invest in a 2/3 days diagnosis, it costs him usually a tenth of what he would have paid for the vet and the drugs later without advise. But our main aim is to form them with the basics so they can have the keys to follow up their knowledge by themselves free of charge. This is what we do in Europe, France, Belgium, Spain, where we still have fabulous meats, but this what we are also lucky to do in Argentina, where we would like to find again the once known as bet meat of the world.

This is a work of passion which requires rigour in terms of traceability, but also in the sustainability of the production, the best pastures possible as  well as the O carbon footprint in terms of recycling all pollution of 8000 cows on 100 000 acres, as well as the preservation of the nature and wild areas which are huge reserve of biodiversity vital to the cattle and its health, as well as for the future of the domain.

Last but not least, if one likes meat, it must remain a pleasure of exception, not to be eaten everyday. Only go for the best. A quinotto or a dish mixing cereal nd leguminous plants is as nutritious as meat, with 10 000 less impact on the planet.

Like for the cows we should multiply the pleasures and benefit from the biodiversity of our food; it will diminish the doctor’s bill efficiently…

Argentina 8 : to plant trees is fine, but to use them to guaranty food security is better

July 7th, 2009

How to plant trees for food security ?

In order to diversify the revenus of the estancia, the agronome engineers came with the great idea of planting wallnut trees.


Wallnuts are sold a good price and have a fair market in Argentina. Then, in 20 years, you ill be able to sell your wood if you choose so. So why not participate in the general fight against global warming by planting trees.

But to plant 8500 wallnut in a go, in the short term, it will become forest which will take 60ha of pasture from the cattle. The dense foilage and the low architecture of the wallnut empeaches any kind of plant to grow under it.

Without speaking about the proliferation of uncontrolable foreign plants it can cast, ready to put an end to the original balance of the ecosystem, with high levels of cyanidrides and all the dejections of the wallnut cork which will act as herbicides.

To palnt trees can be much more profitable, and here we come :

You must make the tree an ally of your plans and use it to reenforce your strategy of sustainability.

Waht brings the wallnut tree ?

  • It can fix up to 200kg azote/year from the air to the soil.
  • it keeps up a mycelial network, which distributes directly to the roots all the water, the minerals and nutrients a tree needs.
  • It takes care of the life of the soil by maintaining the good bacterias which the plant needs to grow.
  • It fixes and retain the soil from erosion, stop the progression of canyons, the main menace of the domain.
  • It can be a true climatic shock absorber against the current climate change, protecting from the wind, frost, and attracting rain by the mollecules they cast in the air.
  • Trees are vital to horse alimentation chevaux; dont forget that the primary biotope of horses is wood.

What are the priorities of the domain?

We need azote to make nitrates to accelerate the growth fo the pastures.

We desperatly need to reenforce the vegetal web and the deep and surface root web to stop erosion and the progress of the canyons.

We need to settle Sylvo-agriculture :

Experience has shown us that the ideal density of trees for this is 50 trees by hectare. This number allows the passage of the machinery while letting sufficient light for the crops.
8500 trees will cover 170 ha.

How to plant these trees ?

The distance between trees :
To know the distance between each tree you should calculate :

d = √A/n

d, for distance, A for the area, n the number of trees. This is how used to do Braun-Blanquet, the inventor of phytosociology.

So for our 50 trees hectarewe need to 1 a plant 1 tree every 14m.

The type of soil :

The wallnut tree does not like water in excess. It must be well drained, with little clay as possible. If you do not pay attentionto this it will catch deseases and parasites. In Argentina the most commun parasite is the mushroom Phytophtora. It takes up the base of the tree and the roots. The only remedy known here is amputation, which does not help to the growth of the tree. So better avoid any kind of drop to dop irrigation, etc.

Dont work on the soil before planting. If you tile you will create a tilage sole, by destructuring the soil which will create blocks of clay, hindering the water absorbtion. Tilage is the best way to put your trees vulnarable to parasite mushrooms or insects.

To plant them you only have to dig a hole the size of the clod of your tree you need to plant. Punto y basta.

To make shure our tree will get a quick and steady growth we go for mycoforestation

Two techniques according to the site :

chenesIf you have an old forest close by, you will link it with your young trees by a path of wood chips which will make a web between all the trees, which will make the mycelium run.

Or you proceed directly to the inoculation with mycelium raised in a lab, which as soon as it runs will provide directly to the trees all the nutrient they need. One must always use the help of nature in agriculture, it is the most efficient way.

This is another reason to avoid tilage around trees, it is the best way to break all mycelial and mycorhizal relationships, the symbiosis trees and mushroom have creates for their mutual health and benefit. A work the man is ready to distroy for the false purpose of letting the soil breathe, while he is destructuring its profound nature, and distroying the dynamic of the beings which maintain its’ balance. Nobody has had the idea of tiling a forest to make it grow yet…

Trees for agriculture.

With a density of 50 trees hectare, one tree every 14m, food plantations as well as pastures can prosper… and above all each year you have your crop of wallnuts and in 20 years you get your share of wood if you want to timber.

Organise the biodiversity

dont plant only wallnut trees … when you want to succeed with you graminees crop, rice, wheat, or pasture you need leguminous trees: acacias mimosaceas, here we have the fabulous pink lapacho a great medicinal tree to cure cancer; another leguminous like the caroub tree, which will provide fourage with its leaves (attentionwith the excess of azote) and nutritional complement by its beans.

control pollution.

8500 wallnut trees produce wallnut… at least 12 000 tons/year. Among these 12000 tons, 7000 tons rubish filled with black cyanidrides and carbon. Pollution ? Not really, it can be the ideal raw material to produce biodiesel thanks to micro algaes

Nasa’s Space Shuttle flies for agriculture

May 23rd, 2009

While everyone focusses on important space missions, we have put NASA’s space shuttle to work for agriculture thanks to our colleague Alain Gachet.

During its’ revolution around the earth, the space shuttle is scanning the earth surface with a radar which penetrates down to 30 meters under the earth surface. Then these images are analyzed and worked on with sophisticated softwares. Alain, is an engineer from the Ecole des Mines de Paris, explorator and geologist who has found petrol for Elf/Total during 20 years. He knows about the earth morphology better than anyone. The imagery of the shuttle helps him to peal literally the earth like an onion, displaying all its layers.

Thanks to this work we can find water for the farmers.

For our project in Peru, in Lambayeque, to reabilitate a desertic land which has been worn out by years of ill agricultural pratices and overgrazing, this technique has brought back water in a sustainable way :

sasape-imag-satelite-bajaHere is the 30 000acres domain on the surface satelite image.

Perou_SASAPE Water2

Then we come to the radar satelite image to understand the geology of the place and how water organises itself : where are the water collector bassins, in which direction and where exactly they go; the exact GPS points where to dig and at which deapth can we go without hindering long lasting reservoirs.

Here we take into account only the sustainable reservoirs which are apermanently affluent. We do not touch at all the permanent reservoir which could fear any danger of disappearing and caus a long term catastrophy in case they disappear.

Perou_SASAPE Water2On the above image we are following water underground. At the surface, on the photo below, nothing shows.

sasapesurfaceDeeper, we go minus 30m meters underground.

Perou_SASAPE relief2

By using this technique which he developped Alain has found water for the refugees in Darfour. the United Nations by the director general of Unesco have just officialy thanked him for saving more than 300 000 réfugiés in Darfour. From now on the Pentagone is preparing with him missions to find water in Irak, Afghanistan, Somalia…

Concerning agriculture the images treated by Alain also allow us to understand how the soil functions : to understand all the erosion process going on.

Example in Argentina : her we see South America from the space shuttle.

pampa-grande-argentina-location-mapThe dark squares are apparently sites that the army doies not want us to see. Lets get closer to where we work :

salta-zoomed-area-landsat-3d2Closer. Her we have targeted a little to high; we arrive just in the lake where goes all the water of the estancia we are advising.

coronel-mandes-synclinorium2Lets get closer and play with the image so that we can understand the geological process, teh different rocks and the impact of water on the spot. First an image to get a global view on the whole region.

pampa-grande-argentina-location-map1-2This image shows the climat impact on the domain.

All the water comes from the Amazonia. Our destiny is totally dependent on the fate of the forest. All the Eastern side of the mountains are green and our land is on the boarder with the desert. Our position is very fragile; therefore we have to find all the buffer solutions possible against climat change. This image points it clear, it should be our utmost priority. We must bring back this land to green, which on the satelite it is not for the moment. Plant trees and better management of the water ressources.

Lets get closer.

fond-landsat-7-4-2-et-transectsThis land is dreadfully less green than it should be. Far less than the spaces untouched by man. What has happened?

fond-topo-couleur-et-transectsToute l’eau du domaine se dirige vers B’ et l’on dirait que rien ne pousse là.

Etudions les coupes de terrain que nous fournit la navette depuis l’espace :

coupe-abThe whole land is in total erosion. We have here alluvions which are all taken aay by the river: look at the cross sections to better understand the process :

coupe-cdWhat on the ground seems flat is absolutly not in reality. Giving the fragile composition of the soil, at long term everything can collapse to become a canyon. We must protect the sites which already shows sign of transformation in canyon. Avoid all kind of treading by the cattle in some area. lets get closer:

zoom-pampa-grande-landsat-transectscoupe-ab1If we do not act, everything is going to collapse gently. We must avoid all kind of chemicals, forbid glyfosate, stop weeding. In order to prevent erosion we must count on any plant possible to retain the soil.

Without any ground experience we would not be able to understand things that way of course, but the images from the shuttle, the knowledge of Alain and his imagery, allow us to set our priorities. We are experiencing a true revolution for agriculture and sustainable development.

The Space Shuttle is comforting us in our choice for natural agriculture the way Masanobu Fukuoka used to do it : to understand nature by all means and turn it into an ally to cultivate and feed man.

Argentine 6 : when it comes to agriculture, the important is a woman.

May 5th, 2009


The success of an agricultural project depends on the success of a social project.

In Argentina today, agriculture is a man’s business and above all it is in the hands of business men. The huge properties all belong to private corporations or traders with very little agricultural traditions. The Gauchos and the regular farmers are now ordinary land workers. The owners are depending now on agronomic engineers, the ones who have turned agriculture into a globalised industry worldwide.

This 100 000acres estancia produces calves which are bound to be finished in feed-lots. A few weeks after birth, more than 70% of Argentina’s calves are sent in the suburbs of Buenos Aires and will never see a bit grass anymore. They are fed on trangenic soja and GMO corn, resulting from the bio ethanol production.

Within 15 years, the Argentine meat, reknowned as the best in the world, has totally disapeared. It became a biproduct of transgenic agriculture, injected with chemicals. How sad. After SARS, the swine influenza, what else is cooking?

While experiencing this disaster what can do the proud Argentine Gauchos ? Why the engineers are spreading glyfosate on the rich pastures? Why are there eradicating all the rich biodiversity needed by the calves to put up there immune defenses?

The Gauchos became employees at the mercy of the economical conditions of the owner. There one and only motivation would stay the entire day long in the immensity of the Pampa. But in reality the Gaucho has very little motivation left for his job. Finally, the Gaucho “blues” described by Jorge luis Borges, was probably their golden age…

Here, in the estancia where we work, the Gauchos, which are named by the engineers “peones”, simple farm workers are paid twice the salary of anyone else in Argentina.  The new owner insists on his social action towards his men for the sake and future of his estancia. But here, 5 hours of bus from the nearest city, there is nothing to spend your money on. Here money is not all.

There are 30 families, 30 maried men, 30 women and 3 to 6 children each. They live without any life project, not any single community project. It is a man’s world, “machos” we would say in Spanish, which is not pejorative here. Machos who do their task with not a word to say about it. They observe agricultural ways on which they dont always agree on. It does not belong to them so… Their houses have just been renewed free. The slight problem of decoration… to a missing electric bulb they turn to the owner to complain. To a foreigner they would rather seem childish than proud men. An estancia today rather looks like a classic expression of an old time patriarcal revival than a modern enterprise.

Where can we end up like this… right in the wall?  History is full of similar examples.

And therefore we come :  Simulteanously with the agriculture advising we suggest to work on 3 different social field in order to dynamise the people on the estancia, gain in creativity and spirit of development :

  • Their participation and understanding in the agriculture strategies : so that the Gauchos can give their opinion, understand more about their future and share their experience.
  • To give a place, a bigger role to the women : by creating a company in which they can participate and own shares together with the estancia. A company in which each one can start his own project, once approved by the community. It will organise microcredit, shelter creation, production and distribution of all the products they could make from what is available in the estancia.
  • Prepare the future of the children, set sustainable basis for the employment in the estancia with a steady development.

For the Gauchos, it is essential to take part in the future of the estancia. To belong is the most important concept. It is therefore important to organise regular fiestas, with music and the traditional Argentine Asados, which will be the excuse to discuss of the agriculture destiny of the estancia in order to benefit from their suggestions, knowledge and experience on a territory they cross everyday.

But the most important concerns the women. Today it is as if they do not exist at all. But the future of the estancia depends on the rolewe are giving them. They need to take the place they diserve through the creation of a company to create, produce and distribute products derived from the agriculture, as well as from the nature in the estancia. It will be a way to develop micro credits to finance ideas and support small initiatives, pay for training and education in order to make better products and develop the creativity of the inhabitants of this under exploited place .

The success of this company will radiate on the fame of the estancia by the quality and inventivness of its products as for being a first for such an endeavour in Argentina.

This share holder company can start by producing simple products destined to the Argentine market, which need very small investment :

- Specialities made from wild products :

  • edelflower and fruits jams, preserved wild peaches, preserved Berberis…
  • Wild honey, and honey combs.
  • Wild honey candles

- Specialties made from the agriculture :

  • Blackberry jam, cranberry jams,
  • cranberry juices
  • Organic “dulce de leche” , the Argentine mythical milk jam (the vet from Buenos Aires eats entire jars when he comes here, while saying it is the best in the world).

- Dry meat specialities :

  • “Grisons meat” made from the sirloin.
  • Cecina, the dry spanish entrecote.
  • Pastrami, Kosher and Halal dry entrecote entrecote with garlic and chile.

All these meat specialities are strangly missing in the Argentine menu. They love dried ham, they love beef, why not creating an Argentine version with the best organic beef ever?

- Develop high value added products :

  • Andine specialties : Andine native potatoe, quinoa, maca …
  • Ornemental plants :special  begonias, jasmin of Juyjuy,…
  • Fresh mushrooms for the Asiatic communities in Argentina and Brasil : ganoderma sp., shitake, etc.


Cheese specialities :

  • The quesadilla: an Argentine mozzarella which goes with the dulce de leche.
  • A cow cheese…

But here rises the importance of creating a company : to train people to get better know hows.

A small anecdote :

When the Paris SIAL, the most important World Food Fare asked the Foodingues associated with the company NovaleNext, to display the food world trends on a 350 sqm stand, one of our dream was to show the best Camembert ever…

When General de Gaulle arrived at the Elysée Palace, he banned all cheese from the Presidential table. Too many chees in France, it delays too much the meals. All? No. Only a Camembert, the Royal Montgomery, was authorized. The funny thing was that it was the same cheese that at the table of the Windsor’s, the Royal family at Buckingham Palace. De Gaulle did not apreciate them at all.

So we contact Mr Durand at Camembert who has retired since 1982, to make the cheese again… vacheveauxjpg1“My dear man, when I was making my cheese, my cows were producing 3000 litres of milk per year; now they are producing ten times more… the grass is still the same… Sorry such a cheese is impossible to make again.”

The estanciahas 200 Pardo Suisse cows, very rare breed. They have not been exploited for ages… it is a true treasure considering the exceptional biodiversity of pasture they live on.

The company will have to train in the production of Parmegiano cheese to satisfy the local taste. This will be possible little by little thanks to the profit made which will finance cheese courses.

- Specialties from the wall nuts (8000 wallnut trees are being planted this year) :

  • wallnut oil;
  • sweet wall nut specialties
  • wall nut cakes with the remains of the press for oil…

Not only food, the women can produce small lines of organic cosmetics with the products of the estancia. This line can be developped in association with the biology lab of Tucuman University in which the women interested could take simple courses.

- Simple organic cosmetics line :

  • soap based on micro algaes oil;
  • comsetic cream with algae oil
  • food supplement high in chlorophile and mineral based on algaes
  • essential oils : vervena, sage, lantana, etc.

These women will benefit from design courses by les Foodingues, packaging wise as well as formulas and recepies.

This endeavour will allow them to develop their environment, build a cinema, a concert hall,… activities they would like to have… bring dynamic to their life and to the estancia with their entire participation.

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