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‘Soil & agriculture’ Category

Argentina 5 : how to turn pollution into biodiesel

April 18th, 2009

entreepgmaisonWhen we started in this territory of 100 000 acres North West of Argentina, the agronomic policy has just made a Uturn since 4 years ago. The former owners did not have a penny to invest; they had to cope. But the new ones hired modern agriculture engineers.

Along with this modernity, chemicals became almighty remedies. Need to clean up the bushs? a dash of 24D; get rid of the weeds before planting? a drop of glyphosate with herbicide resistant GMO seeds; need to clean up the rivers and irrigation canals? a spray of 24D a bit of 245T mixed with a dash of detergent so that it can penetrate more easily in the plant…

These local plant get rid of all the native plants to let an open access to other plants… after two weeks of observation, scientific trials, etc. we see that in this place the herbicide give an open space to galega officinalis, and  conium maculatum.


Galega is a leguminous plant which is in Europe a medicinal plant used against diabetes. It is also a natural green manure with the nitrogen it fixes in the soil. But here in Argentina, the cattle does not eat it so it has no interest, it is a weed. Conium maculatum is the deadly poisonous hemlock made famous by the death of Socrates.

Below you can see a stripe of hemlock along the irrigation canal which has been prayed by the man on the right few weels ago.



But when it comes to a large surface it is another story: to get rid of the galega in a field of 30ha they spread all the chemical herbicide they could get hold of: the more they sprayed the more hemlock grew…

cigue-represa22the horses pass through this field of 2meters high hemlock, hears backwards, with the worse feeling ever.

To get rid of this disaster? a man with a cosmonaute suit to eradicate by hand or machine a day with no wind? When the plant will have fullfilled her role it will disapear… but when? burn the whole bunch? But what about the cyanide fumes 30 hectares of hemlock cn produce?

There is nothing to do.

But here we come :

In the mid of the vale there is a stream; at the end downwards, a narrow pass. What would happen if we could floud the field? we would produce methane, fossile carbon, CO2, cyanides and nitrites… Hell.

But without noticing we would have recreated a microcosm of ancient geological time little similar to what could be late Precambrian time… the Proterozoic. The interesting thing about botanic is that you can find in nature existing living relics of almost every age of the planet… It is the evolution of these beings which have prepared the planet for us to come.

What was living at Precambrian? micro algaes… These micro algaes use cyanures as fertilizer, transform CO2 into oxygen and carbon into oil. They reproduce themselves every 6 hours and have from 30 to 60 % oil in there body at maturity. In short these algaes get rid of toxic components, produce bio diesel and the rest is proteins, vitamins and chlorophyll. Alimentary my dear Watson. Anything more ?

30 hectares can be enough to produce oil to heat the big house and fuel cars and tractors; the remainder is pure protein vitamin and chlorophyll, perfect as food supplement in hard winter time for the cattle as well as excellent organic fertilizer for the crops.

could this algae become invasive and pollute the rivers? No, it is too important in the alimentary pyramide and can feed almost anybody. It is a real sweet, and this is what makes it problematic: once the place depolluted and the algaes production running, what quantity will escape predators? What predator will suddenly develop in excess? (fish, batracians, birds…). In the lab you can get about 90tons per hectar/yearly, what will happen in nature… We will tell you further on.

From now on les foodingues are puting an end to the selection of the right algaes and designing the croping and processing devices to get the more oil out of this venture. A true creation which we hope will free the farmers from their energetic constraints in the end.

If the algaes production is a success as we planed, we will have to sustain by throwing away the skin of the wallnuts in order to feed them with carbon and cyanure, once the initial pollution has disapeared. We have here 400 wallnut trees, which once the nuts process produces quite a heavy pollution which could be recycled by producing biodiesel.

But if in the end the production of oil is not significant… the algaes would have depolluted the place of this highly toxic plants and avoided the spreading of greenhouse gases. A positiv result in any case.

Agriculture Design Assignment – Argentina 4 / How a fair understanding of nature’s biodiversity could help farmers. wild or cultivated essential oils, medicinals or ornementals

March 24th, 2009


This dense scrubland was considered as bad, against breeding and agriculture. In fact it is a living treasure :

It has more than ten varieties of colibris and hummingbirds (far to difficult to get a picture of), not to mention all kind of eagles, vultures and six nest of the big condor… as well as a couple of spectacular big kari bustards of which the male is over 4 feet high. You have wild “quaras” as well, the small wild llamas and big cats “cougars” which share the territory.


When one handle cattle, the puma can be a great help as well : the cows know how to fight it but its presence maintain it in a permanent alert and make it move. When the puma plays its’ role properly, it is a great help to avoid over pasture, while cleaning at the same time and eliminating the wounded and diseased cattle.

Nature plays its’ role. One must observe, understand and let be.

Let us come back to the richness of this chaotic place invaded by smalla acacias. First its biodiversity :

We are on the original cradle of tabocco, its’ original biome. You have taboccos of any kind and shape here and Diana who decided to stop smoking each time she picked a plant… it was a tabacco. Here are some photos of this sacred plant…




We start by this sacred plant which is intermediary between man and Gods, which intercedes for peace at the table of the angels; the plant which is pollinated by the hummingbirds. One must protect tobacco at any price to shelter the magical bird (Tobacco glauca on the high left can be smoked withou fermentation). In the US and Canada Indian tribes are trying to find back the meaning and the spirit of this sacred plant. Stop smoking to link back with the true rite of tobacco is a way to find back the foundation of their culture, their identity. This plant is man.



Now essential oils : first the arbustiv verveina, Aloisia sp., the one which was the fortune of the perfume maker of Grasse in France, l’Eau du Coq, l’Eau de Cologne… in the XVIII century this plant has been introduced on the banks of the Mediterranee. Here we are on the original biome, where the strength and the wide palette of the perfume expresses itself at its’ utmost. Here we are in front of tons of olfactiv treasures; production can start whenever. But it has to be with a sustainable way, to keep its’ wild strength. The essential oil must be produce with the French techniques with steam being very cautious that the oil is preserved from heat once it is extracted not to become carcinogenous. Extracts from the other plants above will be analysed with the help of the university of Tucuman to have an idea of the composition and the interest of heir essential oils.



Wild food are numerous on this territory, some of them are some of the most important of all human food: the wild potato, the origine of all potatoes in the world, the wild pumpkin, wild peas, wild garlic… the Andes elder tree which is here an impressive tree, the delicious Berberis, the wild peaches, the wild radish, and among all the now famous maca of the Andes, the funny aphrodisiac turnip with its bitter chocolate taste, the most concentrated vegetable in minerals and vitamins, for which everyday there is a bigger market in the world…


And splendour! over the top of the lapachos, Uncaria tomentosa, cat’s claw, which have the delicacy to alternate its bright yellow flowers with the pink flowers of the lapacho, the emblematic tree of North West Argentina. Both of these plants are concidered as a priority for the World Health Organisation to produce medicine against cancer. The production of these two plants can be a perfect example of permaculture.



white and red Begonia, hypomeas, arum, uncarias, solenaceas, cacti, lianas, creepers… so many wild plants that we are familiar to in our European gardens. Apparently thare are many more left to be tamed…

Like this huge arbustiv jasmin, Mandevilla sp., whith its tantalizing fragrances…


There is not only cattle, soja and cereal to be produced in the world! It seems that Argentina only knows these boaring productions. One must be attentive to nature and it will open new horizons. This is all the art of agriculture design. Create products and productions which can seduce neew markets away from the usual distributors and the standard agriculture market, insecure and unpersonal.

Agriculture Design Assignment – Argentina 3 / the biodiversity which has to be protected

March 23rd, 2009


- The pastures with their cocktails of Medicinal plants and the Rubioceas which can give maximum productivity in meat with the equal quantities of forrage, a quality that only nature can produce :


- auxiliary insects which feed on the pests and the necrophage insects that transform cow shit into fertilizer :



- Psylocibes and necrophage fungi which transform carbon into sugars which they exchange with the plants directly at their roots where they need it, thanks to their Mycelial net.


All these beings are the best allies of the agricultor, the guaranty of a sane and rich forrage.


But many are those unaware of this and prefer more radical ways.


Here are two organochloride molecules which have been invented in 1942 to put an end to the Second World War by creating a weapon capable of readicating the soil, all cultures, defoliate all vegetation to spread famine. Added to a detergent so that in can penetrate more easily in the cells of the plants, it is sadly famous under the name of “Agent Orange”. Note that the carbon links of both molecules are very stong and not easy to degrade by nature. Here, near the big house, you see a man weeding the banks of the stream which brings the water to be used by the people in the village… These mollecule have been invented by synthetising growth hormones of the rice… According to Professor Séralini of the University of Caen, with dosis 100 000 less strong than the one suggested to any gardener, they provoque necrosis on the placentas pregnant women.

This what is used here to weed: our mission is to show that these weeds are not altogether bad, nor competing with the cultures… Our aim is toshow that some are helping the cultures and it needs observation and a good managment of sowing to turn some weed in the best allies possible for the cultures. And all this use of potentialy dangerous products, what is it for? to grow genetically engineered soja (GMO) modified in order to resist to such products… You can see above the 3rd crop in three years of GMO soja 25 days after sowing… no more bigger than the “weed” which have been sprayed 3 times since sowing; there is no much more than one seedling of soja every 2feets…


In Argentina the price of such products have raised 25% in 2008 and it is said that the raise willbe stronger in 2009 … to spend so much money on so mediocre results… anyway from our experience on this site the experience is far from successful … Not to mention that all the biodiversity shown above have disappeared from these fumigated fields.

Argentina is now one of the biggest users of these chemical products for its’ agriculture. Today, more than 60% of the Argentinian meat is bred in “feed-lots”, also fed with GMO corn and soja. In January 2009, the Argentinian government has asked the medical and biochemical university of Buenos Aires a report on the sanitary impact of the agriculture on the people at a national level, due to be released in 4 years.

Agriculture Design assignment – Argentina 2 / ground work

March 22nd, 2009


The second step consist in observing and research on the terrain to understand about all the natural resources we can count on :

  • biodiversity
  • the composition, the state of the soils and the dynamic of their ressources (water, nutriments, sustainability, climat evolution…) throughout a study of the boi indicative plants.
  • the agriculture capacities and its’ limits natural, technical as well as human.

All these elements will constituate the basis of the specidfications needed to manage this domain, its’ needs and the adjustments to operate in priority..


The only way to work on 100 000 acres of valleys and mountains, on horses, 7 hours a day, with a gaucho as a guide. Gérard Ducerf on a horse back? Is a picture you have never seen.

  • biodiversity : After two weeks, we have estimated that the domain has more than 1200 of native species, which is about one fifth of all the flora in France; amazing… Among them bromes and rubiaceas, forrage plants which have been exported in the XIXth century to feed American and European cattle.
  • In general the plants encountered indicate a rich soil but fragile. A high tendency to dissociate itself immidiatly when signs of over grazing appear. A certain tendency of canyon creation because of ill-agricultural practices in places is to be looked carefully.
  • The cowshit does not degrade itself: the systemic insecticide treatments of the cattle is to strong; cow shit became now an insecticide; the necrophage insects do not play their role anymore.
  • A main concern is to feed the cattle in winter, when freezing temperatures and the lack of water stops the growth of the forrage. The Agronomic engineers have introduces since four years chemicals to produce genetically modified soja and corn (GMO)… as it is a common practice in Argentina.


Here is a canyon which is ready to wipe out a 1000 acres downwards and which needs to be stopped in priority.

Our specifications will turn around 3 main axis :

  • stop erosion;
  • bring the domain to a complete autonomy by improving the managment of the natural ressources;
  • a better managment of irrigation and forrage to get rid of all chemical products and genetically modified annual plants;
  • a better awareness of the richness of medicinal plants that enhance the immune defenses of the cattle, as well as rubiaceas which allows a bigger production of meat with the same quantity of forrage..

One must keep in mind that corn and soja are useless to produce meat, it is like to feed someone with only sweets.

panopastopresOn a field like the above, at least 4 harvest of forrage can be made. One must cut it just when the balance of proteines and cellulose is reached, it will get the best nutrition coefficient as well as a good variety of medicinal plants.

Agriculture design assignment: Argentina 1 / study of the soils with radar satellite

March 18th, 2009

North West Argentina, not far from the Chilean and Bolivian border.

Les foodingues are heading for an agriculture design consulting on an a 100 000 acres domain. planpgcontour

The purpose is to study the soil with the bioindicator plants, give advice on cattle breeding, 7500 calves and 500 horses, as well as to suggest diversifications. The objective is not to over exploit the place but to bring it back to an economical balance so that it dont looses money. The place has been bought 4 years ago after a long period of errance.

Our first step : check the possible hydro and metal ressources of the under ground.

From Tarrascon in France we consult the data base of the radar satellite of the NASA with our partner geologist : 3 little streams of water, small traces of copper, not much on this side. Underground, nothing viable.


But Alain, the geologist, lead our attention on the other side of the valley… “Have you seen the other side? I have never seen so much water !” A paradise for agriculture.


On the spot it is the absolute contrary : what seemed a dry land, what we are consulted fo, is in fact a green and fertile meadow. But on the other side of the mountain, the vale with the extraordinary water ressources… is a desert.

montagnesacreeseche See the mountain in the back of the panoramic photo? This is what the other side of the mountain looks like.

What happened? Considering the evolution of nature itself, no difference. It is an impressive water collector for which the geologic evolution has been very similar on one side of the mountain and the other.

The only difference seems the use man has made of it. This place has always been well communicated and cultivated by man. Prehispanic caves are all around.

The site has been desertified by a lousy managment of the soil by man:

  1. Agriculture : the cultivating practices of the indians : burn the vegetal covert. turn over the soil, sow, harvest and start all over again. When the land is dead, start all over further down. Let the ground rest a while, but the rain has already taken away the organic matter, the ground is now only laterite, dead.
  2. Cattle breeding : With colonial times lama and alpaca breeding, species that select their menus while preserving a good vegetal covering, these are replaced by cattle and mules for the army, transport and mining. Trees are cut down to get more forage. The amount of cattle increases every day. Overgrazing. The vegetal coverture disappears. The ground is eroding itself. It collapses and you have now a wonderful canyon for tourists.

One more example to show that there is not a single desert in the world which has not been created by man. If you know one please, tell me.

How we can help soil

December 2nd, 2008

To design food you have to know how it is produced.

Step 1 : Find water. Water study by satellite radar, With Alain Gachet the creator of the technique. The radar satellite of Alain Gachet goes 20m deep in the ground to trace water and understand its history and future evolution. This study gives us the exact GPS data to dig the wells.

Step 2 : Understand the soil. 80% of the living beings of this planet are in the soil. Study of the soil by Bio-indicator plants. With the botanist Gerard Ducerf, creator of the technique. Gerard Ducerf is also the manager of the recollecting teams of wild plants for the Boiron Laboratories and the Laboratoires Fabre, both major farmaceutical labs in Europe.

All the seeds have been spread off all over the planet for millions of years. But only the ones that encounter the conditions for which they are genetically programmed germinates. When you know the original biotope of the plant, the bio chemistry and the genetics it is responding to, we can define the state of the soil, and the inner dynamic of the soil.

How the soil is evolving and what we can do to influence this evolution. No classic soil study could give us such acurate information with such a small investment.

Step 3 : Depollution, planting & natural fertilisation. From the above studies we can decide of urgent moves and adapted cultivations. Our interventions never use synthetic means and always enhances the solutions experienced from nature :

  • myco-depollution : mushroom are the biggest eaters of hydrocarbons and PCBs (a 12 feet road can be crossed – eaten – by a mushroom in 2 months)
  • myco-fertilizers : mycelia are dependent on dead plants to grow, therefor they protect them and accelerate there life cycle: the most buoyant and rapid they are the more they can eat, but as well, the better agro turn-over we can achieve.
  • myco-restoration : combining techniques of seeding with clay inoculated with mycelium we can recreate the first steps of soil creation by generating the first steps of “clay/organic matter balance” so that the soil can step out of a desertification spiral.
Remember : there is no desert on earth that has not been created by man. It is our duty to repair this in order to bring back a balance in the climate and fight against global warming. Remember also : it can take one year to create a desert, which will need 10 000 years to come back to its prior state; If you help it, it can take as less as 2 years…
  • Plant sociology : plant complement themselves in order to defend and fertilize each other on their own with the less external need of external intervention…
  • No ploughing : plough was invented by the Egyptians to keep the paysants quiet… Ploughing has no scientific basis what so ever and destroys life in the soil.