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Posts tagged ‘argentina’

One year after being organic …

July 1st, 2011

Good news, this year in the estancia we are advising in the Salta area in Argentina (100,000acres), we got half of the rainfall we usually get. 500mm instead of 1000mm.
The owner just mailed me that they croped four times more food for the cattle.

This winter will be the first winter the animals wont starve.
Just as a reminder, this is the result of a Uturn towards holistic agriculture, bringing cows back to eating grass, from heading towards the wall with transgenic corn and sorgho. Cows are not chicken.
Sorry to have you kept off from all the advice we have applied there. Action has been a priority to the SOSSOIL team.

Fiesta day at the Gauchos'

November 27th, 2009

We are in the Province of Salta, North West Argentina, at the exact spot where started the Independence movement In Southern America, 200 years ago; in the Estancia from where the general Arenales left to liberate the Andes from his Spanish fellow citizen.

“ The Angel of victory is guiding my banner : follow his route towards independence and glory… go for Arenales : who flies from victory to victory, so that my army can secure on the battle field, the complete emancipation of the INCA SOIL.”


1812. This is how General San Martin, the founding father of Argentina, fine communicator as usual, adresses to the Calchaquis Diaguitas native Indians to introduce them his armoured arm, who is about to take over the banner left by the glorious Güemes, dying on the battlefield.

Salta is taken; the path of the Andes is now open.

To get rid of the Spagnards from the Old Continent, San Martin invents the White Inca : General Juan Antonio Álvarez de Arenales ;
He will serve just for this duty, as for the Inca, the world will quickly get rid of him, once his mission accomplished.gauch2

What the great San Martin didn’t realize, is that his words have created a myth much more crucial to Argentina’s soul : as the White Inca poped out of his hat, he launched the myth of the Gaucho, which is haunting South America’s poet and litterature since then, like Edgar A Poe’s raven.

gauch01In the beginning, a Gaucho, is the indian who responded to the call of San Martin. Gaucho comes from Huachu, in Quechua, the language of the Andes, it means orphan. The one who has no family to take care of and who can sacrifice himself to “the complete emancipation of the INCA SOIL”.

This day, an army rose from the mountains, moving towards the hope of a society where Indians would have the same rights as the whites. This is how Argentina’s Independance has been “sold” to the natives. This what the gauchos went for fighting for the Caciques who wanted to replace the former Spanish Caciques.

gauch02The gaucho, is bound to be the orphan of Liberty. Not a professional soldier, nor a man of arms at all, the man reveals himself on the edge of the apocalypse, ready to achieve any act of prowess to give his soul to justice. Then gently, goes back in the rank, to take care of his kin and cattle.gauch4

gauch detail1

But if he has nobody to take care of, he will flee from his heart, his ungratefull mountains and stray in the immense Pampa, at the measure of his melancoly, his vanished expectations, his blues; in mother nature, his cursed sister.
The Nahual is the animal side of the native indian, the side which brings the gaucho Pablo out of himself, alone with his knife to slay down a 2,5m long cougar (head to tail); because it was eating his poultry, he became a jaguar.

Today it is Fiesta time. It is Santa Rosa de Lima, the patronness of the Army of Liberation, the Saint of the Estancia of the White Inca ; They all appeared from the mountains in their best costumes, shining new on their best peruvian horses, with their proud cedence march, to dismlay high up the colours of liberty.

helicoToday the true Gaucho’s spirit revives : gouver
200 years after the White Inca, the governor of the Province of Salta steps down of his helicopter to pay them an homage.

To pray with them.

For him, they killed two bulls, they put on fire during the whole week the village hoven big as a house, and prepared the Asado and the Guisado.

viande tripes viande cotevainde assietteviande cousueVIANDE5viande4VIANDE3pieds

Here, to carve flesh, is “savoir vivre”. Eating is to kill. No detour, no shame in front of death.

The Guisado : all the tender bits of the animal are marinated in oil, vinegar, herbs, garlic and chillies; sown back in the beast to be roasted in the hoven for 12 hours..

The Asado : ribs and trips are prepared, hoofs packed, heart embroched, Bife de Chorizo, sirloin, everything goes to the BBQ on agonizing ashes, at the verge of extinction to cook for a slow and penetrating heat.


Each bit of meat, each bite of this banquet for a 1000 guests, we bite history, we chew a ritual, it is magic we are eating. The bull has been sacrified and shared as the ancestors used to. Wine, aguardiente and Ferney Branca is flooding.


DéCOUPEThe best day of the year. The discreet gaucho talks, smiles, slightly unveils his character ; but the woman? she stays at distance and marking respect. chinita1They are not at all what you call the staff canteen of the regiment. Very few women are gaucho and the more often they are the true leader of the gang; They wear the long skirt as real amazons : they are called the chinitas, the little chinese girls, becaus of the long days spent in the cattle’s dust which have slanted the eyes of her craggy indian face for ever. chinita2

Aguardiente, Ferney, Wine, We are here to praise the ancestors. Masters of the World, lassos are flying, bulls are caught and blocked, so and so, in fact it is far less precise than on a regular working day in the corral. The horses got it all : it is now leading and taking care of everything. Men are all absorbed in theeuphoria of their myth and the bull is jubilating. Like the Texan cowboy myth and his rodeo? Nothing to do with.


The gaucho, according to a writer from Argentina, is a myth similar to Faust, the Divine Comedy, a local Don Quichotte : Martin Fierro. Quite a name! Proud as the blade of San Martin ! To create his popular character popular, Jose Hernandez the famous writer, admired by the creme de la creme of the XIXth century litterature… turned him into a white man protecting the poor and the orfan from the evil black man. I slightly caricature, but it sales better. John Wayne as a Sioux doesn’t fit very well. Here a black means an Indian. According to the Argentinian imagery, very often it is better considered to be an Afro American, than an Indian. Here dignity has its’ scale, that an Indian could not climb. Hopefully things are changing.

Martin Fierro, this is how the young Jorge Luis Borges, the absolute icone of the Argentina’s blues, named his first gang… of dedicated poetry. The gaucho is for him the ultimate resource for the soul of South America. According to Borges and his friends, it must be part of the spirit of the young continent, in order to emancipate itself from the distant Europe, constant and tedious reference as his compatriots’ everyday reference. A need of space and fresh air.


But Borges remained a son of Ulysses and the gaucho a son of the Inca. They ignore each other. It is the drama of a continent. Although, along all the roads in Argentina, at the smallest track in the desert, there are little altars always under a caroub tree, dedicated to Gauchito Gil, the Robin Hood of the cactus. Nobody mentions it. It belongs to poor people’s culture. Any humble person exchanges with him a libation for a miracle. The Saint Gaucho will never be officially recognized.

Always a caroub tree. The tree which fertilizes the soil. Once more the Gaucho is full of resources. He shows the way; let us hear the Indian hushed up in our innermost thoughts.

By neglecting him, we are oblivious of so many things. We tend to use always the same methods without asking ourselves if it is realy adapted to the place. Stop. Lets bring back a little imagination. In 10 years Argentina has flouded its land with transgenic soy, without a single moment thinking of what and who was the victim of this sacrifice. This year unemployed Gauchos are protesting on the roads of Argentina. Halt. It doesn’t make sense. Lets’ open our eyes. At the eve of the Bicentenial of the creation of Argentina, lets’ change, lets’ listen to the indian, as we have a lot to gain from this exchange of ideas.


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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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.

Good Business is Carbon

April 7th, 2009

The French carbon compensation business ignores crisis…

This year they have doubled their price : 20 euros, the ticket to compensate your ton of carbon will cost you now double. Fair enough. While doing so their budget has raised by 270% ; it is now 1,8M Euro.
What do they do with such a budget ? According to their yearly budget just released, they start biomass project in developing countries, recycling agriculture waste and compost with worms … fantastic, it looks like they are in the good path, they have learned from their previous projects.

But sadly on the other hand, they continue to praise their collaboration with the French Forestry institution ONF international, to plant eucalyptus in Chile on the land of the Mapuche Indians… a project which will lead to the desertification of the soil which will be sterilized by the essential oil of the eucalyptus, forbidding all cultures to cast famine in the end.

As a reminder, eucalyptus is a tree native from the arid steppes of Australia which will tend to recreate its’ original biotope everywhere it grows : it sucks 700l a day and sprays its’ essential oil with its’ bark land leaves to sterilize all surrounding soil to avoid the growth of any plants. A monoculture of eucalyptus is fatal to neighbouring cultures and in association with pyrofile resinous like Aleppo pine trees, it becomes criminal. Remember the spectacular fires of Galicia not so long ago …

Back to our French institution which compensates carbon. In India they take action this year with Geoecoly Energy Organisation :
They distribute pyrolise oven to 5000 families in Andra Pradesh : these oven work with the methane of wood and agriculture waste. A great thing to save carbon emissions.
But then they dig in the residues of carbon… taking as example the terra preta do Brasil they hope to multiply by 8 the agricultural production… How can one compare a soil which has been made by millions of years of deep forest to simple soil in which you dig in carbon ?

One must never dig carbon into a soil : it kills all the oxygenated bacteria by asphyxia, thereby hindering the crops which in India can quickly cast hunger. This is probably what the person they are sending there from France during one year will see.

The solution to avoid all this ? Simply by composting this carbon and once done spraying it on top of the soil in case the soil needs it. How to know if the soil really needs it ? By observing the bio indicator plants.

In fact they only need to make a technology transfer from their project of lombricompost, composting with worms, which they just have initiated in North India… Not very complicated indeed, but maybe they are not aware of what they are doing …

Hopefully their action is still very limited ; in fact, acre wise, we are talking of some 100 acres in Chile… In India 5000 families can live on 500 acres, it is not mentioned in their report… In Colombia they have to buy the land before giving it back to their former Indian owners 300 acres this year.

Hopefully their operating costs are high, their verification and checking costs have raised above previsions ; as they send people, trainees and agriculture engineers around the world, in India, Colombia, Peru, Madagascar to double check … All this to allow French big corporations (I give you this link as it supplies a very usefull devise to calculate your own carbon footprint) to compensate all the carbon emissions of their head office which is very good.

But let be serious for a while ; les foodingues in Northern Argentina are transforming a traditional agricultural site of 100 000 acres in natural agriculture : no tilling, no chemicals, so almost zero carbon emissions ; while at the same time transforming it into sylvo agriculture, which is to say planting millions of trees in rows on all the agricultural site to fertilize, create buffer climate zone to attract rain and fight against erosion. All the trees are native and they are planted in a permaculture way with lianas of local medicinal plants in order to increase the crops, as well as the carbon clusters.

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.