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Posts tagged ‘biodiesel’

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.

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

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.