I have a piece of land, but it is totally degraded, what do I do to start planting an agroforestry?
In our years of experience, we always come across special people who want to transform their stories and each one with their own reason, dream of having an agroforestry. Some very common questions we receive are related to the state of the soil and its suitability to receive agroforestry plantations. But after all, even in a land that has been pasture for years, is it possible to plant an agroforestry?
The answer is yes!! Here in this post we explain a step-by-step guide on how to start your agroforestry, even starting from degraded soil or pasture.
In an area larger than 1 hectare, you will need machinery: go to a neighbor and look for a tractor to rent, which has an implement called “harrow”. This operation of passing the harrow on the soil must be carried out a few times (2 or 3 times) to unpack the soil and loosen the grass clumps.
After harrowing, apply limestone + gypsum, or just one of the two, depending on the result of a basic soil analysis: if the soil is too acidic, limestone should be applied; but if the soil has aluminum in depth, plaster must be applied. It may be that both have to be applied. The limestone must be incorporated into the soil so that its action is efficient, therefore, the harrow must be passed again. The plaster can be applied to the surface and will be absorbed gradually.
Choice of species:
After that, the ideal is that after choosing the species of the system, whose planting will most likely be carried out in rows, the subsoiler is used along these planting lines. The subsoiler is a machine that has a hook and breaks deep layers of soil that can be compacted and can prevent the growth of roots. At the same time or before, some type of manure or compost must have been distributed, such as chicken manure, horse manure or any type of organic fertilizer (animal manure); so when it's time to pass the subsoiler, it will incorporate the manure into the soil at depth. After passing the subsoiler, planting can be started.
At planting, the cradles (ditching) will be opened to accommodate the seedlings. Fertilizer can also be incorporated at depth at this time, but only if it is a well-cured manure or other compost. After planting the seedlings, it is essential to cover the soil with wood shavings, crushed grass or grass, or crushed leaves and branches.
If you are looking to recover the area to start planting in the next rainy season, you can plant green manure in the total area (which can also occur just before or even after planting). Green manuring is the planting of annual or semi-perennial herbaceous or shrub species that have rapid growth, form dense roots, are rustic, cycle several nutrients and will help to restore the soil. Basically, green manure species cycle nutrients that are unavailable in the soil, which will be deposited on their leaves and serve as fertilizer when they are mowed to cover the ground. The species most commonly used as green manure are: sunflower, oat, forage turnip, millet, sunn hemp, stylosanthes, pigeon pea… there are many species, but some are widely used and known, such as oats, for example. You can plant a mix of these seeds in the total area after the harrow, application of lime and gypsum in the following way: distribute the seeds by broadcast and pass the harrow once again in a lighter way to incorporate the seeds into the soil.
If you already intend to start planting trees, the process is almost the same: you will have to harrow, lime, plaster, subsolar and then plant the trees; in this case, the planting of green manure species can be done between the lines, followed by the lighter grid.
The planting of green manure means that you will produce biomass for your system, that is, fertilizer and soil cover, since after 3 months of planting the green manure it will be necessary to mow them (with the same tractor with a mower behind or with a brush cutter). After mowing, cut the leaves and with the aid of a rake, accumulate the generated biomass on the seedlings, covering the soil and fertilizing the planting line. You can also plant green manure again after mowing or let the species sprout to always keep the interrows covered and the soil producing green manure.
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