2018 – Regenerative Agroforestry Results

In March 2018 we moved to our farm in Central Portugal. We began earthworks and planting very soon afterwards. 2018 was very much our learning curve. We planted hundred of trees, many survived and many died too. We learned a lot by observing which ones died, and the season in which they died. Of course there are anomalies, such as three trees kept in almost identical conditions, two dying and one surviving, but that is how the plant kingdom works. We did not keep a detailed account of all deaths and plantings (as we plan to in 2019) but here are the main results that stood out for us

Top Field

South facing vineyard. 50% clay soil, currently highly degraded hill. Will be reforested in a closed canopy stratified arrangement

Groundworks

3 swales dug between April and November 2018. The swales follow the contour of the land from south facing point to West face. The swales have successfully held all sheetwater flow during heavy rains without overflowing.

 

Planting results

April 2018

We planted a variety of fruit trees in April below the first main swale, the majority of these fruits trees died. Species included Juneberry, Crab Apple, Hazel and Cherry.

August 2018

We planted an Aloe plant and a Prickly pear cactus on top of the main central swale and both survived well through the dry periods as well as the frosts of December. The Aloe we planted at the bottom of the hill took some damage from frosts but is alive in January 2018.

November 2018

We planted 224 Madroneo trees around the farm. We planted these as they are a hardy native specie that we can easily by in bulk from local suppliers. Nearly all of these have survived despite receiving no irrigation after planting. We did make sure to plant them during November/December when it was raining at least a few times each month.

December 2018

We planted 4 of our 7 Mexicola Avocado trees (1 year old) and all four which were planted out died in the first heavy frosts of the year (before the strong winds started). Of the three remaining in their pots it looks like just one has survived.

Bottom Field

North facing vineyard 80% sand soil, highly degraded hill. Will be reforested in a closed canopy stratified arrangement.

Groundworks

3 swales dug between June and December 2018. The swales follow the contour of the land from North facing point to West face. The swales have successfully held all sheetwater flow during heavy rains without overflowing.

Planting results

We planted some Madroneo and Eucalyptus in this field below the main swale and most survived well.

We also planted cactus which all survived.

Central Pasture 

Flat central pasture area, heavy clay soil. Will be regenerated in to a savannah arrangement.

Groundworks

Two ponds dug at top of pasture (approx 20x6x2 metres). Ponds are linked with a ditch to share water between them if one fills up.

Planting results

Madroneo windbreak planted along West fence in November, all survived.

Eucalyptus windbreak planted along west fence, most survived.

Line of 10cm citrus seedlings planted near bottom of field in November which have all died in the first frosts. Nearly all citrus seedlings in seedling trays have died in the December frosts too.

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