Finca Terra Rica
The Terra Rica finca covers 160 hectares in all. This space is used exclusively for organic cultivation. The cultivation area has been Demeter-certified since the spring of 2016. We intend to convert the entire acreage to cultivation according to permaculture. We are planting new trees, mixed crops and broad hedges and also use our own compost. Together with permaculture experts, organic farmers and all our nature-minded partners, like for instance lehmann natur, we can achieve great things with these agricultural paradises.
Here are the key facts:
• Name of the finca: Terra Rica
• Location of the finca: El Granado/Huelva in southern Spain
• Cultivation area: 160 ha (87 ha oranges and 73 ha natural forest)
• Production: Demeter (biodynamic farming)
Conversion to permaculture by 2018
• Main products: Oranges
• By-products: lemons, limes, kakis, pomegranates, olives, clementines,
The principles of permaculture according to Bill Mollison, like e.g. how to work with nature to create the greatest possible benefit for the community with the least amount of change, have convinced us to start farming according to permaculture.
For us it is a holistic concept that combines all aspects of life and nature in the form of natural, stable circuits. This holistic approach also continues to affect other areas of life, such as e.g. energy supply and social infrastructures. The creation and preservation of socially secured jobs for people from the region for instance is another important part of this system.
Permaculture as a special kind of organic farming
Why special – aren’t organic products and methods all the same? No. Farming according to permaculture, as compared to EU organic for instance, takes into consideration the many supplementing aspects that reach far beyond the standards defined for Europe. This also includes the compulsory ground cover through planting or growing regional plants, wild herbs or mulch. Why is this so important?
The soil can be viewed like a layer of skin that must be protected against the exposure to sunlight. Ground cover thus works like a form of “sunscreen”. The advantage hereby is that the soil can absorb and store moisture better. This enormously increases the efficiency of watering crop areas and at the same time protects the soil against erosion (a stripping of soil layers through e.g. rain or wind). Erosion gradually removes the foothold of plants in the soil. That is why ground cover is necessary.
A summary of our production criteria according to permaculture
A) Intensive soil conservation and a clear increase of soil fertility through
• the creation or preservation of the topsoil
• erosion protection, farming according to contour lines
• the promotion of soil microbiology and the soil nutrient budget, the use of e.g. compost, compost teas or microorganisms
B) Increased biodiversity with plants and animals/insects
• Mixed crops instead of monocultures increase biodiversity, spare the soil and give the produces more protection in case of crop damage
• Permanent greening through nurse crops, green manuring, wild herb growing works as a natural protection against water evaporation
• Broad hedges provide wind protection and sanctuaries for beneficial animals
• Support for bees / wild bees
C) Holistic optimisation of the water supply
• Saving water through drip irrigation below the mulch
• Catching and storing water in retention ponds
Our experiences gained from farming according to permaculture
What does “Farming together with nature" mean? One good example is the pomegranate infestation with lice at a finca. Unlike conventional farming, which uses chemicals in these situations, nature itself offers an effective solution: beneficial animals. The so-called “Hotel des Animales” consists of hedges, scrubs and trees that are planted around the entire finca area. That is the natural habitat of ladybirds and other important beneficial animals. The beneficial animals serve to fight pests. The result: The pomegranates were free from lice within six weeks – completely without toxic chemicals.