Ecological Agriculture in the Mediterranean
Ecological agriculture aims to maximize the natural resources on a farm by minimizing inputs and managing them to promote soil fertility. This means encouraging decomposers and nitrogen fixers in the soil and promoting biodiversity. Ecological farming also encourages crop rotation and diversity, and is more successful on small farms. It also aims to maximize biomass production.
The Mediterranean area has relatively low soil fertility and clay and lime content. Its soil is also poor in micronutrients and is diffusion-limited. In addition, the soil has high pH, high concentrations of calcium carbonate, and little organic matter. Crops grown in these climates are susceptible to pests, diseases, and microbial infestations. Climate change also affects the resilience of soils to natural disasters, which poses a huge threat to farmers.
Traditional cultures have been practicing non-synthetic chemical agriculture for millennia. Conventional agriculture, on the other hand, relies on synthetic biocides and petroleum-based fertilizers. It has depleted the soils of hundreds of millions of acres, ruined most of the world’s freshwater and fisheries, and is even ruining our climate. In the early 1900s, Sir Albert Howard spent years studying traditional non-chemical agricultural practices in India and came to understand the benefits of organic systems.
Ecological agriculture is a type of permaculture. This type of farming is chemical-free and avoids monocultures. It aims to restore the natural balance of an agroecosystem by increasing the diversity of plants. By increasing soil organic matter, this type of farming can protect soils from pollution, and also improve water retention. In addition, it allows farmers to use plant materials as fertilisers and sprays.