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Ernst Gotsch - Syntropic Agriculture / Agroforestry

A pioneer in agroforestry.

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Changing the point of view can be an attitude seemingly simple, but it has always been what’s guided the most revolutionary transformations we know. Consider a scientist dedicated to genetic enhancement, seeking fodder plant genotypes more resistant to diseases. Now imagine the same scientist questioning if the answers he’s looking for could be in the opposite direction of his research. "Couldn’t we achieve better result if we look for models of cultivation that provide favorable conditions for good growth of plants, rather than create genotypes that support the mistreatment to which we submit them?" Gotsch. That was how the thinking about Syntropic Agriculture came into the research and life of Ernst Gotsch, Swiss born in 1948.

In the 70s, Gotsch develops his early studies of complex crop systems in areas in northern Switzerland and southern Germany. Always pursuing the path of multi-species consortia, he tested for example the ancient traditions of planting corn with beans, but also experimented with new associations such as wheat and pea or raspberry, apple and cherry, among others. From the harvest’s success begins to emerge the idea of organism. The idea of organism brought the idea of cooperation, and from there,succession, systems, and many other concepts that underlie the philosophy and technique of this farmer and researcher, in the deepest meaning of both words.

He then moves to Costa Rica in 1979. He works there with restoration of degraded soils using highly productive Agroforestry, always dispensing implements or pesticides.

He arrives in Brazil in 1982 and in 1984 sets up on a farm in southern Bahia. The name of the farm, as usual in the region, was a chronicle of the place. Something like "The Runaway from Dry Land." Approximately 500 acres of land rendered unproductive due to practices like: timber extraction, repeated cycles of manioc cultivation on the hillsides, raising pigs on lowland and pasture established by fire along the side of the road that cuts through the farm. On this farm he would continue the development of his obsessive experiments in Successional Agroforestry, achieving high productivity in a variety of plant species, especially cocoa and bananas. In addition to feeding his family and earn his income, the result of his intervention could be empirically observed later. The Atlantic Rainforest resurfaced in the area, with all its features of flora and fauna. Today there are about 410 hectares of reforested area, 350 of which were transformed into RPPN (private reserve of natural heritage), plus 120 hectares of Legal Reserve. After 20 years, about 14 springs reappeared on the farm. Adding another chapter to the chronicle, the farm was renamed to "Water’s Eyes."

International reference in Successional Agroforestry Systems, Ernst Gotsch has developed a refined technique of planting which principles and practices can be applied to different ecosystems. "Amazon, Cerrado, the Bolivian Altiplano, Caatinga, all those places can be paradises when properly worked." With a vision of agriculture that reconciles human beings with the environment, Gotsch has published articles, but hardly writes about his observations because he believes that his research is not finished. One of his conclusions is "there is nothing to be said, because it is so obvious", he says - absolutely confident that things work, naturally.

Biography - Ernst Gotsch
By Dayana Andrade

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different locations in Brazil

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I just want to share the work of Ernst Gotsch with the world. It seems like a very promising solution for food production in a sustainable system. More info about his proposals and how to support:

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