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Dutch soil doctor brings Spanish desert to life

Erosion and drought is making more and more land unusable for agriculture. And that is what is happening in Spain. The Dutchman Pius Floris is trying to prepare an abandoned field for agriculture. Without watering, but with the help of micro-organisms.

"Look, here nothing grows. Absolutely nothing, not even weeds." Pius Floris takes a stone from the exhausted soil. Under the burning sun, there is still hope. They are brought to the area because the wind and rain have washed away more and more of the fertile soil. Only about twenty centimetres of soft soil is still there. Underneath is nothing by hard rocky soil.

Agriculture without irrigation
Three years ago, the 'soil doctor' Floris and his team of Spanish and Dutch farmers and researchers found the field in this state. This piece of dry land can be found between the Spanish towns of Zamora and Saragossa. For centuries, this centrally placed region, Castilla y León was a grain supplier. People from the area were fed from it. Now, the cultivation of grain in this area is only possible thanks to the European subsidy per hectare of agricultural ground, that was put into place to guarantee the food supply for the continent. In the spring, the area is still reasonably green, but in the summer, everything around this dry field is dead.

Together with the Spanish University of Valladolid and five other partners, the team of Pius Floris is responsible for the regrowth of a piece of abandoned land measuring 2 x 50 hectares. This field was over-fertilized and treated with a lot of chemicals over a long period. The result was that nothing now grows here. The project, financed by the European Life +, is taking place from 2012 to 2017. The aim: to bring the desert to life in a few years to show that erosion can be halted and that agriculture is possible, even without irrigation.

Read the rest of the article at OneWorld.

For more information:
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