Tonda Gentile Hazelnuts
Fruit and nut orchards can incorporate grazing into their farms as the established trees can handle occasional sheep damage. Sheep and pigs do the work of the mowers to help prevent the encroachment of bramble scrub. Controlled grazing can aid the expansion of meadow species such as fritillaria and cowslip.
Hill sheep grazing in this wooded habitat significantly reduces run-off rate compared to bare hillside, meaning a lower risk of flash flooding, less nutrient loss and greater soil carbon storage.
Almonds and Walnuts
Organic almonds and walnuts from the Commonland foundation, Andalusia, Spain. The Commonland Foundation are working in the region to address the problems of desertification. Standard almond cultivation involves certain practices that can exacerbate this problem. Tilling every 2 months, for example, is particularly detrimental.
Relatively simple methods are being deployed to address this. The introduction of swales, or mini banking's into the landscape ensures that rainfall is retained; making it available for the trees over longer periods. This eliminates the need for irrigation in extremely water stressed areas. The banking's also help retain top soil, meaning the compost applied is used by the tree and yields can be maintained without the addition of artificial fertiliser.
The use of fertility building cover crops from September to April is helping rejuvenate the integrity and organic carbon content of the soils. The presence of the shrub roots aggregates the soil, preventing the run off and nutrient loss caused by excessive tillage. The pictures above show a mix of legumes and barley, planted to fix nitrogen and increase organic carbon content in the soils. Shortly after these photos were taken, this cover crop was ploughed into the soil and the fixed nitrogen and moisture held in the plant matter became available to the almond tree during its summer growing period.