The beginning of the transformation from conventional agriculture to an agroecological production system began in 2011, with the completion of an undergraduate thesis that sought to redesign the management of marginal spaces (alleys, boundaries, watercourses, infrastructure) in sugarcane crops, which represent between 8% and 12% of the area.The experience was born as a result of the observation and analysis of the inadequate management of these spaces and their potential to improve environmental, social and economic conditions in the region.
Since 2011, they have begun to implement agroecological practices in marginal areas, starting with the ecological restoration of stream margins, the establishment of agroforestry systems in fences, vermiculture and composting. In 2013, they took on the responsibility of managing the marginal areas and the sugarcane crop, implementing green cutting, and it was the last time they applied a herbicide, giving way to manual weed control.
By 2015 they perform the last chemical fertilization, in 2018 they decide not to dethatch again and see crop residues as a resource. Since 2014 they have been working with minimum tillage and in 2021 they decided to start with zero tillage.
Since 2011, the San Roque farm has been applying agroecological practices such as composting, vermiculture, beekeeping, covering the soil with sugarcane harvest residues, zero tillage, biodigester, manual weed control, and live fences, among others. These are aimed at minimizing the agroecosystem’s dependence on external inputs (agrochemicals and fuels), promoting energy efficiency, minimizing energy use and promoting ecological processes.
Technical characteristics of the proposal
Regarding the issue of sugarcane harvest residues, approximately 40 tons/ha of organic matter are left in the field as mulch. The absence of tillage and agrochemical application encourages biological plowing.
For the compost used to fertilize sugarcane, the raw materials used are cachaza and bagasse (sugarcane mill by-product), pig and cattle manure, as well as vegetable waste. These materials are used to form two piles, each weighing approximately 20 tons, which are turned with a compost mixer (tractor). In this way, approximately 40 tons of compost are generated every 45 days.
The production of earthworm humus is 2 tons per month, which is mainly fed with cattle manure. Biopreparations are generated from cattle manure, native microorganisms, earthworm humus and biodigester effluents (6m3). These are the various agroecological soil management practices. At present, there are 10 hives of appis bees. The metric potential sensor is a tool to have more criteria when programming irrigation.
Productive, community, environmental, or economic processes or activities that were positively impacted by the implementation of the community experience of TEJ.
The implementation of these agroecological practices reduces the purchase of inputs from outside the farm. Therefore, it is no longer dependent on variable prices such as those of urea and other inputs. There is greater autonomy because the ecological processes and management practices allow the farm to be self-sufficient.
Women’s participation in the TEJ community experience
At the time of weed control, women are hired to clean the cane. This work occupies approximately 25 days of labor per hectare. The women also participate in the care of the vegetable garden, planting seeds, home maintenance, compost packing, among others.