Polyculture, biodiversity and circular agriculture Green manure at Finca Biniagual
Finca Biniagual’s agricultural and scenic diversity, right in the centre of Mallorca, with its vineyards, citrus trees, almond and olive groves, cornfields and sheep not only is beautiful to look at but also very ecological. The keywords are polyculture, biodiversity and circular agriculture.
One of Finca Biniagual’s most striking characteristics is its varied agriculture. In an area of 170 hectares, you find vineyards, pastures for the flock of sheep, olive, almond, citrus and carob trees, sown areas for cereals and legumes as well as a manifold natural flora and fauna, since we leave parts of the Finca in their natural state.
In the first place, maintaining this variety of crops, Finca Biniagual wanted to preserve a piece of Mallorca’s traditional and typical landscape. Formerly, monocultures did not exist, the traditional farms had a large variety of crops and reutilized everything in a natural cycle: sowing, harvesting and using part of the harvest as seeds for the following year. Polyculture and circular agriculture – based on the term circular economy which is of growing importance to gain sustainability – are the bases of Finca Biniagual’s philosophy.
If you walk along our vineyards in winter or spring, you will notice that they are strikingly green. The plants that are growing here are our green manure. We sow a mix of oats and broad beans in every second row in the vineyard, as well as in other areas, for example beneath the almond trees. The seeds are a part of the previous year’s cereal and legume harvest, our very own production. Sowing these seeds in Finca Biniagual’s vineyard, we close the agricultural circle.
Why do we sow cereals and legumes in the vineyard?
This natural and ecological manure has many advantages for the vineyards. The cereals‘ roots compete with the roots of all kinds of weeds and thus suppress them, without the need for herbicides. The roots also help to loosen the soil. The legumes accumulate nitrogen. If instead of harvested, they are cut and chopped in situ, as we do, the nitrogen passes into the soil and works as manure. In the following step, we will also sow Cruciferae like mustard, and phacelia. With their strong long roots, they help to further loosen the soil on a deeper level.
At the same time, these green areas in the vineyard, as well as the hedges of Viburnum Tinus we plant in Finca Biniagual’s vineyards in Mallorca, stimulate biodiversity. These plants attract useful creatures, the natural enemies of plagues like the European brown scale or the smaller green leafhopper. Ladybirds, small wasps or other insects of the species of the parasitoid Hymenoptera are depredators of these pests and help us control and maintain the natural balance in the vineyard and thus reduce the use of pesticides.
As soon as it’s getting warmer and we note that the green vegetation in the vineyard deprives the vines of water supply, they are being reaped and left in the vineyard as a mulch which maintains the humidity in the soil, adds organic material and protects the natural fauna in the soil.
Why do we only sow every second row in the vineyard?
Sowing every second row in the vineyard, we leave the other rows as working areas where we can enter the vineyard to do necessary works. The following year, we alternate the rows we sow, and so on year after year.