Trees in the fields
Trees in the field – this is not a new concept. On the contrary, it’s a very old one.
Diverse crops used to be the standard before conventional agriculture as we know it. Apple trees coexisting with berry bushes and grain crops, with chickens running in between. Inspired by this original model of agriculture, ancient knowledge and the work of many pioneers around the world, Benedikt and Renke brought agroforestry to Alt Madlitz in 2019 and introduced trees back into our fields.
Agroforestry – this is the combination of agriculture and forestry in one area. Rows of trees are planted and sown on the fields at intervals. This technique of an agro-ecosystem is oriented towards nature and thus more productive, resilient, diverse and sustainable than monoculture agriculture and forestry.
The positive effects of agroforestry systems are colossal. They bring life back! By mulching plant biomass, we accelerate the buildup of humus in the soil creating a symbioses between roots, microorganisms and soil animals. Agroforestry systems also have an immense impact on above-ground biodiversity – creating habitats and refuges for birds, insects, wildlife and amphibians.
The tree stripes protect against erosion and desiccation – especially in summers of drought and improve the soil’s ability to store (the little rain that there is) within the system.
"Agroforestry systems can regenerate entire ecosystems!"
Renke de Vries
"Syntropic systems, once properly established, need no outside input, no artificial fertilizers, no pesticides, not even irrigation. "
The term Syntropic Agriculture was coined by Ernst Götsch, the Swiss farmer who emigrated to Brazil, over 40 years ago, and resurrected a complete ecosystem on a piece of deforested land. He is an advisor to the Madlitz team and inspiration for us.
Syntropy in Greek means together, with one and other. Syntropic Agriculture is based on the complex interaction of different plants and organisms protecting and coexisting with each other in a way that provides complementary nutrients.
The idea of Syntropic Agriculture is to work with natural processes and fill gaps in the best way possible. This means that berries, herbs and trees are planted and harvested to make space for other crops. All systems that we plant are planned for the long term – the next 100 years. We have seen the first yields of soft fruit which include sea buckthorn, blackberry and raspberry. Later on the growth of apples, plums, pears, hazelnuts, walnuts and sweet chestnuts will also be ready to harvest.