Francisco, originally from Alentejo, has been working in the region for the last 20 years. In his project, Porc du Natura, his goal is the integration of agrosilvopastoril systems with Portuguese tree species in a dynamic way which allows beneficial synergies in the soil and the system as a whole.
“We work with multi-species, i.e pigs, cows, sheep and goats, because is better for biomass production”. Integrating various species makes most sense. For instance, goats eat what the cows don’t eat. Pigs help till the soil, without impacting soil, while cows are heavy and compact soil. Cows, however, are essential for soil improvement in short time. Sheep are best for fertilising the soil.
Portugal has seen a quick decline in native oat tree species at a rate of 5,000 ha/year. “We are still in time to act upon this and recover this species” states Francisco. For this, we created a tree protection scheme. Given that young trees, from the age of 4 to 6 years, require the right density of grazing, not too much not too little. This means, that if we put a big number of cows per hectare, they can break the young trees. In our system we have 200 years-old trees, but also young ones, 3 to 5 years of age. As young trees grow bigger to around 1-1.5 mts, protection must be ensured during the first 7 to 10 years.