Published December 2, 2020 | Version V2
Journal article Open

Adapting Syntropic Permaculture for Renaturation of a Former Quarry Area in the Temperate Zone


In Southwest Germany, the renaturation of quarry areas close to settlements is usually
based on the planting of native species of trees and shrubs, which are then neither cultivated nor used. This study investigates whether a species-rich agroforestry system based on Ernst Goetsch’s syntropic agriculture approach would be suitable for both renaturation in the form of soil fertility improvement and diverse food crop production under temperate climate. The quarry syntropy project was launched in summer 2019. Two shallow stony sections of a spoil heap of the quarry in Ehningen, Southwest Germany were available for demonstration plots. An interdisciplinary project team was set up both to obtain the ocial permits from five governmental institutions and to begin the study. The demonstration plots were each divided into three broad strips, which dier in three vegetation types: trees, shrubs, and annual food crops. The tree and shrub areas are
mainly used for biomass production for a continuous mulch supply on the entire cultivated area in order to rapidly increase soil fertility. The food crops and also partly the trees and shrubs were intended to provide organically produced food (vegetables, fruit, berries and herbs). Most of the trees (eleven species) were planted in November 2019. In March 2020, soil samples were taken (0–30 cm), and a solar-powered water storage system was installed. Currently, the shrub and annual food crop strips are under preparation (pre-renaturation phase). In this initial phase, the priority is fertility improvement of the topsoil through intensive mulching of the existing grassland stock dominated by top grasses and the legumes hybrid alfalfa (Medicago varia Martyn) and common bird’s-foot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.). The food crop strip should then start in 2021 after one year of mulching. Depending on the success of growth, the tree strips should then also gain in importance for mulch application in the following years. The strategy is to gradually build up food crop cultivation under organic low-input agricultural practices while simultaneously enhancing the biophysical growth conditions guided by natural succession.



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MAGIC – Marginal lands for Growing Industrial Crops: Turning a burden into an opportunity 727698
European Commission