One of the main projects of Eco Caminhos is Agroforestry. And the first step is already being carried out by our team under the guidance of our forest engineer, Bruno Nirello. It all starts with the planting of Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia), the idea is to use this plant’s nutrients and properties to improve soil quality and get it ready for the wide variety of plants and trees that will follow.
“After pruning and being applied to gardens and soil, the Mexican Sunflower helps improving the levels of nitrogen, potassium, calcium and magnesium”, explained Bruno, who also stated the reasons to use this plant now, during winter. “Since it is a summer plant, it will not develop much now, but we are already planting so that they will be ready to be used when their season arrives”.
Another interesting advantage of the Mexican Sunflower for our project was explained by our agronomist, Anastacia Almeida. “Although it is an exotic species, native to Central America, it serves the major purpose of bringing the necessary biomass to start an Agroforestry project. Plus, due to the fact that it has plenty of flowers, it attracts many pollinators, such as bees, which have a positive impact in all levels of the ecosystem, and this increases biodiversity as a whole and also gives more autonomy to our Agroforestry.”
The first step to use the Mexican Sunflower in the Eco Caminho’s Agroforestry was done throughout the last couple of weeks when we started collecting several truckloads of this plant. Since then the team has planted hundreds of seedlings by staches, and part of the collected Mexican Sunflowers were grinded and used to fertilize our local vegetable garden and to prepare the soil that will receive the next stages of the project.
After planting of the Mexican Sunflowers, Bruno already had in mind what will be the next steps for preparing and naturally improving the soil of our Agroforestry project. “Because of winter, we will plant lupine (Lupinus) and black oats (Avena strigosa Schreb). Lupine has the same function as the Mexican Sunflower, but develops better in winter. Black oat, which is also a winter plant, is a forage grass that fixes a lot of phosphorus in the soil”.
Check out the video that illustrates the process of harvesting and milling the Mexican Sunflowers: