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overgrazing in the mediteranean.  RSS feed

 
rose macaskie
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  If I put all my pictures of over grazing on one thread they will be easier to find and may be to fight, for those who wish to disagree.

My first photo is of an hill where the rock has flowered the Spanish expression for the rock being bared the total loss of soil, on the same photo and in front of it is a hill that is fine and is evidence that th ebare  hill is not bare because of the climate. I have walked the green hill it is covered with juniper and oak trees not flara that is ever watered here. The bareness of the bare hill is not due to the climate, the lack of rain and heat of summer, or both hills would be bare, it is due to abusive farming technics. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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Here is a close ñup of a nearby hill. in this foto it is easier to see what the bare hiol looks like. 
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rose macaskie
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this is the hill seen from my garden.
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rose macaskie
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  This is a photo of the ground at the foto of the bushes on the hills above the garden and how bare it is. From a distance you see the bushes not the ground at their feet,
  Here there are two photos, the second is a photo of another patches of cystus bushes a half kilometre up the hill and on the other side of the road,in this second photo there is grass under the cystus bushes. It proves that  grass can grow when the cystus bushes have bettered the soil. Thecistus bushes are very hardy and will grow anywhere and they are the reason that hills that have been totaly ruined recover. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  This is a photo of the grass in my garden as proof of what can be in that area if rainfall or its lack is the only problem. I don't water the grass in my garden, it goes dry in summer and grows back in autumn. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  Here is a bit of slope near my house and the next photos is a photo of another spot a bit further along the same line of hills.
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rose macaskie
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  This is the picture of another spot at a short distance from  the spot of the above photo showing how much ground cover can grow on these slopes.
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rose macaskie
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  HTe ground plants in one part of my garden got burned with herbicides i ahve no idea if because of a neighbor be it one who lived beside me or the man who owned the land beyond my garden or a villager who wanted to reduce fire risk.
  this allowed me to recognise the signs of herbicides in ohter parts of the countrysid ein places i walked to take photos. photo of the appearance of the plants that have been burnt by herbicides recently. 
  herbicides is a new way of reducing vegetation to reduce fire risk or mayb to make it easier for those who pqy to shooot in these hills to pass through the cystus bushes. as it kills them off.
the old thign was to burn the undegroth on moor type land and that was much better than useing herbicides, the bushes grew back from the roots and the ground was not poisoned.. THis is anj area full or resevoirs that keep the people of madrid with enough water for their needs to poison the ground there cannot be good for the occcupants of madrid.
This picture is from a bit of hillside covered in cystus bushes between the village my house is in and the next village.
agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  and this is what happens after a year or two the ground gets covered with moss. this picture is from my garden.
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rose macaskie
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here is another eroded site on the other side of the village dwon hill from mine this hillside is covered in time and gorse, even these hardy bushes have been done for near the ridge of the slope. 
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rose macaskie
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  here is a photo of a place just to the side of the village that is green enough. and one of my favorite photos.
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rose macaskie
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   THis is a foto of a few bits of grass on overpasturised ground. On the land I walked on a week ago the grass was as sparse as this, it was a place full of time though.
      I put in the wrong photo the second is the one i meant to put in.
agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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The ground on a slope at one side of the villagebelow the one i have a house  is so poor that the junipers sabina albars juniperus thurifera an hardy high mountain juniper grow pathetically thin. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  A short way up the road on the edges of a wheat feild that Ii have never sen irrigated but that probably recieves fertiliser if only because sheep are lead to eat the stubble but may be because they are taken to rest there or spend the night there or because modern fertilisers are applied are some very healthy trees, these are  the same variety of tree as those of the trees of the rocky slope of the anterior posting, juniperouse thurifera , in the wheat feild as they look
when on good ground and the only difference here is that this ground has more nutrients than the rock ¡y slope the roch¡ky slope over the crest of the hill at a quarter of a mile down indeed there are po9verty stricken trees at in the land tat the other side of the road that borders on this feild is not in the amount of rain each place recieves it is in the quality of the soil that is in the amount of nutrients in the soil that is the amount of mnutrients in the soil and i suppose also the superior abiliof a slightluy better soil to retain water. The soil in this feild is not so full of vegetable matter as to make much of a difference to its water retaining capacity.
    This is a tree that bares the high insolation the ultra viotlet light of moountain tops ¡in the mediteranean and north of Af¡rica, Marocco for example where insolation is more likely to be sever than in more northerly latitudes and the cold of winter of mountain tops, cold winds and ong periods of snow cover and the extreme heat and druoght of mediteranean dry season. It is a very interesting tree ecologically as it can live higher up in the mountains than pines or cedar tres can in the mediteranean it lives in niches no other trees fill at least no other mediteranean tree fills. Here it is at it lowest point at a thousand metres.
    Many bits of ground where the poorer part of this wood is look like the ground in the foto of a wild plant posted in the second picture here which is of a wild flower. These places are very beatifull but they are not very ecological.  agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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The trees, poor as they are, and the cistus bushes are good for the ground a lot of detritus begins to accumulate at their feet if it does not get blown away again or heavenly only knows what, sometimes it seems that on one day there is more and on another day less detritus.
Here is a photo in which you can see what a build p of twigs there can be in this wood.

      I also post another picture of this bit of wood with cistus bushes in flower, it gives a more complete idea of what this bit of wood is like and of the cistus bushes. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  Here is a photo of a build up of good earth on a ledge in the village of these fotos the ledge is on a shelf in a precipice difficult for the am¡nimals to reach and shows how the earth could be here in the vilage of Tamajon, in Guadaljara.
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rose macaskie
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In gredos at the other end of the central system of mountains, the mountain pastures are natural and usually undisturbed, it is to high for the pastures to dry out in summer  and there you can see where the rock has been cut away to make a road, top soil, the darker layer of soil that is dark because it is full of organic matter and is what is normally refered to as good soil.
  The soil here is granite sand and so though it is usually undisturbed there is not a great layer of topsoil. Sandy soils are usually not very fertile, the goodness gets washed out of them as the rain runs through them too easily. Here there is a lot of broom a leguminouse plant that i suppose has nitrogen fixing nodules and in my brother in laws garden lots of locust trees, and i suppose they do well there for the same reason. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  the most usual here is to see no change in color in the topmost layer of soil sd id ther case of the photo below, there is no top soil.
  i think the roots are of the time bushes that are small on the ground above the cut through the soil. Good root maybe that is the advantage of time because of its o¡long roots it can feed the sheep in summer who pull the leaves off it.  agri rose macaskie
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rose macaskie
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  Here in Spain arable land often gets left fallow, which is to say left bare for a year to rest from the ardure of producing a crop so that the land can recover. Maybe minerals that will be usefull to crops iron and calcium will have time to  dissloved off the mineral part of the earth earth and so at be dispostion of a new crop. The roots of the past crop will have time to rot in the soil and provide nitrogen for the next crop and the pests that like that crop will die from lack of food.      
        That land should be left bare to rest is especially common here  on modern farms, this mean acres and acres of land left bare every year which mean wind erosion and  probably water erosion of the soil on the feild and also a lot of land that is not covered in plants fixing carbon and now with our global warming problem we need as many plants as possible fixing the carbon in the air, as carbon sinks. In science a thing is called a sink if it takes another thing out of circulation for ever or for a while if the carbon is part of a plant body it is prevented from becoming a gas for a while and if a plant degrades in the right way the carbon that made up its body stands a chance of being covnerted into a humnic acid molecue that holds a certain amount of carbon atoms in it or if it does not rot in the soil, of simply becoming part of the soil long term instead of breaking down as in peat.

        I post a photo of feild of land left fallow, possibly a feild that a short time ago was covered in the juniper trees that you can see in the slopes above the feilds. The junipers are the juniperus  oxycedrus a hardy tree that grows on dry and soiless land and restores it. They are beautiful and they must hold a lot of carbon and as wooods increase rainfall but many bits of wood like this are disappearing to make way for wheat feilds and for olive grooves.
       As olives are  severly prunned they provide little shade and as the the earth is left bare at the foot of the trees the ground is not only exposed to the sun because of the small head of these trees but also because of lack of ground cover and also lack of ground cover exposes the soil to heavier erosion from wind and rain than the soil would suffer from if it were covered, so we can't pretend olives are a good substitue for the junipers and hardy mediteranean oaks quercus coccifera, that before lived on this land.
  Woods of encinas, evergreen oaks are also being pulled up to make more room for wheat.  
   The results are that some rains leave the cars in Madrid covered with a fine dust which from the reddish or sandy color of it must be earth or clay from spanish feilds, the legend is that this dust comes from the desert but as there are so many fields of bare earth around and closer to madrid than the  Sahara it is hard to believe that this is not the dust they are losing from their own fields.
       A photo of clay rain drop smears on cars in Madrid.

Third photo.
     In all fairness I have to put in this bit about the traditional farming in Spain here. The sheep are taken to eat the stubble, stubble is a staple in traditional farming of much live stock here in summer Cesar Sanchez Fuentes, "La Encina en el Centro y Suroeste de españa". Straw is also used as feed for the hardy Spainish live stock. Tthey are taken to feed on hte stubble  and by so doing seed it with the seed in there heces and so you get the feilds left fallow that aren't bare but  full of pasture plants. in the photo different strips of land are different some the color of  the young growing wheat and others of land covereed in pasture plants. of pasture.  
        I have walked the feilds full of pasture plants and i have photoed some of the plants growing in them.
         I have both read about sheep being used to seed land and talked to an agricultural expert about it without having asked  all the questions on the topic that i should  have asked.
         If you ever see sheep on a feilds of stubble near the road stop the car, the noise they make munching crisp straw stalks is great, like rain.
         I dont know the particulars of how sheep are used to reseed the land with the seed they have eaten in pastures, by which i mean i dont know how they time when to take them to eat from places with lots of seed and how long afterwards they take them over land they want seeded with the seed that manages to go through the sheeps gut without getting destroyed, that that escaped being muched in their gums i suppose.
        Feeding seed to sheep is an easier way of making fukoaksa's seed balls than the one he uses.
        These two following bits of information are all I have to go on on the subject.
        There was a tradition i have read about of leaving the sheep the night of special feilds, those you want for arable land, instead of taking them to the stables, they are kept the night on these feilds to manure the feild and so to enable the owner to get a better crop off it.  
         I did once find the shepherds all coming home in the evening and taking the sheep through the stubble, one shepherd after another, i had to hurry with my photo of the shepherd  i then new best, the photo is not in this lap top , as the next shepherd wanted to move onto the field. Maybe this is the method they use to get the sheep to seed the feilds with pasture plants, they to take them over the stubble in the evenings after a day on the pastures.
          This system is ecological the wheat feilds are not left bare and there is pasture on the feilds for the live stock.
           Traditionally the wheat is cultivated in the flat lands by the village and where the land slopes up a bit, as you can see in the photo, are woods of juniperus thurifera and maples, the ones here, arce de montpellier, are a good forage plant browse plant. The leaves of the junipers are also eaten, the sweeter ones, it is said some junipers have less bitter leaves than others of the same species. The juniper trunks are what the beams of the houses are made of in all the houses that conserve their traditional beams so htis sylvo pastural tradition is a buildign material pastue one.
    I think that the feilds have been cultivated so long that flat area has extended into a wider valley of flatness than it probably originally was.  In a next door feild the feild  has worn down the earth between rock faces so it is bordered by precipices The feilds run through the hills like a river.
  This photo is of what could be a a museum as well as a still in use bit of old sylvo,
i have p0ut in another photo of a shepherd on a ploughed feild the bits of wood here used to take up more of this land the wood is being nibbled away at to increase the rom for wheat. agro, pastoral farming practices.
agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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        The sheep eat the summer dried pastures in feilds here, at least in the parts i know of. This practice may help do for grass.
      Some sorts of grass are annuals and regrow from the seed that forms on them in the summer, but others have other methods of surviving hard seasons be the hard seasoons the dry ones or the ones that are too cold for plants. Systems such as dying down, drying off all except for a few rhizoms with buds on them from which new grass grows when the rains come or when spring comes in cold climates, are what allows the plants to survive the dry season.
       Plants that survive the dry season through buds on their roots are called
         Other types of grass have, as do some other plants, buds that stay alive in the grass sheaths and protected by these sheaths of dry grass these buds grow in the rains or when spring arrives  , if the sheep eat these when they eat the dry grass, the grass will be less likely to regrow in the rains.  If you strip the outside leaves off leeks you can see lots of buds at ground level some of these are root buds as far as i can tell but some others are probably new leaf buds, leaks give a clearly visible example of buds at ground level.

     I post a foto of sheep eating dry pastures and-:

  A   photo of a bit of grass that is sprouting in which  the buds at ground level are swollen and clearly visible inside the shoots of grass near the very bottom of the stem. this is a stem that has alread sent up new growth that i ppulled up in autumn it is not an example of the size of buds in the dormant season.

I also post a photo of artemisa, wormwood that has died down and has buds at the foot of its stem. It dies down in winter, incredibly staying green in the spanish summer though its roots don't seem to be very deep, and also growing and flowering in the summer heat and drought. It's buds at ground level, as a method of survival of hard times, are more clearly visible than those of the grass as it is a big plant, the photo was taken in winter when the stem had died down leavign only the buds and a few roots alive.
 In ruanquiaers sytstem of vital forms plants that relive from buds at ground level are called are called hemicriptophyts, ones that revive from rhizoms are called geofits in spanish rrizomatosos. as aopposed to say geofits bulbosos.Trees and bushes whose dormant buds survie the bad season are called fanerofits, Imay have spelt these groups a bit wrong my book on the topic is in spanish.  
  I think that the plants with basal florets are other plants that use this method of survival. Trees use the method of losing their leaves and keeping buds that survive the difficult season above ground level . agri rose macaskie.
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Irene Kightley
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That's an amazing collection of photos, thanks too for the explanations.

Do you know why the farmers need to allow their animals to overgraze ? They know that it doesn't help meat or milk production and it's not good for the earth where they live in the long term.

Is the system similar to here in France where every year we have to pay a set sum of money for land tax, insurances and social security payments even though some years we've made little or no money from the farm ?
 
rose macaskie
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 I found out that they ask you if you have a garden like mine to clear all the vegetation and keep the grass down for fear of fires and shepherds do offer their services to land owners on the bases that they will clear their land, so i suppose clearing land is their function and what they can make out of the meat and milk is the perk for clearing.
 For me fear of fires is a principal reason for overgrazing.
 There is a strange gap between the consciousness of the importance of ecological things and the old conscious of the importance of reducing the fire risk in summer when all long grass dries and is such a big fire danger. The Spanish people I taslk to on the subject  know that you have to clear for fires and they have a new culture of wanting to be green, not the shepherds but the hippier types and they have never considered how the two bare on each other. Ignoring the fact that we humans all of us have such illogical moments is perhaps a reason we sometimes get things all wrong. It is hard to remember how wrong we get things how often we have blind spots, with all the evidence, like being able to build enormous buildings or computers, of how clever we are around us.

 Sometimes it seems as if the shepherds who are intelligent people just don’t understand about plants and earth, though if you want to grow vegetables, get them to do it not me, they know how to grow vegetables so they understand about plants and earth in the vegetable garden.
     I will learn but trying to be green and permaculture will probably mean i take longer than i otherwise would, i suppose it is easier to organize if you dig the land up and plant in rows using chemicals. Except i have to learn to dig, to go at it slowly and steadily and get it done, f i want to do any sort of gardening, to put in huggleculture beds, as much as to put in normal ones so the real reason for my difficulties is that not trying to organize the complicated miced planting. I go at digging hammer and tongs and then get exhausted and leave it.

   Time and the leaves of pruned oaks give green food in the hard months, so maybe they prefer to  have these bushes than grass. They feed the live stock on oak leaves in winter mostly, not in the long dry summer months. If i remember right i did read about them using the leaf of oaks for cattle, in the south of Spain in summer in the book on different races of cattle.

    If they don’t look after the earth it is not so surprising as it might be if you consider that   they are often not owners of the land, so looking after the soil has never been their job, which is only to look after their sheep. If traditionally they owned land maybe then they would know all about looking after soil and pastures but it is often not an option they have had.
     I have heard that even in England they have been spoiling soils, where looking after the soil seemed so much part of my education, which it does not seem to be so here among those who have been to university.
 
           A cousin of my husband’s bought some land in Extremadura, the part of Spain that is centric west and very hot in summer and  borders on Portugal and a shepherd came to see him and explained that he should allow him on the land because he would keep it clean, which is to say cleared and nearly without undergrowth. I ought to try to get in touch with the land lord in the village and get information out of him. So i decided that cleaning the farms is the job of shepherds their function.

Apart from clearing the land to avoid fires, having the land free of two many mediteranean bushes allows shooting parties to walk over the hills more easily and people pay well to shoot in the hills of Spain.
 These are all my conjectures i don’t know the answer though I have tried to pick up information that explains it.  
     Traditionally there have been a lot of absentee landlords so the land lords are not looking after the soil and obviously as it is not their land the people that rent it to take their sheep or pigs over it, cows, horses etc., traditional farming was mixed something the commun market does not approve of, different animals having different functions. As  may be one lot went over the land at one moment and another in another part of the year, pigs in winter to fatten on acorns who are then butchered, they can have no special interest in looking after the soil as it is uncertain if they will be using it next year.

       There is a lot of common land and i know that the use of it in Gredos, where I hear more about how things work because my husband’s family come from there and they are friends with more people who are farmers, instead of having chance acquaintances there, in Gredos, who is to use the common land  is discussed by the villagers and the use of it is  divided out but i am not very sure how all that works . Groups of men just don’t talk much to women here except to say that you are pretty or some such. I wonder if people so traditionally poor as shepherds, rather than farmers, aren’t always pretty close about all they do to all outside people, as the weak cannot trust the powerful who will try to impose on them. They can’t trust me I will write about it. I also will denounce it if a lot of trees have been cut down, something I have to do now.
     I don’t know how they could tax them at all, they all seem pretty poor to judge from their cars and houses and such but maybe they do, if they do it is, maybe, a crying shame. They do pay rent for fields.
    If they are all walking over the same bit of land, whose owners have immigrated or some such, land that is no ones, maybe there is no point in leaving vegetation, the next shepherds sheep would just eat it. agri rose macaskie
 
rose macaskie
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  Just another example of erosion in case there is a lack of examples and people start to think it is not frequent, that I am making much of nothing. I have lots of photos of eroded hills. They are usually pretty.
  The most famouse example of desertified hills in spain are Monegros, on the route from Madrid to Barcelona but you can find them in other places.

  If i am right and much apparent desertification has more to do with unreasonably heavy pasturising than the rain fall, which creates grass if only for a short season, then places like Afghanistan can be less poor.
     
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rose macaskie
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People here have replied to me when i have said that the land  was over grazing that the amount of live stock present was a light amount of live stock but if you have suppressed the growth of grass by passing through the same area till the plants are destroyed before moving on and if you have used herbicides to suppress it you can’t have many heads of cattle sheep or goats there is nothing for them to eat. Then a few are too many.
  The hill with olives on it has been severly overgrazed.
  I post a third photo of another hill that is totally eroded. You can see from the dried grass where the ploughed wheat feild at the foot of the hill meets the road, how much ground cover there is enough rain in winter for here. Here the wheat feilds are not irrigated.  agri rose macaskie

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Richard Kastanie
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Thanks for posting the photos. That land is pretty obviously degraded. Have you read the book "Holistic Management" by Allan Savory? His research shows that numbers of animals aren't the only factor in whether the land is overgrazed. If the animals are rotated frequently to mimic natural herds that hit each area heavy for a short time and then move on and let the area rest for a while. The herding behavior is also important, especially in dry climates. Much degraded "overgrazed" land actually used to support herds or wild animals significantly more numerous than the numbers on the same landscapes today, and could again if the timing of grazing and animal impact is changed to a more natural pattern.

Interestingly, Savory points out that perennial grasses in all the world's Mediterranean climates, including California, parts of Australia and Chile, and the southern tip of Africa are particularly vulnerable to overgrazing, and are quickly killed off and replaced by annuals that die in the summer and don't stabilize the soil as well. I'm not familiar with Spain, but I do wonder if the pre-agricultural landscape of Spain had more of these perennial grasses that had deeper root systems which allowed them to stay green in drier conditions, thus were less of a fire hazard.
 
rose macaskie
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         I have not read Allen Savory must do it.
         At my grandmorthers farm the cows were taken off the land when they had eaten it down and if the grrass was very lush when they were put on a field, they were only allowed in one bit of the feild at a time, the first bit being cordoned off wiith an electric fence,which was moved when they had eaten the first bit down to incorporate some of the rest of the field ¡nto the cordoned off bit and so on, till the cows had eaten down the whole feild.
          The sheep in this bit of Spain are accompanied by shepherds and move all the time. The shepherds could simply take them round a different way so as not to over graze any one p0lace so  they could prevent them from always eating the same bit, i think overgrazing iis purposefully done to reduce fire risk.

          I dont know much about grass, .It maybe that they should plant pernenial grass . I  have heard it is important to keep grass down if you want tthe other plants the sheep eat to grow, such as plaintain and eating other plants that modern farming has forgotten to count as pasture  is part of the way of keeping sheep that  exists here. There are all sorts of plants in the pastures that make it intersting walking though the feilds.
 
          I have wondered if some grasses might not be able to go through the summer and stay green once their root system has developed well because at the bottom of my ravine garden there has, in the last year or two, been some grass that remmained green through the summer. The man who sold me the land planted ray grass down there and I left it to its own ways for these fifteen years and now part of the feild is green in summer. Does the perenial grass you talk of take some years to get a good hold on the soil.
      There are other factores that might play in, the trees have grown down there and give more shade.
       Maybe hydraulic redistribution in the trees helps the grass, you can google hydraulic redistribution trees, this may keep the land damp. Hydrauilc redistribution in trees is  what scientists  discovered was true about the flow of water in trees and bushes and was aat the same time not what we imagined they did before  by puttiing a gadgets on the roots to measure sap flow. If i remember right called the bean pulse system pf measuring flow. THhey found that roots of trees and many bushes, do not merely take up water and feed it to leaves, in dry weather,  thye also when the superficial roots start to lose weater to the ground in dry weather, the tap roots or sinker roots,  feed the superficial roots with water as well as the leaves which however shut their stomata at miday in summer in places with a climarte as hot as the mediteranean one is in summmer. This supply of water to superficial roots keeps the ground damp, for a while at any rate, under trees and bushes in hot dry weather. Also they learnt that, in a summer thunderstorm, this water flow reverses and the superficial roots take up water that gets carried, not to the leaves or not only to the leaves but down into the tap or sinker roots so increasing the trees reserves of water. So tree roots may increase the likely hood that grass lives through the dry season in the vicinity of trees.
         Also, in the fifteen years that i have had the land, the soil and the plants on it, cranes bills and chicory and other things, as well as grass, all the plants that grow in the garden are  left to rot on the ground they grew on when they die because it is the end of their season or die down because they cannot survive the heat of summer without a great reduction in body mass. THte plants are not taken off the ground tidied into piles and so their organic material improves the soil.  so the soil may now retain much more water than it used to .
        My husband asked to have the other bit of land at the bottom as a place he gardened as he liked without me interfering and so he gardens it mowing the grass there which has been interesting because where he mows the grass a lot more plants like violets and clover have grown  that in the case of clover can have pretty deep roots and these stay green for a very long time if not all summer so both ways, with time there are more plants that stay green all through the dry season. agri rose macaskie.
 
travis laduke
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Great post, Rose. Next time I drive from Los Angeles to Arizona or Nevada, I'll take some pictures. It looks very similar.
 
rose macaskie
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Thanks travis. rose

 
rose macaskie
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 On the subject of soil, i have a photo of the clay in one part of my garden- Under a bit of blackish top soil there is first a bit of grey clay which prehaps had the red washed down out of it and then a bit of red clay.

 If you have plants then  the good things that might be washed out of shallow layers of soil into deeper layers of soil may get absorbed by the plants roots deep in the soil and deposited in the leaves and when these drop returned to the top of the soil. THis is a reason not to leave earth bare.

 The small hole I dug in the soil shows the clay underneath. This is a spot where the plants have not improved the soil to any great depth, worm wood artemisa grew here. In other bits of the garden the fifteen years in which the land has not been exploited and all the vegetable matter has returned to the soil were it grew, have bettered the soil to a greater depth.
The photo is not very good the red earth does not look especially clay like and the patch of grey clay is tiny. I will try to take a better picture another day.  agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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In other bits of the garden the clay has turned into crumbs of earth instead of being a mass like the clay we make pots with at school.
  Glomalin substance discovered by sara F Wright, that sheaths the mycelium of micorrhyzal fungi and gets left in the soil when the hypha, which it seems get renewed frequently die.Glomain sticks the earth together in clumps so it no longer forms a homogenous mass. ALso bits of dead organic matter in the soil break up the clay. Things like grass have a different sort of mycorrhyzal fungi than things like trees, but they also have mycorhyzal fungi. Glomalin has been found in all soils, all agricultural ones, though i suppose if your land is heavy clay there will be less of it than in a area of better tillth.
  The photo is of, once clay soil that is now crumbs of soil, so the soil has better tilth and also allows the entery of more air and the passage of water through it, so it is less likely to get water logged and also like this roots have an easier passage through the clay. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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  In case anyone wonders how my garden can have so many different bits to it, here is a foto. It does not show the top on the side it is taken from, where i am standing but you can see the bit of green of the space at the  bottom by the river, the river is surronded by trees and on the other side the semi circular peice with small evergreen oaks on it is mine. The land beyond with no tress is not. It is the land up on the top at the other side of the river with the evergreen oaks on it, the dark green coulored trees, that is, much of it, covered with moss, though you dont notice this from a distance. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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    On the topic of restoring soils wild flowers are said to be good restorers of soils,  i postr  a photo or two of what comes up in mine. The wild flowers are pretty if I put up a photo or two others may want to just let their lawns grow too and just let what ever is in them grow with the grass, unless they want lawn to play sports on, you can lie in long grass its quite nice lying in long grass no one can see you, mind you i did that more as a child. agri rose macaskie.
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rose macaskie
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      My story is that olive groves are also a source of desertification and i imagine that includes other tree grown for their fruit such as orchards of citrus fruit.
      I drove through Jaen once, a Spanish province that is full of olives. My idea of the mediteranean was of a patrch work of feilds, a vinyard here and a olive grove next to it and a feild next to that, but in spain they seem to do things on a big scale, you start driving through olive groves and that is al you will see for what seemed to me two hours or some such but i have no iidea how long it really was, i have only done the journey once and that was a few years ago.
        It seems easy to feel that trees are ecological just because they are trees but if you think that they have highly prunned heads that dont extend very far they cant give as much shade to the ground as forest trees
         Also as the heads of the trees are kept  small they are not producing as much leaf as they otherwise would, so they produce very little leaf mold to create soils.
        The ground at the feet of the trees is kept bare, again, bare it provides no shade for the earth nor does will the leaves cap the ground as mulch does making the loss of moisture more difficult.
       Also,  the earth round the trees is kept bare an so is laso not  prodcuing organic matter to build up soils with.
        To add insult to injury the latest iidea i heard of for olive groves was to make brickets of the wood pruned of the trees for fires and furnaces even less organic matter to build soils with.
    No plants on the ground more erosion of the soil too.
       I cannot imagine how all these circumstances dont mean that the soils get slowly poorer and poorer and i wonder how long the soils in olive groves have been that bare, i wonder if before the bareness was such as might come from over grazing under the trees not from the mecanical or chemical baring of the soil. New methods may mean that olives end up in soils too poor for even them and if they are now feed with chemical fertilisers these dont help the soil to absorb and retain water as organic matter in the soil does, they will find they have to irrigate them or irrigate them more than they uised to if they are not carefull.
      I   post a picture or two of an olive groove this is probably a recent grove, they did not used to have olives in Guadaljara but as the common market has asked them to reduce olive trees in the south they seem to have started planting them in the centre of Spain, in Guadaljara. The groves suddenly appear full of mature trees, but the ones photographed here are not ones i have seen appear from where before there were no olives they are from a route i  never used to take. agri rose macaskie. 
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rose macaskie
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  I have a photo of the wild plants growing at the side of the road beside this olive grove so i am going to post it so you can see what can grow there. What is growing seems to me to be mostly fennel plants. agri rose macaskie.
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(in Spain)

In the South it's a very serious problem because they don't terrace slopes.  They can't even use normal tractors as it's too steep in many cases so they use those that look like tanks (no wheels).  In the East, they used to graze olive orchards with sheep in the winter, so soil was only bare in summer, and always on level land (by terracing mountains).
 
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