Biointensive Agroecology--Growing the Soil

By Michael Richardson Michael Richardson is the President and Executive Director of CCID BioNica whose mission is  "to provide training in Nicaragua on how to reclaim depleted soil – “Grow the Soil – so the soil can grow nutritionally balanced crops.” Our next newsletter will bring you a description of their work.


Biointensive agroecology methods- when practiced correctly - build sustainable soil fertility, reduce agricultural water consumption, increase crop yields, and offset the causes and effects of climate change by sequestering large quantities of carbon in the soil.


Validated research confirms that it is possible - when practiced correctly - to produce crops using: 67% tosoil flowers 6 15 109 88% less water; 50% to 100% less fertilizer; and, 99% less energy than conventional agriculture, while using a fraction of the resources. Biointensive agroecology methods can also: produce 2 to 6 times more food; build the soil up to 60 times faster than in nature; and, reduce by half or more the amount of land needed.

Biointensive agroecology methods of soil preparation aerates the soil to: 1) facilitate root growth; 2) support mycorrhizal funguses, bacterias and beneficial insects; and, 3) improve water retention. The vigor of the soil is maintained through compost. Close plant spacing protects soil microorganisms, reduces water loss, and maximizes yields. Companion planting encourages beneficial insects and creates a mini-ecosystem. The focus on production of calories for food and carbon for the soil ensures that both the grower and the soil are adequately fed and that the farm or garden is sustainable. The use of open-pollinated seeds preserves genetic diversity and enables growers to develop their own acclimatized cultivars.

Biointensive agroecology methods offset both the causes and the effects of climate change. This is accomplished through "adaptation" - the capacity to adapt to climate change through a synchronized relationship between human activities and the land - and also through "mitigation" - the capacity to sequester large quantities of carbon in the soil and reduce the output of greenhouse gases.