Our work

POLYCULTURE

Our firm produces mainly rice, according to the principles of polyculture, a method which goes “beyond” the biologic.

It deals with agronomic techniques based on the cultivation of ancient varieties of cereals and legumes which are sown in rotation and in co-association with spontaneous weeds, hedges and trees. We don’t use synthetic chemical products nor organic fertilizers, but we work in synergy with nature, promoting auto-fertility inner working of the soil, making agriculture a sustainable activity, to protect agri-ecosystems.

GREEN MANURE

In autumn, following the rice harvest, we superficially work the soil and we sow the green manure, which is a mixture of herbaceous cultivations which will remain in the filed until spring.

The main purpose is to contrast the soil depletion due to its continuous cultivation, as well as improve biodiversity of agri-ecosystems and to control pests and pathogenic agents. Italic ryegrass, oat, clover, hairy vetch, enrich our biological fields with organic azote which, in contrast to the chemical one, binds with the soil particles remaining at disposal of the plant, it’s not washed out and does not pollute the groundwaters. In spring, the green manure, covered with water, creates a green mulching, which avoids the most part of the seeds of the infesting plants to germinate, acting as natural pre-sowing weeding. The aim is to sow on a naturally unweeded field, free as much as possible from pests.

CONSERVATIVE AGRICULTURE

In the rice fields, we practice the spreading sowing on no-till soil, a cultivating system which is based on the absence of any mechanical working of the fields.

The environmental benefits of this technique are consistent and make it a precious ally in the struggle against climatic changes. The organic coverage of the soil assures a reduced erosion of the ground, allows to retain water and improves biodiversity. Not to mention the scarce use of fuel which derives from the missing work of the fields.

WATER

The water which irrigates our rice-fields origins from the Alps.

From the mountain springs, then, passing into rivers and canals, it naturally arrives to our ditches and subsequently to our fields.

Water reaches every cultivated land in a direct way, not flowing from field to field, and it remains there even in case of drought, thanks to the furrows which always remain watered.

All the aquatic organisms that unlikely would survive on the not watered fields, find shelter into these furrows. The dry-fields are lethal for those living beings which in spring, attracted by the watered rice-fields, start their reproduction; their eggs, larvae and tadpoles are meant to die when water is drained and the rice-fields become real “ecological traps”.

ROTATION OF CULTIVATIONS

The rotation of cultivations consists in sowing, following a determined species, a different species, possibly belonging to a different botanical family.

In our fields, we alternate rice to millet, legumes, buckwheat, soy, in order to reduce the pests, naturally enrich the soil and limit the presence of specific parasites. The rotation of species which require different ways of working, allows to fight in a natural way different infesting weeds. This reduces the chance to produce seeds and to infest the subsequent growing cycle. Moreover we make follow to generous plants such as legumes – which enrich the soil with nitrogen – avid plants, such as rice, which needs much of this element, feeding our biological fields in a completely natural manner.

Protection of Biodiversity

The wildlife in our rice-fields

In our organic farm, thanks to a constant activity of protection of the environment and ecosystems, there is space to live and reproduce various specimens of wild fauna with high ecological value, such as badgers, foxes, hares, hedgehogs, polecats, stone martens and important specimens of avifauna, such as herons, including the rare purple heron and the very rare bittern, waders such as black-winged stilts and lapwings; snipes, woodpeckers, tits, sparrows, goldfinches, greenfinches; birds of prey, such as buzzards, hawks and kestrels; ducks, especially mallards and garganeys. Our rice fields, with always grassed banks, rows, wooded areas and wet side ones, are unique ecosystems and biodiversity reservoirs, they are semi-natural habitats of great importance not only for mammals and birds, but also for insects, reptiles, amphibians and fish such as carp, bleak, vaironi and chub.

THE ROWS

These actions of reassessment of the landscape protect our biological cereals from wind, the soil from the hydric and eolic erosion, promote the settlement and colonization of many useful insects and supply nourishment to the wildlife.
Year after year, we created rows on the sides of our fields choosing indigenous species, including those which produce fruits and berries.

We put to adobe wild fruit trees – apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, cherry trees, apricot trees, sour cherry trees, walnut-trees, hazelnut-trees – in more than 7 km of edgings. These grow in a completely natural way and the fruits are not gathered so that they can serve as nourishment to the wildlife and the migrant birds. Leaves and fallen brunches enrich the soil with organic substances and give shelter to little mammals, reptiles, insects.

Moreover, we created hedges with trees and honey bushes – linden, privet, hawthorn – to contribute to the safeguard of pollinating insects, in particular of our friends, the bees, which every year delight us with their biological honey.

The restoration of the habitat is one of the starting points of our idea of agriculture.
In areas subject to intensive cultivations, the absence of hedges, trees and canals between the cultivated fields, deprives natural spaces and habitat to plants, insects anphibians, fish, birds and little mammals. On the contrary, planting trees allows us to vary the landscape, increase biodiversity and at the same time produce wood.

FURROWS

For the safeguard of biodiversity, we eliminated every kind of pollutants and we commit ourselves not only in maintaining the furrows watered, but also in reducing to the minimum the dry-tillage practiced in the rice-fields.

After years of biological cultivation, careful handling of the fluxes and total absence of pesticides and fertilizers, harmful for the aquatic forms of life, our rice-fields returned to be populated by species, once common, but today almost disappeared or just occasionally retrievable, for example fish, tadpoles, larvae and dragonflies, not to mention many frogs, which naturally fight parasites harmful for the rice plants.

burchvif

We collaborate with the Cultural Association “Burchvif” which, near our biological farm, manages one of the last reeds of Lomellina, very important for the conservation and the protection of some species of birds of communitarian interest, such as the bittern, the purple heron, the water rail, and the little bittern.

The reed can be visited all the year and, most of all in spring, you can listen to the “mooing” of the bittern, the territorial singing of this exclusive and rare ardeid which lives and reproduces here. We work closely to the Association, in defense of the territory and biodiversity, aiming to build ecological “corridors” which can put in contact our rice fields and the oasis, so that the wildlife can move undisturbed to search for food.
In our fields, indeed, the constant presence of amphibians such as frogs and tree frogs, attracts many species of ardeids including the rare bittern, the purple heron, the grey heron and various waders such as Cavalieri d’Italia and lapwings.

RESEARCH

We also collaborate with the University of Pavia to a European project aimed to re-introduce the MARSILEA QUADRIFOGLIA, an aquatic fern almost completely extinguished in the rice fields and nowadays present only in two firms, in addition to ours, in the province of Pavia.

The so-called aquatic four-leaf clover – which in our biological fields grows naturally – once was very common in the rice fields, then, with the introduction of herbicides and of more and more prolonged dry periods, it is almost completely disappeared and, in many regions, it is extinguished.

This rare fern represents the signal of the absence of pesticides in our rice-fields because it is a very sensible pest even in very little quantities of pesticides.

Together with the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the University of Pavia, and the Consiglio per la Ricerca in Agricoltura e l’Analisi dell’Economia Agraria (CREA), we participate to the Core-Save Project for the conservation of animal and vegetable biodiversity.

CONTACTS

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Azienda Agricola Marinone Roberto
Cascina Bosco, 4
27020 Nicorvo (PV)

+39 339 56 41 211

info@cascinaboscofornasara.it

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