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Biodiversity is nothing other than the heart of regeneration.

Polinizadores Web


Interview to Martin Otero

March 2023


Martin Otero is founder and CEO of Bedrock and a farmer. Featuring extensive experience in the rural sector, he has founded his own company with a focus on enabling investments in sustainable, regenerative, and impact agriculture where various activities such as agriculture, livestock, forestry, and management of natural ecosystems are combined. Its team has been operating since 2005 and has the experience of having participated in the design and execution of strategies for more than 260,000 hectares in South America.

We share the interview that Martín gave to Polinizadores.com

What is regenerative agriculture?

It is definitely a very new term, very trendy, and with many and varied definitions. We do not define regenerative agriculture. We focus on the objective of regenerating the soil, and that single objective has opened up endless questions, teachings, and rethinking of everything we have been doing. Today we are very happy with the short and medium-term agronomic and economic results, but we firmly believe that the great gain is in the long-term resilience of agroecosystems. Little by little, studies are beginning to appear that validate that the greater the biodiversity, the better the management of nutrients, carbon, water, etc.

“We understood that Biodiversity was nothing other than the heart of regeneration.”

What are the actions in pursuit of sustainable agriculture?

On a global scale we see soils that have been mistreated for centuries, but, even so, nature gives us the possibility of regenerating them and generating new virtuous circles. In our region we have three great advantages: on the one hand, soils with less agricultural history than the old continent, on the other, about thirty years of massive management of agriculture without soil plowing or direct sowing and, lastly, but not least than the above, we have a very vibrant agricultural business community with a young and entrepreneurial mentality, which does not hesitate to reformulate its production models or reinvent itself.

We have drawn on the advice of the pioneers and the first is...go slowly, with clear objectives, believing in the fundamentals and taking firm steps without looking back after five minutes. The second is to see what tools we have on hand. Clearly, it is not going to be the same to travel the path with livestock than without livestock. We believe, and our experience validates it, that livestock greatly accelerates nutrient recycling processes. In the absence of livestock, we undoubtedly seek to incorporate carbon and nutrients through cover crops, in that sense, we try to make them as polyphytic as possible. Each plant with its function, whether it is incorporating nitrogen, generating biomass, producing a flower, or generating roots to explore the soil at different levels and improve infiltration.

We believe that monitoring biological activity within our landscapes is a good indicator of the health of our productive ecosystems. We have remapped the fields to identify landscapes and define specific restoration actions. We relaunched the results measurement policy (fundamentally focusing on soil health indicators) to be able to evaluate objective and concrete indicators over time. At the landscape level, by planting materials acquired from the Directorate of Aquatic Natural Resources of Uruguay, we have reincorporated native aquatic species. Also, in collaboration with UPM, we are measuring the health of aquatic ecosystems by monitoring amphibian activity in waterways and activating a program for the identification, georeferencing, and protection of threatened native cacti.

Achievements in the implementation of biodiversity refuges.

Although our migration towards regenerative agriculture began back in 2017, throughout this journey of rethinking we understood that Biodiversity was nothing other than the heart of regeneration. Without biodiversity, without life, we were not going to get far. That's when we came across Syngenta's “Multifunctional Landscapes” project and decided to make our fields and equipment available to the project so that together we could define actions and measure results. So we decided to look for very well-distributed points within the fields, fractions that otherwise had no other function today have a specific management and a clear function. They are connection points between agricultural, livestock, and forestry sectors and their function is to act as habitat and refuge mainly for pollinators. These areas also receive grazing with a super high density of livestock, very short and punctual, and in order to promote certain species (flowers) and accelerate the recirculation of nutrients, imitating a passing herd. We are a year and a little away from the implementation of the first actions on Multifunctional Landscapes and in that short period we have already noticed achievements. First of all, there is a goal and there is management. Many that were merely Gramin patches today are multispecies meadows, with valuable species that we have broadcast sown and other highly desired ones that have emerged surprisingly and naturally. On the other hand, in the first insect monitoring (carried out by Dr. Estela Santos - Faculty of Sciences - of the University of the Republic, Udelar) valuable species of rare native pollinators have been detected, we estimate that properly managing and preserving These spaces will generate the possibility of us talking about the persistent presence of native and no longer so rare pollinators.

Martín ended the interview by highlighting the current context, “clearly spring and summer 22/23 have been some of the hardest in recent times, with an accumulated drought and historic extreme temperatures for Uruguay.” He ended by validating the work done so far and the need to continue on the same path:

“We want to see how the Multifunctional Landscapes react when the rains return. Since we believe in fundamentals we have high expectations. "We are going to continue working, documenting, and analyzing the results of the monitoring."

Written by
Christian Bengtsson

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