Humus per la Biosfera – Workshop on Pruning in Sustainable Agriculture

On Friday, the 28th of April 2023 we organised a pruning workshop for interested local farmers in the context of our project “Humus per la Biosfera”. The workshop was held on one of Giacche Verdi Bronte’s olive fields under the guidance of Dott. Nunzio Grigoli, former member of the Sicilian Forestry Department and organic farmer. In total about 20 people participated.

Published: 23 May 2023

Pruning is an important and beneficial method of tree maintenance. It improves the light availability and the plants health on a long term and reduces damages through dead, broken and falling branches and guaranties more safety on the property. Furthermore, carbon is sequestered in the soil by the dying of root mass corresponding to those of the cut branches. Another positive climate effect is the later use of the tree cuttings, which we recommend, for the production of plant charcoal, which in turn can be brought into the soil as a Terra Preta mixture, where it acts as an extremely long-term carbon store.

The workshop focused on the cutting of olive trees since they are very common in the aera.

The challenge is, to find a reasonable compromise between the needs of the tree and the interests of the human: The tree needs light and space, while the farmer is interested in quantity and quality of the fruits as well as an easy harvest.

Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte
We take away all inner, vertical growing branches and cut the tree crown in form of a vase by favouring 3-5 branches, which grow to the sides. Thus the “vase” is open on the top, allowing light to enter and reach all other branches. Photo: ©Giacche Verdi Bronte
The tree cuttings will be used for carbonization. Photo: Giacche Verdi Bronte

After the theoretical explanation of the pruning history and his recommended method, Grigoli guided the participants at pruning two example trees to deepen the knowledge.

In addition, we documented the event with videos. The material will be used to create a pruning tutorial online. Through this the workshop gains a wider range and reaches farmers all over Italy.

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