15 August 2023

Rebuilding Soil Health & Biodiversity in Mexico


Rebuilding Soil Health & Biodiversity in Mexico

Seeing Results of Regenerative Agriculture in Sugar

Proforest has been working on implementing regenerative agriculture through partnerships with local organisations and clients in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. The strategy differs from traditional agricultural practices, taking a holistic approach to improving soil health and ecosystem resilience; aligning with our mission of responsible production of agricultural commodities and the resulting social benefits for local communities and climate.

In Mexico, we have a team of regenerative agriculture experts leading this work on the ground, particularly in the sugar cane production sector. We’re currently supporting three projects in the San Luis Potosí and Morelos states -

These count with the collaboration of sugar cane organisations such as ULPCA (Local Union of Sugar Cane Producers) and CNPR (National Confederation of Rural Landowners), sugar groups and companies such as General Mills, Barry Callebaut and Nestlé.

From our experience, implementing this holistic approach requires collaboration from all actors involved in the production through ongoing dialogue with producers and promoting the practices to all participants in the supply chain. Moreover, the approach depends on the land's agroecological conditions, and understanding how the land is worked. The methodology we use for its implementation is:

  1. Assess the land conditions at a low cost and in agreement with producers.
  2. Begin with a small area, which is used to define our baseline data, including fertility, carbon sequestration, microbiology, and productivity.
  3. Evaluate the results of the first stage to propose a scale-up project focused on increasing sugarcane production yields that provide positive environmental and social impacts.

We have seen outstanding results in the fields after only months of using these techniques and have proven their long-term effectiveness. In a project we worked on, after 6 months of implementation, yields increased by 35%, with carbon capture almost doubling. Soils become healthier, more fertile and retain more moisture; reducing the need for fertilisers and water consumption. This is the result of practices such as the incorporation of harvest residues, the application of organic matter, biological pest control, the use of biofertilisers and green fertilisers, together with the reduction of chemical fertilisers.

Healthy soils are essential for agriculture, ensuring food security and decent livelihoods for smallholder farmers and the local community. With the increasingly stressful consequences of climate change, there is more need to implement practices that improve the health of soils so that they are resilient and can withstand extreme weather events, maintaining crop yields even in increasingly difficult conditions.

“Due to the good results obtained and the growing need to move towards sustainable forms of production, we welcome the increased interest in the country from producers and industries in the sector to adopt regenerative agricultural practices.”

- Julio Martínez, Regenerative Agriculture Expert at Proforest