Rural History 2015

Panel 36

Organizers: González dee Molina, Manuel (1); García-Ruiz, Roberto (1); Guzmán Casado, Gloria (1); Infante Amate, Juan (1); Soto Fernández, David (1); Galán del Castillo, Elena Soledad (2); Carmo, Miguel (3)

Affiliation: 1: Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain; 2: Universidad de Barcelona, Spain; 3: Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Title: The Socio-ecological Transition of Mediterranean Agriculture from a soil fertility point of view (1750-2010)

"The panel explores the process of socio-ecological transition in agriculture from the point of view of soil fertility. The replenishment of soil fertility has played a crucial role to maintain the stability of agrarian systems based on organic fertilization. The stability of crops and the sustainability of development and specialization of agricultural production in Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries depended, after centuries of continuous cultivation, on an adequate replenishment of the soil fertility. Hence, we try to show the diverse and complex ways followed by agrarian societies throughout this period. The objective is to compare the different techniques of soil fertility management from the XVIII century to the present time and their impacts on agro-ecosystems: from a context of shortage of organic fertilizers to current agriculture where an important quantity of nitrogen is wasted.
This panel takes up that challenge, asking how famers in the past sustained soil fertility over the long term. The papers use a uniform methodology to estimate soil nutrient flows and processes on farms, much as ecologists do in natural habitats. Complex and contingent choices by past farmers governed, for example, the amount of nitrogen extracted from the land through grain harvests, deposited in manure applications, or transferred from woodland to cropland via grazing livestock. How did farmers manage soils in order to cultivate the same land continuously over the course of centuries? How did soil nutrient management change during 20th century modernization? Employing an innovative “social metabolism” approach in all three case studies makes possible a rigorous comparison of different farm systems as they evolved through time. The panel gathers three papers which develop three cases from Southern Europe at different scales (Spain, Portugal and Catalonia). The obtained results are so relevant not only for historiographic purposes, but also to design the future transition to a more sustainable agriculture."



Chair: Ramón Garrabou, Emeritus Professor, Universidad Autonóma de Barcelona, Spain

Paper 1: Rabassaires, formiguers and caganers: comparing regional nutrient balances in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula c.1920

Elena S. Galán del Castillo, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

Paper 2: Can fertility be a subject of history? A historical nutrient balance of the agriculture soil in Portugal (1868-2009)

Miguel Carmo, Universidade de Lisboa,Portugal

Paper 3: The "organic machine": on the environmental legacies of the First Agricultural Revolution

Dino Güldner, Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria

Paper 4: From shortage to wastage: soil fertility management in the socio-ecological transition of Spanish Agriculture, 1900-2010

Roberto García Ruiz, Gloria Guzmán, Juan Infante-Amate, David Soto, Eduardo Aguilera, Antonio Cid, Antonio Herrera, Inmaculada Gil y Manuel González de Molina, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015