Meet the spring cohort

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Nanna Feldthaus - Environmental Science in Europe at University of Copenhagen and University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna

In the Mediterranean, orchards with bare soils are a typical sight, that occurs because of the fear of competition of nutrients and water between the trees and the ground cover. Without plant roots, humus and soil stability, the soil becomes sensitive to erosion from water and wind and the soil is being depleted. With the lack of shade and water retention the plants would normally offer, the evaporation rate increases and dries out the soil. In order to bring back soil fertility to this region and help sequester climate change, this project is being carried out in order to see what effects different management strategies would have on soil quality in an agroforestry system. The hope is to change the intensive and depleting agricultural practices of this region into a more regenerative practice, that would help turn the difficulties this region faces.

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Tina Taylor-Harry - Sustainability, Society and Environment at Kiel University

I am Tina Taylor-Harry, a master student of University of Kiel, Germany. I am here in La Junquera at the Regeneration Academy to do a research on compost for soil fertility improvement. The soil in this region is degraded and needs regeneration which is what the academy is all about. Compost is the biological decomposition of organic material into a humus-like substance. I am researching compost because of its numerous benefits such as soil fertility improvement, environmental friendliness and the  cheap and easy way of making it. I will be working on making three different types of compost using the vermicomposting method and compare  them for nutrients and benefits to almond plants to ascertain the best of the compost. At the end of my research here in La Junquera I hope to get the best way to make cheap and effective compost that will benefit the farmers in this region and also create awareness on the need for regenerative agriculture to bring back dead soil.

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Sander de Bruin - International Development studies at Wageningen University & Research

Between the meadows and fields of the La Junquera farm, many different wild aromatic plants and herbs can be found in abundance. As an internship of my master's program, I am looking into the diversification of agricultural production at the farm, using these wild aromatics and herbs. My main project is to work out a business case, for harvesting the aromatics/herbs and producing soaps, essential oils, and thee blends. As a side project, I am looking into the possibility of brewing an artisan craft beer, consisting only out of ingredients from the farm, that can be sold and poured at the future endeavors of the R.A. and the La Junquera farm.

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Florian Schmidt - Sustainable Business Activities at University of Kassel

Hello, my name is Florian, german student in Sustainable Business Activities. I see 4R-based landscape restoration as an integral part in the upcoming decades, both for facing global problems such as climate change and also to create promising business opportunities on regional and farmer level. In this wide group of interests I want to show, which type of stakeholders are needed to have a promising future business. My qualitative research will address La Junquera and also its stakeholder. The stakeholder analysis is believed to make the holistic approach of 4R more convincing, especially related to agro-businesses.

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Laetitia Boels - Forest and Nature Conservation at Wageningen University & Research

My research consists in planting hedges in the almond groves. The aim of these hedges is to bring back biodiversity to fields by attracting arthropods for pollination and natural pest management, as well as increase the soil quality by reducing erosion. The hedges are composed of native plant species that provide adequate feeding, resting and reproduction habitat for the arthropods.

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Bart Housmans - Water Science and Management at Utrecht University

The research I am conducting on La Junquera aims to increase the local retention of rainfall through the implementation of Contour Trench systems. Such a system consists of shallow trenches that are constructed along contour lines on an agricultural field. In case of heavy rains, these trenches capture excess precipitation and allow conservation of the water on the hill slope itself. A part of this quantity of water will become available to the cultivated crops on the hill slope through increased soil moisture contents in the subsoil between the trenches and the other portion accommodated to infiltrate to deeper soil layers where it can recharge groundwater aquifers. Besides the hydrological effects, trenches limit land erosion by reducing surface runoff velocities. My thesis will search for an optimal design for contour trenches for a range of hill slopes that are characteristic to La Junquera, as well as the broader region and quantify their hydrologic effects in terms of increased soil water contents in the root zone of the cultivated crops on the hill slope under consideration.

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Michiel Nieuwkamer - International Land and Watermanagement at Wageningen University & Research

My research will be focussed on erosion in the area and the efficiency and lifetime of the ‘’sediment traps’’ that have been constructed. For this I will take soil samples to determine the amount of sediment displaced in the sediment trap and model the erosion rate of the catchment. In the end I will use this knowledge to create a guide on things to consider when constructing sediment traps to combat erosion and increase local water availability.

Pablo Festa - Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science at University of Pisa

I'm Pablo and my research will focus on the economic and business aspects in non-conventional farming on the short term and the long term. My task will be to analyze and monitor the several projects in the farm and find the compromise between sustainability and economic return for the farm. In particular i'll consider as a study case the production of a artisanal and local beer, managing, in addition to technical process, the marketing side of it; comparing costs and benefits of eco friendly production of beer with the conventional production of beer.


Yanniek Schoonhoven