A living laboratory. The encounter between dedication and science.

Hello, I am the conscience of the plants of Viridis Terra Peru, greeting you again. This time I am speaking to you from the city of Yurimaguas, province of Alto Amazonas, department of Loreto.

I am visiting a living ecosystem laboratory. A private and self-financed initiative created by the forestry engineer, M.Sc., Jorge Miguel Perez Vela, the Center for Research, Teaching and Agroforestry Production, better known as CEPIAGRY.

The place was acquired almost 30 years ago, and nobody, except for the engineer Jorge Miguel Perez, believed that anything could grow in this place, and even less to reforest! But the passion and curiosity that only a true scientist possesses proved the opposite and achieved something unique: recreating a natural ecosystem.

The Viridis Terra Peru team had enough sense and recognized the importance of CEPIAGRY, which is why they signed a framework agreement in February 2020. In addition, Jorge Miguel is the regional articulator of Viridis Terra and accompanies his team throughout the process with farmer partners who decide to do business with Viridis Terra.

I, the conscience of plants, have asked myself several times why more people do not try to rescue degraded soils from poverty. Although it is not an easy task, this story shows that it can be done with rigorous testing and hard work. Jorge Miguel's dream is the same as Viridis Terra's: to offer sustainable solutions for the recovery, restoration, rehabilitation, reforestation, and conservation of deforested and degraded lands.

When CEPIAGRY had nothing but weeds, the engineer wondered about the biological threats to plant growth. He spent years doing experiments on different parcels of his area. After testing other plants and finding, for example, that "the ants become addicted to rose armhole. There comes a time when they become intoxicated, they fight among themselves, and it's a disaster. And as every drug addict does not work, so they do not eat, the whole anthill dies of starvation," says Jorge Miguel about the decadence of the society of the ants 'curuhuinsi' or 'siquisapa', Amazonian names of these insects.

Only from this type of results he was able to create a technological package to tackle the problem of deforestation with organic products.

Contrary to what several people have told him along the way, "these jobs are for lazy people" or " these studies are a waste of time." The forestry engineer Perez Vela is a very lucid man and methodically explains his logic. He designed his dynamics, and with all his approaches, he installed everything that exists today in CEPIAGRY.

Like me, the consciousness of plants, Jorge Miguel wondered: How do you know where to plant trees to grow without problems? "For that, my master's degree in soils helped me a lot, and I have always had the curiosity to observe palm trees. If these palms grow everywhere, there must be a physical characteristic of the soil to which they adapt. I started to relate it to trees. We learned that mahogany grows very well in more than 35% clay soils. Below 35% clay [mahogany] will grow, but it will not have commercial value. Some species grow only in loam soils, such as copaiba and rosewood. And some species grow only in sandy soils, such as tornillo, rosewood, cinchona, or marupa. But, the marupa is a good poor one, it is not very demanding in the physical part, but in the chemical part", Perez Vela points out.

As CEPIAGRY studies the interactions between the various species, we found a fish farm. They observed nesting birds, but due to climate change, these no longer occur; they have had up to 1000 hens per hectare, and they keep bees.

Although it may seem too much, CEPIAGRY has the soil analysis of each plot. Fertilization tests are carried out with organic fertilizer with 50, 100, and 200 kilos per plant. The base is rice ash (not rice husks), sawdust, chicken manure, and magnesium + calcium. Also, with nitrogen, and with and without the leaves of the trees to verify their contribution in nutrients. This is to be able to make an interpretation of soil analysis and compare the results when using particular elements.

As the consciousness of plants, I am very proud of the collaboration between Viridis Terra and CEPIAGRY. Both institutions aim to create a propagation program via biotechnology and in vitro cultures. A set of valuable techniques to regenerate plants and ensure the remarkable growth of different varieties. Therefore, the quality of production would be guaranteed.

Florence Couillaud