Natural evolution is spot-on! For thousands of years, nature has created mechanisms to sustain life. Here at Toca we have learned to see these mechanisms as the “Forest Technologies”, an intelligence that helps in the understanding and development of our agroforestry systems. And to help you understand these various concepts, we decided to create a special series on our blog that begins with this text and a special theme: the natural succession of plants. Understanding this term means learning to respect plants and their time.

In nature, different species grow together, side by side, combined in an interdependence relation. Through this, species develop each in their own time, one after the other in a dynamic process that we like to call “clearing to clearing cycle”. Thus, the different cycles of each plant occur in succession in order to create conditions for mutual development, always increasing complexity within each cycle. In agriculture, the combination of different cultures in the same area is known as intercropping. In agroforestry systems this therm is still being discussed, but in order to facilitate the understanding, we will adopt it for now on.

We learned from Ernst Götsch to understand the plants in groups, according to their development time:

Placenta: These are the annual plants, which do not take more than 12 months to complete their cycle. In this segment, we have the ones called “annual” , which take from 1 to 4 months to develop, and the ones called “annual 2”, which take from 4 months to 1 year. Good examples of this group are corn, broccoli, carrot, tomato, cassava, yam, pineapple and many others.

Pioneers: The plants in this group take from 1 to 3 years to develop. Here we have papaya, eucalyptus, rosemary, passion fruit, coffee, three different banana species: chunkey, cavendish and plaintain, and saffron.

Secondary I, II and III: The Secondary group contemplates 3 categories. The initial formation (that takes from 3 to 6 years, like the seriguela, urucum, acerola, blackberry, starfruit and mate herb), Medium (From 6 to 15 years, for example cashew, avocado, guava, pupunha palm, orange, cocoa and others) and Advanced (which can take 15 to 30 years to fully develop, such as araucaria, cedar, jackfruit, Japanese grape, apple, cherry, cinnamon and others).

Primary: This group includes the so-called Mature plants, that is, those that take more than 30 years to develop. Great examples are ipê, jatobá, peroba, mahogany, Brazil nut, cupuaçu and many others.

Here in Toca, for example, we have several areas for agroforestry research with intercroppings that include banana trees, mango trees, mahogany, eucalyptus, acacia mangium, cassava and several other plants. These areas are our “classroom”, there we can test, analyze, study, make mistakes and get things right to learn more about the concept of natural succession as well as several others concepts that we will talk about in the coming weeks – and that you can see closely on our visits. By the way, do you want to know us better? Access the link and schedule one of our visits.

In the next text, we will show you how, in addition to timing, we also have to respect the space occupied by each plant. See you soon!

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