Being a pioneer
I am naturally inclined to be a pioneer and enjoy exploring new ideas and contributing to their development. I enjoy blazing new trails and see the potential for greater profits in emerging markets.
On the other hand, when you dedicate yourself to something that many people have been doing for a long time already, it is more difficult to achieve great results. Pioneer work consists of doing something that has never been done before, investing time, talent, and resources, and risking losing everything. Only some people are willing to do it, and some are in a position to do it.
The first Italian producers of mother plants had basic know-how acquired from China, which was sufficient to understand that there are climatic conditions for the plant to thrive in Italy but needed more agronomic techniques. Making a plant survive is one thing, but creating professional cultivation by optimising management and always seeking the best productivity performance is quite another. And this, the pioneers who first invested in it learned at their own expense.
The mistakes made in the early years concerned every aspect. To list a few: timing and planting techniques, lack of preventive soil analysis, lack of knowledge of the right tillage and irrigation methods. For these reasons, only some of the early plantings developed correctly, others less so, and others not at all.
In these very first years of cultivation, it also happened that some people, to cash in immediately, were told that there was no need to irrigate the plants, that they could be put in the ground at any time of the year, that there was no need to do a preventive soil analysis, because ‘it grows everywhere anyhow’.
Consequently, some information on production times and plant management was also incorrect. Some believed the plants could grow independently without needing specific care and adequate nourishment.
Thus, many plants were put down and then left to their own devices so that there is now a desert where there should have been a forest today.
Insufficient information has clearly hindered the proper development of the bamboo market in Italy, resulting in negative impacts from its inception.
Growing crops for industrial purposes
To achieve a successful and abundant production of industrial hemp, it is imperative to possess a comprehensive understanding of the plant’s agronomic needs, proper sowing and cultivation techniques, soil preparation, and effective plant management. These guidelines have been established through pioneering experiences and must be followed diligently.
After five years of effort, it was necessary to create a disciplinary approach that outlines the values and procedures necessary to ensure the successful outcome of a plant.
In order to create a successful giant bamboo forest, it is important to conduct a feasibility study that focuses on the soil. This study involves analysing the soil’s physical characteristics, as well as evaluating the chemical and energy imbalances of its main elements, which can affect the soil’s ability to support plant growth. Just like a large building needs a strong foundation, a high-performing bamboo forest requires soil that provides optimal nourishment for the mother plant.
Although this grass is hardy and resilient, not all soils are suitable for its growth. While the grass may survive in some soils, achieving a perfect balance in the soil is necessary to produce hundreds of tonnes of raw material per hectare each year. This balance must include all the necessary elements for the forest to reach its full potential.
Before attempting to plant anything, it’s crucial to assess the quality of the soil. While it’s possible to make any soil work for a plant, it’s important to weigh the cost of restoring the soil against the overall value of the plant. Some soils may have been stripped of essential organic elements due to excessive chemical use over time, making restoration efforts costly and time-consuming. Therefore, it’s necessary to evaluate the amount of work and money required to restore the soil to a suitable level before proceeding with any planting.
To prevent the spread of rhizomes into the surrounding soil, it is important to create barriers or perimeter ditches that are at least 70 cm deep to delimit the planting area.
The practice of irrigation is crucial, especially during the initial years of cultivation. Drippers are typically used to water the rows where the mother plants are located. Despite some initial beliefs in Italy that water was not essential for plant growth, it was later recognized that bamboo requires a significant amount of water, possibly due to confusion with the Arundo Donax plant that often grows near water sources.
Plants require varying amounts of water depending on their growth stages and the type of soil they are planted in. Some soils retain water while others drain it quickly. Insufficient watering can cause a plant to deteriorate, while excessive watering can also be harmful. Each plant’s needs are unique, so it is important to evaluate them individually.
When it comes to caring for an infant, we know that they require constant attention. As a child grows, they develop more autonomy and eventually become independent adults. This is similar to bamboo cultivation, which requires extreme care in the first few months and constant attention in the first few years. However, once the plant matures, it becomes a self-sustaining forest that can produce tens of tonnes of material per hectare every year.
Over time, the interconnected rhizomes of the parent plants create a network that links them together. This results in the forest functioning as a single living organism, capable of self-sustaining and self-regulating. As the plants dominate the soil, harmful weeds are quickly eliminated within the first few years.
This plant is evergreen, so its leaves fall to the ground regularly and create a natural mulch. This helps keep the soil at the right humidity level, which means less irrigation is needed. The appropriate thinning techniques will be used to promote growth, depending on the type of products chosen, such as sprouting, large culms or chopping.
Translated by Clara Cianchetti