The Billion Agave Challenge

This text was beforehand printed March 7, 2021, and has been up to date with new info.

The Billion Agave Challenge is a game-changing, ecosystem-regeneration technique lately adopted by a number of progressive Mexican farms within the high-desert area of Guanajuato. Together with your assist, we have been the first group to donate to Natural Customers Affiliation supporting this significant undertaking that’s now confirmed to inexperienced arid areas and supply each meals and earnings for a few of the world’s most challenged farmers.

This technique combines the rising of agave vegetation and nitrogen-fixing companion tree species (reminiscent of mesquite), with holistic rotational grazing of livestock. The result’s a high-biomass, excessive forage-yielding system that works nicely even on degraded, semi-arid lands. A manifesto on mesquite is on the market in English1 and Español.2

The system produces massive quantities of agave leaf and root stem — as much as 1 ton of biomass over the eight- to 10-year lifetime of the plant. When chopped and fermented in closed containers, this plant materials produces a superb, cheap (2 cents per pound) animal fodder.

This agroforestry system reduces the stress to overgraze brittle rangelands and improves soil well being and water retention, whereas drawing down and storing large quantities of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).

The purpose of the Billion Agave marketing campaign is to plant 1 billion agaves globally to attract down and retailer 1 billion tons of climate-destabilizing CO2. The marketing campaign shall be funded by donations and private and non-private investments.

Why Agave?

Local weather-Change Answer

Agave vegetation and nitrogen-fixing timber, densely intercropped and cultivated collectively, have the capability to attract down and sequester large quantities of atmospheric CO2.

In addition they produce extra above-ground and below-ground biomass (and animal fodder) on a steady year-to-year foundation than another desert or semi-desert species. Agaves alone can draw down and retailer above floor the dry-weight equal of 30 to 60 tons of CO2 per hectare (12 to 24 tons per acre) per yr.

Splendid for arid and scorching climates, agaves and their companion timber, as soon as established, require no irrigation and are principally impervious to rising international temperatures and drought.

Livestock Feed Supply

Agave leaves, filled with saponins and lectins, are indigestible for livestock. Nonetheless, as soon as their large leaves (excessive in sugar) are chopped finely through a machine and fermented in closed containers for 30 days, the tip product gives a nutritious and cheap silage or animal fodder.

This agave/companion tree silage, mixed with the restoration of degraded rangelands, could make the distinction between survival and grinding poverty for hundreds of thousands of the world’s small farmers and herders.


Agaves require little-to-no irrigation. They thrive even in dry, degraded lands unsuitable for crop manufacturing due to their Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthetic pathway.

The CAM pathway allows agave vegetation to attract down moisture from the air and retailer it of their thick leaves at evening. Throughout daylight, the opening of their leaves (the stomata) closes up, drastically lowering evaporation.

A New Agroforestry Mannequin

A pioneering group of Mexican farmers is reworking their panorama and their livelihoods. How? By densely planting (1,600 to 2,500 per hectare or 2.47 acres), pruning and intercropping a fast-growing, high-biomass, excessive forage-yielding species of agaves amongst preexisting (500 per hectare) deep-rooted, nitrogen-fixing tree species (reminiscent of mesquite), or amongst planted tree seedlings.

When the agaves are 3 years previous, and for the next 5 to seven years, farmers can prune the leaves or pencas, chop them up finely with a machine, after which ferment the agave in closed containers for 30 days, ideally combining the agave leaves with 20% of leguminous pods and branches by quantity to offer them the next protein stage.

In Guanajuato, mesquite timber begin to produce pods that may be harvested in 5 years. By Yr 7, the mesquite and agaves have grown into a reasonably dense forest. In Years 8 to 10, the basis stem or pina (weighing between 100 and 200 kilos) of the agave is prepared for harvesting to provide a distilled liquor referred to as mescal.

In the meantime the hijuelos (or pups) put out by the mom agave vegetation are being repeatedly transplanted again into the agroforestry system, guaranteeing steady biomass progress (and carbon storage).

On this agroforestry system farmers keep away from overgrazing by integrating rotational grazing of their livestock throughout their rangelands. They feed their animals by supplementing pasture forage with fermented agave silage.

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