HOW A SULLA SEED ACTIVATES LIFE, BIODIVERSITY AND FERTILITY IN THE VINEYARDS OF BIO CANTINA ORSOGNA
In farming in the past, soil fertility was achieved through proper agronomic practices based on natural fertilization through the input of organic matter produced on the farm. The advent of chemistry over the past century has caused people to lose sight of good agricultural practices and mistakenly delude themselves that they can solve everything through the use of synthetic fertilizers (
). While this choice has increased yields, it has also led to a gradual process of degradation of soils no longer supplied with organic matter. The European Union in 2002 adopted the communication COM(2002) 179 final “Towards a Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection” in which it defines the role that agriculture should play, namely “[…] essential to preserve the organic quality of soils, promote the preservation of the plant layer and avoid desertification. All agricultural activities must therefore aim to maintain and improve soil fertility, which is the foundation of life […]”.
ll termine Sulla deriva dal greco: hedys (=dolce) saron (=scopa) coronarium (=corona). Teofrasto scriveva di una leguminosa sconosciuta che probabilmente era idonea a essere usata come scopa e aveva un odore o un sapore dolce, mentre rimanda all'idea di una corona in riferimento al fiore (coronato = fiori a corona).
La Sulla has important extra-fodder aptitudes.
LA SULLA CREATES BIODIVERSITY
AND IS ATTRACTIVE TO BEES
> Sulla green manure creates a profound improvement in the negative aspects related to the low level of biodiversity in vineyards
> Sulla creates ecological niches that promote the development of a diverse entomofauna with the increased presence of beneficial insects and predators of many insects harmful to agriculture.
> By virtue of its abundant and prolonged flowering and copious nectar production, Sulla is highly attractive to bees. Beekeepers place their hives in areas close to Sulla’s crops because its unifloral honey is of high quality, highly appreciated by consumers, with a light color, delicate smell and flavor reminiscent of fresh hay and nuts, excellent when paired with aged sheep’s milk cheese.
LA SULLA CREATES SCENIC BEAUTY
> Thanks to its impressive carmine-red blooms, Sulla gives wonderful colorful expanses that lend a unique beauty to agrarian landscapes.
> Carmine red is a symbol of wealth and a great activator of vital energy. It is the color of confidence, self-confidence, harmony with one’s body, joy, life; it is an inspiring color that evokes the need to act…
THE SULLA FAVORS
WINTER GRAZING IN THE VINEYARDS
> Sulla is an excellent fodder much coveted by sheep, characterized by considerable nutritive value to be ascribed to its high crude protein and carbohydrate content, and in addition, the presence of tannins reduces gastro-intestinal infections in sheep. From the Sulla pasture comes an excellent sheep’s milk cheese with distinct organoleptic characteristics. Bio Cantina Orsogna encourages la Sulla planting in vineyards so as to create an important grass sward for herd grazing in the winter period.
SULLA SAFEGUARDS SOILS FROM EROSION
> Sulla’s powerful taproot system improves aeration of even the deepest soil layers and makes an important contribution to its protection against surface hydrometeoric erosion. The presence of Sulla during the wettest periods (winter and early spring) protects the surface layers from runoff and erosion.
SULLA IMPROVES THE FERTILITY OF SOILS
> Roots contribute to the maintenance and increase of humus and improvement of the physicochemical structure of the fertile soil layer. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria, symbionts with legume roots, enrich the soil with nitrogen that will become available at the time of spring green manure. The abundant plant mass, when buried, provides an important supply of humus essential for root life and microorganisms.
FROM THE POLLEN OF SULLA YEASTS ARE SELECTED
FOR THE VINIFICATION OF MONTEPULCIANO VOLA VOLÉ WINE
> Yeasts in nature occur on many organic matrices including fruits and flowers. In Bio Cantina Orsogna’s “Vola Volé – Montepulciano” project, fermentation yeasts are selected from Sulla flower pollen. Pollen grains are collected from beehives placed in areas adjacent to the Sulla fields, and on these, microbiologists select and multiply the yeasts that will be used to ferment “Vola Volé Montepulciano” wine.
Tommaso Cascella “After the Harvest” 1910- Oil on Canvas cm 207×206 – B. Cascella Museum Pescara
TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY HILLY LANDSCAPE ON THE MAJELLA
The work depicts a divinatory scene, namely, an elderly fortune-teller guessing the future in the hand of a farmer who is mowing a field of Sulla (Rampa Lupina), which chromatically enhances, with its carmine red color, the agricultural landscape overlooking the Majella probably between the towns of Guardiagrele and Orsogna.
Adriana Gandolfi, ethno-anthropologist for the Abruzzi and Molise region
La Sulla, extraordinary protagonist of a real agricultural revolution on clay soils
Sulla, known to botanists under the scientific names Hedysarum coronarium or Sulla coronaria, is an annual forage plant belonging to the legume family. The species’ area of origin probably lies in the western Mediterranean, particularly in Spain or northern Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia). The name on the appears to be of Spanish origin, “zulla,” perhaps borrowed from Arabic. It is likely that the Arabs themselves were the first to plant this important forage crop. In Italy its cultivation is first attested in Calabria around the mid-1700s period when cultivation also seems to have been practiced in the Maltese islands.
Sulla cultivation from Calabria later spread to Sicily and southern Italy. It was the Economic Societies, scientific sodalities operating in the Kingdom of Naples with the aim of improving economic activities and, above all, agriculture, that spread the cultivation of the plant. In Abruzzo, a strategic role in the rooting of the plant was played by the Economic Society of Chieti and, secondarily, that of Teramo. As early as around 1815, Sulla is reported to be cultivated in the region on hilly and coastal clay soils. The spread of the plant and other forages (alfalfa, crocus, clovers) was stimulated for the planting of artificial meadows, which were previously completely unknown. In fact, after the feudal subversion laws (1806), many private estates were established in the Kingdom of Naples at the expense of feuds and ecclesiastical estates. The new landowners needed to produce fodder to encourage cattle farming as an alternative to sheep farming. In fact, cattle were indispensable as a labor force and for the production of a strategic commodity: manure. On the highly clayey soils of the hilly area of southern Abruzzo, the only forage crop capable of producing significant amounts of hay to feed cattle, especially the Marche breed of cows that were just beginning to spread in our countryside in the 1800s, was Sulla. This plant has been the protagonist of a real agricultural revolution in the hilly clay sector of the region. Sulla, locally known as “rampa lupina,” a term typical of the Abruzzi and Molise area, dyes our hillsides carmine red, and its young, tender sweet and juicy shoots (tenne de rampa lupine) also became a sought-after vegetable to be eaten raw or cooked in fojje. Beekeeping also benefited greatly with the production of Sulla’s distinctive and sought-after honey that still characterizes regional honey production. Unfortunately, in recent decades, the cultivation of this extraordinary fodder crop has declined sharply due to the profound changes in our agriculture.
Prof. Aurelio Manzi, naturalist and biologist