The land is treated “as a living being” by João Valente, the face of Monte Silveira Bio, a family company in Beira Baixa centred on irrigated crops, based on precision agriculture, and the production of cattle, sheep and pigs. The scenario is the agricultural farm located in Malpica do Tejo that has been in biological mode since 1999.
João Rodrigues, Feitoria
Texto de Patrícia Serrado
Fotografias de Pedro Sadio
Of the approximately 700 hectares of the exploration area belonging to Monte Silveira Bio located in Beira Baixa lands, about 500 are occupied by forest consisting of assembled of holm and cork oak. “The rest is reserved for irrigated crops, where cereals, pulses and ironmongers are produced”, explains João Valente, representative of this family company based in Malpica do Tejo, parish of Castelo Branco. "Between 1999 and 2000 we were already certified for the organic products we are producing".
Three varieties of beans (xíxaro type) and chickpeas are on the list of the main pulses of Monte Silveira Bio, while common wheat, oats and rye occupy a prominent place in the area of cereals. Most of the products are for human consumption - in the case of pulses it is 100% - hence there is an increased concern on the part of Monte Silveira Bio.
“It is necessary to see exploration as if it were a living being, where all cultures complement each other”, underlines João Valente. “For example, in autumn/ winter, pulses planted aim to prepare the land for a spring/summer crop”, that is, in the colder seasons, the option falls on crops that “help fix nitrogen in the soil and work as a natural herbicide to replace chemicals”, he continues. These are the reasons why the selection of pulses and hardware is made according to the types of soil, information obtained through precision agriculture. This is carried through frequent analyzes of the soils, to obtain their constitution, as well as the respective pH levels, since changes are recorded every year.
These are, therefore, the determining factors in the choice of products and the quantity to be cultivated, as well as when it is time to “prepare the soil for the next crop” having, for this purpose, to choose two types of pulses, for example, or when the time has come to restore the pH balance of the soil, using natural materials.
Agriculture apart, Monte Silveira Bio is also dedicated to the breeding of the salers and Charolesa breeds, in cattle, and the Merino Branco and Merino Preto breed, in sheep. Both species feed outdoors. This synergistic action replaces the work of the machines and contributes to the reduction of carbon dioxide, and at the same time provides natural fertilization of the farm's soils, without, once again, having to resort to chemical products.
In the specific case of the sheep, they roam freely to clean the soil of this specific area of this family property, but only at a certain time of the year. Because between October and February, when the acorn appears, it is the turn of the Alentejo pig to enjoy this gift of nature. “Until 2021, I used black pigs from other producers, but from 2021 onwards we started to have resident pigs, another product that, since then, has been part of Monte Silveira Bio's portfolio.
To the curious and lovers of organic products, it is to inform that the raw material of Monte Silveira Bio is for sale at Comida Independente and Mercearia Criativa, both located in Lisbon, while the beef is worked in partnership with Nature Fields. Also, lamb meat can be delivered directly to your home.