Today we visited the campus of irapuato- Salamanca where the division of Life Sciences is located, here we heard Dr. Luis Perra speak about agave, Dr. Juan Frias talk about the multiple uses of mesquite, and Dr. Raphael Fernandez spoke about cacti. I would like to take time and speak about the importance of these three species of desert vegetation.
Cacti are used for a variety of uses and in some cases can be used for decoration and landscape design. We also learned that some species of cacti such as E. schmolli which is endangered due to the fact that it is burnt off when farmers conduct large burnings.
Mesquite is another species that we learned about todsy. Dr. Raphael tool us on a tour of the mesquite center, in the center they are conducting research on the economic importance of mesquite. Mesquite can be used as a feed source as a legume, as well as, having an ecologic use of Nitrogen fixing bacteria that will improve the soil composition and soil structure. When planting mesquite you will encourage other legumes and forages to sprout up around the root base.
The next speaker was Dr. Luis Perra he spoke about agave. Dr. Perra likes to focus on the different wild species of wild agave. His favorite species of agave is salimana, the species that produces the most sought after poluqe. Of the 267 varieties of agave the agave center has only 18 species of agave that they conduct research on. Of these the blue agave is predominately used for tequila.
Another topic that we covered was the genetic variation of most agave plants is 80% from off chutes/ rhizomes. Even though the genetic makeup of the agave plants is different throughout the genus, the future of the agave industry I believe will predominantly be focused on the blue agave. Due to the fact that blue agave produces nearly 18% sugar for the 4 month growing this in economical terms is extremely important to Mexican producers.
In all in all today we learned the focus of the research being conducted at the University of Guanujuato, is focused on enabling the small ejido farmer the opportunity to make a living both efficiently sustainably, and productively. Using the plants of the deserts Mexicans can efficiently in all conditions live and still enhance the natural ecosystem, and as Mr. Hayes says, the clash if two interests the laws of economics and the laws of nature it is up to us to find the equilibrium.