Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2445/65066
Title: Socio Ecological Transition of Organic Agricultures in Catalonia (late 19th-20th century)
Author: Galán del Castillo, Elena
Director: Tello, Enric
Keywords: Balanç de nutrients
Nutrients balance
Metabolisme social
Social metabolism
Tasa de retorno energético
Energy returned on energy invested
Història de l'agricultura
Ecologia
Ecologia agrícola
History of agriculture
Ecology
Agricultural ecology
Issue Date: 27-Feb-2015
Publisher: Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract: [spa] La principal motivación de esta tesis es reconstruir la dimensión ambiental, un trabajo pendiente dentro del campo de la Historia Económica, de los cambios que experimentaron las agriculturas de base orgánica en Cataluña a partir de finales del siglo XIX. Para ello, en vez de usar la narrativa de desarrollo agrícola (que sólo distingue entre agriculturas avanzadas y el resto en términos únicos de productividad) utilizamos la narrativa de la Transición Socio- Ecológica aplicada a la agricultura. Así podemos aplicar herramientas del Metabolismo Social, como la contabilidad de flujos energéticos y de materiales. Al igual que el resto del Estado Español, Cataluña, nuestro caso de estudio, fue fuertemente golpeada por la crisis agraria finisecular. Debido a mejoras tecnológicas en el transporte y al uso de combustibles fósiles, hacia 1870 el grano barato producido en Norte América inundó los mercados europeos. La gran cantidad de materia orgánica acumulada en los profundos horizontes orgánicos que nunca antes habían sido cultivados, permitió a los agricultores norteamericanos cosechar con una elevada productividad sin necesidad de asumir los costes de la reposición de nutrientes, al menos en el corto plazo. Fue todo lo contrario para los viejos agroecosistemas europeos, cuya fertilidad dependía fuertemente de la capacidad campesina para poner de nuevo en circulación la biomasa generada por el agroecosistema. Además, la plaga de la filoxera, que destruyó todos los viñedos catalanes, y la generalización de nuevos aceites vegetales cambiaron totalmente las condiciones de mercado de vino y aceite de oliva a la entrada del siglo XX. La tesis se divide en dos bloques en el primero estudiamos los flujos energéticos en el agroecosistema de un mismo conjunto de municipios del Vallès (Cataluña) a un extremo y otro de la Transición Socio-Ecológica. En el segundo tenemos como objetivo estudiar la primera oleada de la Transición Socio-Ecológica, es decir, los efectos de la Primera Globalización sobre la fertilidad de los agroecosistemas catalanes. Para ello escogemos un caso de estudio previo a la transición y uno que debería estar entre la primera y la segunda oleada de la transición. Una vez sorteados las limitaciones impuestas por la utilización de fuentes históricas, los resultados de esta tesis arrojan luz sobre puntos clave para una agricultura más sostenible.
[eng] The main motivation of this dissertation is to add the environmental dimension to the Economic History of the changes in agriculture in Catalonia since the late 19th century. According to this, we speak in terms of Socio-Ecological Transition instead of agrarian development, which considers only the variable of productivity. That allows us to focus in fertility (first and second waves of the transition) and in a last step, in the use of fossil fuels (direct and indirect) in agriculture (third wave). Therefore, this thesis seeks to bring to light the ways followed by Mediterranean organic agricultures to overcome its yield ceilings (not necessary Malthusian ceilings) in order to be adapted to the structural changes of the economy in the late 19th. Indeed, as the rest of Spain, Catalonia was strongly hit by the end-of-century crisis, when the cheap grain from North America flooded European market due to improvements in transport technologies and the use of fossil fuels. The grain was cheap because the never ploughed deep organic horizons of the North American prairies accumulated high amounts of nutrient, consequently, their mining had not effects in the short run. Accordingly, North American farmers could produce without compensating the nutrients extracted by harvests, something completely opposite to the case of European agricultures with old soils and agricultural systems that relied strongly in the circulation of organic matter. In addition, the phylloxera plague, which destroyed all vineyards and the introduction of new kinds of vegetable oils, changed the market conditions for wine and olive oil, important crops in Catalonia. Moreover this thesis also aims to answer the question of whether there was or not a room for further organic improvements before the arrival of the second and third waves of the Socio- Ecological Transition. That is, when they finally outstripped all previous yield ceilings thanks to the spread of the use of fossil fuels, directly or indirectly in the form of chemical fertilisers, concentrated feed, and use of adapted seeds, etc. Following the previous works in Spain we use the analytical perspective of the social metabolism and agro-ecology applied to Environmental History to study the Socio-Ecological Transition of Spanish agriculture to an industrial mode of agriculture. We focus on the study on the driving forces by reconstructing two sets of flows in agricultural systems of Catalonia, energy and nutrients. The thesis is organised in the following structure. In the first block we make an analytical proposal to study and compare different energy efficiencies of agroecosystems and we apply it to a case study in the centre of Catalonia c.1860 and in 1999 (chapter 1 and 2). The second block is centred on the nutrient balances of the cropland areas of Catalan agriculture, hence, chapters 4 and 5 show two moments of time, c.1860 and c.1920. While chapter 4 analyses one municipality (Sentmenat) chapter 5 makes a regional analysis thus using provincial sources. This allows for the comparison among regions with different features. In the last chapter (3 and 6) of both blocks, we clarify the relations between the two chapters of each block, making joined questions and conclusions. In addition, we interpret the results in the framework of Socio-Ecological Transitions and explore the limitations of the methodology. Finally, in chapter 7 we summarize the conclusions of both blocks.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2445/65066
Appears in Collections:Tesis Doctorals - Departament - Història i Institucions Econòmiques

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