Initiated by Hervé Coves and a French team, ARTHUR project aims to encourage humans to observe their surroundings as well as to connect different perceptions of a place to each other, so that links between different factors that do not seem to be related can be found.
Technically, all it takes is to gather farmers (or anyone willing to participate) who are interested in a certain topic to list all the elements that appear to them as influencing factors for the topic they choose, and that could be measurable with simple material. If for example, the topic is soil fertility then one could think of the depth of the layer of organic matter, the abundance of insects, of nettles, sun exposure, humidity… It can also include subjective or unprecise factors such as the beauty of the zone, presence of a yellow flower…
The idea is then that each participant goes back to his land and picks two zones to be compared with each other in terms of the listed factors. Extra elements can be added to the list as one is observing the land.
The written observations are then gathered and processed through an algorithm that results in a “dendrogram”, which is a graphic representation of the statistic links between all keywords used.
Interpreting the dendrogram allows to see connections between different observed elements, and can allow for a new comprehension of what’s the favourite situation for a plant to grow, what’s the ideal scenario for a parasite to invade and so many more hints towards how to interact with a place so that it can be at its best.
For example, one of the applications of the Arthur process was in the south of France, where there was a huge invasion of the parasitic fly Drosophilla suzukii which was a massacre of all fruit production. By using Arthur, the growers fond out that the presence of nettles impeded the proliferation of the parasitic fly, and a bit of online research showed, in summary, that nettles host a special kind of aphids in which a special kind of wasps lay eggs, and the wasps scare the flies who then stop being a threat for fruit production.
These growers the decided to grow nettles and rye (which hosts the same kind of aphid as nettles) close to their fruit bushes, and 7 out of 8 farms were consequently not threatened by Drosophilla suzukii anymore.
Arthur project is currently run under the form of experiments among growers/farmers/curious people willing to participate, as well as workshops in PDC and agricultural courses. It has not come to Ireland yet but everything is possible!
Contact me if you want more information or if you would like to participate!