Conference Agenda

Summaries and basic information about congress panels.

Session Overview
P2: Crops losses: historicizing plant pests and climate events
Thursday, 21/Jun/2018:
11:30am - 1:30pm

Session Chair: Ana Isabel Queiroz Queiroz;
Session Chair: Inês Gomes;
Session Chair: Inês Amorim;
Location: Paraninfo

Session Abstract

Harmful natural events, such as insects’ outbreaks, plant diseases or storms, floods and droughts, are responsible for losses in crops, with impacts on agrarian economies. The most severe situations we know from the past have led to social crises, famines, unemployment, migrations, conflicts, etc.

Crop losses received great attention from the Economic History, but their cultural and environmental facets have not been subject to great debate. Recent research, though, have been studying new dimensions of the problem, for instance, reconstructing the spatio-temporal distribution of harmful natural events, the perception of their impacts by the affected populations, authorities and research and teaching institutions dedicated to agriculture, as well as the individual and collective responses at private and public level. Local, regional and national policies to control or mitigate damages are also under analysis.

Historicizing natural phenomena raises broad methodological challenges. To understand how societies shape the environment and how they are shaped by it, research requires integration of a complex number of natural and cultural variables. These diverse variables are documented in several types of sources, which have to be analysed with different tools and interpreted in an interdisciplinary context. Information has to be ‘transformed’ into comparable data that can be analysed. In addition, guidelines for European research is calling for a “three Os” practice (that is, open innovation, open science, open to the world), which force people and units to put research in a new paradigm.

This panel invites researchers that studied harmful natural events and their impacts on rural societies, for sharing and discussing their methodological experience and outcomes. Comparative studies or case-studies are welcome.

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Una aproximación para conocer años de epifitias de royas del trigo en el pasado en España basado en las rogativas pro serenitate

Fernando Martinez-Moreno1, Mariano Barriendos2

1Departamento Ciencias Agroforestales, ETSIA, Universidad de Sevilla; 2Departamento de Historia y Arqueología, Universidad de Barcelona

Las royas del trigo son hongos basidiomicetos que afectan a la planta de trigo, sobre todo a la hoja. Existen tres especies diferentes de royas del trigo: la roya amarilla que está causada por el hongo Puccinia striiformis, la roya de la hoja causada por P. triticina y la roya del tallo causada por P. graminis f. sp. tritici. Son enfermedades que han afectado al trigo desde la antigüedad y actualmente siguen siendo muy importantes en prácticamente todos los lugares del mundo donde se cultiva trigo, incluida España. La severidad de las royas es mayor en condiciones de humedad, lluvia y mayor temperatura.

En España no se sabe prácticamente nada de las royas del trigo antes de 1930 cuando se inician los primeros estudios. Las rogativas pro serenitate eran ceremonias religiosas que se celebraban para hacer frente a episodios de lluvias persistentes o excesivas, que directamente afectaban las cosechas de cereal. En este trabajo se intentó relacionar las rogativas pro serenitate, obtenidas a partir de largas series temporales recopiladas en fuentes documentales de origen municipal o eclesiástico, con epifitias de royas. Para ello se seleccionaron cuatro localidades españoles con tradición triguera (Murcia, Sevilla, Toledo y Zamora) en el periodo 1500-1900.

The spectre of plant pests: reality and perceptions

Inês Gomes1, Ana Isabel Queiroz2

1CIUHCT, FCUL, Portugal; 2IHC, FCSH-UNL, Portugal

From a human perspective, plant pests are always unforeseen, challenging and disruptive. Their impacts in economy, ecology and human health are a major concern and relevant societal challenge. Descriptions of ‘pest events’ always reveal a scenario of ravage and scarcity. However, social and historical studies on pests’ development, spread and major effects are almost inexistent. Are plant pests really responsible for widespread food shortage? To what extent can crop losses be attributed to them?

The history of plant pests framed by environmental studies, induce a set of questions that do perhaps not usually come to the mind of the historian who concentrates strictly on political and economic features to explain crises and famines. For reshaping our understanding of pests impacts, a more comprehensive research on this topic should explore biophysical parameters (e.g. meteorological data, land use), collect societal responses and analyze people’s testimonies and technical reports, beyond agricultural statistics.

In the light of three case studies – locusts’ plagues (before 1950); the brown soft-scale (1840-1860)andthe phylloxera (1863-1910) – we will explore, compare and cross­check data about pests, agricultural production and cultivated area, with the aim of helping to clarify the impact of pests.

The emergence of forest genetics in Portugal. Looking for a chestnut resistant to the ink disease (1945-1974)

Ignacio Garcia-Pereda

CEHFCi-UE - IHC, Portugal

The European chestnut (Castanea sativa) has been for the last centuries of great importance in Portugal through its fruit, the sweet chestnut. The sustainability of Portuguese groves is threatened by the high susceptibility of European chestnut to one of the most important diseases associated with this species. The ink disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi inflicts considerable damage in the chestnut (roots, trunk and canopy) causing substantial economic losses if not the death of the tree. In the 1940s, a research group headed by Joaquim Vieira Natividade (1899-1968) introduced seeds of Castanea crenata from Japan and Castanea mollissima from China into Portugal. These species are resistant to the ink disease, but their nuts were not appreciated by growers because of the poor peeling. Also they were not particularly vigorous to produce timber. Later, they were tried as rootstocks, but incompatibility appeared. Interspecific hybrids were made and some clones were selected as rootstocks, combining resistance to ink disease, easy propagation, good compatibility and rusticity. Nevertheless, most of the hybrid rootstocks did not combine all these characteristics. The Natividade team foundt that the most successful method of vegetative propagation was stooling, treating the new basal shoots with growth substances and earthing up.

Climate and crops in the Northwest of Portugal: a glimpse of the past in the light of two Benedictine diaries (1798-1830)

Luís Silva1,3, Inês Amorim2,3

1Bolseiro de doutoramento da Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia; 2Departamento de História e de Estudos Políticos e Internacionais, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto; 3Centro de Investigação Transdisciplinar «Cultura, Espaço e Memória»

The perception of climate change seems one of the biggest issues of nowadays concerns. The material impacts are visible and a test to human resilient behavior. Since 2005 the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Ecosystems and Human Well-being program insists in the importance of the “historical and prehistorical data in order to gain the deeper time perspective necessary for a robust understanding of some large-scale processes”. This means that the present and the future are the result of a reflective consciousness of change, of precaution, within the large history of the environment and of the specific history of agricultural production.

In this contextual frame we believe that it will be important a methodological approach that collects meteorological events and their agricultural impacts recorded by Benedictine monastic communities, owners of large agricultural farms in the north of Portugal in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Our purpose is to carry out a critical analysis of sources produced by these chroniclers, systematizing and evaluating critical moments of the agricultural production.

Finally, this study pretends to contribute to a database that carry out natural disaster indicators and their related impacts on NW of Portugal.

Consideraciones sobre las plagas de langosta en la Hispania peninsular durante el último tercio del siglo XVIII

Jesús Mª Muñoz Pertierra

Universidad de Alicante, España

Las plagas de langosta, presentes en la Hispania peninsular durante la Edad Moderna, han producido consecuencias que van más allá de los perjuicios en la agricultura. Así, el desconocimiento de la transformación fisiológica del insecto, su súbita aparición como plaga y la incapacidad para frenar su voraz avance, unido a una interesada perspectiva religiosa del asunto, imprimieron una profunda huella ideológica en la población.

Las explosiones poblacionales del insecto, moduladas por factores limitantes, son un fenómeno biológico natural que se manifiestan con una periodicidad recurrente y una temporalidad irregular. Sin embargo, durante el último tercio del siglo XVIII se verificó un momento especialmente fértil en infestaciones de langosta y la climatología, importante factor limitante en la generación de las plagas, no puede responder totalmente sobre el origen de toda la casuística originada.

Los procesos de extinción desempeñados durante el citado periodo señalan a la gestión realizada –tanto del territorio, como del riesgo y de la catástrofe–, como un posible factor regulador en el origen de las plagas. Una gestión que generó una política y una legislación específica, y que quizás también debería ser considerada como un casus belli en la disputa entre distintos sectores sociales para obtener determinados beneficios particulares.

O olhar da imprensa regional portuguesa sobre as pragas e as doenças das plantas (c. 1830-1914)

Leonardo Aboim Pires, Ana Isabel Queiroz, Pedro Barros

Instituto de História Contemporânea, Portugal

As pragas e doenças das plantas constituem uma das componentes adstritas aos usos da terra e do aproveitamento agrícola e florestal do território. No passado, algumas invasões biológicas constituíram uma ameaça à produção de diversas regiões de Portugal, e tiveram um notório impacto social, económico e ambiental.

Partindo da análise da impressa periódica regional, publicada em diferentes regiões portuguesas ao longo do “grande século XIX”, inventariam-se as pragas e doenças que foram objeto de notícia, analisa-se o discurso jornalístico acerca da evocada geografia da invasão, a compreensão e reação das populações às invasões, as relações estabelecidas entre o surto e as condições meteorológicas, e a perceção da magnitude da perda de culturas. Deste modo, é apresentada a linha de trabalho “Pragas e moléstias das plantas nos periódicos”, enquadrada no projeto PPESTs – História Contemporânea das Pragas das Plantas no Sul da Europa”.

Los rendimientos de la semilla de trigo en siete caserías monásticas de Extremadura y Castilla y León, 1668-1784.

Enrique Llopis Agelán, Elvira Alonso González, Paloma Fontanillo Rodrigo, Sara Méndez Afonso, Javier Ramos Gutiérrez, Ana Toyos

Universidad Complutense de Madrid, España

El propósito fundamental de esta comunicación radica en el estudio de los desastres agrícolas en siete granjas monásticas. A partir de las cantidades sembradas y recolectadas de trigo examinaremos la evolución de los rendimientos en cada una de las caserías. En el caso extremeño, podremos contrastar las cifras con las Tercias de Trujillo y su tierra y con los diezmos percibidos por el cabildo de la catedral de Toledo en la vicaría de la Puebla de Alcocer. La comunicación tendrá un carácter básicamente cuantitativo intentando alcanzar varios objetivos: determinar los años y magnitud de los desastres agrícolas; estudiar la sincronía de los años estériles; examinar las variaciones en la frecuencias de los años de rendimientos muy bajos; calcular el déficit de cosechas en los entornos de los años desastrosos; examinar los cambios en la volatilidad de los rendimientos.

Además de este estudio, los libros de actas capitulares y los libros de cuentas de las granjas del monasterio de Guadalupe nos permitirán conocer casi siempre las causas de las “cosechas fracasadas” en las caserías extremeñas. Asimismo, la primera de las fuentes citadas nos dará cuenta de algunas de las consecuencias en las finanzas y en la economía del monasterio.

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