Soil is every farmer’s ultimate asset. When it is healthy and full of life, it produces a bountiful harvest, but when it is deficient, it cannot provide nutrients to crops. Biological farming is a way of thinking about modern agriculture which is founded on good farming traditions.
Biological soil management is an agricultural approach which, generally speaking, involves processes, methods and practices aimed at improving soil health, enhancing its fertility by increasing the content of organic matter (humus), measures promoting biodiversity, pursuit of balance in soil composition and choice of appropriate agricultural inputs and practices – to reduce the use of synthetic agrochemicals down to the necessary minimum in favour of natural agents.
The approach also benefits the natural environment – by conserving natural resources (water, soil, animals) for current and future generations. The improved quality and wholesomeness of biologically farmed food products is also an invaluable benefit. Such foods can be a source of valuable nutrients the content of which in fruit and vegetables over the past few decades has declined by as much as 80 per cent.
Soil is a complex living biological system which is an integral part of the ecosystem.
How does it work?
Simply speaking, the plants eaten by ruminants are broken down in their gastrointestinal tract by bacteria into simple sugars. The available nutrients are then absorbed by the animal’s body, while the indigestible waste is excreted. The resulting natural fertiliser is a genuine treasure, an excellent source of nutrients for the bacteria in the soil.
Indeed, just like a cow, soil needs microorganisms to function efficiently. In its “stomach”, the good bacteria feeding on organic matter and appropriate fertilisation break down plant residues and other substances, making them readily available to plants.
Just like the cow’s stomach provides the necessary nutrients, so does the soil provide the nutrients needed by plants.
The principles of biological farming.
Good conditions for living soils
Calcium is the most important soil nutrient, it is essential for building its fertility. It improves soil structure, determines how compact or loose it will be, which in turn impacts on how much diesel a tractor uses in the growing period and how easy it will be for roots to anchor into the soil. It also affects soil pH and, consequently, nutrient availability. Biological farming requires a balanced approach to liming, so that the soil has the most favourable nutrient composition.
Energy for the soil
Carbon or, in other words, organic matter, is necessary in soil, there is no life without it. Humus content determines soil structure and its water holding capacity, that is the ability to supply water to plants. Organic matter provides numerous mineral nutrients for plants and also protects them against pathogens. Increasing the content of organic matter and carbon in soil is one of the cornerstones of Biological Farming.
Live roots all year round
Year-round soil cover prevents erosion and inhibits weed growth, while the long roots of cover crops loosen the soil. By nourishing soil bacteria, cover crops provide the necessary energy to the soil and participate in chemical cycling.
Widespread use of cover crops is one of the fundamental practices of Biological Farming.
Undisturbed life in soil.
Intensive cultivation interferes with life in soil. That is why we till as little as possible, but on the other hand as much as necessary. We loosen the soil deeply without turning it over and use shallow mixing, which promotes humification processes, or in other words humus formation. As a result, the soil becomes like a sponge, so absorbent that it can soak up any rain, no matter how heavy. According to the principles of Biological Farming, soil disturbance should be minimised.
Care for the environment
We act to promote biodiversity. We restore ponds, build water retention reservoirs, plant and maintain trees in buffer strips and make wide use of crop rotation. We also sow mixed wildflower meadows which stay in bloom for most of the season, providing food stores for bees in winter.
Thanks to our comprehensive approach, our biologically-farmed fields and their surroundings provide a home to many rare, protected species, e.g. Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus).