Picking fruit by robot and the eco-friendly firm helping improve our gardens. Plus the latest news from egg farmers the Macs
For Phil Greenwood, the founder of Sacred Earth, a communityowned organisation in Horam, one of the world’s biggest environmental crises is going on right beneath our feet. “Research from the United Nations shows that a third of all soil on our planet is severely degraded and our own government has admitted we only have 40 years until UK farmlands become infertile,” he says. That’s why his team have recently launched their Biochar Soil Booster. The eco-friendly fertiliser has been specially designed to increase plant yields by improving soil fertility and water retention.
The biochar is part of a beneficial cycle: it is formed from produce of the existing Sussex countryside to help the future Sussex countryside to prosper. The fertiliser is made on Sacred Earth’s 40-acre site, crafted from home-grown resources. This makes it regenerative rather than just sustainable, because not only will it ensure plant levels don’t replete, but it will boost further growth too by helping to keep the existing trees healthy. The offcuts are baked at low temperatures in a kiln, an age-old technique that was first used by settlers on the banks of the Amazon. Other soil-boosting ingredients are also added, including a herb comfrey tea for the biochar to be soaked in. Storm-cast seaweed is then put in, as well as biodynamic compost preparations that are brought in from the Biodynamic Association. “These are the only things in the biochar that don’t come from Sussex,” Phil adds.
Unlike many commercially produced fertilisers, this biochar is ‘living’; it contains fungi and beneficial bacteria which are essential to soil health. “The potential for problems is huge,” Phil comments: “Nitrogen deficiency is just one of the things that can affect soil health, which is why it needs to be carefully tended and looked after.”