Ru­ral

Pick­ing fruit by ro­bot and the eco-friendly firm help­ing im­prove our gar­dens. Plus the lat­est news from egg farm­ers the Macs

Sussex Life - - Inside -

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.”

Sa­cred Earth

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