Soil Management and Pasture Management
Natural and sustainable pasture management focuses on increasing biodiversity by supporting biological activity / humus build-up in the soil. A soil with sufficient humus provides more than sufficient but above all healthy food. Biodiversity ensures that animals can choose and self-medicate if necessary. After all, a horse or other animal is not a production animal and benefits more from quality than highest yield. Although the quantity, after the switch, will come again with time. Organic farmers can produce just as much as their conventional colleague farmers, despite the fact that people sometimes claim otherwise. We even experience that in the first years after the conversion more production is achieved, which is a nice bonus, but the main goal remains to achieve an improvement in terms of nutritional quality / soil health.
The health of the soil remains inextricably linked to the health of the plant that grows on it and subsequently the consumer who feeds on it.
After having fertilized a soil artificially / production-oriented for a long time, a transformation process will be necessary to restart the natural supplying capacity. Our experience is that after 3 to 5 years of positive support for this process, every soil has again developed a reasonably good balance. If we continue this process, it will get a bit better every year. This will also bring back life to the severely arid grounds where nothing has been done for a long time in terms of soil management. Of course we cannot replenish the amount of humus that has been lost over decades in this relatively short period, that is a much longer process. But every year that we successively do not disrupt the soil regeneration processes, but support them, the regenerative power of this soil accumulates. All this, of course, within the framework of the tax that we have put on it in the meantime, for example by keeping horses. In most cases we have too many horses and too little land, which of course puts an extra burden on the recovery of the soil. Therefore consider putting the horses on a running track, paddock paradise or the like, so that pieces of land get the rest necessary to give these natural recovery processes a fair chance. Also give plants / grasses the chance to fully develop. You can then mow this or/and let the horses eat it and it means a lot less strain than having it constantly eat briefly and at the same time compacting the soil. What you see above the ground in biomass is also underground in root mass, this reflects the depth at which we can find biological activity, the greater this volume the better.
In summary, the following points contribute to the development of a natural soil balance:
abolish direct nitrogen fertilization. As a result, the plants have to look for nutrients in depth
Minimize machining operations and run them at appropriate times
To prevent soil compaction.
Slowing Grass Growth, read normalize, instead of chasing growth, which will also acidify the soil. By letting the grass grow slowly, it ripens to a balanced / healthy composition in terms of ingredients, comparable as an animal would find in the wild.
The let grass grow up is also a form of supply of organic matter in the soil, because after we mow it or let the animals eat it for a short time, part of the roots die, which in turn provide nutrition for new healthy growth. In nature, everything has a purpose and nothing is wasted! In addition, long grass also suits horses better, in nature they only find short energy-rich grass for a very short time, only after the winter when they are digested and then they can make good use of this energy-rich food. We keep our animals in shape all year round!! For the rest of the year, animals in the wild mainly live on mature grasses / plants, because they never get the chance to eat everything for a short time like within our fences.
Organic fertilizers = supplying organic nutrients for the soil such as compost / bokashi from manure and/or other organic material such as solid manure, ecostal material. Use about 1000 kg / 1 m3 per 1000 m2. This organic fertilization will have to be given annually for the first years, until a natural balance has been created. After that, keeping compost means more grass / production and with less compost, skipping a year, you get more flowers and herbs.
Supplement of the inorganic metal and mineral trace elements.
After years of harvesting and incomplete fertilization, several important trace elements are now missing in almost all soils! We can have expensive analyzes made and start scattering loose elements, but we can also opt for old and proven effective techniques by working with natural minerals. This means using soil improvers that do not disturb the existing soil environment / balance. Vary hereby with different rock flours such as Eifel lava, Actimin and Vulkamin, use clay minerals to improve the water balance of the soil and sea shells lime at too low an acidity / PH.
Certainly the first years also the bottom microbiological to support to increase the regeneration power by applying effective micro-organisms.
Spread in the stable, on the compost heap and across the land.
- Stimulating biodiversity by accepting what arises spontaneously, where possible, as part of a natural recovery process towards biological equilibrium in the soil.
Sow with various organic grasses, herbs and flowers and let them bloom.
The soil quality ultimately determines what stays, comes and goes, every soil is different, but through extensive management more and more plants will get a right to exist, sow the first 3 years again.
The meadow photos on our site are all the result of 3 years of consistent biological management on a formerly production meadow of predominantly rye grass on a black sandy soil (salt).
Soil processes are subject to the laws of nature, natural and sustainable soil management respects these laws and cooperates with them instead of against them. Ultimately resulting in a decrease in input, maintenance, worries, costs and, not unimportantly, the possibility itself to produce healthy food for our animals. In short, applying authentic agricultural knowledge, also realizing that it is high time to combine this old knowledge with the insights of today. Realize, witness the problems that grasses cause in horses, that this is a signal that our soil health is not so good. By removing only biomass for years and returning no or insufficient organic matter, artificial interventions and overloading, many soils are now in a degenerative state. Fortunately, everyone is able to halt this process and give the soil a fair chance. regenerate in order to be able to produce healthy food for our animals again.
Grazing is increasingly a source of health problems.
Especially where the management is aimed at high production by means of production grasses, chemical fertilizers and/or slurry, many problems arise for the animals that have to feed on this. But also with biological management, grazing should be geared to the horse's metabolism, ie feed structure-rich mature grass and very limited short, young, tender grass. Our general experience is that when we use the grass shoot sterk limit to abolish it and in its place sufficient and good roughage providing many of these health problems will go away on their own! Significantly, there is thus a burdensome influence that comes from the production of grass and, albeit to a lesser extent, also the hay that is harvested in this way. When this is also used to make silage / haylage / silage, the problems are often even greater. pit, in whatever form, always remains an unstable product compared to real hay and can therefore never achieve stability in the stomach and intestines, which constantly undermines health.
Packed hay mainly contains so-called anaerobic micro-organisms (life without oxygen) which are created by the fermentation processes, these processes are different in every bale and that means that every bale also has a different microbiological composition. The aerobic micro-organisms that originally sat on the grass have largely been killed in this fermentation process and, for example, fungi have left behind large amounts of spores in order to survive, which start to grow again when they come into contact with oxygen. We then say "look, mold has entered" but in fact these fungi were already in it and patiently waited for oxygen to be able to grow again. Apart from the quality, hay has always gone through a natural (with oxygen) dry (fermentation) process, comparable to the yellow grass that we see in nature and therefore this is more suitable food for a horse. In addition to supporting soil processes, we naturally also strive for great diversity in order to give the animals the opportunity to choose which specific plant they need at a specific time. The great thing is that when we support the soil in a natural way, a base is automatically created so that more and more diverse plants can establish themselves. This means ensuring and accepting more biodiversity in the pasture. The so-called weeds that we will encounter in this process say something about the imbalance that prevails in the soil and in fact they are part of the process to restore the natural balance, so they do not grow there for nothing. The overgrown character of these plants will disappear with more balance in the soil. By also letting the grass really mature, most of the so-called weeds find it increasingly difficult to survive, to dominate. In nature everything happens for a reason, even if we don't always understand the how why. Nature has a self-repairing capacity, a primal force, which always strives for balance. That is, if we give it a chance.
Support natural processes
Contrary to what people think of with natural pasture management, it is therefore necessary processes actively support. On the one hand, to steer biology in the right direction, but also to continue to harvest at the same time, we will also have to invest something. If all goes well, this will become less and less as the natural supplying capacity of the soil increases.
We mow the grass and the animals eat it too. As a result, many nutritional elements disappear via the absorbed biomass / organic matter, which must of course be returned to give the soil the opportunity to produce something for us. A good landowner lives on the interest of his land and leaves the capital undisturbed and even tries to increase it, in order to be assured of yield = interest in the future. The supply of this organic matter has been almost completely displaced over the past 50 years and replaced by chemistry and technology. The solid manure of the past has been replaced by the fertilizer granules or / and slurry, both with a very low content of organic matter and aimed at direct nutrition to the plant, soil quality in the sense of self-supply capacity is pushed into the background . The fertilizers contain a high nitrogen content, which forces the plant to produce high biomass with the result that the soil continues to degenerate. Although this combination quickly produces lush crops and high "yields", the quality of which, viewed from the perspective of biological insights, can be questioned. With the decrease of organic matter and the application of quickly available nitrogen, the natural capacity of a soil to fix nitrogen from the air in the soil also disappears.
On every m2 of this earth, up to the atmosphere, there is 8.000 kg of FREE nitrogen, it has been calculated!
Seen from this reasoning, it is therefore useful to increase the organic matter content / biological activity in the soil in order to be able to absorb this nitrogen again in a natural way. We have to catch up, but it cannot go faster than the bottom itself indicates. Always try to disturb the existing balance as little as possible. Only use fertilizers that do not burden the existing soil environment, but help build up a self-regenerating system. Fertilizers such as lava, sea minerals, sea shell lime, clay minerals, compost, composted solid manure and micro-organisms. This does not mean that we will achieve our goal by simply mixing everything up and bringing it onto the land en masse. The soil is a living organism and every change requires the soil life to react / move along, so try to do this gradually and with care. As the soil becomes healthier, it becomes more resilient to better cope with changes.
The main goal is to stimulate humus build-up! Because humus is all life(s) in the soil, which ensures that the plants can absorb all elements in a balanced balance. In addition, it supports regeneration and improves the stability of the acidity / PH of the soil. So you can't buy humus in a bag ;-/
Results we can expect are:
- Our humus stock shall increase
- Improve grounds in terms of buffer effect, so that water, just like drought, causes fewer and fewer problems
- Diversity of species grasses en herbs will increase
- weeds to go CANNOT sea dominate
- De pH stabilizes itself.
- The gras contains a balanced composition, deficiencies of important minerals are unlikely
- High levels of directly absorbable sugars decrease, are better captured, and egg whites Worden resistant / ripe
- Essential bio-active aroma and fragrances, vitamins, hormones, fatty acids, enzymes and antioxidants are developing again.
Lack of humus, the circle is complete
A horse's intestinal flora gets out of balance because high-tech food simply doesn't suit him. The animals try to compensate for this imbalance by, for example, eating even more of this disruptive food until they dig out the roots, they are constantly dealing with shortages and at the same time excess of certain nutrients. The eating behavior becomes neurotic instead of the selective eating which is actually typical for a horse and at the same time a sign of a certain balance. The recording becomes chronically disrupted and we end up in a vicious circle characterized by a wide range of health problems. Problems, which we try to solve by adding all kinds of supplements and special diet foods, but in fact it lacks the basics. What to do then? The meadow will upgrade in biological activity / humus construction and also provide nutrition that comes from (biological) soils where the humus is respected.
Sowing and reaping
Biophoton research shows, among other things, that conventional seed shows a kind of ADHD activity, which continues in the further development of the plant. Hybrid plant varieties, such as ryegrasses, and their corresponding intensive fertilizer methods exhibit these ADD properties to an even greater degree! Organic seed, on the other hand, is in deep dormancy from which normal and balanced growth is possible.
Sometimes it is desirable / necessary to make a completely new start. We can then immediately apply the soil improvers for 2 years and then sow new ones. In order to have an optimal sowing yield, it is desirable to let the grass go through a full life cycle in the first instance, 1 seed sown = at least 100 new seeds! It is important not to work the soil unnecessarily deeply (max. 10 to 20 cm) and to turn the soil preferably little. If there is a real compaction layer, then only locally stir to break through this layer. First check whether this is really necessary by, for example, digging a soil profile pit of 1x1x1 meter, then the layered structure of a soil becomes clear.
Fertilization advice summarized
In order to least disturb the soil life already present, we apply the fertilizers such as lava, clay minerals and sea shell lime to the meadow as a repair fertilizer. Physical support of the soil structure (biology) and supply of a very broad spectrum of metal and mineral trace elements. In many cases we are done with this for 3 to 5 years and later a very limited application is sufficient to maintain a productive pasture. How fast / well this process proceeds depends on the load and the starting situation. Soil life must be given the opportunity to adapt to changed circumstances. Within this process there can therefore be a period in which a soil, previously treated with a nitrogen-based fertilization, shows some decline in production and color of the crop. This is normal because the existing crop actually lacks direct nitrogen fertilization from above and has to switch to self-sufficiency. For this, the root system has to seek more depth / improve the soil structure and also changes the composition / amount of micro-flora in the soil, this takes time but is guaranteed with this extensive pasture management. Relapse can be absorbed by applying organic fertilization more often with solid manure or compost, eg instead of 1 x to 2 x a year or more often small amounts. Oua quantity according to the absorption capacity of the soil. Use of micro-organisms / Multi-Task supported / accelerated and these uptake processes. Micro-organism products are best applied to the land in slightly damp weather, by misting / spraying, during the seasons when there is biological activity in the soil. We will always have to use organic material manure, compost.
Composting yourself, thinking in cycles
Besides on land, the lava can also be processed in the compost. This improves the composting process. This already makes the valuable elements of these fertilizers more available to the plant roots. Inorganic metals and minerals are organically bound / digested. To complete the cycle, our advice is to also introduce the Eco-Stable! Using micro-organisms, clay minerals and lava. A sustainable and in many ways positive method in terms of barn management, applicable in large and small, the operating principles remain the same, see photo report. These principles will also contribute to a better barn climate if barn material stays in the barn for a shorter period of time. It would be ideal if it is also used for own composting afterwards. In the eco-stable we see the stable filling as an important part of making cycles. In addition to saving work, money and energy, and promoting a healthy barn climate for the animals, we also produce valuable fertilizer for the soil. Composting is a logical part of this cycle. On a small scale it is allowed to make a compost heap or several small heaps in a corner of the meadow, this also saves unnecessary lugging back and forth. Of course, do not do this right next to a ditch, even though good compost cannot cause damage to the surrounding nature, environmental inspectors often see a reason to take action! For them, all animal manure is just manure, no distinction is (yet) made in quality!
- With good compost plant life reaches to the separation from where hope begins. You can even grow flowers, herbs and vegetables like pumpkins and melons on it, as shown in this photo!
- With bad compost, which is not actually compost, nothing grows in the area where the black juices flow from the heap.
- With a closed manure pit, for example, you can make a bokashi from manure and other material in 10 weeks instead of compost that can go straight onto the land!
Do not apply bad manure!
Bad manure is manure that, instead of adding something positive to the soil, requires energy from the soil to clean up this mess, which it will always do in the end, but at the expense of the energy for the regeneration capacity. So do not use slurry in this recovery process because this seriously disrupts the humus build-up. The soil life present is heavily burdened by the putrefaction processes, residues of medicines, disinfectants, hydrocyanic acid and ammonia developed in slurry. Worms, etc. flee the bottom and provide an easy meal for the many birds that you always see behind the injector! Also fertilizer disrupts the natural cycle processes, slow-acting horses fertilizer pellets are also just NPK fertilizer. as long as we continue to use these, a sustainable balanced soil balance cannot be created and we will have to continue to use these products to maintain growth in the grass. Also cow manure granules or chicken manure hardly add (C) organic matter and contain a high (N) nitrogen content which is disruptive to soil life and it hunts the plants! Sustainable (good) fertilizers are always slow-acting, do not disturb the balance, and can be applied to the land practically at any time of the year, so to speak, even when there are still animals on it.
How much fertilizer
All amounts indicated are guidelines and may fluctuate depending on soil type, objective and budget. Understandably, clay soil does not need additional clay minerals. On dry sandy soil, a little more clay minerals ensure rapid improvement of the soil because they retain moisture, we are happy to advise you.
- Lime is generally necessary, a guideline in terms of seashell lime is 1 time 1000 kg on one hectare, after that about 3 kg sprinkle every 300 years for maintenance.
- Fertilizer is like cursing in the organic church, I will never advise that, just like slurry. With this type of fertilization you overwhelm the grass, it falls over when it rains and the natural ratio of nutrients gets out of balance.
- To maintain production, I recommend spreading compost or solid manure with straw on a short sod every year, in the spring or/and autumn. 1 to 2 tons per 1000 m2.
- If you have very dry soil, you can improve this by spreading 1000 kg of clay minerals per hectare once, depending on the result after a year. to be repeated 1 more time, then no longer necessary.
- Soil with a long history as production soil will certainly show defects in the field of mineral trace elements, which you can supplement with rock flour products. We have 3 types: Eifel lava grit, Actimin rock flour and Vulkamin in flour or granulate. My advice in this regard is to successively spread a different rock flour every year, about 1 ton per hectare, then all trace elements are sufficiently supplemented. When you compost your own manure for the meadow, these trace elements continue to circulate within your own cycle, they are usually no longer necessary.
- If you dispose of the manure, and with it these trace elements, it makes sense to sprinkle another stone meal every 3 to 5 years. Then do this successively with a different rock flour each time.
- possibly you can have a soil analysis made in terms of trace elements to see which rock flour fits best at that moment to optimize the balance.
If we want to improve the quality of the crop quickly and immediately, compost will have to be used, of course combined with lava / other minerals. If we don't have it ourselves (yet), it can be purchased. When it is clear that the pasture has a disruptive effect on the metabolism of the animals, good compost is the most effective answer.
By performing analyses, we get an idea of the condition of the soil. They also monitor improvements and developments. But in fact analyzes are not really necessary because the above information is based on experiences that have proven their effectiveness in practice for centuries, responding to the miraculous healing power and laws of nature.