Healthy Plants Can Only Grow in Healthy Soils
Soil is a living organism. The solid and limited surface of the Earth is the habitat of countless organisms and offers stability for the roots of the plants. Soil is the fundamental basis for food production. In the future, the global surface will only be able to produce enough food for all human beings if we preserve its fertility, avoid erosion and enable an adequate water storage capacity.
Each feddan cultivated by SEKEM has to be turned from desert land into vital soil. Today, the top layer of SEKEMs first farm soils (varying between 0 to 30 cm in depth) is rich of organic matter and a broad spectrum of microbiological life; a main requirement for an increased water holding capacity. Furthermore, the microorganisms are essential to make nutrients such as potassium, phosphate or nitrogen available to plants. For creating this vitality in the soils, three techniques help us: First, the application of compost, compost tea and other organic fertilizers, second, the rotation of crops and, third, the use of Biodynamic preparations.
Compost as Organic Fertilizer
To build-up the first organic matter in empty desert soils, we use compost that we produce at our own premises (see below). The continuous treatment of the field with compost tea (a mixture of compost with molasses and water aerated for 16 hours) maintains and accelerates the activity of the microorganisms in the compost. In some cases, we have to add further organic fertilizers.
Crop Rotation Creates Vitality
By rotating nitrogen consuming with nitrogen enriching crops like legumes, we prevent the depletion of soils. Instead, the roots of e.g. clover and beans built more organic matter. In general, we plan to always cover at least 20% of the cultivated area of a farm with legumes and at least every fifth season in the same plot or green house.
A distinctive difference to other organic agriculture methods is the use of eight Biodynamic preparations in the cultivation. SEKEM uses horn manure (cow manure filled into cow horns and buried in our soils during winter) and horn silica (silica filled into cow horns and buried in our soils during summer). Both are sprayed on the field. For the compost, SEKEM uses six different medicinal plants prepared in a special way by building a connection to cosmic powers that vitalizes the plants. All preparations function as fertilizers.
Over 500.000 Different Plants Worldwide
Plants constitute the dress of the Earth. In many parts of the planet, they reflect the seasons. More than 500,000 species are en-rooted in the Earth, building their substance through sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. Generating the necessary oxygen, forests can be regarded as the lungs of the Earth. With all their parts, plants provide nourishment and serve as medical remedies, as well as multi-functional raw materials. They can be preserved in their diversity and further developed in their effectiveness through diligent care.
Plants and their fruits are the essential ingredients of the products of SEKEM; be it herbs for medicine or oranges for juice. According to the Demeter requirements, we do not use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides to grow them. Instead, we rely on natural solutions for pest control and growing a large variety of plants for keeping up the natural balance.
Each plant has its own task in the soil and ecosystem. For example, beneficial organisms and predators at different types of plants. To keep the natural balance, it is important to avoid mono-cultures and, instead, combine different plants at a farm, also through green corridors between single fields.
Natural Pest Control
We use the extract of Neem trees to stop the growth of cankers and others and also apply pheromones to catch or irritate insects. In 2010, we started to produce beneficial organisms under the name of “Predators Production Company”, in cooperation with the Danish companies EWH Bio Production and Envision. The organisms are used on SEKEMs own fields, but are also sold on agricultural markets as an efficient alternative to regular pesticides or other artificial chemical products which are harmful to soil, plants, air and humans.
GMO Free Organic Seeds & Seedlings
With regard to the question of food security in the future, conventional food companies often justify the development and usage of genetically modified organisms (GMO). We follow a strict “No GMO” policy.