Biological farming pioneers in the Eastern Cape

ERIC BADENHORST

IN a follow-up on the Biological Farming Day held at the ARC-ITC Research Station at Summerhill Farm in March last year, 25 farmers recently got together for a field-inspection of biologically grown pineapples on Jono Bradfield’s farm in Shaw Park.

Theo Geldenhuys, owner of Bio Farm Solutions, took the lead and jumped into the inspection hole dug in the pineapple land to illustrate and explain the importance of a healthy root system.

Inoculation of the soil with beneficial microbes, in this case three different strains of bacillus bacteria, improves the condition of the soil and enhances root growth, fixes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as producing a better quality fruit.

With conventional farming methods, the thinking was to use the soil as a medium to keep the plants in place and feed the plant using soluble synthetic fertilisers to do this. This being completely unnatural, the plant is constantly under stress with a depressed immune system, therefore open to attack from pathogens, and out comes the fungicides.

Insects pick up on these distress signals and start to remove the sick plants from the system. The next step is to then spray something equally toxic to get rid of the insects. Not long after that the food lands on your table.

Ever wondered why some fresh foods have virtually no taste and seems to spoil as soon as you put it in your fridge? It is due to the treatment of the plant that gives us low protein, low sugar fruit or vegetables. Remember for healthy cell division you need micro-organisms to convert amino-acids into protein.

Fortunately for consumers and producers alike, legislations are being implemented all over the world either limiting or altogether banning this toxic way of producing food.

In a move to reduce their reliance on these harsh and very expensive chemicals, about half of the attendees are already in various stages of going over to a more sustainable way of farming. The focus currently is to educate the farmers and to provide them with the tools to farm in a more economical and socially responsible way.

Graham Limerick from Microbial Solutions gave an interesting presentation after the field inspection on the manufacturing process of the bacteria, without giving away too many secrets, of course. He also spoke on the importance of organic carbon sources and explained the difference between products currently on the market.

If you would like to taste the difference and learn more about this 21st century technology, come meet and support me at the Bathurst Farmers Market on Sundays.

For more information, read articles in the Landbou Weekblad and Farmer’sWeekly about these methods or email me at biofarmsolutions1@gmail.com.

Eric Badenhorst is a consultant in soil conservation and sustainable farming practices using biological methods and inputs.

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