ELIMINATION A B
BODY/MIND & SPIRIT
Criteria of a healthy soil
Yearly regeneration of humus by plant material. A balanced structure and function of earth layers. Promotion of fermentation by effective micro-organisms. Optimal resorption of vital substances by the plant. Eco-organic agriculture.
What is wrong
Horti- and agriculture in the hands of monopoly: agro-science, -technology, -business and -industry.
In 1972 EarthCare was already an integrated part of my holistic medicine practice, (while having become a separate environmental organization in 1986). The practice was located in Drenthe, one of the most beautiful rural area's in The Netherlands. It was a lovely farm with a thatched roof in traditional style and three hectares of land around it. Apart from the practice itself we managed to bake our own bread, had an organic vegetable, fruit and herbal garden, some sheep, goats, "organic" chicken, cats and dogs, while having lend out the rest of the land to neighboring farmers. My wife used the sheep wool herself - from shaving, washing, dyeing, spinning to weaving - as she was a very talented weaver. We promoted ecological land usage, founded an organic food association between producers and consumers, were actively involved in promoting the local health food store and were laying the foundation of a herbal company. Moreover, I extended my medical work to animals as well. Both local farmers and others were seeking treatment for their sick animals through natural medicine. In short we tried to re-establish the traditional mixed farm, in which the activities were all part of an integrated whole. Ever since I am passionately involved in restoring the concept of a new style mixed farm, in which the interests of nature, the farmers and the consumers are equally taken in consideration.
As you may well know, the health of man, animals, plants and the soil are intimately interconnected. They are all parts of a larger body, our planet earth. The life-giving elements are the sun (warmth), the air, water and the soil, while countless cycles maintain a balance between them. The quality of all-that-lives depends on optimal regeneration of the elements and their interaction. Unfortunately, both the sun (UV radiation), the air (air-pollution, ozone depletion, greenhouse effect), water (contamination) and the earth (erosion, pollution) are in an ever increasing deplorable condition. Logically, everything that depends on them - plants, animals and men - have to face the consequences. Already an estimated more than half of our (chronic) diseases are environmentally" related, while countless species have already disappeared from the earth. Unlike plants and animals, human beings are the cause of all this. In fact, no such thing like an environmental crisis" exist. It is the affluent part of mankind, which faces an inner" crises to such an extent, that everything else has become involved.
We are the environmental problem
Quite contrary to modern" interpretations, the soil appears to be a living organism, a real miracle indeed. Looking closer at it, you will distinguish several layers. The upper one is where organic material is broken down by digestive" micro-organisms. This layer is about three to eight centimetres thick. Since this is not the right environment for roots, you wont find them here. They develop directly under, in the building up" layer. Both layers are loose, they are crumb structured". This structure facilitates water and air to circulate, so that the nutrients can easily reach the roots. In this second layer a totally different micro-flora exists. It is called the rhizo-flora. As soon as the upper parts of the plant become green, enormous amounts of bacteria can be found around the countless minuscule roots of the plant. Their function is to facilitate the absorption of broken down organic and mineral material by the plant. While previously it was assumed, that all organic material first had to be broken down into inorganic" components, it now has become clear, that the plant is able to absorb simple organic material as well. In this, the role of the healthy micro-organisms has proven to be decisive. And what is also important: the justification for the current artificial fertilizer abuse - all organic material is broken down to anorganic minerals, so it is just a matter of putting some additional mineral fertilizers in the soil" - has become invalid.
The survival of mankind depends on the surface layer of the earth, called humus or top-soil. Humus is the sum total of organic material in the soil. If the soil is optimal, the humus-layer will be around 8-10%. Unspoiled jungle sometimes contains 20% humus. The average content of humus in our modern" cultivated soil is around 2%. The problem is, that regeneration of the humus layer is achieved by plant material only. Artificial fertilizer and animal manure cannot do the job. Thus every year, the soil becomes poorer and poorer. The function of the rhizo-flora on which the plant relies, has become greatly damaged and deficiencies are widespread. The immune-reaction of the plants against all kinds of pests has become so weak, that large amounts of pesticides are needed to save the harvest. Hence, the quality of the plants even further deteriorating, with grave consequences for the eco-system, the life of animals and that of humans. The combination of deficiency plus poisonous contamination - our so called normal" food - proves to be disastrous to human health, happiness and survival. Therefore the need for alternatives. All initiatives for improving the soil, the air and water have to be combined, in order to successfully turn the tide.
The situation in Europe may serve as an example. Usually considered as the region that is better off, a real disaster is happening here as well. Nothing less than the destruction of the farmers community is at stake. While in former days the farmers were turned down as representatives of the countryside by those living in the cities, a struggle between nature" and mind", originating from the very first times of patriarchy, nowadays it is sheer power and profit-interest which plays a major role. It is caused by the so-called STC-complex (science/technology/capitalism) which as agricultural business and industry with its booming genetic technology tries to take over agriculture. Genetic manipulation of our future" is what these people aim at and the farmer stands in the way. First agro-business destroyed the traditional ways of farming by making the farmers totally dependent on artificial fertilizers, industrial feed and pesticides while - through redevelopment" - destroying the small farmers themselves. Nowadays the next step - total annihilation - is undertaken. In Germany (and not only there of course) the statistics are shocking. While in 1950 five million people were working in agriculture (in West-Germany alone) in 1995 only 885.000 were left in the united Germany. The number of farms with more than 1 ha used to be 1,64 million in 1949 while only 629.000 in 1990. If the EU program Agenda 2000" is going to be implemented the total number of farms will be further reduced to 180.000. In that case only 10% (...) of the original number of 1949 will be left1. Eating organic and protesting against genetic manipulation thus serves three vital interests: that of our own health, the future of the organic farms and the farmers community - as the representatives of rural culture - on which our health depends and the regeneration of the soil and the environment in general. In the recent Living Planet Report of the WWF it is stated that mankind" - meant is mainly the rich North - has destroyed 30% of all nature in the last 30 years (...). The report says: We have less and less time to change the way we live in order to preserve an inhabitable earth for our children". It also says that lipservice of politicians talking about sustainability etc. has had little effect. It is logical. The existing system is the cause of all this after all. Hence people who do care - like WWF, UNDP, the WorldWatch Institute and countless other organizations and individuals - agree on the necessity of radical change on all levels of society.....now.
In the mean time (spring 2001) we have experienced these horrible animal destructions. This crisis will hopefully lead to a regionally organized (ecological) agriculture and animal breeding.
The ideal" agriculture includes five principles2: It produces safe and nutritious food to enhance human health, it is economically and spiritually beneficial to both producers (farmers) and consumers, it is sustainable and easily practised by everyone, it conserves our environment and it produces sufficient food of high quality for an expanding world population. There are many key-factors playing a role here. First healthy nutrition only comes from a healthy soil. A soil deprived of its vital substances - which does not receive annual regenerative treatment: the current industrial production soils with artificial fertilizers - is not able to maintain optimal health of its crops. The quality of those plants goes down every year, with as a consequence the degrading of our nutrition. Seeing the food-related disorders of modern man, the necessity for organic agriculture has never been so acute. Enriched soils rather than annual erosion are needed worldwide to provide mankind with life-supporting nutrients. This fact is more and more acknowledged. Both individual farmers, agricultural organizations and governments are beginning to co-operate on this matter. In the Netherlands alone hundreds of new eco-farmers are joining every year. There used to be several different "organic agriculture" systems of which ANOG, the bio-organic, the bio-dynamic, the Howard-Balfour, the macrobiotic, the EM ("effective micro-organisms") , the Kyusei natural farming, the Lemaire-Boucher and the vegan methods (were) are the most prominent, to which individual farmers increasingly show an eclectic approach. The "common denominator" of these various methods could be defined as follows.
The structure of the soil is considered vital for fertility, hence only superficial (vertical) ploughing up is practised, while the availability of organic matter, which is depending on the presence of enough vital and effective micro-organisms3 decomposing, building up and facilitating these materials to the plants, is crucial. Eco-agriculture is using almost exclusively organic manure, like blood and bone meal, dried chicken dung, ricinus scrap and fermented! liquid manure. Minerals and trace-minerals are usually derived from stone meal, bentonit clay, seaweed fertilizer, algae or "thomas meal". Only in exceptional cases, additional nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) or magnesium (Mg) are given, almost always from organic sources, rarely the purely chemical varieties. Green manure, like clover, lupin and other leguminous plants are used as nitrogen fixers. Organic compost in general provides annual regeneration. It is usually covering the soil permanently. Mulching, straw covering and interplanting are widespread practices. Careful crop rotation is practised everywhere. Further soil improvement, growth-stimulants and plant tonifying substances are used, o.a. stone meal, silicium and healthy micro-organisms (Symbioflor and others), the latter often consisting of mixed cultures of beneficial micro-organisms - primarily photosynthetic and lactic acid bacteria, yeast, actinomycetes and fermenting fungi - that can be applied as an inoculant to increase the microbial diversity of soils. This in turn can improve soil quality and health through various ways e.g. anti-oxidant effects, which enhances the growth, yield, and quality of crops. All systems try to restrict themselves to organic pest control only, although sometimes compromises have to be made. Grinded silicium against rust, herbs (equisetum) against mould, chive extract against carrot fly, stinging nettle manure against caterpillars, healthy micro-organisms promoting "good" symbiotic relationships while "discouraging" the harmful ones, camomile extract against aphids and recently the various techniques of biological control (natural predators). Weeds are tried to be prevented, usually by permanent covering of the soil surface. However, sometimes manual labour proves to be indispensable.
What is hopeful here, is that organic farming increasingly embraces the "traditional" way of mixed farming. Because there is more at stake than "just" an agricultural technique. Under the dominance of agro-industry and supranational decision-making (EU) an entire farmers class is on the verge of disappearing, together with the natural ecology of the countryside. Eco-agriculture, farmers and conservationists are now joining together in an attempt to develop an integrated approach, in which all three interests are benefited. Some organizations are active in protecting traditional ways of farming in areas, where they have not been destroyed yet, e.g. in Eastern Europe. All these efforts are crucial for the survival of mankind, hence they deserve to be supported by all of us. But also in the "South" lots of encouraging initiatives are currently undertaken. Among a vast number of eco-farmers there are special projects like biogas experiments on Fiji, organic farming in Kenya ("Small Earth"), EM in almost all Asian countries, the poor people of the favela in Curitiba (Brazil) co-operating in recycling of organic material and the organic farming project in Hongkong ("Earthcare"). They are only a tiny little bit of worldwide efforts undertaken. Our World Health Plan (WHP, see the book Chapter 15 or FreeWHC) is supporting this in many ways. Earthcare and flow system therapy appear to be an extension of each other. A healthy soil, plants, nutrition, animals, humans and a healthy environment are just part of one integrated whole. Our hope is that more and more people will actively commit themselves to this vital area of life.