Natuurboerdery

Natuurboerdery (Nature Farming)

At the dawn of the 21st century ZZ2 developed a farming philosophy called Natuurboerdery®. Our thinking was guided by:

  • The marked degradation of soil under synthetic fertilizer as practiced in an industrialised agricultural approach.
  • The increased cost-cutting bind that had become a reality of modern, industrialised farming.
  • The economic, social and environmental unsustainability in which industrial farming found itself.

Agricultural practices and processes founded in Natuurboerdery® are aimed at using the best technology in harmony with the laws of living nature, of which the most important are probably efficiency and adaptable sustainability. It can also be described as moving away from “hard” industrialised farming concepts by including more sensible concepts of organic farming. Natuurboerdery®-based farming principles encompass more than agricultural practices – they also govern our entire association with our natural environment.

We manage water by using drainage systems, storage, gravity and optimum addition. Other examples include soil care and plant nutrition techniques (composting, effective microbes and compost tea), as well as soft pest control with natural remedies. Crop rotation, preserving green belts, intruder plant management, as well as re-establishing and preserving natural veldt also form part of our agricultural practices. We do not only want to utilise nature optimally on our fields, but also adjacent to them. We believe that we can do better than just preserving our natural heritage – we can leave it in a healthier state. We are always on the lookout for processes that can increase efficiency and/or sustainability. We take care in reducing our use of fossil fuels and replace them, where practicable, with renewable energy.

grondgesondheid

Soil health refers to the capacity of soil to be used productively without harming future productivity, the ecosystem or the environment. This approach emphasises the integration of biological with chemical and physical characteristics of soil quality that would have an impact on farming’s profitability and on the environment.

To maintain and improve soil health, ZZ2 uses compost and manure, compost teas, effective microbes (EM), long dormant periods (of up to seven years) and crop rotation. ZZ2 works closely with the Cornell Soil Health Team (USA) that developed indicators for change in soil status. We also collaborate with Cornell University, the Universities of Stellenbosch, Pretoria and Limpopo to investigate new prospects of using biological means to improve soil health.

The carbon content of the soil (important for microbial life and diversity) is increased and sustained through rotation and limited tillage.

The use of pesticides is contained because of its negative impact on microbial diversity.

Soil erosion is not allowed at all. All fields, orchards and roads are governed by a strict protocol of contours and drainage systems.

Plant nutrition

The basis of our plant nutrition is organic compost, manure and compost tea. Balancing the mineral elements in the soil is a critical component of Natuurboerdery®, but equally important is the establishment of a diverse microbial population. Microbial enrichment is determined by applying compost, compost tea and effective microbes.

Regular tissue sap analysis is done with equipment like the Refractometer (Brix), EGmeter, pH meter and Cardy meter (K, Na and N). The results then determine the minimum targeted programme that should be followed by spraying the leaves with soluble fertilizer and bio-stimulants. To curb the negative effect of fertilizer on the microbial population, inorganic fertilizers are replaced, as far as possible, with carbon-loaded fertilizer and organic material. Supplements are adapted to follow the growth stage of the specific crop.

plantbeskerming

An integrated pest control approach is followed in line with Natuurboerdery® principles that entail products that have the least impact on the environment, such as planting brinjals next to tomatoes. These products are supplemented with fermented plant extract (FPEs) that, to a large extent, replaces fungicides, insecticides and nematodicides. This also creates a more socially and physically safe environment for workers and communities.

Strategies have also been developed in terms of biological management agents, such as Trichoderma Harzianum, Beauceria Bassiana and Bacillus Subtilis. Disease-resistant plant cultivars are investigated and developed throughout.

voedselgesondheid

ZZ2 offers high quality products that have a longer shelf life, but that are also healthy and that taste good. Our produce provides nutritionally dense food that has been grown ethically, with as little damage to the environment as possible. We support customers who believe that green consumption is non-negotiable in the food industry. Furthermore, we can produce these products cost-effectively, reliably and in adequate quantities to make a huge contribution towards food security, as well as earning foreign currency with the export of avocadoes, apples, pears and stone fruit.