Project Humussphäre: Horses instead of Tractors

Farmers ploughing a field with the help of a horse and a plough

Project Humussphäre focuses on soil-building, energy-saving agricultural methods. The project has been carried out since March 2005 on the biodynamic farm Hof Hollergraben in Ostholstein, Germany. Klaus Strüber, who heads the farm and initiated the project, works together with his team of professionals on the project. The Bremen Society for Agriculture and Pedagogy is instructing them in their research inquiry.

In the 10-year project, they are examining different methods for increasing humus quality in agricultural soil, especially the possibility of using work horses for farm work. At the heart of the project is the hypothesis that by increasing the soil fabric with the help of biodynamic preparations, in combination with work horses, they can decrease the force necessary to work the soil, and thereby also reduce energy usage. That means that horses can work the soil with less effort.

The first results, from 2005 to 2008, indicate that this hypothesis can be confirmed. The project observed considerably lower soil compaction on fields worked by horses. Three years into the project, around 50% of the fields on the farm are being worked by horses, and reduced tractor work meant that significant amounts of diesel fuel were saved, and CO2 emissions avoided.
Project Humussphäre carries out foundational research regarding the use of work horses in biodynamic agriculture. Practically-focused and scientifically directed, the project will provide organic farmers with environmentally-friendly alternatives to tractor use. Especially for farmers in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, where the use of farm animals still dominates, it will be possible to develop valuable, region-specific recommendations in this respect. Public relations work is also a key element in the project.

The Software AG Foundation has supported the research project since its beginning and has been impressed by the advances and results presented in detailed, critical reports.