Soil health is vital and of utmost importance when farming biodynamically. Here at Waterkloof, we take it very seriously and invest a lot of time into producing our own rich, beautifully-nourishing compost, with the help of both our two and four-legged friends. In this photo blog, we’ll be sharing our recipe for making compost the Waterkloof way!
It all begins with our deep-bed system, which consists of a rich mixture of organic material, cow manure, chicken manure, and lucerne. The cattle heat the system, encouraging microbe growth, and the chickens scratch in it during the day, providing much-needed oxygen (through aeration) for the microbes to populate. We take compost from the deep bed system, which is now extremely rich in microbes, and mix it with fresh organic material, such as straw, plants and leaves (brought down by our horse carts). We then add a layer of the bacteria mix from the deep bed system, followed by more fresh organic material. This is all then covered with manure from our cows.
We then leave this mixture to stand, allowing the microbes to break down the organic material into nutrients and minerals, and to integrate them into the compost heap. We turn it often, as seen in the photos, to spur on the microbial process – you can see the heat that is given off when we turn the heaps with our digger! This process takes about 3 months. Once completed, we will spread the rich, nutritious compost throughout our vineyards to enrich the soil with the very same microbes produced on our farm, turning that circle of life through all of our processes!