An Intitiative of
Association for Regenerative Agriculture
"Paradise is the place where one fulfills one's function and does one's work gladly." Ernst Götsch
It all started with radishes in Raperswilen. Already at the age of three, Ernst Götsch plants radishes in the backyard of his parents' house in north-eastern Switzerland. The little red tuber grew his curiosity. Even after more than 65 years, his approach is the same: planting, observing, testing and developing. In addition to work on the genetic improvement of forage plants at the renowned Zurich-Reckenholz Agricultural Research Institute, Ernst Götsch began to question the conventional path of agriculture. His vision: "What if we were to improve the conditions we give the plants? Instead of trying to find genetic traits in them that will enable them to better endure our abuse?"
After the first tests on areas in his home country showed good results, Ernst Götsch also received inquiries from tropical countries. Götsch successfully applied his cultivation methods in an ecosystem unknown to him under different climatic conditions. He concluded that his methods and principles are applicable to different biomes or soil and climate conditions. In 1982 Ernst Götsch moved to Brazil. Over 30 years have passed since then. Through own hands work and without resource consumption on dry and degraded pastures a blooming food forest with 14 all year-round flowing water sources has developed. If you ask the inhabitants of the region for rain, the answer is: "On the Gringo's land it always rains".
For the second time in Germany: Workshop with Ernst Götsch on 2 November 2019
A day with Ernst Götsch at Schlossgut Alt Madlitz. Here, in cooperation with the farmer Benedikt Bösel, he implements a project based on the principles of Syntropic Agriculture.
At the beginning of November, around 80 participants gathered at Schlossgut Alt Madlitz to spend a day together with Ernst Götsch and to become acquainted with his methods of Syntropic Agriculture. Participant Ulrike Müller wrote: "The opportunity for exchange and networking with like-minded people at the event was very valuable, appreciative and encouraging".
There was also a demonstration of the new machine developed by Ernst Götsch and constructed in cooperation with RhenusTEK - "Peace Farming Technology", as Ernst Götsch calls it. More on this in a film - you will find the acces on the main page of this website.
Syntropy - Diversity in harmony with nature
"In nature, there is no competitive pressure and no fierce competition. All relationships are based on cooperation and unconditional love and are always geared to the fulfillment of a particular function." Ernst Götsch
Characteristics of Syntropic Agriculture
Syntropic agriculture is an agricultural model developed by Ernst Götsch, consisting of theoretical and practical components: Natural processes in their form, function and dynamics are translated into agricultural practices. The basis is the idea that land recovers by use: By establishing highly productive agricultural areas, ecosystems are provided (usually independent of input - such as auxiliary agents - or irrigation). Particular attention is paid to soil formation, the regulation of the microclimate and the fostering of the water cycle. The harvest has a cyclical complementary effect on the regeneration of ecosystems. Complex plant communities (consortia) and a number of other management methods, such as pruning and soil coverage, stimulate the nutrient cycle and accelerate conversion, which under normal conditions takes years on natural fallow land. It is a process-based rather than input-based agriculture. Its aim is always to increase the amount of life and energy in the system. At this point Syntropy is in opposition to Entropy: Whereas Entropic modifications cause energy losses and simplification of structures, Syntropic processes gain energy over time and build structures, diversity and complexity.
Life is inherently syntropic, and our agricultural systems should reflect its complex characteristics.
Although many successful examples of Syntropic Agriculture have taken place in tropical regions, the principles governing this holistic method developed by Ernst Götsch are applicable to different types of ecosystems. Farmers from Martinique, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Hawaii have already put it into practice with impressive results, facing extreme weather conditions and reversing initial problems of low fertility.
The methods of syntropy are scalable.
Syntropic landscape - pruning trees and shrubs to cover the ground
Stratification: the vertical structure of the habitat - different growth levels of different plants
Distinction between Syntropic and Organic Agriculture
By Ernst Götsch
Biological and syntropic agriculture are two sisters that start from the same idea. But the development of different solution approaches for daily implementation problems has led them on different paths. Organic farming aims to replace chemical fertilization (as is common in conventional farming) with organic fertilization (compost from organic waste, green manure, slurry, etc.). In syntropic agriculture, we work with the concept of arranging the various plant species, from the introduction of the system to continuous cultivation, in such a way that they produce their own fertilizer themselves. For this purpose we plant trees, bushes, grasses and herbs in high density, which have the property to grow back strongly after pruning.
The periodic pruning, which falls on the soil, leads - in addition to supplying our crops with light - to a large amount of organic matter, which animates and supplies the soil organisms and thus indirectly fertilizes our plants. An additional advantage in addition to light and fertilizer is the effect of rejuvenating the entire system, which occurs after pruning: evidence of new vigorous growth and new vitalization for the entire system, triggered by the regrowth of our allies.
Maintaining the Power of the System
This idea leads us to the next difference between organic and syntropic farming: organic farming involves phytosanitary control, i.e. the fight against diseases and pests. The result is the use of preparations, mineral mixtures to strengthen plants, to kill or ward off pests and diseases, traps to catch unwanted insects, etc. These are tools that are developed and used as a result of the separation, namely the separation between good and evil. In the case of syntropic agriculture, we are working to maintain the strength and prosperity of the whole system. We treat pests or diseases as indicators of weaknesses in our plans caused by our own mistakes. Mistakes made in the design or management of our agro-ecosystems. We regard pests and diseases as indirect allies, members of the immune system of the macro organism life on planet Earth (to which we belong).
No Good and no Evil
From this perspective, there is neither good nor evil. Instead, we recognize a function. These contributors, who are regarded as pests, can indirectly give us clues as to how we can deal with the macro-organism more organically, so that emergency care by the "firefighters of the system" is not necessary. Therefore, they are once again allies, members of the immune system, like the white blood cells in our body, which act and multiply when the life processes in it (macro organism) leave the predetermined path.
"Complementary to entropy, syntropy moves from simple to complex, in the sense of increasing the quantity and quality of consolidated life." Ernst Götsch
The Main Practices of Syntropic Agriculture
Complex plant communities (consortia): Syntropic agriculture follows the principle of succession, i.e. the natural sequence of plant communities on an area. On fallow land, there are pioneer plants first, followed by several subsequent plant communities, and at the end there is a so-called climax vegetation, the result of undisturbed growth. Selective sorting: Plants that have fulfilled their task in the process of succession are sorted out. Others, usually higher and more demanding species, are added. Pruning and triggering of impulses: Particularly for the synchronisation of processes during stratification (formation of vertical habitats - see illustration), for the rejuvenation of the system and for the increase of subsequent plant communities. Soil coverage: Mulch and plant cuttings that cover the soil prevent water from evaporating and keep the soil moist. Indirect microbiota enrichment.
The pruning of plants is an essential part of the method used by Ernst Götsch to revive damaged soil
Careful handling of the floor - it must not be damaged and should always be covered. In order not to injure the precious humus layer, no ploughing is done
What Aesop (700 B.C.) said about Kronos
He created beings on this planet, including humans, and said, "Man, I have brought you to this place, make it your paradise! Live well! Live in it and multiply! Be creative! You can do whatever you want. There is only one condition, one limit: the laws of the macro-organism of which you are a part are predetermined and fixed. Not even us, the gods of Olympus, are allowed to enact our own laws!" Mankind lived happily ever after. One day, however, people began to think, "What if we made our own laws? We would be more powerful than the gods of Olympus."
Ernst Götsch's holistic approach is strongly influenced by his humanistic background
By doing so, they came into conflict with the gods and began to wage war against them. When he saw this, Kronos began to scratch his head and thought, "What should I do with my children? I will kill them!" He came down from Olympus and carried his axe on his shoulder. But when he saw the people, he changed his mind: "Man," he exclaimed, "I will divide you in two, as punishment for your disobedience." And that," he said, "means that you will try your whole life to reunite with your second half, but you will not find the second half. And this will be fatal to your species." As mentioned by Aesop, the laws are given. If we accept this and act accordingly, we close the loop.
Review: One-day Workshop with Ernst Götsch
on 12 April 2019
Ernst Götsch for the first time at a Workshop in Germany
The weather was cool - but the participants didn't let their good mood get in the way. On 12 April 2019 more than 70 interested people - mostly farmers, but also students and lecturers from all over Germany - met at Schlossgut Alt Madlitz in Brandenburg for the first workshop of the Swiss Syntropy Pioneer in Germany. In the morning Ernst Götsch held the theoretical part with a lecture, in the afternoon the practical part on the field where he impressively demonstrated his globally applicable methods.
Ernst Götsch at the theoretical part of the Workshop in the morning
Exploring the fields with Ernst Götsch
Ernst Götsch demonstrates his approach
Ernst Götsch together with Host Benedikt Bösel
Group picture - Workshop with Ernst Götsch at Alt Madlitz Estate
Ernst is a visionary and ingenious practitioner with ideas that go far beyond forestry.
Rarely experienced so much positive energy with so many people I've never met before. Great applause. I am looking forward to coming back for more workshops! John Köckert
A really instructive, inspiring day with you and Ernst Götsch - I can hardly wait to apply the principles here in Germany. Aline von Wedel
Other Activities of Soil Alliance
May 2 and 3, 2019
Joel Salatin held a two-day masterclass seminar about Grass Farming and Pasture Management at the Biolandhof Sepp Braun in Freising near Munich
How pasture becomes economical - a farmer with a vision revolutionizes agriculture in the USA with his grass farming. Joel Salatin came to Germany for the first time for a 2-day seminar.
Two-day Masterclass Seminar with Joel Salatin April 27-28, 2021
Due to the ongoing Corona pandemic, we have unfortunately come to the conclusion to cancel the Masterclass with Joel Salatin on April 27-28, 2021 for another time. We are in communication with Joel and wait to see how the situation develops. Stay informed on Soil Alliance's social media channels (all links below).
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