Farmers by passion and conservationists by conviction, the Andresen family cultivates around 400 hectares of farmland with several hundred animals on the Barslund farm in northern Schleswig-Holstein Germany. For the fourth-generation family business, sustainability means taking into account the well-being of future generations, whether this concerns the responsible management of cultivation, animal welfare or climate in general.
For Thomas Andresen, who heads the operations, the topic of regenerative agriculture has long played an important role. The question has always been how to combine conventional agriculture with ecological wellbeing, as any measures must also be economically viable. This is where the innovative use of biochar came into play, offering three major advantages: First, biochar is used as a detoxifying feed for livestock, it then binds nitrogen in the slurry biogas plant, which is then released back onto the farmland. The carbon binding in soil has a lasting effect and favors the build-up of nutrients and humus. The farm thus also saves on fertilizers. In the next five to ten years, they plan to entirely displace all mineral fertilizers. While this is good for the environment, it also safeguards the land for future generations.
Conventional agriculture has reached its limits, however, regenerative approaches such as biochar enable the farm to secure its yields more sustainably than with all conventional crop protection and fertilizers. Agriculture can store gigantic amounts of carbon. Therefore, the Barslund farm is taking a bold step forward to demonstrate this potential and provide a blueprint for other farms.