The precious horse poo and its connection to soil quality

“This is my insect hotel.” Basti took me to his garden on the hillside and pointed to a piece of wood that was full of holes.

The sun was scattered from the other side of the hill. Basti stood in the dazzling light, beside him was a vegetable plot he built during this epidemic.

Basti, who graduated from a Business School, just published a book on psychology last month, discussing the complexity and dynamics of the human mind and their embedding in the structures of the environment.

Seems lives in an ivory tower, but Basti has his own grounded understanding of life and nature.

“这是我的虫子旅店。” Basti带我来到山坡上的一块空地,指着一块布满了空洞的木头。






“Every horse shit has its own value,” Basti told me half-jokingly.


As a family with two horses, it is absolutely enjoyable taking them for a horse ride, but the by-products of these guys are also hard to avoid.


Basti shoveled them from the pasture and pushed the cart – full of horse shit, to the side of the garden to accumulate the best fertilizer for the soil.


This is the compost field. And their kitchen waste is also collected for compost.

*compost: 可以理解为堆肥的过程


In China, apart from the similar practices in rural areas (which is also hard to spot nowadays), few people in cities collect kitchen waste for compost. Most of the leftovers will be thrown directly into the trash can. It seems that there is no need to compost in our overly crowded concrete city.


In the community where I live in Canada, most people have their own backyard. In addition to those trees and shrubs, there are also some places left for growing vegetables and fruits. The wastes we usually produce from cooking will be deliberately separated and put in the bucket of compost. Even in the highly populated area, there are also trash bins for residents to put their food waste.

The vegetables in our salad are from our garden!)

“我去年把埋了这块树干在这里,堆了很多马粪在上面。” Basti说,抱怨周围的土壤质量因为农牧业的开发而下降。除了堆积生物肥料,他同时不断地测量土壤的酸碱指数,给种在上面的植物一个适合的环境。

“I buried this tree trunk here last year and piled a lot of horse shit there.” Basti was complaining that the surrounding soil quality has declined. Apart from his effort of composting, he also constantly measures the pH value of the soil to provide a suitable environment for the plants.

Netflex上最近很火的一个纪录片叫做 Kiss the Ground。土壤,或许是我们解决环境问题最有效的答案。纪录片中说到,实际上,真正的解决方案就在我们脚下,和泥巴一样古老。(“Kiss the Ground | Netflix”, 2020)

A recent documentary on Netflix is called Kiss the Ground. Soil – may be the ultimate answer to our environmental problems. The documentary said, “In fact, the solution I am talking about is right under our feet, and it is as old as dirt.”(“Kiss the Ground | Netflix”, 2020)

*Kiss the ground: 中文译名 亲吻地面。B站上有搬运素材。


The massive increase in population has come with a lot of empty stomachs.


To feed us, large-scale agriculture operates on limited land.


However, this massive agriculture may lead to soil degradation.

在联合国2000年的一次会议上提到,土壤是一个经常被忽视的问题,土壤的退化成了沉默的灾难 (““Down to earth”: Soil degradation and sustainable development in Europe. A challenge for the 21st century”, 2000)

At a UN conference in 2000, it was mentioned that “Soil is a forgotten issue and soil degradation is a silent disaster”(““Down to earth”: Soil degradation and sustainable development in Europe. A challenge for the 21st century”, 2000)


Soil, which provides the most basic services to nature and human society.

TIME杂志的一篇文章中,作者提到“…(soil) stores four times carbon than atmosphere and controls the transfer of greenhouse gases between the land and the atmosphere ”, 土壤中存储着大气层四倍的碳,并且管控着大地和大气中的温室气体交换。对土地的破坏性开发导致了1200公吨的碳被排放到大气层中。(Berhe, 2020)

In an article in TIME magazine, the author mentioned that “…(soil) stores four times carbon than the atmosphere and controls the transfer of greenhouse gases between the land and the atmosphere”, and excessive abuse of soil leads to the loss of 120 million metric tons of carbon to the atmosphere.


As stated in the documentary Kiss the Ground, “Plants use sunlight as energy and they pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. They turn it into a carbon fuel. 40% of that carbon fuel, they send down to their roots. They are leaking.” In addition to the dense root system in the soil layer, there are also a large number of microorganisms, bugs, and small animals.

“我的虫子旅店目前还没有住户。”Basti自嘲,“不过我给他们提供了最好的条件 – 地下,阴暗而潮湿。”



“My insect hotel currently has no occupants.” Basti laughed, “but I will provide them with the best service – underground, dark and moistured.”

This masterpiece of wood has his hand-drilled holes, and there are plenty of roses planted next to it. 

I hope the next year’s visitors will leave a good review of their stay.

The connection between land use, soil degradation, and ongoing climate crises is leading us to this question – “How can we achieve regenerative farming?”

Basti shows us a great example.


“Down to earth”: Soil degradation and sustainable development in Europe. A challenge for the 21st century. (2000). In United Nation Convention to Combat Desertification Fourth Conference of the Parties (p. 2). Bonn.

Berhe, A. (2020). We must be antiracist in our fight against climate change. TIME, (June 20 / July 27), 33-35.

Kiss the Ground | Netflix. (2020). Retrieved 3 November 2020, from

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