One of the first things we did after buying The Big Raise was to commission a soil analysis from the renowned soil scientists, Dr, Dr & Dr Bourguignon. The main headline is that our six-hectare field is acidifying.

Basically, it’s been cut for hay two or three times a year, but no fertility has been put into it – no compost, no animal manure, no nothing. The only two places where the soil is any good are around the two big oak trees in the middle of the field and around the perimeter. That’s because the leaves, twigs and branches that fall from the trees naturally decompose and are converted into quality soil.

Dr Emmanuel Bourguignon is the son of Dr Claude and Dr Lydia Bourguignon. Claude and Lydia are in the process of retiring. Emmanuel is taking over their work. He came to visit us on a cold, sunny day in late November and we spent three hours inspecting the land together.

Several months later Emmanuel’s report arrived in our inbox. One of his key messages was that we needed to add more biomass on to the land because of the increasing acidity and the high levels of clay, which we already knew about and reported last October when we cleaned out our pond.

Emmanuel also said we needed to put calcium carbonate on the land. It can be purchased in powder form, but oyster shells are basically made of calcium carbonate. So now, whenever we get our hands on oysters, the shells go on to the land (rather than into the Seine which is where we use to throw them!).
If you speak French, you can read Emmanuel’s full report here [link].