Let's dig deeper together
For the year 2022, we have planned to work more in the local context and to devote ourselves to direct humus-building. The documentation and publication of our work will also be given higher priority and we already established a download area
for our publications. Some of us are currently working on new methods of soil biodiversity exploration - you will hear more about this soon.
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Content of this page
The story of HUMUS sapiens
To understand where HUMUS sapiens is coming from, we have to start a bit earlier: In September 2017 an international and interdisciplinary crowd of curious minds gathered in a beautiful valley in the Swiss mountains: The
Klöntal Biohack Retreat
. Maya Minder and
invited interesting people from several European and Asian
countries, to share their curiosity and common interest in the life
sciences: together we created a place where Taiwanese bioartists,
Swedish hardware designers, Indonesian architects and swiss biochemists
- to name a few examples - converged to exchange ideas, develop projects
and tinker with biology. Four intense days of exploring nature, sharing
experiences, recipes, food, microbes, tools, etc.
One of the topics was: soil. Julian brought an old-school microscope and started to compare soil from his garden with samples we collected in the mountains. Amongst other things, the videos on the top of this website were generated here. In the following days many different people used the microscope, went moss-hunting, tinkered with electronics and discussed about science, soil and society.
About the open soil research events
04.05.2018 - 06.05.2018 Hackteria soil retreat
About 10 km outside of Schaffhausen (Switzerland), nested between the
hills and woods just below 1000m of altitude - lies a comfortable little
hut commonly known as
Randelab. In the
beginning of May, this was the setting for a special kind of
gathering: the «Hackteria soil retreat» where scientists, biohackers,
artists, makers, educators, ecologists and farmers came together to work
on DIY methodologies and develop workshop concepts on the topic of soil
After a few intense days at Randelab some of the participants travelled to other locations in Europe to continue their work and share the inspirations from the retreat.
20.07.2018 - 22.07.2018 mikroBIOMIK soil retreat
About 30 km from Munich city-center, in the middle of pristine woods
and right next to the river Isar, lies the hermitage
‘zum Schindergraben’, commonly known as Projekt Draussen (
From the 20th to the 22nd of July the surrounding woods and waterways as
well as the house itself became the setting for the «mikroBIOMIK soil
We gathered a colorful mix of experts from different disciplines, curious gardeners, skilled hobby microscopists and passionate artists. The event was flexibly structured (as a barcamp/unconference) to address as many questions and approaches as possible and to develop the program together with the participants. There were many discussions and networking sessions, but also a lot has happened in practice: excursions, microscopy, composting, electronic crafts, comic drawing, yoga, a jazz concert,...
25.10.2019 - 27.10.2019 HUMUS sapiens retreat 2019
Soil creation and regeneration requires a tightly intertwined and interwoven network of organisms and matter, from microbes to animals and plants. The crosstalk between all of those compounds enables seeds to sprout on fertile soil.
We believe that this diversity is always the key to creativity and innovation: HUMUS sapiens creates interdisciplinary crosstalk and collaboration from scientists, biohackers, artists and ecologists to farmers and gardeners, to share and build knowledge and tools for soil analysis and regeneration.
If you want to get your hands dirty and learn more about soil ecology, send us an email and ask for our next event: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Some of the questions we would like to ask:
1) What is humus?
The word originally just meant ‘earth’ and is related to homo (“human being”). This beautiful term alllows many different interpretations...
2) What are the most effective methods for building humus?
We are investigating polycultures, agroforestry, mulching, cover-crops, rotational grazing, static composting and many other practices of regenerative agriculture. As with microbial populations, diversity of methods is the key to resilience. Let’s try our best to diversify the way we use our land.
3) What is the difference between conventional and organically farmed soil?
Although there have been numerous studies and comparisons of soil health on conventional and organic farms, their methods often focus on chemical composition and are not easily accessible by interested individuals. Also, scientists and farmers are now getting more aware that microbial communities are the central players for soil health. An interesting publication on the topic can be found here.
4) How can we measure soil health with low-cost and open-source technology?
Humidity and soil respiration has been measured with simple self-made tools and microbial diversity can be estimated with the help of microscopy. Hackers and tinkerers all around the world have been working on soil ecology for many years. We will start to collect these ideas and use them as a basis for further experiments and protocol development.
5) How does microbial diversity influence plant growth?
Healthy soil has a high diversity of microbial and invertebrate (e.g. earthworm) activity. It is not very well understood how these organisms influence plant growth and the nutritional quality of the resulting crops. We do not expect to answer these questions within the scope of this project but we might be able do develop new strategies and tools to catalyse further research.
6) How can we expand and share this knowledge efficiently?
Open access publication, wikis, and workshops are an established and successful way of spreading knowledge and experience. But how do we reach people who rarely use the Internet?
Documentation & downloads
All publications of mikroBIOMIK are released under a CreativeCommons license (CC BY-NC-SA) and can be used for non-commercial purposes with attribution of the authors. We are happy if the material is further distributed. High-resolution and print-versions of the works can be requested via email.
- Event Overview
- Collection of videos
- About the RandeLab Soil Retreat
- About the mikroBIOMIK Soil Retreat
- About the HUMUS sapiens retreat 2019
- Project description - 2 page .pdf document (English)
- Soil-life illustration for handouts or posters
- Soil-life illustration for A4 printing (German lables)
- Booklet for the installation Humus, Humanity & Humility (English)
- Short guide to soil microscopy (English)
- Breve guía sobre microscopía de suelo (Español)
- Kurzer Leitfaden zur Bodenmikroskopie (Deutsch)
Supporters and backers
We would like to thank our supporters and backers, who made this
Greg Gage, Verena Friedrich, Regeg Gnuga, Tony Stamm, Špela Petrič, Musa Saglam, Jelly Pin, Agnieszka Pokrywka, Moritz Chollet, Susanne Artmeier, Elodie Pong, Franz Krähenbühl, Anna Cholinska, Bruno Blume, Andreas Losch, Salome Kuratli, Andrew Paterson, Vittorio Milone, Renate Riedner, Georg Ratjen, Takemura Masato, Tuomo Tammenpää, Gisle Frøysland, Oliver Jaeggi, Chris Obrist, Bettina Liebl, Samuel Flach, Rüdiger Trojok, Eugenio Battaglia, Vanessa Lorenzo, Anne Bergner, Andreas Rudolf, Andreas Rudolf, Bjoern Hogg, Manuel Di Cerbo, Tobias Ziltener, Roman Lehner, Chris Vernon, Martin Laarmann, Til Kreuels, Flo D, Rolf Mahnke, Josephine Blersch, Lucy Patterson, Jenny Ludwig, Oliver Walkhoff, Patrick Raithofer, Stefan Deuber, Salome Kuratli, Daniel Reichmuth, Bruce Lee, Janne Korhonen, Robin Bischoff, Urs Gaudenz, Margit Utzmann, Servando Barreiro, Bruce Lee, Mindaugas Gapsevicius, Vanessa Lorenzo, Karl Rellensmann, Jenny Ludwig, Oliver Jaeggi