Markus Mushardt

Humus build-up


Markus Mushardt

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

Markus Mushardt


Lower Saxony

Farm area/size of the organisation:

310 ha

Number of workers:

< 5

Farm main activity:

Mainly cropland, but as well grassland together with a herd of 35 mother cows and 30 sucklers

Climate and soil characteristics

Oceanic climate

Measure Information

Description of the measure

As the farm is close to the North Sea and on a level around 0 to 5m sea level the management of water is critical.

Protected by dikes against flooding the water needs to be managed properly.

Drainages on the farmland are essential technical supports to be able to farm the land.

In this way, water is distributed and pumped away if necessary.

The measure also involves the application of “no till” and “direct seeding”.

Objective of the measure

Improvement and stabilisation of the farmland.

On top of that the Mushardt family cares a lot for sustainable regenerative management of the farmland itself. This means almost no till, keeping an eye on soil always and ensuring the highest possible function of the soil in terms of fertility and water retention.

Justification of the choice

Dikes, drainages and pumping systems are solid and well-known techniques in work for centuries.

On the other hand, agronomic practices like “no till” and the focus on healthy soil are a mix of traditional knowledge and innovations.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

  • Network of practitioners on regional and national levels.
  • Water association.
  • Interest group “Healthy Marsh-Land”

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

In the region, the old drainage systems are often not maintained in an adequate way as it is hard work and sometimes expensive.

Implementation phase

Description of the survey done for the implementation

There was not too much of a survey done before the implementation. It was clear that the traditional system of dikes, pumps and drainages is basic for farming in the region and on this farm. But based on the studies of Markus and his exchange with other farmers and scientists agronomic practices were started to be practiced.

Materials used

Normal pumping and drainage materials. Machinery to follow the approach of no till/ low till

Required maintenance operations

Usual maintenance of the pipes and pumps and machinery

Recommended knowledge / skills / training / courses / education desired before starting the measure implementation

  • Basic knowledge of irrigation
  • Basic knowledge of dikes
  • Basic knowledge of water management
  • Innovative, sustainable, regenerative farming methods (no till, etc.)
  • Exchange amongst practitioners; learn from others


  • Stable harvest on challenging conditions of marshlands.
  • Securing farming sustainability of the land in the long-term.
Improved water use and soil status.
Maintaining the regional traditional landscape
When there is too much rain, it is difficult to do the seasonal work in due time


Innovation elements

On a regional level, it was innovative to take a step back and look in detail at the quality of soil, its short- and long-term health and its infiltration capacity.

Key element for success

Based on watching nature in practice as well as on scientific results, regenerative farming approach is followed with strong positive consequences. The farmer keeps an eye on further possibilities for improvement of the use of resources.

A key element for the success of the holistic concept is the combination of traditional knowledge and methods (drainages, pumping, dikes) as well as innovative farming.


Physical constraints

Difficult and expensive farming condition; marginal revenue location for farming

Proposed solutions to above constraints

Keep on experimenting with tradition and innovation.


Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

The maintenance of the traditional systems for water management (dikes, pumps, drainages) is basic for success. The farmer is happy to have already reached a better status of his soil which means good health, good fertility, good capacity for infiltration.

It is a good mixture of managing nature, so the water flows by dikes, pumps, and drainages to regulate the water on the fields. At the same time, it is great to improve the soil itself by agronomic measures.

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Based on the regional value chain perspective and the regional cultural landscape, effective and efficient water usage with a focus on the quality of soil is a great combination.

Economical sustainability

Soil is managed in a very sustainable way. The concept is called regenerative farming. The concept includes avoiding unnecessary treatments and driving on the field. So economically it is the approach to reach good results from quality and quantity of harvest based on moderate input.

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Knowledge transfer
  • Exchange of experiences (regional and national)
  • Scientific support

Conclusion remarks

Good sustainable measure and example of efficient water management combining environmental and economic benefits for farmers and society. At the same time, the maintenance of the systems and the farming is keeping the typical regional cultural landscape vivid.

Future plans

Further optimization of the use of resources on the farm. Holistic concept based on high-quality soil.

Open problems

The cooperation of farmers and landowners in water management affects not only a single farm but the whole region. Some farmers are more motivated than others due to various entrepreneurial reasons.


The farmer can recommend the way of farming and handling of water on his farm. He would be happy to have even more exchange and other farmers working in the same direction to get better each day and improve steadily the quality of soil.

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