RandeLab Soil Retreat

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Hackteria Soil Retreat, 4-6. May 2018 - 3 days of Soil-Geeking and Art in RandeLab, Schaffhausen, Switzerland


Soil is life and we believe that diversity is the key to creativity and innovation. Humus Sapiens is an open source research project and an intitiative to create an international network with soil enthusiasts and biohackers. In this soil-retreat we gather people from around the world and different backgrounds to share their knowledge and diy-methods to create workshops and concepts around the topic of soil.

Scientists, artists, pedagogues, ecologists and farmers work together to develope new strategies and tools for the study of soil and farming technics and to share their results on a open plattform for further research.

The Global Hackteria Network, Gasthaus: Fermentation and Bacteria and the Society for mikroBIOMIK gather their sources to rethink the way we deal with our mother earth.


The main activities for the Hackteria's RandeLab Soil Retreat are from Friday 4th May until Sunday 6th, 2018. Some guests will already arrive on thursday and head to RandeLab directly, us organizers will be there from wednesday onwards for the preparations.

Depending on the weather we might stay a few days longer, feel free to join! And after a final clean-up some of us will head further to Fribourg to join the ANYMA research week to continue some of the more technical aspects of our projects. See below for more info.

Hosting & Accommodation

Any questions? Please post them in the forum!!

The RandeLab has 2 floors and the upper floor is nicely set-up to host at least 10 people in individual beds. There are fresh bedstuffs and everything, but you are also welcome to bring along your own sleeping bag (not not a must). In the main rooms on the groundfloor there are another 2-3 sleeping places. So a total of up to 14-15 people can be sorted out. You are also welcome to bring a tent, but be aware there are only a few flat spots on the land available, you'll find them!

We will provide food, snacks and drinks throughout the Retreat. Feel free to bring some extra candies, goodies or stuff you like to share! We will cook mostly vegetarian food, for special needs we have already been in contact with you and will take care of it.


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RandeLab is a house in the hills of Randen, more specifically the region is called Hagen and is at the most northern border of Switzerland, Canton of Schaffhausen, just bordering to Germany by a 5 minutes walk. As a partially protected natural / cultural land with a lot of forest and limited agriculture it will be a great spot to start exploring our Open Soil Research ideas. The RandeLab itself has been a meeting point and retreat for many earlier informal activities within the Hackteria Network and local friends for leisure activities.


The infrastructure in RandeLab is relatively simple, collected/filtered rain-water is available by pumping, and it's drinkable! For washing our new Open Mandi platform was just made freshly for YOU! Water can be heated on the fire and usually 1 pot should be enough for a full body-wash, see instructions by Wilbur. Bring your own towel!


The house is equipped with 400 Wp solarpanels and 450 Ah of battery capacity, so i am pretty sure we will make it through the days being able to use light, laptops, charge phones or whatever is needed four our research. Additionally there is a 2kW generator to be able to use power-tools.


A simple dry toilet is in the shed 10 meters away from the house, with newly installed LED lighting and a gallery of Indian street-posters!

How to get there


By public transport and walking

There is public transport via Schaffhausen and by bus (NFB 23, direction Bargen) to Merishausen, Gemeindehaus, running approx every 1h. From Merishausen you can walk up to RandeLab in 45-60 minutes.

From Airport

Get a ticket from the trainstation at the airport to Merishausen, Gemeindehaus. There is a connection 1 per hour, change in Schaffhausen (S24). it leaves XX:57 direction Thayngen, and you get out in Schaffhauen to take the bus. see above. See this schedule as an example: File:Fahrplan_FlughafenZH-Merishausen.pdf

By car

There is limited traffic allowed on Hagen! So we are only allowed to have 2 cars coming to RandeLab using a special licence. And our hosting team is using them for shopping and transport.

For those of you who want to come by car it is advised to drive to Heidebomm, which is already on the height of Randen and has a public parking. From there it's only a 10 minutes walk, see map above.

Collaborate and discuss virtually on our Forum

Join our discussion forum!

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Après-Retreat Research Week, 7-13. May 2018, A.N.Y.M.A. Fribourg, Switzerland

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Find more info and join discussing on the forum.


Documentation and Impressions

Shared Photo Album

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The Mole PCB (Marc, Oliver)

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In the MechArtLab Marc previously etched few DIY circuit boards of the mole shaped moisture sensor to solder it together with the participants during the retreat. We have explored different approaches to power the circuit, one with battery, one withe a small solar cell and one with crank hacked from a rechargeable LED lamp. That was pretty cool. The mole kinda“ senses the soil moisture and responds with differently pitched peeps.

CO2 Chamber(Pannu, Manuel, Marc, Andreas)

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The CO2 Soil Respirtion Chamber can be used to measure the gas exchange between the soil, plants and atmosphere, as well temperature, pressure and humidity. The goal was to introduce simple techniques to help people understand biochemical cycles such soil respiration caused by microbial actvities or change of conditions by climate change. The inspiration of the CO2 Chamber comes from the research done in Pannu`s professional career as a ecological physics hero slash pollution assassin. The two programmers Manuel and Andreas create a software to help the data to be available in standard formats such as Json for later processing. Also the data can be displayed and collected in a databank with a mobile app and be pushed threw the web for everybody to see and analyze. The next step for the CO2 chamber is to make it more easily accessible by making a new design that is a low cost and open hardware.

Philosophy walks (Julian)

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The forest and fields that surround RandeLab invited us for extended strolls and intense conversations: sometimes about the projects we pursue and the life we live (and why we do so), sometimes we discussed about soil ecology and sometimes we philosophized about our role in this wonderful ecosystem called earth.

On one of our expeditions we (Nico, Florian, Tasty, Josi, Julian) surveyed the difference between the grasslands that surrounded us.

There are three different types of fields that can easily distinguished:

1) Green meadows dominated by Grass

2) Green meadows with lots of flowers

3) Stony and dry ‘prairie’ with lots of flowers

With some research and observations, we found out that they are farmed differently:

1) mowed and fertilized with cow manure

2) grazed by sheep and rarely fertilized

3) non-fertilized

Interestingly, the plant biodiversity increases drastically when the meadows are not fertilized – which was very obvious and could already be seen form far away because of the flowers that were blooming everywhere.

1) Mainly grass (few species), some clover and dandelion

2) Different species of grass, milfoil, milkweed, daisys, clovers, … (please add – Nico? Flo?)

3) Almost no grass, incredible diversity of wildflowers: brome, sage, different daisy species, ‘gras’lily, oxeye, cornflowers, orchids,… (please add - Nico? Flo?)

A dual of exploring the land with people knowable of the local vegetation and conversations on life and our connection to nature.

Microscopy (Julian)


Julian took different kinds of magnificent magnificators to the retreat: a magnifying glass (for field work), DIY microscopes (for comparing lenses and stage-styles) a binocular (low magnification, good depth of focus) and an old-school zeiss microscope (up to 800x magnification).

There were several projects going on:

1) Looking at soil samples that the participants brought to the retreat (‘collective’ microscopy)

2) Building and testing a DIY “Berlese trap” and other sampling techniques https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tullgren_funnel

3) Trying to evaluate biodiversity in soil and compost samples

4) Trying to distinguish between pollen, ‘dirt’ and micro-plastics

All of the projects will be continued, documented and resumed at the mikroBIOMIK workshop weekend in July: https://mikrobiomik.com/humussapiens

Nitrate soil tests (Oliver)

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Oliver brought some chemicals for easy nitrate testing in soil (non GMO but pure old school chemisty). Nitrate test is a reduction of nitrate to nitrite where the solution of the experiments changes color and can be interpreted and distinguished visually according to the amount of nitrate in the soil. Oliver took several attempts to do this test gaining more confidence and experience in doing so. Nitrate tests are commercially available for example here: http://www.merckmillipore.com/CH/de/product/Nitrate-Test,MDA_CHEM-118387 Nitrat is an evident of agricultural use of soil. Nitrat rich soils are healthy but in excessive amounts can pollute groundwater. We also talked about the natural ability of plants (legume or been family plants) to bind nitrogene into soil. check out here: http://www.hortipendium.de/Leguminosen

Ultraviolet LED (Tesla Chris)

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Unlike bees, humans have limited perception of the electromagnetic spectrum in the ultraviolet range. Tesla Chris wanted to find things that glow in wavelengths imperceptible to humans using light sources commercially available for those brave enough to solder them; also powerful and mysterious in their ability to excite photochemistry somewhere deep in the UVA spectrum. Tesla Chris says that if he can create a working prototype, he has a facility where he can create 1000 replicas. Tasty has a plan to make CBD tastier than ever by stressing his plants with grow lamps rich in the UV range. Some research has been done on lettuce (honesty why?) showing that UVB stress encourages plants to produce aromatic chemicals rich in flavor.

Free Autonomous Circuits (Miranda, Oliver, Daniel)

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For independant autonomous sensor networks there is a need for low-power, low-cost, solar powered and autarkic systems. Various oscillator circuits, low-current motors and robotic systems have been investigated. Are we talking about humans or are we talking about robots? Divergent designs using locally available biological and anorganic materials were produced.

Fermentation (Maya, Pannu)

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Several concoctions were made from experience fermentors. Locally harvested Dandelion Kefirs, immortal Kombuchas and even Scandinavian Kilju was concocted during the retreat for people to enjoy and learn about microbes in our nutrition. It eventually is a fact that microbes in our nutrition are coming from our soil and therefor have similar remedation properties. Maya emphasizes that continues learning threw fermentation enhances our senses and can help to create a microbial way of thinking the world.

CBD Edible (Tasty, Maya)

CBD Marijuana does not have a very noticeable effect as strains of weed filled with the psychoactive THC, compared to psychoactive marijuana which is cultivated to care higher THC (Tetrahydrocarabinnol) in the plant, CBD is the opposite where humans reduce the THC amount additionally enhance the non-psychoactive CBD amount (Canabidiol) which carries the healing properties of the plant. They wanted to experiment in a preliminary test to see what the healing effect of the CBD is on people. We used CBD and chocolate to create pralines. Chocolate is a heart opener and everybody love the taste of it. We chose edibles because they are much stronger than smoking and thus has more notable effects. With seven test subjects we come up with the initial finding that the CBD adds mild relaxation. In addition all subjects slept undeterred that night.

Comparative Soil Sampling Test (Maya)


Comparative Soil Sampling Test is a simple way to visualize the different layers of soil within a big jar. Soil samples can give you an impression of how the soil consistency is different within different samples. Collection and measurement is easy to do. If you take diverse sources of soil (locally different spots or also from different locations) one can compare the consistency, thickness of layers, color of the water, smell of the soil, color of soil, activity of microbes, density of soil etc. One has to take a proper sample of soil in the depth of the growing layer of plants. Dig a whole as deep as roots would grow and take always the same amount of soil from the the top to the vertical soil layer and put it in the jar. (The volume of soil should be almost as much as the jar size). Fill the jar up with water (also using the same volume of water for each soil sample). Shake it well for at least 3 minutes, and let the soil solution dilute for 24 hours. After this you will be able to differentiate layers within soil which can be interpreted in comparison to the others. Learn more about soil layers here: [[1]]

What does grounded mean to you? (Lucy, Sophie, Tamara, and the other one)


Someone went around with the children and asked everyone what it means to be grounded. They recorded our answers and also made us write and draw them into a poster. Afterward we all had enjoyed a dandelion root tea, meditated and shared our answer.

Speaking Calculator Hacking (Urs)

Urs has took a Chinese calculator with speech functions and opened it up to a portable speaker for better sound. Urs saw the calculator on youtube and became entranced to utilize it in a side project. In one of the settings the calculator can substitute as a synthesizer. This fun creation has been played with by the on site children and other excited people at the retreat. Music is essentially important to get grounded.

Rice Traps (Lucy, Maya)


A few people buried rice to see what mushrooms, insects, microbes or other beings showed up. At the end of the retreat the rice traps were not set inhabited. Next week more observations will take place.

Amazing Stuff with Soil (Urs, Miranda)

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In front of the retreat house stands a desk and on top of this a huge pile of soil. They quest comes without a specific direction. During the scope of the retreat they took many different measurement tools to explore the soil and its insect inhabitants. Urs reason for exploring the soil was because it is the main topic in the retreat, and in his own words, world domination.

Clay formations (Miranda, Oliver, Tasty)


The group dug up clay from the local ground. They tried to make scientific equipment, such as beakers out of clay. Results varied.

Solar Still (Miranda, Oliver)

Getting „clean“ water out of soil, dirty water and grey water. Really? It works!

Free Autonomous Circuits (Miranda, Oliver, Daniel)

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For independant autonomous sensor networks there is a need for low-power, low-cost, solar powered and autarkic systems. Various oscillator circuits, low-current motors and robotic systems have been investigated. Are we talking about humans or are we talking about robots? Divergent designs using locally available biological and anorganic materials were produced.

Plastic Underground Discourses on LTSCS (long term slow composting survey) (Marc)

Retreat Schedule


  • Early Landing and final preparations
  • Discussing the choreography and advanced scheduling
  • warming up


  • Arrival of participants
  • Welcome info
  • Setting up outdoor workspaces
  • Intro presentations


  • self-organized workshops
  • sitting around a big fire


  • * self-organized workshops


  • team wrap-up


  • packe und go


Hosts, Team, Co-Organizers

Marc Dusseiller aka dusjagr (CH)

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Marc Dusseiller aka dusjagr is a nomadic researcher and workshopologist and works in an integral way, combining science, art and education. He is part of the Center for Alternative Coconut Research and the Swiss Mechatronic Art Society (SGMK), co-founder of the global Hackteria network and co-organizer of the different editions of HackteriaLab 2010 - 2014 in Zürich, Romainmotier, Bangalore and Yogyakarta. Before travelling the world for making DIY / DIWO laboratories for creative biological experimentation with living media, Marc entered the world of DIY electronics, designing printed circuit boards for synthesizers and organizing workshops and festivals in Switzerland and Slovenia. He lives and works in Zürich, Yogyakarta and Taipei. He also loves coconuts.


Maya Minder (CH)

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Maya Minder‘s (b. 1983, lives in Zürich) Gasthaus combines artistic, curatorial, and activist interests into communal culinary events at various locations. For the Klöntal Triennial, she designed the opening dinner and also offers a series of workshops, including a biohacking workshop and a fermentation workshop, over the course of the Triennial‘s duration. Fermentation repeatedly features as a central aspect of her work, not only literally but also as a metaphor for social ferment, agitation, and incitation to resistance. Minder opposes the structures of food industry by promoting local selforganization, ecological sustainability, and community. She resuscitates traditional food productions methods with a certain relish, saving them from otherwise being forgotten. Her interests span the fields of art, politics, and biohacking, and she often invites other protagonists from these and various other fields to participate in the process of communal exchange. Facilitating interdisciplinary, intercultural dialogue amongst the participants is one of the primary goals of her practice.


Julian Chollet (DE)

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Julian Chollet is a (no)mad scientist, curious student and informal teacher with a background in molecular biology. He is working on the endless and underexplored biodiverity of microbes, fungi and phages - with the aim to liberate the world from microphobia through workshopology, fermentation and microscopy. His current main project focuses on creative learning environments and public participation in science with emphasis on the invisible world.


Practitioners, Mentors and Workshopologists

Urs Gaudenz (CH)

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Urs Gaudenz is an engineer and interdisciplinary scholar working in Lucerne, Switzerland. He was born 1971 in Seattle USA. He got his master in science of Microtechnologoy from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne. Subsequent to that he attended Post-Graduate programs in international business and innovation-management. In 2016 completed the course of study in the Principles and Applications of Synthetic Biology as directed by Georg Curch, Professor of Genetics at Harward Medical School. He is founder of GaudiLabs, a third space for third culture. He is a founding member and member of the board of Hackteria International Society. He is currently on the faculty of the Lucerne School for Applied Science and Arts. In his professional practice, Urs Gaudenz makes use of various forms of work and expression such as prototype development, open scientific research and collaborative workshops. He is combining his different backgrounds to explore new technological and cultural fields and his works often emerges out of the void in this intersection. Remarkable in his work is the wide span from speculative and futuristic to very functional and applied. He worked with and was inspired by Dr. Marc Dusseiller - dusjagr labs, the Swiss Mechatronic Art Society, the GynePunk, BioDesign for the Real World, Sci | Art NanoLab Summer Institute at UCLA, LifePatch. He was invited to give workshops or exhibit projects at renown institutions and festivals such as Ars Electronica - Projekt Genesis, ISEA - International Symposium on Electronic Art, DOCK18, space for media cultures of the world, Kapelica Gallery / BioTehna, Schloss Werdenberg, N/O/D/E festival, Medialab-Prado Madrid, CYNETART-Festival - Trans-Media-Akademie.


Janne "Pannu" Korhonen (FI)

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Janne Korhonen is a forest ecologist and atmospheric scientist, currently finishing his doctoral thesis at the Institute for atmospheric and earth system research (INAR) at University of Helsinki. His main research interest is transport of carbon and nitrogen compounds inside forest, and between forests and the atmosphere. In addition to his research, Janne is involved in on Climate Whirl project, focusing on intersection between science and arts, popularization of science and science education. His other interests are photography, video and all-kinds of measurement-related geeking, especially chamber measurements.



Lucy Patterson (UK/DE)

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Hi! I’m a freelance science hacker and community organiser living and working in Berlin. I’m a biologist at heart and by training, fascinated by the very weird and extremely small molecular world. I work at the interface between science and society, creating projects and events that bring different communities together to engage with scientific ideas and explore the implications of contemporary research. I specialise in events that foster exchange and collaboration (hacks and hackathons, social or community events, world cafes, informal discussion events), experiences that encourage learning and discovery (workshops, hands-on activities, experiments), and immerse or entertain (immersive experiences, live performances).



Baggenstos/Rudolf (CH)

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Baggenstos/Rudolf work incessantly to discover new aesthetic possibilities of multiple natural and artificial worlds.They turned their studio into a biohacker art lab, where water lentils grow in giant aquariums and mushrooms hang on the walls. Heidy Baggenstos and Andreas Rudolf both achieved a Master in Fine Arts at the Zurich University of Arts in 2015, and they have been working together since 2005. http://www.baggenstos-rudolf.ch/

Concerning the soil project, we are interested in the many worms living in the soil. Namely, there should be bioluminescent worms, or worms which are bioluminescent at least for a limited time. We heard of findings of these worms, but the sites were always limited to France. Live such worms in our ground too? And we want to see them with our own eyes. We are interested in what they use the light. Do they need it as a kind of communication?

Glow of the earthworm project: https://www.hackteria.org/wiki/Glow_of_the_earthworm

Oliver Walkhof (DE/CH)

Miranda Moss (ZA)

Miranda Moss is an artist, outsider engineer, eco-geek and rogue educator from Cape Town, South Africa. Her transdisciplinary practice, which focusses on the problematics and hopeful possibilities of technology from a socio-ecological and anticolonial feminist perspective

Manuel Di Cerbo (CH)


Josephine Blersch (DE)

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Forscht im Bereich Nanotechnologie im Kontext regenerativer Medizin. Möchte eine Brücke zwischen künstlerischen Ausdrucksformen und Wissenschaft bauen.


Florian Detig (DE)

Oliver Jäggi (CH)

Nico (DE)

Vanessa Lorenzo (ES/CH)

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Professionnal mossphonist and bio designer cooking bacterias, fungi, and moss to retune into nature through physical interfaces


Chris Vernon (UK/CH)

Daniel Reichmuth (CH)

Corinna Mattner (CH)

Tasty (US)

Remote and Virtual Collaborators

Research Notes

CO2 Soil Respiration Chambers

On CO2 sensors and gas chambers

Testing the Mole - DIY Moisture Sensor Kit



Random Thoughts About Soil

Put your topic here

Related Projects on this wiki

HUMUS Sapiens open soil research continues at the mikroBIOMIK Soil Retreat from 20.-22. July 2018 at projekt draussen next to the Isar close to Munich.