Biodynamic Agriculture

“ There is scarcely a realm of human life that lies outside the realm of agriculture, all interests of human life belong to agriculture.” R. Steiner

The biodynamic method of agriculture is a coherent procedure. It is a procedure that is founded not only on modern knowledge but also on a modern attitude to knowledge.

Biodynamic farms need to be diversified in relation to the conditions of each habitat. Cropping includes a balance between soil improving and soil exhausting crops. Extensive use is made of green manures through legumes for the build-up of soils. Companion planting makes use of the delicate interrelationship between plants
Manuring materials are chiefly farm produced. The recycling of all manures and other organic wastes form the basis of the manuring program. Biodynamic farms are organised as balanced biological units. Farms run along these lines improve the quality of the ecological system of which they are part. Biodynamic farmers are motivated by living processes and less so on balancing numbers. Since the method is ecologically orientated strict rules are out of place as to what must be or not be done. There are although strong guidelines determining the way forward. Every farm has its own individual character with regards to its’ natural, economic and human situation. The aim of achieving a balanced organism determines individual measures and organisational forms. This allows for plenty of mobility, which is essential to a modern agriculture.

Biodynamic (BD) agriculture wants to steer the natural processes involved in agriculture in the right direction. To attain this the biodynamic farmer makes use of the BD preparations. There are two field preparations know as the horn–manure9500) and the horn-silica (501) preparations. These are applied to the field through-out the year and will aid in the decomposition, humification and mineralisation taking place on soils rich in organic matter as well as the ripening processes, product quality and the keeping (shelf life) quality of produce. There are also the compost preparations that are used within the heaps to direct the fermenting processes within.
Biodynamic agriculture was the first ecological farming system to arise in response to commercial fertilisers and specialised agriculture after the turn of the 20th century, yet it remains largely unknown to the modern farmer and the university system. The contribution of biodynamics to organic agriculture is significant, however, and warrants more attention.

Biodynamic agriculture is an advanced organic farming system that is gaining increased attention for its emphasis on food quality and soil health and soil fertility.

Biodynamic agriculture developed out of eight lectures on agriculture given in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), an Austrian scientist and philosopher, to a group of farmers near Breslau (which was then in the eastern part of Germany and is now in Poland).

These lectures, as well as four supplemental lessons, are published in a book titled Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture, originally published in English as ‘An Agricultural Course’.
Steiner gave the Agriculture Course lectures in response to observations from farmers that soils were becoming depleted following the introduction of chemical fertilisers at the turn of the 20th century. In addition to degraded soil conditions, farmers noticed deterioration in the health and quality of crops and livestock. Thus, biodynamic agriculture was the first ecological farming system to develop as a grassroots alternative to chemical agriculture.

A basic ecological principle of biodynamics is to conceive of the farm as an organism, a self-contained entity. A farm is said to have its own individuality. Emphasis is placed on the integration of crops and livestock, recycling of nutrients, maintenance of soil, and the health and well-being of crops and animals; the farmer too is part of the whole. Thinking about the interactions within the farm ecosystem naturally leads to a series of holistic management practices that address the environmental, social, and financial aspects of the farm.

A fundamental tenet of biodynamic agriculture is that food raised biodynamically is nutritionally superior and tastes better than foods produced by conventional methods
Demeter, a certification program for biodynamically grown foods, was established in 1928. As such, Demeter was the first ecological label for organically produced foods.
Today biodynamic agriculture is practised on farms around the world, on various scales, and in a variety of climates and cultures. However, most biodynamic farms are located in Europe, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

While biodynamics parallels organic farming in many ways – especially with regards to cultural, sustainable and biological farming practices – it is set apart from other organic agriculture systems by its association with the spiritual science of Anthroposophy founded by Steiner, and in its emphasis on farming practices intended to achieve balance between the physical and higher, non-physical realms; to acknowledge the influence of cosmic and terrestrial forces; and to enrich the farm, its products, and its inhabitants with life energy.

In a nutshell, biodynamics can be understood as a combination of “biological dynamic” agriculture practices. “Biological” practices include a series of well-known organic farming techniques that improve soil health. “Dynamic” practices are intended to influence biological as well as metaphysical aspects of the farm (such as increasing vital life force), or to adapt the farm to natural rhythms (such as planting seeds during certain lunar phases).