Biodynamic agriculture developed out of a series of philosophically
scientific lectures on agriculture given
by Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925).
The lectures were taught in response to
observations from farmers that soils were becoming depleted following the
introduction of chemical fertilizers. Farmers noticed a deterioration in
the health and quality of food crops, feed crops and livestock. Thus, biodynamic
agriculture was the first ecologically conscious farming alternative to chemical agriculture.
A conscious turn toward nature.
Today biodynamic agriculture is practiced on farms around the world, on
various scales, and in a variety of climates and cultures.
A basic ecological principle of biodynamic agriculture is to consider the farm
as an organism, a self-sufficient entity. The farm has its own
individuality. Emphasis is placed on the integration of crops and
livestock, maintenance of soil, recycling of nutrients, and the health and
well being of soil reflecting into the crops and animals grown and raised
with the rhythm of nature.
Considering the ecosystems within the farm leads
to a series of holistic management practices that focus on the
environmental aspects of the farm.
Biodynamic farming and gardening and organic farming have similarities with regard to some biological
practices. Biodynamic agriculture is set apart
from organic agriculture systems by application and interaction with the science of anthroposophy and in its emphasis
on farming practices intended to achieve balance between the physical and non-physical realms in nature.
Biodynamic agriculture focuses to enrich the ecosystem of the farm, enriching
the farms soils, enhancing the products grown with
In a nutshell, biodynamic agriculture can be understood simply as the
"biologically dynamic agriculture" practices.
"Biological" practices include the commonly known organic
farming techniques that improve soil health. "Dynamic" practices
are intended to influence biological
natural rhythms (planting during certain lunar phases) as well as metaphysical aspects of
the farm, increasing vital life force produced in the food that is grown and
creating a natural balance on the farm.
Biodynamic farmers recognize there are forces that influence biological
systems other than gravity, chemistry, and physics.
A fundamentally common opinion of biodynamic agriculture is that food raised
biodynamically tastes better and is nutritionally superior
combines Biological & Dynamic practices
|Till in green manures
||Special preparations and applications
|Planting cover crops
||Special preparation foliar sprays
|Hot or cold Composting
||Planting by calendar cycles & rhythms
|Companion planting inter-planting
||Spray preparations for pest control
|Integration of crops and livestock
||Homeopathy uses and applications
|Adequate tillage and cultivation
||Alternative techniques and thought
A distinguishing feature of biodynamic farming is the use of biodynamic preparations for the purpose of enhancing
soil quality and stimulating plant life. They consist of animal, mineral,
or plant manure extracts. In most applications preparations are fermented and applied in small
proportions to compost, manures, the soil, or foliar fed to plants after
The original biodynamic preparations are made from cow manure (fermented)
and used as a soil spray to stimulate root growth and humus formation.
Other formulations are applied as a foliar spray to stimulate and regulate
growth and are used in making compost. Another formulation is used as a
foliar spray to suppress fungal diseases in plants.
Some of the materials used in making special preparations are:
Yarrow blossoms (Achillea millefolium)
Chamomile blossoms (Chamomilla officinalis)
Stinging nettle (whole plant in full bloom) (Urtica
Oak bark (Quercus robur)
Dandelion flowers (Taraxacum officinale)
Valerian flowers (Valeriana officinalis)
Biodynamic preparations are intended to help moderate and regulate
biological processes as well as enhance and strengthen the farms life (etheric)
Biodynamic compost may be considered the cornerstone of
Biodynamic compost is a basic building block of the biodynamic method;
it serves as a way to recycle animal manures and organic wastes, stabilize
nitrogen, and build soil humus and enhance soil health. Biodynamic compost
is unique material prepared and charged with special preparation
treatments. The preparation treatments may be home-made or are available
Here again, "biological" and "dynamic"
qualities are complementary:
Biological compost serves as a source of
humus in managing soil health and biodynamic compost is charged and emanates
and life to vitalize the farm. The Special preparations are available for
purchase. The traditional manner in which the biodynamic compost is made is
Soil in Compost: Steiner prescribed the addition of soil to compost.
Soil is an essential ingredient to compost and added at 10%-20% of the compost pile volume.
Mineralized Compost: The addition of rock powders
(greensand, granite dust) to compost piles is a biodynamic
practice known as mineralized compost. The dusts add mineral
components to the compost and the organic acids released during the
decomposition process help minerals in the rock powders to become soluble
making nutrients more available to plants.
Phases of Compost:
The Breakdown Phase: In the breakdown phase organic
residues are decomposed into smaller particles. Proteins are broken
down into amino acids, amines, and finally to ammonia, nitrates,
nitrites, and free nitrogen. Urea, uric acids, and other non-protein
nitrogen-containing compounds are reduced to ammonia, nitrites,
nitrates, and free nitrogen. Carbon compounds are oxidized to carbon
dioxide (aerobic) or released as methane (anaerobic). The identification
and understanding of breakdown microorganisms led to the development
of a microbial inoculants to moderate and speed up the breakdown phase.
The microbial inoculants also work
against organisms that cause odors.
Compost & Soil Evaluation: Biodynamic research
into compost preparation and soil humus conditions has led to the
development or specialized use of several unique qualitative tests. A
notable contribution of biodynamics is the image-forming qualitative
methods of analysis; e.g., circular chromatography, sensitive
crystallization, capillary dynamolysis, and the drop-picture method.
Other methods focus on the biological-chemical condition,
colorimetric humus value, and potential pH.
The Buildup Phase: In the buildup phase simple
compounds are re-synthesized into complex humus substances. The
organisms responsible for transformation to humus are aerobic and
facultative aerobic, sporing and non-sporing and nitrogen fixing
bacteria of the azotobacteria and nitrosomonas group. The addition of soil, 10%
by volume, favors the development and survival of Actinomycetes and
streptomycetes organism which also play an important role. The development of humus is evident in color changes in the
compost, and through qualitative tests such as the circular
Cover Crops and Green Manures
Cover crops play a central role in managing cropland soils in
biological farming systems. Biodynamic farmers make use of cover crops for
dynamic accumulation of soil nutrients, nematode control, soil loosening,
and soil building in addition to the commonly recognized benefits of cover
crops like soil protection and nitrogen fixation. Biodynamic farmers also
make special use of plants like mustard, and oilseed
radish in addition to common cover crops like rye and vetch. Cover crop
strategies include under-sowing and catch cropping as well as winter cover
crops and summer green manures.
Green manuring is a biological farming practice that receives special
attention on the biodynamic farm. Green manuring involves the soil
incorporation of any field or forage crop while green, or soon after
flowering, for the purpose of soil improvement. The decomposition of green
manures in soils parallels the composting process in that distinct phases
of organic matter breakdown and humus buildup are moderated by microbes.
Many biodynamic farmers, spray the green residue with a
microbial inoculant prior to plow-down. The inoculant contains a mixed culture of microorganisms that help speed decomposition,
thereby reducing the time until planting. In addition, the inoculant
enhances formation of the clay-humus crumb which provides numerous
exchange sites for nutrients and improves soil structure.
Crop rotations and companion planting
The practice of sequential planting of crops - basic yet detailed in
A basic concept of crop rotation is the
effect of different crops on the land: "humus-depleting" and "humus-restoring"
"soil-exhausting" and "soil-restoring" crops,
"organic matter exhausting" and "organic matter
A dynamic form of crop rotation commonly used
in bio-ag. Specifically the planned association of two or more
plant species planted near each other so that some cultural benefit (pest
control, higher yield) is derived. In addition to beneficial associations,
companion planting increases biodiversity on the farm adding balance to the
Liquid Manures and Herbal Teas
Herbal teas, also called liquid manures or garden teas.
For bio-ag applications herbal teas usually consist of one fermented plant extract,
while liquid manures are made by fermenting a mixture of herb plants in
combination with fish or seaweed extracts.
Foliar-fed plant extracts, liquid manures, and
compost teas can be understood by viewing the way they influence the rhizosphere or phyllosphere.
These are the microbial-rich regions surrounding the root and leaf
surfaces. Compost, tillage, and green manures influence the rhizosphere;
herbal teas and liquid manures influence the phyllosphere.
Foliar-applied biotic extracts can initiate a systemic whole plant response
pathogen spore germination. The foliar application promotes antagonistic (beneficial)
microbes to compete against disease-causing organisms(pathogens)
Stinging nettle tea is extracted from whole nettle plants (Urtica
dioica) at any stage of growth up to seed. To make nettle tea,
use about three pounds of fresh plants for every gallon of water, allow
the mixture to ferment for about ten days, then filter it and spray a
diluted tea. Dilution rates of 1:10 to 1:20 are suggested in the
Chamomile tea is derived from the flowers of true chamomile (Matricaria
chamomilla) which have been picked and dried in the sun. Fresh
flowers may be used too, but they are only available during a short part
of the growing season. To prepare the tea, steep about one cup of tightly
packed flowers per gallon of hot water. Stir well, and spray the filtered
tea when cool. Chamomile is high in calcium, potash, and sulfur; it is
good for leafy crops and flowers and promotes health of vegetables in
Comfrey tea is another tea commonly used in organic farming and
gardening. Comfrey is a rich source of nutrients; it is especially good
for fruiting and seed filling crops. It can be made by packing a barrel
three-quarters full with fresh cut leaves, followed by topping the barrel
full of water. It is allowed to steep for 7-14 days, then filtered and
diluted in half with water prior to use.
Compost teas are used for their disease suppressive benefits as well as for their
ability to serve as a growth-promoting microbial inoculant.
Activities are timed with lunar and astrological cycles such as
making special preparations and when to
plant and cultivate.
Recognition of celestial influences on plant growth is part of the biodynamic awareness
of how the subtle energy forces affect
Community Supported Agriculture
An alternative to corporate
mass produced food.
Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, is your direct link to
fresh locally grown food. Next to growing the food yourself, the safest,
freshest source for home grown food in the area is from a Natures' Way
Farm. The freshest food is the food grown closest to you and especially
for you. Instead of paying the inflated price for certified organic
produce at stores, coops and markets, buy shares of our Natures' Way CSA.
You'll get more food for your money. Food that is beyond organic. Food
raised, Natures' Way, with care just for you.
Researchers have looked into the quality of bio-dynamically grown foods.
The nutritional comparisons between bio-dynamically grown foods and foods raised by organic and conventional production methods remain
very politically controversial. Notable biodynamic researchers and studies
superior nutritional analysis of bio-dynamically grown foods.
Testing and research
Special image-forming qualitative methods of analysis such as; sensitive
crystallization, circular chromatography, capillary dynamolysis, and the
drop-picture method shows superior quality and
Biodynamics uses scientifically sound organic farming practices that
build and sustain soil productivity as well as plant and animal health.
The philosophical principles of biodynamics practice working with the
unique and subtle energy forces of plants and ecosystems.
mainstream agriculture the focus is on the physical-chemical aspects.
Biodynamic agriculture, recognizes the subtle energy forces in nature and promotes their
benefits through specialized "dynamic" practices.
Biodynamic agriculture is proven to be productive and yield highly
nutritious, high quality foods. The fact remains that biodynamic farming is practiced on a commercial
scale in many countries and is gaining wider recognition for its
contributions to the beginning of organic farming, community supported
agriculture and qualitative tests for soils and composts.