What is Biodynamic Agriculture?
Biodynamic Agriculture is the science that studies the vital forces of life: bios (life) and dynamis (force, power).
This philological meaning refers to a type of agriculture that bases its activity on locating the living components of an agricultural exploitation (animals and plants) in an interconnected set that balances the arrangement of nutrients between agricultural production and other elements that are part of the exploitation in order to return to the earth more than it provides.
Origin of Biodynamic Agriculture
This method of organic farming has its origin in the series of lectures given at Schloss Koberwitz (Poland) by Rudolf Steiner in 1924, founder of anthroposophy and father of Biodynamic Agriculture.
Dozens of European farmers who were concerned about what the application of pesticides caused in the crop joined this cycle of conferences:
- Decrease in the nutritional quality of food.
- The infertility of the earth.
- Soil degradation conditions.
- Deterioration of the health and quality of crops and livestock.
An agricultural research group was subsequently formed to test the effects of biodynamic methods on soil, plant and animal life and health.
At that time, Biodynamic Agriculture began to emerge, which considers the land as an agricultural body organ that you should keep yourself fertile by using plant- and mineral-based products under esoteric precepts that take into account the planetary alignment and the phases of the moon to carry out any agricultural work (crop rotations and control of weeds and diseases).
Nowadays, Biodynamic Agriculture is practiced in more than 50 countries around the world. Demeter International is the main certification agency for these methods for farms and gardens.
Benefits of Biodynamic Agriculture
However, the ecological benefits of this biodynamic system that only uses natural and healthy agricultural techniques, with the suppression of chemical materials, pest control with the use of harmless substances, are undeniable:
- Conditions of natural balance for feeding plants and animals.
- Sustainability and maximum conservation of soil and water.
- Better structural quality of the soil.
- The tendency to eat a healthier and more ecological diet.
- Better biological indices.
- Acceptance of climate change and its effect on the field.
- Reduction of the carbon footprint with the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases and adapting the farms.
- Greater biodiversity of the biological community of organic farms.
Processes of Biodynamic Agriculture
Biodynamic Agriculture consists of using natural resources responsibly, avoiding the use of chemical substances, fertilizers, pesticides or transgenics and other artificial and toxic compounds.
The main characteristic of Biodynamic Agriculture is that it is based on a spiritual aspect of the relationship between the human being and the earth as a being with its own life that must work in harmony, based on the influence of natural forces, the sun and the Moon.
These cosmic forces influence the behavior and development of living beings and the earth. Through holistic knowledge and a biodynamic calendar, the best time for animal husbandry and biodynamic planting and harvesting of crops can be determined, obtaining better quality plants and fruits.
Important factors in Biodynamic Agriculture
Use of animals
In Biodynamic Agriculture, livestock is one of the important factors of the farm. All plant remains are food for animals. They in turn produce manure for composting the land.
The ashes of a plant or animal organism that has been trapped or collected from fields and then incinerated can also be used.
The living microorganisms found in the soil are of vital importance to achieve plant health in plants and that their fruits are of quality for human nutrition.
To keep the soil alive, it is important to maintain an optimal level of organic matter, sufficient porosity and sponginess so that the roots and plants breathe air and can absorb water correctly.
Biodynamic Agriculture and climate are closely linked, since crops depend directly on adequate sunlight and heat to grow; as well as the wind, temperatures and rain.
Necessary Products for Biodynamic Agriculture
Biodynamic farmers use preparations with many benefits for agriculture. Thanks to their application, they manage to increase the biological activity of the soil, improve the nutritional quality of the food produced, and increase the natural resistance of plants against pests and diseases.
Other important aspects to make the farm an organic entity is the integration of green manures, crop rotation, integration of crops and livestock, nutrient recycling, soil maintenance, and health and well-being of crops and animals.
Rudolf Steiner prescribed 9 different preparations to help fertilization. Steiner believed that they transferred terrestrial supernatural powers and cosmic forces to the ground. Biodynamic preparations are divided into:
Preparation of the fields:
- Compost horn: black earth mixture prepared by filling a cow’s horn and burying it in the earth (40 to 60 cm below the surface) in autumn. It is left to break down over the winter and recovered for use the following spring.
- Powdered ground quartz: prepared by filling a cow’s horn and burying it in the spring and scooping it out in the fall. It can be mixed with the horn to fertilize, but it is usually prepared alone (mixing a tablespoon of quartz powder in 250 liters of water). The mixture is sprayed at low pressure on the crop during the rainy season, in order to prevent fungal diseases. It should be sprayed on a cloudy day or close to morning to prevent burning of the leaves.
Both are used in the field by mixing a teaspoon of the contents of the horn in 40 to 60 liters of water.
Compost or organic fertilizer:
- Yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium) introduced into the urinary bladder of a deer, exposed to the sun during the summer, buried during the winter and removed in the spring.
- Chamomile flowers (Matricaria recutita) introduced into the small intestines of cattle, buried in enriched soil in the fall, and removed in the spring.
- Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) in flower, they are introduced underground surrounded by fossil carbon for a year.
- Oak bark (Quercus robur) cut into small pieces inside the skull of a domestic animal, covered by fossil carbon and buried in a place where enough rainwater falls.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) flowers within the peritoneal membrane of cattle, buried in the ground during winter and removed in spring.
- Valerian flowers (Valeriana officinalis) in infusion.
- Horsetail (Equisetum)
One to three grams of each preparation are added to the manure, in 50 cm holes separated at a distance of 2 meters, except for preparation 507, which is mixed in five liters of water and sprayed on the total surface of the organic fertilizer. Each preparation is intended for a particular decomposition process in the composting mass.
Demeter Quality Seal
The original organization Demeter-Wirtschaftsverbund was founded in 1932, in Germany, in order tocertifythe production and processingof food products according to the standards of Biodynamic Agriculture. Thus, the right to use the “Biodinamic” registered trademark is granted, to certify with the “Demeter” quality seal, and to be accompanied by the official seal of organic farming.
In 1997 Demeter-International was founded, bringing together agricultural associations from various countries, for closer cooperation in the legal, economic and spiritual spheres.
The Biodynamic Agriculture Association of Spain was founded on April 28, 1981 in the Canary Islands.
Differences between Biodynamic Agriculture and Organic Agriculture
- The use of vegetable and animal preparations obtained with the very particular processing of certain medicinal plants such as chamomile and dandelion.
- The influence of the stars for the realization of agricultural and livestock work.
- The interrelation between soils, plants and animals.
- It is based on the vital energies of nature, leaving material needs in the background.
- Consideration of farms as complex organisms.
- Use of traditional local seed varieties versus commercial varieties.
Biodynamic Agriculture is the revolution of Organic Agriculture. Did you know that Fervalle has 6 products certified by the Demeter seal for use in Biodynamic Agriculture? Meet them!