What is Biodynamics.
Biodynamic farming is the oldest organic certified farming system (certified by Demeter). It was founded in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner through the inquisition of a handful of German farmers who were back then concerned about the degrading soil fertility (around that time, the first artificial fertilizers appeared). Steiner gave on Whitsun 1924 the introductory lecture of a week long lecture series, where he introduced the totally new and unconventional way to farm – until today.
Rudolf Steiner was a Philosopher, Scientist and spiritual teacher. He founded the Anthrophosphical Society (Anthroposphia = (anthropos = “human”) and σοφία (sophia = “wisdom”)), the first Waldorf School, Anthroposphic Medicine, Eurythmy and many more things. Biodynamic farming is practised in 60 countries on more than 161,074 hectares of land. There is a big admiration of biodynamic wine by wine lovers – it it said one of the best vineyards are biodynamic. It has gained in recent years a lot of popularity, particular in India, as the solution to deprived soils and Monsanto and Co. A wonderful film which shows the popularity of biodynamics in India, or how biodynamics works in practise is „One Man, one Cow, one Planet“ by South Cloud Films (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33M5UB-OUW0)
The ‘Ingredients’ of biodynamics.
A key part of biodynamic farming are the so-called preparations, which are also applied on the „World Biodynamic Day“. Steiner spoke about horn manure, horn silica and a variety of compost preparations, that are all composed of herbs, such as Dandelion, Chamomile, Oak Bark, Nettle etc. These preparations are used to rejuvenate, vitalize or fertilize and applied in small homeopathic doses to the soil or the compost.
Additional to this, biodynamic farming has a high standard for animal welfare (i.e. cow have still their horns), the farmer aims to have on the farm self sustaining cycle (and uses ideally no materials from outside the farm).
Biodynamics is not only for farmers, everyone can do it in their own backyard – even on a 10 square metre small garden. A good way to learn about biodynamics is to join the many facebookgroups or join a local garden group.
You can also visit a local farm or join a group on the ‘World Biodynamic Day’ or check out infos on your national biodynamic association. (see list below). Sometimes farmers offer open days or farm walks or give small courses.
The Biodynamic Preparations in detail.
A group of people bury the Biodynamic Preparations BD 500 or Horn Manure in the Soil.
The Biodynamic Preparations are the essence of Biodynamic Agriculture and Gardening. There are field sprays, compost preparations and pest control sprays. All are made of natural materials that are preferable from the farm/(market) garden itself. This page gives a short description of what is done, not why. This needs in-depth study of the interest person. At the end of the page there will be references to books and even some scientific studies, that confirm how effective these preparations are.
The field sprays.
The two main field sprays are called horn manure, called 500 (made of cow manure) and horn silica, called 501(made of grinded clear crystal). The material is stuffed in a cow horn and buried for 6 month in the soil, in Autumn and Spring respectively. After being buried the horns, the preparations are ready to be stirred for 1h in wooden barrel (1min left, 1 min right) and is then applied to the land (in droplets with the 500, and in fine mist with the 501). This process might sound strange, but science has proven that it has effects on soil health, humus formation, yields and plant and animal health. For more in depth literature, please check the book-list below or ask in the Facebook groups.
The Compost Preparations.
The Compost preparation consist of 6 different herbs (such as Yarrow, Chamomile, Nettle, Oak Bark, Dandelion and Valerian) that are specifically prepared and then added to the compost. Each preparation has a particular quality as Steiner described in the Agricultural Course (see infos below). In simple terms we can say, they balance the compost and bring vitality to it.
Since 1924 farmers have developed a lot of new preparations, such as Cow Pat Pit (from Maria Thun), Prepared 500 (Alex Podolinsky), Horn Clay, Three King (applied on 6th of January) just to name a few. They have all special qualities that help to balance, heal or prevent. The most amazing prevention brings the Cow Pat Pit by Maria Thun. A scientific institute in Germany has proven that it reduced radioactivity in contaminated soil.
As indicated above. This was only a short introduction to give people a look what are the key preparations of biodynamics. Biodynamics can be a passion that last a life span and each year you discover new things. Once you see the results, there is often no way back.
Please see a list to deepen your study below or follow some Facebook groups or contact your local Biodynamic Association for introductory courses etc.
Purchasing the Biodynamic Preparations:
Please go to the Worldmap and select for your country. http://worldbiodynamicday.org/worldmap/
Please go to the Worldmap to find your local Office. http://worldbiodynamicday.org/worldmap/
Specific Infos about Biodynamic Preparations:
A very good overview and detail description can be found on the Website of the Josephine Porter Insitut. https://jpibiodynamics.org/preparation-info/bd-prep-instructions-articles/
Another good presentation can be found at Services Biodynamie in France.
and many more, such as Demeter International, every Biodynamic Association and Individual Farmers…
One man, One Cow, One Planet, Available free on Youtube
The Alchemists, by Friges Fogel https://vimeo.com/181737300
And many more films on youtube.
Biodynamic Agriculture and Growing in North West England (For North West of England)
Biodynamic Community (International Community)
Biodynamic Community Otago (Facebookgroup of Otago Group/USA)
World Biodynamic Farming Day Community (Worlday Group)
Biodynamics Made Easy (This group born after a workshop with Shane Joyce, where he shown us Biodynamics methods in a simpler way than usually presented)
Biologisch-dynamische Landwirtschaft (German speaking Group)
Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method by Rudolf Steiner
Biodynamic Gardening: For Health and Taste by Hilary Wright
Biodynamic Gardening: Grow Healthy Plants and Amazing Produce by Monty Waldin
Extraordinary Plant Qualities for Biodynamics by Jochen Bockemuhl and Kari Jarvinen
Gardening for Life: The Biodynamic Way by Maria Thun
Grasp the Nettle: Making Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Work
The Biodynamic Year: Increasing Yield, Quality and Flavour by Maria Thun
Principles of Biodynamic Spray and Compost Preparations by Manfred Klett
And many more……
The Most comprehensive collection has been published by the Agricultural Section in Dornach 281 Pages of how Biodynamic Preparations have been used. http://www.sektion-landwirtschaft.org/fileadmin/landwirtschaft/Pr%C3%A4parate/The_biodynamic_preparations_in_context_web.pdf
A Collection compiled by Demeter International. https://www.demeter.de/biodynamic-research
Research Database of the Biodynamic Association USA https://www.biodynamics.com/research-portal