Biodynamics: how it works
By Jeannine Davidoff
Biodynamic agriculture is based on the teaching of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). He recognised that the use of chemical fertilisers was affecting the productivity of the soil and the quality of the produce.
Rudolf Steiner, a spiritual man, evolved a system that is still being practised and adapted today.
Becoming involved in the use of biodynamics gives one a very different view of the world and how it functions. It is based on how the planets influence the way things grow, almost like astrology for plants.
Planetary influences play a crucial role in what the farmer does on specific days.
The biodynamic calendar is divided into days for root, fruit, leaf and flower planting.
This allows for the best germination of seeds. It takes discipline to manage a biodynamic system, but the results are well worth the effort.
The use of special preparations for enriching the soil is an important part of biodynamic agriculture.
The preparations are composed of various plants and substances, including silica, manure, chamomile, dandelion and yarrow.
The individual materials are collected and placed into cow horns. These horns are buried over winter.
In the spring, at the appropriate phase of the moon, each preparation is energised by stirring in a large drum of water, and then applied to the soil or crop.
The horn manure benefits the soil by enabling the processes of decomposition of organic matter. The plants themselves benefit from the herbal preparations, allowing them to grow optimally. Biodynamically grown produce has a very good shelf life.
Green manure crops play an important part in improving the fertility of the soil. A green manure crop is usually a leguminous crop like lucerne, clover or mustard. Flax and buckwheat are also effective.
The crop is raised until just before the flowering stage and then cut down and left on the land to decompose.