Biodynamic gardening, and its close relative, permaculture, are two very popular styles of gardening. Biodynamics and permaculture topics have been popular for many years, but much of the information is based on folk-lore, superstition, and untested ideals. Biodynamic farming is similar to organic production, and like an organic garden, no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are used.
A biodynamic farm is viewed as its own ecosystem and most often includes a diverse mix of crops and livestock, which are considered complimentary. Biodynamic farmers use “unique preparations” and compost. Planting, cultural operations and harvesting are guided by celestial events.
With a mix of organic principles and cosmic spirituality, practitioners believe their compost emanates “energetic life forces to vitalize vegetables, plants, flowers, lawns, gardens, farms and our earth.”
While much of mainstream agriculture is unconvinced about the value of biodynamic tenents, UCCE farm advisor Glenn McGourty sees their value.
Many of the precepts do seem to be viable, and recently, many are being tested in a scientific manner by University agricultural researchers. This article in the San Francisco Examiner suggests that the ‘mainstreaming’ of biodynamics is close at hand. There are currently 75 California wine producers either certified biodynamic or in transition and the number is growing by 15%t each year.
Others, as suggested in this Agricultural And Natural Resources News blog post, think the system is a ‘hoax’, and are “shocked and outraged” that UC Cooperative Extension is co-sponsoring a “Shortcourse in Biodynamic Winegrowing.”
Napa County farm advisor Glenn McGourty says such farming systems “are well documented to improve soil quality, grow productive crops, reduce the need for petrochemical inputs, recycle farm byproducts in a safe and effective way, and provide a gentler footprint on nature compared to some practices used by conventional growers.”
“There are lessons for all of agriculture in some of the basic agronomy that biodynamic farmers practice,” McGourty continues.
I am in contact with several of the farm advisers noted in the stories and hope to be able to present you with detailed research on this subject – so stay tuned!
Here is a link to an article titled, “The Science Behind Biodynamics” by Lynn Carpenter-Boggs, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, Washington State University.
Biodynamics (BD) is experiencing an upsurge in interest, along with related organic and sustainable farming practices. However, BD has some unique aspects that are poorly understood and steeped in myth. Biodynamics may not be the cure-all that some practitioners claim it to be, but the BD system clearly holds potential to improve agricultural and horticultural production and to teach us about beneficial microorganisms and biochemistry.
What is Biodynamics, and What is it Used For?
Biodynamics is an esoteric approach to agriculture created by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Steiner was also the father of the philosophy “anthroposophy,” anthroposophic art, anthroposophic medicine, Waldorf schools, Camphill communities, Eurythmy dance, and several other movements in science and culture. In 1924 a group of farmers concerned with declining soil and food quality approached Steiner for a solution. Steiner, neither a farmer nor a scientist, drew on traditional European farming mythology and new impulses from anthroposophy to build BD. Biodynamics was envisioned to not only produce ample food and fiber, but also to heal and nourish the people who depend on these products by healing the soil, plants, animals, and earth.
You can continue reading here…