Biodynamic agriculture is a way of doing agriculture that perceives the whole farm as a living organism. The plants, soil and animals are part of a single system whose relationships balance each other without the need for external input.
In 1924 Rudolf Steiner gave eight lectures on ‘the spiritual foundations for a renewal in agriculture’ because a group of farmers and gardeners were deeply concerned about the depletion of soils, and the continued deterioration of the quality of crops, and livestock. Steiner died in March 1925, less than a year after he gave these invaluable lectures.
On the basis of these lectures, generations of farmers and researchers have developed biodynamic agriculture growing directly from the indications Steiner gave almost a hundred years ago.
Steiner made valuable contributions to numerous disciplines including medicine and architecture, but it is hoped that his contributions to agriculture prove to be his greatest gift in decades to come, as humanity awakens to the ecological problems ahead, and decide upon a method of farming and a relationship with nature that can start to heal the damage, inflicted by the modern industrial world.
“Properly speaking, any manures or the like which you bring into the farm from outside should be regarded rather as a remedy for a sick farm. That is the ideal. A thoroughly healthy farm should be able to produce within itself all that it needs.” – Rudolf Steiner (The Agriculture Course, Lecture Two, 10th June, 1924.)
Biodynamic farmers avoid the use of fertilizers and pesticides of chemical origin – although herbal, mineral and manure preparations are a distinctive feature of biodynamics, which are then sprayed on plants, fields, and added to the compost.
Another distinctive feature of biodynamic agriculture is that it works with the rhythms of the earth and the cosmos. Maria Thun dedicated 50 years to observe the effects of the planetary cycles on the growth of plants. Her biodynamic calendar is a useful tool for planting, transplanting, and harvest during favourable periods.
“We must never forget that the fundamental aim of biodynamic agriculture is the production of quality nutrition, whilst respecting nature’s kingdoms and the creatures that live in it.” – Pierre Mason (In the Introduction to A Biodynamic Manual)
Biodynamics is a healing approach to farming, that cares for the earth, as well as to the health and vitality of the farmer, and everyone who has a relationship with the food or activities that take place on the farm.