Biodynamics is a regenerative form of agriculture, which prioritises soil health. It could be said that we are not growing plants but growing soil. A healthy soil is abundant in life. Plant roots build good soil. From this perspective, we can understand the benefits of weeds, and cover crops in their ability to help build good soil and protect the soil surface.
Rudolf Steiner the founder of biodynamics, warned us nearly 100 years ago, that our soils were becoming deaf to the earthly and cosmic forces, because of the use of nitrogen fertilizers. Since his warnings, the attack on the life within the soil has accelerated. Industrial farming uses chemicals, which continue to destroy the biology in the soil, and this creates an exponential demand for commercial inputs.
Cow Horn Manure 500, is one of the biodynamic preparations, that helps improve soil health. It acts as an inoculation of beneficial soil bacteria, that are found in cow manure and continue to multiply, and intensify while burned underground in a cow horn and impacted by the winter forces. The horns are then dug up, and the transformed preparation is then stirred for an hour in spring water, and spread across the land. This has the ability to improve the structure of the soil, and enliven, and resensitize the soil to the natural rhythms on Earth and beyond.
The preparations are not a substitute for good manuring practices and composting. A core principle of biodynamics is the idea of the farm organism, and it is key to try and produce as much of your fertility as possible from within the farm boundaries. Making compost piles make this possible. Weeds, such as stinging nettles and comfrey are likely to be found in abundance in your garden or farm, pull them out, and add them to your compost before they dry or wilt. Then continue to create a compost lasagna made from nitrogen-rich material and carbon-rich material.
Keeping the soil covered by plants throughout the year helps to keep the soil healthy and rich in the nutrients that your plants require. Planting cover crops, when you remove your main crop will ensure that the soil stays covered. Also, a well-thought-out rotation plan will allow you to repair the soil with specific cover crops such as nitrogen-fixing legumes following a heavy feeding crop.
This Spring, I took responsibility for the honey bees colonies at Ruskin Mill. Prior to this I caught a couple of swarms last year with my colleague Tim, and he kindly initiated me into the ways of...
Research Project Arising From Practice I have documented the progress of the stirring area here - Building A Preparation Stirring Area. I have been researching and constructing the stirring area...