Thursday, 2 August 2007

Introducing Biodynamic Agriculture

While most farmers ,Dept of ag, Landcare people struggle for a definition of sustainable Agriculture and spend hour in meetings discussing this, BD farmers, all over the world are out there working the land in a sustainable way. It may be viewed as muck and magic by some..... but proof is in the health of the soil and food produced. Science is catching up and the proof will be in the scientific journals as well.
The Bio Dynamic method is a modern organic method that grew out of the farmers concerns that the agriculture system was failing.


In the 1920’s farming was relatively simple compared with today (what we call organic today), but farmers were beginning to notice decline. The lucerne would no longer persist. Where once it had lasted 30 years in the same paddock, it grew for only 3 years. The seed strains were degenerating and animals were subject to more diseases.
Rudolf Steiner was trained in science and philosophy and renowned for his spiritual yet highly practical approach to worldly affairs; eg. new methods of education, music and medicine. The farmers approached Seiner for help. After much persuasion in 1924 he gave a series of 8 lectures to the farmers where he indicated some methods to develop and use. Since then methods have developed for practical application from experience and results of research.
The growth of B D has been slow owing to fears that it might be misused or misunderstood and is often described as “way out”, but it is very simple and can be applied by anyone on any scale from a few pots to large scale broad acre farming as well as everything in between.
BD brings a totally new impulse towards rejuvenation and renewal of the earth as it ages and becomes tired and worn out. Organic farming does not give this impulse.
One of the most enjoyable and challenging thing about BD is speculating about how it works.

So What is Bio-Dynamic farming or gardening?...have you seen it on TV. WINTERS TALE. Horns things, Alex Podolinski. Oh! yes they plant by the moon..
First and foremost its a method of farming or gardening concerned with producing quality food of reasonable quantity. The method is to activate the biological life in the soil and plants and to develop skills to nurture the soil.

To me BD agriculture is the craft of farming .The farmer is a skilled ,in tune craftperson, just like a skilled cabinet maker, using quality wood to make a fine table that will last forever. Compare that to a massed produced table made from chipboard & staples, made to a price by machines, just like factory farming. DO THESE PRODUCTS LAST OR SUSTAIN.
It is a method of farming or gardening concerned with producing quality food of reasonable quantity.
Everything that is alive is dependant on others in a network of living things. It is connecting life (BIO) with the interactions within the whole system (DYNAMICS)
Therefore Biodynamics is about the interactions between the four kingdoms of nature:

The method involves the activation of the biological life in the soil and to develop skills to nurture the soil, plants and animals.
Bd is basically organic, aiming at having a well structured soil, rich in humus & high in biological activity, which is incorporated into a self sustaining eco system. The methods BD different The farm is viewed as a living organism & the use of specific preparations made from farm sourced materials. These are not fertilisers but act in a way to increase the vitality of the soil, plants and nutrient cycles.
In developing a good organic system you need to develop the ability to sit back ,observe & act when necessary rather than rush in & attack a problem eg control of some insect pests where treatment may turn out to be unnecessary if the natural controls be they parasites, predators, weather are given time to take effect.
you need to develop your intuition & trust it!
Being a farmer is working with a life . Whenever I'm introduced to someone as a BD or organic farmer I'm immediately asked “HOW DO YOU GET RID OF.......?”Farmers and gardeners go out in the morning NOT with life on their minds but death they want to get rid of everything that is not their crop , You only have to listen the gardening shows to get my drift. A balanced natural system. takes time to develop .. we need to be aware of all the elements of life & should take time to become closer by observing, keeping records & learning from nature.
Before farmers got 3+ feet off the ground on their tractors they were able to recognise what was happening on the farm. They could see which plants did better than others, what combination of plants, what birds are around ,how the soil felt. They made use of these observations. Think of these skills as extra in your already multi skilled format. These skills you develop yourself. “A farmers footsteps is the best fertiliser”

When using the bio-dynamic preparations we are attempting to work directly with the forces of growth and development which are inherent in all living things. This “lifeless ‘or “livingness” of things does not just magically appear and disappear, but always is and is everywhere. It expands contracts and transforms under certain elemental conditions These elemental conditions as warmth (fire) air (light) water and earth (mineral). If you think of the way the seasons express themselves or a plant passing through successive states of seeding, flower, fruit and seed.
The BD preparations do not occur in nature rather they are made by ultizing substances taken out of nature from the 3 kingdoms of nature : MINERAL
ANIMAL and put together by HUMANS
The preparations consist of 2 groups;
· Spray Preparations: Horn manure (500 ) & Horn silica (501) both are mixed with water and stirred for one hour.
· Compost Preparations: (502 - 507) are added to composts.
These preparations are made by the farmers or by BD groups and distributed through their membership. The Adelaide Hills BD group hold working bees to make these in autumn and spring. All members are invited to assist either with their time or other donations i.e. manure. herbs or cash to ensure a supply of quality preparations for all members. Assisting is also the best way to learn about the preparations.

*Horn manure 500 is used to enliven the soil, increasing the micro flora and availability of nutrients and trace elements. Through its application root growth in particular is strengthened in a balanced way.
* Horn silica 501 enhances the light and warmth assimilation of the plants, leading to better fruit and seed development with improved flavour, aroma, colour and keeping quality.
* Compost preparations 502-507 help the dynamic cycles of the macro and micro nutrients via the biological processes which lead to humus formation.