Biodynamic agriculture is a method of farming and gardening that aims to treat the farm as a living system which interacts with the environment linking soil (mineral), plants, animals and humans. This process builds healthy living soil and produces food that nourishes and vitalises mankind.
The biodynamic methods are derived from the teaching of Rudolf Steiner and subsequent practitioners.
The underlying principle of biodynamic agriculture is the development of life-giving humus from dead organic matter. This biologically active humus is the basis of all living soils. It is achieved by:
· Having a diverse system of plants and animals, landscape variety and water.
· Developing skills in observation and nurturing the soil.
· Enhancing the soil structure and nutrient cycles as well as plant growth by the use of specific preparations which are made from farm sourced material:
*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.
Bio-Dynamic Agriculture A Farmer’s Perspective
By Deborah L Cantrill*
Bio-Dynamics is not an entirely new approach to agriculture. It is merely another development in the continuing saga of man’s relationship with the soil. The Bio-Dynamic approach does not attempt to replace current knowledge, merely to add to it. Bio-Dynamic agriculture is concerned with producing quality food in a reasonable quantity. The methods are designed to biologically activate life in plants and soil. Skills need to be developed by the farmer to nurture the soil.
To me Bio-Dynamic ag is the craft of farming- the farmer is a skilled, in tune craftsperson. Just like a skilled cabinet maker, using quality timber to make a fine table that will last many generations, compared with mass produced factory table made out of chipboard and staples - made to a price by machines, just like factory farming. Do these products last or sustain?
As a craftsperson, the main thing in ag we are dealing with is LIFE
Life is the key to existence on this planet.
The average farmer and I think more so city gardeners- go out in the morning, not with the concept of life but with the concept of death. They go out to get rid of things. In order to grow a certain crop, everything else is killed.(listen to the questions asked on gardening programs & magazines )
As a Bio-Dynamic farmer I’m always being asked “... But how do you get rid of.......?”
Because life cannot be captured and put under a microscope, it is not understood. You have to become conscious of life before you become aware of how important it is. We have to learn how to experience this.
Bio-Dynamic is connecting this life (bio) with the inter relatedness of the whole system (dynamics ) a bit like group dynamics. This inter-action between all of the kingdoms of nature - MINERAL, PLANT, ANIMAL, HUMAN -- means that everything that is alive is dependent upon other things in a network of living things.
This results in a holistic approach where everything is taken into account from the solid earth to the furthest edge of the cosmos...... including the weather, the conditions in the paddock, the position of the moon and planets , history and potential’s of the land and eco-systems, the needs and abilities of the farmers including their cultural and economic needs.
Part of developing this wholeness is looking deeper into nature. This deeper awareness is based on keen observation and trusting your intuition.
This leads to not letting things run their natural course,, but to intensifying some of the natural processes eg the use of special Bio-Dynamic preparations. Aiding nature where she is week and using human intelligence and good will to foster positive developments.
Putting one’s energy into supporting the good, rather than supporting the bad. WORKING WITH LIFE.
*Deb Cantrill along with Quentin Jones own and run NIRVANA ORGANIC FARM a certified Bio-Dynamic mixed orchard established in 1983 at Heathfield in the Adelaide Hills. Nirvana is an excellent example of both Bio-Dynamic agriculture and small scale sustainable lifestyle that is accessible to the public via farm tours and short courses .The property provides the ideal classroom filled with practical examples for teaching courses in Bio-Dynamic methods, composting, orchard management , vegetable growing and poultry keeping .Nirvana is the National winner of the Organic Federation of Australia Awards of Excellence as the leading Organic Educator.
For more information contact Deb or Quentin
Phone/Fax (08) 8339 2519