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What is Biodynamic Agriculture?

Any of you know what it is?

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Hi LocavoreT, welcome to the forum. :)

Yes, I am familiar with it. I used to live near Wine Country in California and frequented many wineries where this technique was used. Biodynamic is a way of growing things that was invented about a hundred years ago. It shares similarities to organic methods but also, typical of those times, has a few exotic aspects that are not grounded in science. Nevertheless, there are many, many aspects of it that absolutely make sense. Wineries have experienced excellent results with the method because the heart of it is gardening with environment in a sustainable and organic manner. Now that I think of it, permaculture shares a lot in common with it and may have derived some of it's ideas from Biodynamic agriculture, which predates permaculture (a word that was coined in 1978).

The major ideas of biodynamic were probably revolutionary a hundred years ago but today they're quite commonly understood and at least aspired to, particularly amongst home gardeners. There are many books with similar ideas, such as Noah's Garden, a very good introduction to gardening with an understanding of the local wildlife and plant life.

Bonterra wines, a very good wine, practices biodynamic gardening. I just visited their website to double check and this is what they say about it:
Biodynamic® practices don't replace organic growing, they complement it.

The Biodynamic® approach includes all the tenets to the organic spirit: the absence of synthetic inputs, composting to close the loop, using cover crops and maintaining biodiversity. Yet Biodynamic® growing goes even further in its belief that the farm and its soil are to be considered as a single living organism.

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It's been over ten years since I thought about it to any depth, so I'm not really familiar with the details, but I believe it was one of Rudolf Steiner's ideas and I have the impression that it does have many followers, especially in areas surrounding Waldorf school communities.

Like webmaster said, it's rooted in ways to sustain natural biological processes, and has good basic precepts. But as with many of RS's concepts, it was a bit too rigid and strict for me to go along with, and some of the procedures didn't make sense to my way of thinking. So. I guess I kind of blanked them out... But it's very possible that some of my methods are inspired by those ideas.

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"Biodynamics is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy.” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.

Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health."

So yes the basics of biodynamics are very much what I do with very diversified plantings, closed loop composting, no synthetics. But once they get out into that "subtle influences of the wider cosmos" stuff, it goes all woo-woo and loses me.

"Loosely biodynamics can be broken down into the following areas:
1.The use of two field sprays, BD 500 (horn manure) and BD 501 (horn silica).
2.The use of five compost preparations that are healing herbs added to the compost heap.
3.The use of a planting calendar that gives clear indications when to carry out tasks in the garden.
If we look at point three for a moment longer, the planting calendar, we see that from a combination of Steiner’s work and that of the German farmer and grower Maria Thun, who produces a planting calendar annually, there has arisen a correlation between the various different parts of the plant and the signs of the zodiac.

Staying with this we start by looking at the four elements that nature so graciously provides us with – earth, air, fire and water. Then lets match each element to a part of a given plant – earth to root, air to flower, fire to fruit and seed and water to leaf. Now let’s match each of those parts of the plant along with their element to the twelve signs of the zodiac. Then we can see that as the moon moves through each of the twelve on its 27 and a bit day journey around the earth every month it will influence those parts of the plant relating to the zodiacal sign e.g. Pisces=water/leaf, Capricorn=earth/root. " https://www.biodynamic.org.uk/farming-am ... ening.html

So they have a rigid planting calendar based on zodiac signs.

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...also, typical of those times, has a few exotic aspects that are not grounded in science.
Yes, that's what I was alluding to when I mentioned exotic aspects. :P

That said, many Napa Valley wineries, institutions that are steeped in science, have tried it and liked it. Nevertheless, I suspect they could lose the cow horns buried during a full moon part of biodynamics and get the same or better result.

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