You might have heard the term “biodynamic farming” but had no idea what it is. Well, we’re here to tell you.
Basically, biodynamic farming is a type of organic farming that treats farms as individual entities, meaning that it takes the whole farm into consideration, not just its parts. In other words, the animals, plants and farmers work together holistically to grow food without pesticides, without GMOs and without other harmful, artificial chemicals. This system, founded by Rudolf Steiner (who also founded anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy), believe it or not, incorporates some astrology into its theory.
Indeed, the basis for biodynamic farming is using various herbs and minerals, not chemicals, to feed soil, and planting things according to the astronomical calendar as it pertains to sowing and planting. Sounds weird, we know, but it’s a successful method of growing and maintaining organic farming practices.
The theory behind biodynamic farming started with lectures given by Steiner when farmers noticed their crops were failing or not turning out as well or as plentiful as they should and livestock wasn’t reaching its full potential either. Today, over 50 countries use biodynamic farming, including the United States. In fact, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association formed in New York in 1938. So both the theory and its practice have been around for over 70 years!
So now we turn to the success rates of biodynamic farming. Well, good news: a study in 1993 in New Zealand showed that the soil was better, crops were larger and more plentiful and had more earthworms in the farms using biodynamics. This means that soil conditions were flourishing, preparing the soil for sustainable use – a great benefit of biodynamic farming.
Now you might be wondering how biodynamic farming is put into use. Well, it’s done different ways. For example, pests are treated through that astronomical calendar. For example, people use the skin of field mice when Venus is in the Scorpio constellation to fight off field mice. Meanwhile, weeds are fended off by taking seeds from the weeds and burning them above a wooden flame started by weed kindling, then spreading the ashes on the fields. Then the ashes are sprayed with the urine of a cow. This is meant to curtail the influence of the moon on the soil, and for some reason, it works. Of course more conventional organic means are also used – so the practice isn’t really that weird. Biodynamic farmers think pests are caused by imbalances in the soil, so they work hard to make sure the soil is balanced just right.
Moreover, biodynamic agriculture also focuses its attention on the pollination of seeds, allowing farmers to make their own, bypassing the large corporations’ seeds. This saves them a lot of money.
To make compost, farmers use herbs that are medicinal in property. For example, chamomile blossoms, with their soothing properties, are put into cattles’ small intestines in extremely rich soil in the autumn, then used in the spring. Also, valerian flowers are put into water. This makes them valuable and enhances the soil. A study found this works in zucchini crops when an oak bark concoction is used.
Some might say biodynamic farming is like alchemy and that the same results can be found by simple organic farming means. Magic or not, however, biodynamic farming seems to be a valuable, if eccentric, way to produce crops and feed animals organically.