What is Biodynamic Farming? Rudolf Steiner's Blueprint
What is Biodynamic Farming?
farming was a
forward by Dr. Rudolf
Steiner and is based around the following pivotal
1) The importance of of
sustainable soil fertility.
2) The relationship
growth and the rhythms of the cosmos.
Biodynamic farming places
importance on the rhythmic positions of moon, sun and planets when
sowing seeds, transplanting, applying liquid
fertilizers or spraying fruit
trees and crops, i.e. Moon
Planting as well as the concept of companion
planting, crop rotation and composting.
basis of a healthy farm is the correct proportions of crops to
livestock. The moment one is grown to excess the balance is disrupted.
Monocultures are unhealthy and should be avoided.
Biodynamic farming uses a
preparations which are based on various mineral, plant and animal
substances. These will enhance all the bacterial and mineral processes
that are found in the organic
farming system and help the plants and soil.
in a nutshell is the 'Biological' practices of organic farming that
improve the quality and fertility of the soil. It is bringing a higher
degree of life activity in the soil, plants and animals by using the
dynamic methods of Mother Nature. 'Dynamic' practices are
intended to influence the biological and metaphysical aspects of the
Normal Organic Farming Practices
Organic farmers practice the following
management techniques to maintain a sustainable system.
1) They ensure plant
nutrients are maintained by addition of animal manures, or green
manures made into composts, and also use additional essential mineral
2) Animal manures
are usually combined with plant materials, and are applied in the form
of well made composts, in which the organic materials have been
converted into stable humus through a fermentation process.
Cover Crops in the form of green manures
and quick growing legumes and/or grasses are plowed into the ground,
mulched onto the top of the soil or used as compost-making material.
4) Phosphorus may be
used by top-dressing crops with natural rock phosphate, calcium by a
light dressing of hydrated or agricultural lime. If magnesium is also
deficient, dolomite may be used instead of lime.
5) Crops are rotated
to control weeds, fungi and insects and to promote healthier plants.
What does Biodynamic Farming therefore offer the Organic
The organic farmer would continue to
enrich the soil as already stated above, however, with Biodynamic
farming, it has been shown that techniques used make these processes
occur more effectively and more efficiently.
Biodynamic Farming and the Preparations that ensure for
better Soil Fertility and Healthier Plants
These preparations for Biodynamic
farming were suggested by Steiner in great detail. Where the first 2
preparations (500 & 501) are used for field preparation,
Preparations 502-507 are for making compost.
Horn Manure Preparation (500)
is made from taking cow manure and stuffing it into well-cleaned cow
horns. 4 horns are used for each hectare of land. These are then buried
in root-free soil, to a depth of 40-60 cm, placed during autumn and
left to decompose over winter. It is to be used in spring and horns are
removed during a descending period of the moon.
It brings in the Earthly forces and
helps the soil develop humus and structure and attract earthworms and
soil micro-organisms. Best of all, it will work equally well in any
soil type whether it is silt, clay, volcanic or peat.
Horn Manure Preparation (500) is
applied at 75 grams/hectare, stirred for 1 hour in 34 liters of high
quality water - slightly warmed. This is applied to the whole farm 2-4
times a year in spring and autumn in droplet form, late afternoon. It
can also be sprayed prior to planting.
Horn Silica Preparation (501)
is made from ground quartz crystal which brings in the silica activity.
It is buried in the same soil pits used for (500), in cleaned cow
horns, over summer and used in autumn. When removing the horns the moon
should be in an ascending position.
The yellowish silica powder is removed
from the horns and stored in glass jars, near light.
Only a tiny amount is used in
Biodynamics to take the light forces into the roots to aid
photosynthesis, uptake of minerals and trace elements from the soil,
increase dry fiber content and sweetness of the fruit or grass. It aids
in the resistance to pests and fungal disease by increasing the sugar
content in the sap which strengthens the root system.
It should be sprayed on crops at low
pressure during the wet season to prevent fungal diseases. In addition,
it should be applied on an overcast day to prevent the leaves from
getting burned by the sun.
It can be sprayed on fruit trees at
budding to strengthen against insect attack. Use again at Moon
opposition Saturn each month when fruit is walnut size for apples and
stone fruit, and for grapes, one two-thirds of the size has been
reached. Spray again when fruit is about to ripen to increase sugar
levels and aid in its keeping qualities.
2 grams is stirred in 34 liters of high
quality water for one hour and applied at sunrise to all crops and
pastures over spring and summer.
Yarrow Preparation (502)
uses the yarrow flowers which are then placed in a dried, inflated
stag, moose or deer bladder. Before using the bladder soak it in warmed
rainwater. Moisten the flowers with warmed rainwater before placing in
bladder. Stuff until bulging and close with thread. This is suspended
off the ground, 6 feet in the air, and placed in full sun during the
summer. During the autumn it is buried 6-12 inches in fertile soil.
After a year, removed the flowers from the bladder and store in an
It is used in Biodynamic farming to
stimulate the potassium, silica, selenium activating bacteria and helps
combine sulfur with other substances. Remedies weaknesses in flowering
and fruiting, and strengthens the plant against insect attack. The
Yarrow Preparation aids the soil in connecting to the planetary rhythms.
Chamomile Preparation (503)
uses the chamomile flowers which are packed in the small intestines of
recently dead cows. Collect the flowers are early as possible in the
spring and then dry them. Before stuffing them into the intestine
moisten with warm rainwater. This is buried in autumn in fertile soil
and used in spring. Store in an earthenware pot until needed.
It retains nitrogen and calcium which
helps to strengthen the plant's regenerative life activity and reunites
this with the physical. It also stimulates manganese and boron, as well
as azotobacter activity which is the best bacteria for creating
nitrogen in the soil.
Stinging Nettle Preparation
(504) uses the whole Stinging Nettle plant before it
Allow the flowers to dry slightly so that is fades somewhat in color.
It is then buried in an earthenware pot in fertile soil for a year with
peat on all four sides. Remove, sieve and store in an earthen pot.
This preparation in Biodynamic farming conveys intelligence to
the soil, helps in decomposition, aids chlorophyll formation,
stimulates iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulfur activity in
Oak Bark Preparation (505)
is chopped into small pieces and placed in a cleaned skull of a cow, or
another domesticated animal. This is then surrounded in peat and buried
in a place where there is a lot of watershed from rain. It remains
buried for the winter. Store in an earthen pot until needed.
This preparation helps pull the earthly
forces back into the soil, when the water activity is working too
strongly, such as after lots of rain or at full moon. It also helps to
prevent fungal disease. Helps calcium and phosphorus work its way into
Dandelion Preparation (506)
uses dandelion flowers which are stuffed into a cow's mesentery
(peritoneum) and buried in winter to be used in spring.
This stimulates the potassium/silica
bacteria in the soil to enable it to work more effectively with the
growth forces. Can help with flowering and fruiting. Also stimulates
the magnesium, boron and selenium soil activity.
Valerian Preparation (507)
uses the dried flowers to make a tincture, with the water to dilute
using a ratio of 1:4. A teaspoon of this is then added to 15 liters of
quality water and used to spray the whole compost heap to form a warmth
This stimulates the phosphorus process
and aids the phosphorus-activating bacteria in the soil, as well as
selenium and magnesium. If sprayed onto fruit blossoms in spring it can
provide protection from a late frost.
Horsetail Preparation (508)
uses horsetail or casuarina leaves. The green shoots of the horsetail
are collected and dried.
This can be used as a tea to control
fungal diseases. Take 100g dried leaves, mix with 5 liters of high
quality water and boil gently. Before using stir for 10 minutes and
spray on plants and soil during full moon.
Using the Compost Preparations
As said earlier, Preparations 502-507
are mainly used for making compost, liquid manure or tea.
A teaspoon of each is taken and added
to a dung heap. Only preparations 502-506 are used by digging 50 cm
holes into the dung, 2 meters apart and adding a teaspoon of each. The
Valerian preparation (507) is used in Biodynamic farming to promote
Biodynamic Farming and the Compost Heap
The compost heap is trapezoidal in
shape with a base width of 15 feet and a top width of 6 feet. It should
never exceed 6 feet in height.
Drainage tiles or brushwood are added
first to create suitable drainage. Then manure, bedding straw, sawdust,
fallen leaves, and other organic matter are added to the heap in thin
layers, with the vegetation always been moistened with rainwater first.
In between the organic material are thin layers of sprinkled lime or
other rock powders and then finally soil. The compost heap is built
like this, with these 3 layers, ending off with a layer of soil which
will cover the compost heap completely.
It is only when the compost heap is
about 3 feet high that the special preparations 502-507 are put into
the compost heap.
After about 4-5 months the compost heap
is mixed and turned. More preparations are added to the pile if needed.
Getting the Most out of Biodynamic Farming
Biodynamic farming allows you to
achieve high yields in small spaces. The best way to use your compost
it in raised vegetable beds or by if you are going to use ordinary
beds, it should be incorporated into the soil through the 'double
digging' method. Here beds are dug to 2 spade's deep. Then the soil is
removed in rows, to the depths of 1 spade's depth and set aside.
Compost is mixed into the remaining soil in the trench. Organic
material is also added to the soil that has been set aside and that is
then added back into the newly mixed trench.
Read our exclusive Biodynamics
Interview with Bernard Jarman, director of
Biodynamic Agricultural Association, UK.
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