What is it? Biodynamics, or biodynamic agriculture is an approach to farming developed by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist
His research was added to by Maria and Matthias Thun, and they now publish a book guiding you through the agricultural year, (see right). The key to biodynamic agriculture is to follow sustainable agricultural practices and to reduce the amount of external products brought on to the farm to a minimum. So animal feeds, manure and composts should be 'home grown'. What's more, the composts should be treated with herbal preparations, made from stinging nettles or Comfrey to name a few. This approach to agriculture is, more than Organic in practice, as lunar planting, harvesting and general crop management are not part of the Organic standards set out by the Soil Association.
The Compost Preparations are made from six well known medicinal plants - yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak, dandelion and valerian. Their specific properties are enhanced and made effective for soil life during the course of a unique fermentation process in the soil.
When ready these humus-like substances are added to the composting material in minute amounts where they radiate their effects throughout the heap. These preparations help to guide and regulate the decomposing and humus forming processes in the soil and make plant nutrient substances (sulphur, potash, nitrogen, calcium, silica, phosphorous) available in precisely the form needed for healthy plant growth.
Yarrow preparation is connected to the potassium and sulphur processes of the soil and helps draw in substances, finely distributed in the atmosphere and beyond to replenish a soil grown tired through many years of cultivation.
Chamomile Preparation is connected with living calcium processes and helps to stabilise plant nutrients, dampen down excessive fermentation and invigorate plant growth.
Stinging Nettle Preparation has a relationship to iron, develops sensitivity in the soil and helps to stabilise nitrogen.
Oak Bark Preparation with its calcium rich nature helps to ward off so called plant diseases and fungal attacks.
Dandelion Preparation is connected with living silica processes, activates light influences in the soil and enables the interrelationships of nature to become fully effective.
Valerian Preparation has a strong affinity to the activity of phosphorous and provides a warmth blanket to the compost heap.
For a more detailed guide to preparations visit the biodynamic.org.uk web site.