I often find myself struggling with the concept of Biodynamics. I want a solid definition that I can grasp with both hands. How exactly does it work? Planting with the moon cycle, burying cow horns, and homeopathy via against the part of me that went through the education system that needs scientific evidence to back everything up.
And yet, it is very clear that Biodynamics works. Biodynamics not only works, but works dramatically well. Our customers can attest to the difference in taste.
We know how important the health of our gut microbes are, but what about the health of our soil’s microbiology?
Just as we have accidentally destroyed vital microbes in our gut by overusing antibiotics or overeating highly processed foods, we have also killed the life in our soil, by overusing certain chemical fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. These chemicals along with heavy machinery and tillage have dramatically reduced the organic matter in the soil, which healthy soil should be full of.
You see plant roots need help to extract nutrition from the soil. Their partners in this process are the bacteria and fungi and a myriad of other soil microbes that live in the soil with them. These soil microorganisms serve as the “stomachs” of plants and form symbiotic relationships with plant roots and “digest” nutrients, providing nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other nutrients in a form that plant cells can use.
If the micro-biome of your soil is not healthy, plants can’t get what they need from the soil and can survive only by direct applications of nitrogen and other soluble nutrients, which they receive from fertiliser’s like Urea. Like a drug addict, the land is addicted to this nitrogen shot, which prevents plants from forming a normal healthy root system. Plants farmed in this way have small, shallow root systems.
Organic agriculture returns the soil to a healthy balance by adding rock dusts to supply the necessary nutrients, while compost and compost teas are used to rejuvenate the micro-biome of the soil. The plants can then return to their natural process of extracting what they need from the soil. This makes for a healthier, stronger plant and means a more flavourful, nutritious end product for us.
Biodynamic farming does all this in conjunction with the application of biodynamic preparations. These are specially fermented herbal preparations made from manure, plants and minerals. It is the Biodynamic preps, which really differentiate Biodynamic and Organic farming.
These biodynamic preps breathe life into the soil and guide the composting process in the soil, making it so that we don’t have to continuously add fertilisers from outside of the farm.
I like to think of the biodynamic preps as yoghurt culture and the soil as milk.
Both organic soil and milk are already pretty good on their own, but it’s the addition of the preps or “culture” that takes our soil to the next level with a beautiful rich humus as the end result. Rich humus is the ultimate plant food – it stores water and nutrients, structures the soil, and is a home for the diverse microbiology that are present in biodynamic soils.
The goal of Biodynamics is not simply sustainable agriculture, but to restore and build the micro-biome of the farm. After all, our health is intimately connected to the health of our farms and our planet. The healthier the soil, the healthier the food, the healthier the person, the healthier the planet. It’s here that I breathe a sigh of relief because this stuff does make sense.