Biodynamics – Marvel or make believe?

Hands holding soil

Biodynamics: Revitalising the Earth to foster abundance and health

John Hodgkinson     Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd

The biodynamic system has a powerful vitalising effect on soil and plants, and thus benefits food producing systems and other land use environments where it is applied.

Generally speaking, conventional food growing is input dependent and entropic. This degrades or destroys critical fertility factors such as soil carbon, soil structure and soil food web viability. Such losses lead to lower food quality, less water holding capacity of soil, decreased plant species biodiversity, increased plant susceptibility to extremes of weather and climate, and greater risk of soil erosion. Chronic and acute effects on human and animal health are being steadily uncovered and evaluated.

To accommodate these effects of conventional production systems, ever-greater volumes of fertilisers and agrochemicals are applied across our agricultural landscapes. Such systems can never be sustainable.

When the biodynamic preparations and practices are applied properly in place of conventional inputs and practices, soil biology is enhanced, plants grow with greater resistance to disease, insect attack and climate extremes, and input costs are greatly reduced. A properly run biodynamic system is syntropic – it builds up complexity and produces much more energy than it consumes. Such a system is truly sustainable.

Biodynamics is essentially a method of utilising plant and mineral-based catalysts known as “the preparations”, described by Rudolf Steiner in the early 20th Century. These powerfully stimulate the soil food web and various soil forming processes, generating superior nutritional qualities and disease resistance in plants.

Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd is a not-for-profit membership organisation which makes and supplies the biodynamic preparations and carries out biodynamic extension activities Australia-wide.

It is difficult for anyone first encountering Steiner’s “indications” to accept that the minuscule quantities of substances used in the preparations can have the tremendous effects that they do. Elevated Brix levels, accelerated accumulation of soil carbon, and dramatic increase in rainfall infiltration and water holding capacity are just the more obvious benefits of biodynamics.

When, over a period of a few years topsoil develops down to 300mm where a mere 4mm was present at the beginning of the biodynamic treatment, any scepticism evaporates as the potency of the preparations becomes evident.

For anyone inclined to take up biodynamic practice, there is a certain consciousness or attitude involved, summed up as follows: the Earth as a sacred being, and food as a divine gift.