ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Sustainable Agriculture – Biodynamics - An Introduction

Updated on May 21, 2012
Fruit & Vegetable Market in San Isidro
Fruit & Vegetable Market in San Isidro

In the fall of 2008 I moved to Costa Rica with my wife and 8 year old son. We moved onto a biodynamic farm to learn about more sustainable living, organic gardening, and intentional communities. We spent a year and a half working on the farm and managing their volunteer program.


Biodynamic grown tomatoes
Biodynamic grown tomatoes
Fresh Vegetables
Fresh Vegetables
Harvested Cacoa Pods from Biodynamic Farm
Harvested Cacoa Pods from Biodynamic Farm

What is Biodynamics?

Biodynamics is a form of agriculture that was introduced in the 1920's by an Austrian, Rudolf Steiner. You may have heard his name before, Rudolf Steiner is the same individual behind Waldorf Education.

Biodynamics takes a holistic view of farming or gardening, by recognizing the inter-relationship of the soil, the plants and the animals as a unified living system. Biodynamics also considers the relationship or of the earth system to the cosmos.

It is the relationship of the earth to the cosmos that throws off many people when they are considering biodynamics as a method for their farm or garden. I have not bought into all of the concepts of biodynamics, some of them do require a great deal of faith, but in my experience many of the methods we used gave us great results.

Biodynamics is regarded as one of the most sustainable forms of agriculture. There is no use of artificial chemicals on the plants or the soil. A biodynamic farmer or gardener pays particular attention to the health of the soil. Where we worked, the soil in the region is primarily clay. In the greenhouses we relied heavily on adding compost to the soil. In biodynamics, the health of the soil is very important, as it should be in any garden or farm. To achieve good soil health biodynamics relies on composting and biodynamic preparations.

Biodynamic Preparations:

There are 9 biodynamic preparations. They are numbered 500 – 508 . We also used another preparation on the farm known as Barrel Compost or BC.

The preparations 500 and 501 are used as field sprays. 500 is used to improve (it stimulates humus formation) and also is good for root development. The 501 prep is used for the development of the plants leaves.

The preparations 502 – 507 are used in the compost pile. I had ideas on composting prior to arriving at the farm and I tried different methods of producing the finished compost. The piles that produced the best results were the piles treated with the biodynamic preparations.

The biodynamic preparation 508 is used to control funguses.

The preparation known as BC (barrel compost) was my favorite as a work saver. It is used as a spray over the soil, in place of compost.

Biodynamic Calendar

The emphasis that biodynamics places on the relationship of the farm to the cosmos has resulted in a biodynamic calendar which was the creation of Maria Thun. The calendar is used by many farmers and gardeners as a guide to the best times to sow seeds, transplanting, harvesting and cutting. At the farm we would only cut things back at the optimal time of the month. In the greenhouses we were harvesting every day, so this wasn't really practical. However, we would do our planting and pruning based on the calendar.

Biodynamic Preparations

Biodynamic Ashing:

This is an interesting technique. My personal experience with ashing hasn't allowed me to come up with a conclusion on its effectiveness, but it is an interesting idea.

Ashing is used to control pests and weeds. For weeds, the seeds of the weed are collected and then burnt and the ashes are spread like a pepper over the area you are having a problem. For invertebrate pests, the pests are collected and burnt and the ashes are mixed with wood ash and then spread like a pepper over the problem area.

Biodynamic wines are becoming popular
Biodynamic wines are becoming popular
wine and cheese
wine and cheese

Biodynamic Conclusions:

I love the idea of treating the soil, plants, animals as a living inter-dependent organism. My experience with biodynamics has given me proof of its effectiveness. I am striving to live a more self-sufficient life and applying most of the biodynamic theories to my gardens will help. For anyone interested in getting started in biodynamics, there are a number of good books available. It is interesting reading and will probably challenge some of your ideas on gardening.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)