Biodynamic agriculture is a way of seeing the agricultural world in a biological way, which has non-contemporary origins, but in the 1920s, thanks to the ideas of a German philosopher and scholar: Rudolph Steiner. It is thought that the biological way of thinking that provides for respect for nature, the desire for healthy and pesticide-free foods, the greater attention to insects, plants and living beings of all kinds, belongs to contemporary feeling, which is opposed to a vision of agriculture of pure exploitation of the land of past times.
Often in Italy Steiner is considered a pedagogist, who introduced educational methods still used today; in reality he was much more than a mere educator, his vision of the world is organic and articulated, so much so as to have inspired various branches of knowledge.
Steiner's vision, applied by biodynamic farmers, is to be put in antithesis with the vision of an agriculture aimed only at drawing the greatest possible amount of food from the ground; Steiner postulates an agriculture that is based on an overall organic vision of the farm; as if the whole farm were a living organism, of which each part must be developed, cared for and looked after.
The methods of biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture aims to make the farm organism live better, producing fruits that are as healthy as possible and that contain the most suitable ingredients for feeding.
On a biodynamic farm ancient and modern practices are used, with total respect for nature, living beings, plants and insects.
So a biodynamic farm is certainly aimed at the production of organic food, not as a main push, but as the result of a vision of the world; that is, through biodynamic agriculture, only organic products are obtained.
In fact, biodynamic farms do not use all those mechanistic methods that until a few decades ago seemed the only methods to obtain food from the earth. So in a biodynamic farm there are no concepts such as: preventive antifungal treatments, chemical pesticide treatments, synthetic fertilizers.
Rather, methods are used that best maintain the quality of the soil, of the fertile humus in it, in an attempt to produce qualitatively healthy plants, vegetables and farm animals.
The techniques of biodynamic cultivation
Those who decide to cultivate with the biodynamic method must pay close attention to the enrichment of the soil, trying to fertilize the soil in the most natural way possible:
- Use of natural fertilizers; such as animal horns and nails, composting products, manure.
- Implementation of agricultural rotation techniques, including the use of green manure plants among the various crops; in ancient times the soil was enriched by sowing the soil in the resting periods of plants that enrich the soil, typically plants that present nitrogen-fixing bacteria among their roots. The cultivation of these plants instead of removing nutrients from the soil, adds; at the end of the vegetative cycle these plants are not removed from the soil, but are left on the plot and reworked together with the clods, so that they further enrich the substrate.
- Use of completely natural, vegetable-based products; in biodynamic agriculture macerates are used based on widespread plants, such as dandelion, and yarrow, prepared in a particular way and used in very small quantities.
- Observation of lunar cycles, and carrying out of farm work according to these cycles that have always regulated life on our planet.
- Observation of very precise rules for the use of macerated, for watering the fields, for sowing, for any activity that must be carried out on a farm.
Biodynamic agriculture: results
As in many cases, biodynamic agriculture has appraisers and detractors; Since Steiner's time, biodynamic farms have spread all over the world, and in general the products of biodynamic farms are identified by the Demeter brand.
Certainly the detractors of this method of cultivation have many implications to comment and to strike; what is certain is that biodynamic farms place high quality organic food products on the market, which do not damage the few resources of our planet and have a low ecological impact, with little pollution.
In addition to this, many scientific studies have found high levels of mineral salts in biodynamic preparations, high levels of bioavailable nitrogen for the fields.
In general, for the consumer, biodynamic products are synonymous with high quality, so it seems that Steiner has succeeded.