Biodynamic Farming 101
THE BEGINNING OF BIODYNAMICS
Biodynamic agriculture was the first farming system of what we now refer to as organic farming, making it the oldest ecological and “green” farming practice in the world. Organic farming standards as we know them today are a “watered down” version of Biodynamic teachings and lectures, created by Dr. Rudolf Steiner almost 100 years ago.
Back then, European farmers had noticed a rapid decline in their seed fertility, crop vitality and animal health. Dr. Steiner created a series of lectures, in which he presented the farm as a self-sustaining, living organism, focusing on farm vitality. Biodynamic® farming is one of the best models of Regenerative Agriculture.
WHAT DOES BIODYNAMIC MEAN?
Biodynamic comes from the Greek words "bio," meaning "life," and "dyn," which means "force."
ORGANIC VS. BIODYNAMIC
The international Biodynamic certifying group, Demeter, was established in Europe in 1928, and in the United States in 1985, while the National Organic Program (NOP) was established in the United States in 2002. Biodynamic® certification (Demeter International) requires that the entire farm be certified using organic standards as a baseline, and then takes that a step further by requiring that additional standards be met before certification is awarded. Here are just some of the other required practices in order to become Demeter-certified Biodynamic.
BIODYNAMICS AND THE USE OF GMOS
Biodynamic farming is adamantly opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, gardening and food processing. International Biodynamic standards forbid the use of any GMOs and ingredients (including animal feeds) that would never occur in the natural world.
BIODYNAMIC FARMING IS ALL ABOUT BUILDING NUTRIENT-RICH SOIL
The backbone of Biodynamic farming is the creation of nutrient-rich soil in which to grow nutrient-rich produce. This is achieved by replacing all toxic chemicals with regular crop rotation, planting trees and shrubs within farmland, growing cover crops (crops grown specifically to add nutrients to the soil) and the regular application of natural compost.
Biodynamic farms set aside 10% of the total farm acreage to attract and support pollinators like bees & butterflies and beneficial insects that prey on crop-damaging pests. Surrounding wetlands, grasslands, and forests are all considered an integral part of the farm's ecosystem.
FARMING ACCORDING TO NATURE'S CYCLE
Biodynamic planting and harvesting are structured around lunar and astrological cycles that are said to play a role in the the cycle of the plant, much in the same way that the lunar cycle affects the tides and vitality of the ocean.
BIODYNAMIC FARMING CAN REVERSE CLIMATE CHANGE
Other than the ocean, the soil holds the most carbon of any other place in the world, which is important for the natural balance of the earth and what we grow in it.
Unfortunately, agricultural practices have degraded our soil to the point where much of it isn’t able to hold carbon. As deforestation and industrial agriculture methods take over massive portions of the world’s agricultural areas, the carbon in soil is released into the air as Carbon Dioxide (CO2). This increases the amount of CO2 in the air and contributes to global warming and climate change.
By using organic fertilizer, no-tillage, crop rotation, cover crops and composting soil, Biodynamic farming practices take an environmentally friendly approach that can recover from degradation and actually reverse the process. These practices take CO2 out of the air and instead absorb it.
This concept, called regenerative farming has been shown to absorb nearly 3% of global carbon emissions. Some scientists estimate that with enough regenerative farming, the global carbon emissions absorbed back into the soil could be up to 15%. Studies show that the soil may be our best chance to reverse the effects of global warming and CO2 emissions.
MAINTAINING THE PURITY OF THE FINISHED PRODUCT
Twelve Biodynamic processing standards, developed for specific product types, require minimal manipulation so that the agricultural ingredients and manufacturing processes used define the final product.