Biodynamic agriculture is an alternative farm management mode, free from synthetic inputs.
It has participated in the development of organic agriculture and is based on philosopher Rudolf Steiner‘s ideology, called anthroposophy. Biodynamic agriculture was born in 1924 because of German farmers who were concerned about their crop plant degeneration and cattle fertility loss.
Biodynamic agriculture differs from organic agriculture in as much as it involves specific practices aimed at improving plant vitality by strengthening plant, ground and environmental interactions. Since 1932, the international association Demeter has granted the “biodynamic agriculture” label to the farms that follow its specifications.
Biodynamic agriculture is based on the concept of the farm as an autonomous and living organism and structure. It is commonly seen as a quest for a balance between the production system and its environment, meaning the whole Earth. Some biodynamic practices are considered as biodynamic pillars, such as lunar and cultural calendar synchronisation, the use of preparations (for the crops and/or the compost) made from medicinal plants, cow dung and quartz. The dynamization of slurries by stirring the preparation is another one. Biodynamic agriculture and organic agriculture share the multiannual crop rotations, as well as the use of mixed plants with mutual benefits and the use of compost made from animal droppings.
Significant research has been done about biodynamic agriculture since the end of WWII, especially in Germany, Switzerland and England. However, this practice is still criticized in France, as it has not been considered as a serious topic of research so far. Nevertheless, this point of view seems to be changing, particularly in the wine production community. This is partly due to the spreading of agroecology. Among all countries, France currently gathers the second largest number of biodynamic farms, right behind Germany.
References to explore
Biodynamic Association. What is biodynamics ? Consulted on January 18th, 2019.
Demeter Association, Inc. Biodynamic Principles and Practices. Consulted on January 18th, 2019.
Paull J., 2011. The Secrets of Koberwitz: The Diffusion of Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Course and the Founding of Biodynamic Agriculture. Journal of Social Research & Policy, vol 2 (1), pp 19-29.