What is Biodynamic Agriculture?
Biodynamic agriculture, or simply ‘biodynamics,’ is a farming system based on deep ecological principles. These arose as a reaction to the spread of specialised agriculture and inorganic fertilisers at the turn of the twentieth century. In terms of methodological beliefs, biodynamic farming stands apart from other systems with its use of nine distinct preparations which consist of extracts from various source applied in minute proportions to plants, the soil, or compost.
In many ways, biodynamics is similar to traditional organic farming systems, especially in the biological and cultural principles guiding farming practices. However, it is distinct from other organic farming systems because it incorporates into its farming practices certain spiritual principles. These principles aim to tap into cosmic and non-physical forces believed to exert an enriching influence on the farm and on the living organisms (human and non-human) that inhabit it.
Biodynamics thus combines biological practices and dynamic practices intended to enhance its metaphysical aspects and make the farm’s rhythms coincide with Nature’s In encouraging planting by lunar phases, biodynamics acknowledges that in the same manner that the Earth’s tidal movements and magnetism are influenced by its relative positions to the moon and the sun, so are the phases of plant growth. The idea is that the waxing and waning moon phases exert different influences on plants.
The biodynamics planting calendar
The biodynamics planting calendar recognises that in the days leading to the 1st quarter, the moon’s gravity is weakening relative to the Earth’s but the intensity of moonlight is increasing. It is believed that this lunar phase induces good growth of both the root system and the leaves. Growth is increasing in a balanced manner. In the 2nd quarter leading to the full moon, lunar gravity grows stronger relative to Earth which leads to slower root growth. But leaf growth continues to spread as moonlight approaches full intensity. If root development has been good in previous stages, the root system can efficiently deliver water and nutrients to the leaves, resulting in good growth. During the 3rd quarter period, decreasing moonlight and weakening lunar gravitation suggest different activities for the biodynamic farmer. At this stage, leaf growth slows down whilst root growth picks up again as Earth’s gravity tugs at the plant’s roots. The 3rd quarter is a good time to transplant seedlings since the roots are active. This minimises the shock of transplantation and enhances the development of the root system. Seeds with long germination times (more than two weeks) should be sowed at this time. This puts them in a good position for sprouting in the subsequent new moon to the first quarter period.
In the 4th or last quarter, there is no moonlight and relatively stronger lunar gravity. Both root development and leaf growth will slacken. Where there was a balanced surge in growth during the first quarter, there is now a balanced slowdown in growth during the last quarter. In the biodynamic planting calendar, this is a period of rest for the plant, giving it time to prepare for the next surge with the onset of the next lunar cycle.
Biodynamic practices also recognise other forces beyond chemistry, physics and gravity. Vital life energy and astral forces are integral parts of biodynamic agriculture. For the biodynamic farmer, farming is not just a livelihood; it is a way of life.