Biodynamics Supports Integrity and Diversity in Seeds and Breeds
Biodynamic farmers and gardeners favor open-pollinated, heirloom, and non-GMO seeds and heritage breeds of animals. Biodynamic farms work toward generating seed and animal stocks from within the farm, incorporating selection and breeding into farm activities when possible in order to develop unique, locally-adapted, and sensitized plants and animals with excellent nutrition and flavor, and resistance to pests and diseases. As in other aspects of biodynamics, earthly and cosmic influences are considered in developing plants and animals that can thrive in current conditions and contribute to the health of the farm and community.
Biodynamic Certification Upholds Agricultural Integrity
The Demeter Biodynamic® Standard for certification was established in 1928 and is managed worldwide by Demeter International. Over 5,000 farms encompassing more than 400,000 acres are certified in 60 countries around the globe. Biodynamic certification in the United States is managed by Demeter USA (www.demeter-usa.org) and uses the USDA organic standard as a foundation with additional requirements. Beyond organic certification, the Demeter Biodynamic Farm Standard requires that the whole farm, and not just a specific crop, is certified; crops and livestock are integrated and animals are treated humanely; imported fertility is kept to a minimum; the biodynamic preparations are regularly applied; at least 50% of livestock feed is grown on farm; at least 10% of the total farm acreage is set aside for biodiversity; and the farm upholds standards of social responsibility.
Biodynamics Cultivates Biodiversity
Biodynamic farms and gardens are inspired by the biodiversity of natural ecosystems and the uniqueness of each landscape. Annual and perennial vegetables, herbs, flowers, berries, fruits, nuts, grains, pasture, forage, native plants, and pollinator hedgerows can all contribute to plant diversity, amplifying the health and resilience of the farm organism. Diversity in domestic animals is also beneficial, as each animal species brings a different relationship to the land and unique quality of manure. The diversity of plant and animal life can be developed over time, starting with a few primary crops and one or two species of animals (even as small as earthworms or honeybees), and adding more species as the farm organism matures.
Biodynamic Sprays Enhance Soil and Plant Health
In addition to the compost preparations, several biodynamic preparations are applied as potentized liquid sprays to bring healing, vitality, and sensitivity to the farm and garden.7 Horn manure enhances the life of the soil and the relationship between soil and plants,8,9,10 and is made from cow manure buried inside a cow horn during the winter months. Horn silica increases plant immunity,11 strengthens photosynthesis, enhances ripening, and is prepared from ground quartz crystals buried in a cow horn over the summer months. Horsetail tea helps prevent fungal diseases and balances the watery element in plants and soil. Together, the biodynamic spray and compost preparations bring plants into a dynamic relationship with soil, water, air, warmth, and cosmos to help them develop in a healthy and balanced way, access the full spectrum of nutrients they need, and become more resilient to pests, diseases, and extreme climate conditions.12
Biodynamics Approaches Pests and Diseases Holistically
Biodynamics focuses on creating the conditions for optimal soil, plant, and animal health, providing balanced nutrition and supporting healthy immunity. When farms and gardens incorporate a robust diversity of plants and animals and create habitat for natural predators, pests and diseases have few places to thrive. When a disease or pest presents itself, it is often pointing to an imbalance in the farm organism, and can be seen as nature’s way of trying to correct the imbalance. In the case of an outbreak, biological controls can be used, but a biodynamic farmer also tries to discern the underlying imbalance and find ways to adjust management practices to bring the farm organism to greater health.