Have you ever heard of biodynamic farming? If not, you’ve definitely heard of organic farming. Well, biodynamic farming is very similar to organic farming, so it is also a type of alternative agricultural practice. However, biodynamic farming is more esoteric, since it relies on some concepts put forth by Rudolf Steiner, an Australian philosopher and esotericist.
Biodynamic farming is all about growing plants in a balanced way, so as to also take care of the soil and of the livestock. That is because farmers specializing in biodynamic farming believe that all these elements are interconnected on a spiritual and mystical level. Today, we are going to explore 5 biodynamic farming principles that will help us get a better understanding of this concept.
The 5 Main Biodynamic Farming Principles and Practices
1. Plant Diversity
One of the main principles highlighted by biodynamic farming has to do with planting and how it affects the soil. Since keeping the soil healthy is one of the main concerns of these types of farmers, it is only natural that they struggled to find a way to make sure they don’t damage it in any way. This is how they came up with plant diversity, which basically means plating as many different things as possible on the same area of land. You might be thinking that this is not efficient at all, but in fact if you mix crops, the plants will support each other.
Just to give you an example of what we mean by support, imagine a type of plant is taking all of the nutrients from the soil, which would definitely go against the principle of keeping the soil healthy. One option you have is to plant something that is able to replenish those exact nutrients in the same place. So unlike monocropping, which is what most traditional farming practices rely on, biodynamic farming likes to “mix things up” and allow plants to help each other and help the soil at the same time.
2. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is not something only biodynamic farmers use, but it is still one of the most important principles of this type of farming. The idea of crop rotation is that if you grow the same type of plant year after year in the same place, this will provide the soil with only one type of nutrient and no diversity whatsoever. Furthermore, the soil is more likely to get eroded, which would also affect the amount of crops you get and how qualitative they are. Not to mention the fact that pests will get used to one type of plant and you will be basically providing them with ammunition to destroy your crops.
Overall, crop rotation helps farmers get a healthier and more fertile soil, reduce parasites and pests, keep weeds under control, and provide the soil with several types of nutrients.
3. Animal Life
As we’ve already mentioned, livestock is extremely important in biodynamic farming as well. For biodynamic farmers, their farms are a living system made up of many parts that interconnect and support one another. One of the things farmers insist on is diversity, and not just crop diversity, but animal diversity as well. Reaching a balance between livestock and crops is a great way to make sure that you will only fertilize your farm with manure, and that you won’t have to rely on outside fertilizers that might hurt your crops.
The ideal you should strive to reach is a cycle in which the manure coming from the animals in your farm is enough to help the crops develop nicely and then feed the animals in turn. This is how plants and animals help each other develop. Moreover, this is why if you are interested in biodynamic farming, you should focus on diversifying your livestock, which will make animals healthier and your crops better.
We can’t talk about biodynamic farming without also mentioning the principle of composting. If you want to have a healthy soil to grow your crops in, you will need to pay a lot of attention to how you compost it. That means that all the organic waste and recycled manure that you no longer have any use for in your farm should be gathered by you into piles and then expected to turn into what is called humus.
Once this happens, you have to spread this humus all over the soil, since it helps stabilize the nitrogen levels and provide the land with plenty of nutrients. Biodynamic farming is not the only type of farming that uses this process of composting, which says a lot about how effective it is. Compost works as a natural pesticide, soil fertilizer, soil conditioner, it is used to control soil erosion and as a landfill cover.
5. Life Forces
Finally, the last biodynamic farming principle we wanted to mention today is the amount of importance that is given to life forces. Now, what we mean by life forces is the more spiritual aspect of biodynamic farming. For instance, it is believed that not only elements we can find on earth (such as those explained by biology, chemistry, or physics) are responsible for how a farm develops. Biodynamic farmers rely a great deal on the cosmos as well, and they pay attention to moon phases and seasonal and celestial cycles. Some of them use a sowing and planting calendar that is based on astrology, precisely because they believe in the connection between certain plants and cosmic constellations.
Biodynamic farming believes that terrestrial forces are not enough to make sense of life processes and farming, but that we also need to take into account the very important cosmic forces that make life possible. The farmer is not simply planting the crops, waiting for the harvest, and so on. He or she also meditates and connects with his or her farm on a much deeper and intimate level. The farmer is indeed a mediator between nature and the human race. He sees the need to reconnect with the land and nature in general, a thing that we all seem to have forgotten about while engaging in mode modern and dangerous farming practices.
Summing up Everything
Biodynamic farming is definitely one of the least conventional and most interesting types of alternative farming, and we hope we have managed to prove that today. Apart from being extremely helpful for our planet, this type of farming also doesn’t only focus on the importance of a certain element while neglecting the others. Which is extremely useful if we think about the fact that us humans are indeed connected in some way or another to the land and to the animals. Finally, it is interesting to explore the spiritual dimension of biodynamic farming and how it takes the activity of growing crops and animals to the next level.