For centuries human beings have been involved in natural and organic farming practices, but for the last hundred years or longer civilization has moved away from our former agricultural techniques in exchange for chemicals, pesticides, and heavy machinery. All change isn’t necessarily good change and these days a lot of farms have compromised healthy, great tasting food, and the environmental integrity of their lands in order to mass produce and make a profit. Since discovering how harmful and polluting chemicals in farming can be some farms have started to look for more natural and sustainable alternatives. Biodynamic agriculture seems to be one possible answer.
Biodynamic agriculture views each farmland as an individual eco-system and strives to maintain a balanced and natural relationship within that eco-system. Starting in 1924 as a response to the rapid degradation of soil, crops, and livestock due to chemical use, biodynamic agriculture relies on composting and maintaining the health of soil composition through nutrient recycling.
This approach to farming uses natural methods for fertilizing and harvesting crops and for keeping pests away. There are nine basic field and crop preparations that were originally believed to provide cosmic forces into the soil that would aid in growth and nutrient recycling. While ‘cosmic forces’ is an abstract method of measurement for crop success, some benefits to using these natural preparations have been found. The first two preparations are used to prepare the field for planting while the rest are concerned with speeding up the compost cycle.
All preparations used are made from natural ingredients and have been found to aid in disease resistance in some crops as well as reintroducing nutrients into the soil for fertilization. Many studies have been done to compare biodynamic agriculture with both commercial and other organic methods of farming. The results have shown the biodynamic farms have significantly healthier soil than commercial farms that use chemical, and soil that is comparable to other organic methods because of the common use of composting materials.
Many critics use the superstitious leanings of the foundation of biodynamic agriculture as an argument against the effectiveness of the practice, but results have been consistent that biodynamic farming does have benefits for the soil especially when compared to mainstream chemical based practices. Whether the success of biodynamic agriculture is due to science or magic remains unclear, but whatever it is, it seems to be working.