Biodynamic agriculture is an approach that views the whole agricultural system as an interconnected living organism, seeking to harmonise it with natural and cosmic rhythms to improve soil health, biodiversity and the quality of the food produced.
The principles of biodynamic agriculture
- Biodynamic agriculture organises agricultural activities such as sowing, transplanting and harvesting, according to a calendar based on the phases of the moon and planetary positions;
- Specific natural compounds (e.g. grasses, minerals and manure) are used in biodynamic agriculture to stimulate vital processes in the soil and improve crop health;
- Biodynamic agriculture applies crop rotation, diversification of agricultural ecosystems and the creation of high-quality compost to maintain the natural balance of the soil and prevent pest and disease problems while reducing dependence on chemical fertilisers.
Biodynamic agriculture originated in 1924 from the teachings of philosopher Rudolf Steiner as a holistic approach that integrates respect for the laws of life (bio) and the forces acting on its substances (dynamic). The principles put forward by the founder of Steinerian medicine and pedagogy responded to the demands of a group of farmers who were struggling with problems of crop degeneration caused by the use of chemical products in fertilisation and plant protection, new breeding techniques and the intensification of agriculture. In Italy, the biodynamic farming movement began to take root in the 1930s. The principles of harmony and interconnectedness between the earth, plants, animals and cosmic influences at the heart of biodynamic agriculture have spread successfully in various regions of the world.
Many farmers claim the numerous benefits of biodynamic agriculture, including: the promotion of soil health and biodiversity through reduced reliance on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides; the production of high quality, nutritious food; and a nurturing of the connection between farmers, consumers and local communities. However, there is also debate about the scientific nature of some of the practices and concepts of biodynamic agriculture, especially those related to cosmology.