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Bio-Dynamics[Bio - living processes, Dynamic - nature's play on forces]

Bio-dynamics is another form of sustainable agriculture and it's roots can be traced back to the founder of the "Science of organics" [Steiner, 1980, p.103] being the famous German poet and philosopher - Johann Wolfgang Goethe [1749-1832], who is also known for the "archetypal plant" and Goethe's Metamorphosis Of Plants [1790].

Bio-dynamics was developed in direct response to European farmers' requests for assistance when they realised that their once traditionally relative sustainable farming methods were breaking down. The actual development of Bio-dynamics started in 1923 when a group of farmers asked; "Rudolf Steiner's advice about the increasing degeneration they had noticed in seed strains and in many cultivated plants ... A second group went to Dr. Steiner in concern at the increase in animal disease," [Steiner, 1974, p.5]. In effect farmers were concerned that their farming systems were no longer sustainable and Bio-dynamics was developed as a way of addressing this fundamental problem. From this humble beginning the eventual establishment of the biological - dynamic movement was formed. "Bio" meaning living processes and "dynamic" meaning nature's play on forces. The Bio-dynamic method of farming was nurtured with the philosophy to introduce farmers to "the basic new way of thinking about the relationship of earth and soil to the formative forces of the ethral, astral and ego activity of nature," [Steiner, 1977, p.8].

Bio-dynamics places a relatively high emphasis on cosmic forces, for plant growth develops under the influence of opposing polaric forces;


Soil life; abundance of soil
nutrients; water supply;
average atmospheric moisture


Light; warmth; other climate conditions and their yearly and daily rhythms

[adapted from Koepf 1976]

In Australia under the initial guidance of Alex Podolinsky, Bio-dynamic Agriculture is very much focused on practical commercial farming, which focuses on the formation of humus and developing top soil. Podolinsky believes that conserving a degraded or dying soil resource is not enough. Top soil needs to be developed or rebuilt even where it has never naturally occurred [Podolinsky, 1989]. In effect the benefit of thousands of years of cow manure in Europe can be replaced in Australia with the 'cow power' of 500 which can act as an igniting point, to quickly gain a similar result and giving the land a new lease of life [Tompkin, Bird, 1991].

Podolinsky's Bio-dynamic practices are used across Australia with the aim to develop the maximum depth of top soil possible on their farming properties [Tompkins, Bird, 1991]. Traditionally natural soil formation is often thought to take hundreds and sometimes thousands of years [Simms, 1970; Roberts, 1995; eds Edwards, Madden, Millar, House [1990]], yet Bio-dynamic farmers have experienced the formation of top soil within the first twelve months of its practice. Twenty five millimetres of new top soil can be developed within five years or less [Podolinsky, 1989].

An essential feature of Bio-dynamic farming is the use of certain "preparations" numbering 500 to 507. The first two preparations are the most commonly used and will be considered as part of the specific management practices. The following list shows some examples of specific management practices.

  • Preparation 500
  • Single tine ripping
  • Compost with prep's
  • Preparation 501
  • Cosmic planting
  • Peppers or Ashes
  • Prepared 500
Bio-dynamics aims to increase the biological activity of the soil, but it does not work unless it is correctly applied. A further limitation to Bio-dynamics is that in the beginning years it is not advisable to practice it without some form of supervision. Podolinsky goes as far as to state that "it is very difficult to practice Bio-dynamics unless a farmer has someone who can train and advise him during the crucial beginning stages, and for several years after that" [Podolinsky, 1985].

The role of Preparation 500 however has largely overcome this problem in broad scale situations. Bio-dynamic farmers generally have a better practical understanding of the biology of the soil and cosmic influences than non-Bio-dynamic farmers, however the practice has some restrictive limitations for when getting started there is an apparent need for supervision to obtain the best results, a factor which this author can verify [Podolinsky, 1985].

The information contained in this publication has been formulated in good faith, the contents do not take into account all the factors which need to be considered before putting that information into practice. Accordingly, no person should rely on anything contained herein as a substitute for specific professional advice.
S.O.S. Rev 9.2 All rights reserved. Contact: www.healthyag.com © Gwyn Jones 2001

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