Biodynamic agriculture

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Biodynamic agriculture comprises an ecological and sustainable system of agricultural production, particularly of food for humans that respects all creation. It is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. It includes many of the ideas of organic farming (but predates the term) and has as a core focus, the idea of the soil and the life on and in it as a living, sentient system.

Biodynamics is increasingly well known on the basis of its application to viticulture (grape growing) and to the production of biodynamic wine.

Two principles that can be said to be typical of Steiner's biodynamic theory have to do with composting and moon phases. In practice, these principles go far beyond the usual attention paid to such factors by pre-modern agriculturists and their modern counterparts in the organic movement. For example, Steiner suggested that the precise composition, position, shape, and handling of a compost piles made up of cow manure and plant trimmings was critical to making it truly biodynamic. He further suggested that the beneficial organic matter and humus produced in the resulting composts would be greatly enhanced by specific additions of homeopathic doses of special "preparations" often made in ways reminiscent of Aryvedic or Chinese medicine. The reason for such additions apparently has to do with subtle forces creating balance and harmony in the natural world akin to enhancing the immunological functions of the human body with homeopathic or naturopathic approaches. Practitioners who have the patience to follow Steiner's detailed instructions have claimed significant results.

Opponents of biodynamic agriculture argue that there is nothing to be gained by following Steiner's teachings, and that similar or equal results can be obtained using standard organic farming principles. In particular, the use of scientific and philosophical concepts, for example those of balance and harmony, beyond the conventional critical thinking of the Western world stand out as points of contention - as well as of interest.



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