“Biodynamic is the New Organic:” This Sustainable, Pesticide-Free Farming Practice Saw Record Growth in 2016
-by Nick Meyer
Most people have heard of organic farming, but have you ever heard of biodynamic?
The farming practice utilizes a bevy of techniques that go beyond the typical organic standards, while working to make the land a holistic and self-sustaining, independent system that produces high quality and nutritious crops year-after-year with minimal if any outside inputs.
While the practices have been deemed controversial because of a lack of “official” research and a perception of outdated methods, proponents argue that biodynamic farming can be just as successful as organic and conventional styles of farming — and perhaps even better than both, if utilized correctly.
What is Biodynamic Farming?
While both proper organic and biodynamic farming do not allow toxic synthetic pesticides like Monsanto’s Roundup and/or glyphosate, biodynamic takes things a step further by prohibiting the use of outside fertilizers. The system must produce its own fertility, in the form of compost and nutrients, making it highly sustainable and efficient.
Biodynamic farming often follows the principles of Rudolf Steiner, who implemented the positioning of the stars and the moon into his systems as part of a biodynamic calendar to maximize and plan the best times for planting and growing specific crops. Using the calendar is not a requirement for biodynamic farmers to become certified, but proponents say that it can improve yields.
Other techniques include the utilization of various herbal preparations, cow manure (traditionally buried in a cow horn under the soil to enrich it and stimulate root growth), and mineral solutions to make sure that soil health is prioritized.
Is Biodynamic Farming the “New Organic?”
Biodynamic farming is certified by a non-profit called Demeter USA, and the style saw incredible success in 2016 to the tune of a 16% overall increase in total acreage, to nearly 22,000 acres, as mentioned in this feature article from The Guardian.
The acreage increase has coincided with an increased interest from pro-organic and sustainable food companies. As mentioned in the article, over a dozen U.S. food companies including the Republic of Tea, Back to The Roots, Amy’s Kitchen, Lakewood Juices and Lundberg Family Farms have begun sourcing from biodynamic growers. The wine industry has also jumped on board after noticing how well it works for grape production, flavor and quality.
“Winemakers couldn’t help but notice that some of the finest wines in the world are made from grapes grown in biodynamic vineyards,” said Elizabeth Candelario, the co-director of Demeter. “Vineyard and winery adoption has occurred so quickly that (the U.S.) now has the third largest number of biodynamic vineyards and wineries in the world, following France and Italy.”
According to the article, Demeter is taking the unique step of collecting and analyzing topsoil samples to determine whether or not soil quality is improving year-after-year; one that it hopes will showcase one of the farming system’s biggest benefits at a time when soil health has been declining rapidly due to chemical farming techniques.
For more information on biodynamic farming and its benefits, potential, and what both supporters and detractors are saying, check out the full article in The Guardian by clicking on this link.
You can also watch a documentary movie on biodynamic farming called ‘One Man, One Cow, One Planet’ on how biodynamic farming can “save the world” by clicking on this link.