The following definition of biodynamic agriculture was written by Hugh Lovel, author of A Biodynamic Farm, in December 2012
BIODYNAMIC AGRICULTURE: Bio (life) dynamic (processes); Biodynamic
agriculture involves working with life processes. This does not mean
physical substance or chemistry are ignored. The biodynamic approach to
agriculture emphasizes life processes which have potent organisational
(syntropic) effects to engage minerals and chemical reactions. The use of
what are called ‘biodynamic preparations’ establishes, increases and
enhances life processes. The question is, what is a LIFE process and what
are the life processes we are talking about?
Nineteenth and twentieth century physics focused on life-LESS processes.
With these energy flowed from higher concentration to lower concentration,
as without life all energy flows from order toward chaos in a process called
entropy. However, it became recognised in the mid twentieth century that
order also arises out of chaos. It does this cyclically at boundaries or
surfaces, which means energy flows from lower to higher concentration over
time periods that begin and end in a process called syntropy. Life processes
are syntropic, and a variety of these can be distinguished in regard to
plants, so let’s look at what these are.
In the soil, the processes involved in life are mineral release, nitrogen
fixation, digestion and nutrient uptake. These are related to the lime
complex commonly referred to as the CEC or as cations. Because biodynamics
comes from an awareness of the influences of the context on life processes,
these processes are correlated with the planets between the sun and the
earth, namely mercury, venus and the moon.
However, plants live both in the soil AND the atmosphere, and in the
atmosphere the processes are quite different and complimentary to the soil
processes. What goes on in the atmosphere is photosynthesis, blossoming,
fruiting and ripening. These processes are related to silica and to the
planets beyond the sun and the earth, namely mars, Jupiter and Saturn.
In large part, biodynamics involves getting a dynamic interplay going between what goes on above ground and what goes on below.
Plants draw in energy and carbon-the basis of life-via photosynthesis. By
doing so, they build up sugars and carbohydrates in their sap during the day
and a portion of this drains down to plants’ root tips and are exuded into
the soil around the tender young root growth of the plant. This feeds a
honey-like syrup to the soil foodweb which uses the energy to release
minerals such as silica, lime and phosphorous along with various trace
mineral co-factors that provide for nitrogen fixation.
Nitrogen fixation is VERY energy intensive as it takes roughly 10 units of
sugar to fix one unit of amino acid. Moreover, nitrogen fixing microbes
don’t just gift the nitrogen they fix to plants. However, protozoa and other
soil animal life eat mineral releasing and nitrogen fixing microbes, thus
excreting a steady stream of freshly digested milk-like nourishment rich in
amino acids and minerals chelates, which the plant takes up from the soil.
This milk-like nourishment is the basis for chlorophyll assembly in the leaf
and for the duplication of the DNA and the protein chemistry basic to plant
From the biodynamic point of view it is enormously important that the
soluble salt levels in the soil are as low as possible while the insoluble
but available nutrients stored in humus are abundant. Partly this is because
when the plant takes up amino acids instead of nitrogen salts the efficiency
of the plant chemistry is dramatically increased and photosynthetic
efficiency is multiplied. Also, soluble salts in the soil are toxic to the
nitrogen fixing and mineral releasing micro-life in the soil as soluble
salts amount to their waste, in which case they shut down and fail to
function as might be expected of any organism which had to live in its own
The bottom line is the more dynamic the interplay between what goes on above
ground and what goes on below, the more robustly plants grow, the more
efficiently they utilize the resources at their disposal, the more fully
they achieve their genetic potential and the more strongly they express
syntropic (life) processes.
Basically the aim of biodynamic farming is to achieve self-sufficiency where
the farm no longer requires outside inputs to be fertile and productive.
This means that any inputs a farm requires along the way of becoming
self-sufficient should be considered as remedies for a farm that has fallen
ill. This method has proven itself over the past 85 plus years as many
‘biodynamic’ farms have come close enough to this ideal as to be virtually
self-sufficient while producing high yielding crops of the highest quality
and exporting somewhere in the range of 8 per cent or less of their total
biomass production annually.