Biodynamic agriculture

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Biodynamic agriculture means farming according to anthroposophical principles, which were set out in detail by Rudolf Steiner, particularly in his "Agriculture Course" (Lit.:GA 327), given in 1924 on the Koberwitz estate near Breslau, for a group of farmers from the anthroposophical movement.

Fundamental principles

The farm is regarded as an organism and individuality, which has its own characteristics. Therefore, the use of all raw materials and inputs that do not also come from biodynamic farms is subject to severe restrictions. Organic is to be understood as a requirement to have as many animal and plant species as possible on the farm. The keeping of ruminants, usually cattle, is obligatory. The dung of these animals is used as fertiliser. The more diverse and varied a farm produces, the more stable the environment should be. Nature conservation (biodiversity, biotopes) is "incidentally" taken into account, e.g. by planting hedges, creating field margins and avoiding the use of chemical pesticides. In contrast to organic farming, specific preparations are used, taking into account the "cosmic rhythms" of the moon and the planets. In plant cultivation, care measures (weed control) as well as sowing/planting and harvesting are coordinated with the lunar phase and planetary positions (if the soil condition permits), recommendations are given for certain times of the day (e.g. some applications should only be made early in the morning after sunrise).

In the field of plant breeding, the aim is to breed the plant "according to its nature". This means, for example, that a wheat plant should be particularly wheat-typical and not have spelt traits (dinkel wheat). Hence the consistent rejection of genetic engineering.

The effect of the biodynamic methods and preparations is, in contrast to the bio-organic ones, difficult to prove with the usual scientific methods, since the dilutions, for example in the case of the preparations horn silica and horn dung, are often in homeopathic doses. Special image forming methods have therefore been developed for the quality assurance of the products.

Scientific results on the effectiveness of the biodynamic method

Several scientific studies have been able to prove, for example, that the vitality of cultivated soils increases significantly after only a few years of biodynamic cultivation, measured in terms of species diversity and quantity of microorganisms.

Research by the anthroposophical Schweizer Forschungsinstituts für biologischen Landbau (FIBL) (Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture) over more than 20 years suggests that, compared to conventional and organic-biological farming, the use of biodynamic preparations in biodynamic farming has increased the fertility of the soil.[1] For the essential parameters such as earthworm biomass, number of weed species or number of ground beetle species, the biodynamically cultivated trial areas were mostly ahead of the organically-biologically and conventionally cultivated ones. This evaluation is known as the DOK trial (dynamic, organic, conventional).[2] Furthermore, the Darmstadt Institute for Biodynamic Research, also an anthroposophical institution, was able to show that the species diversity, the amount of microorganisms and the humus content of the cultivated soils increased significantly after only a few years of biodynamic cultivation.[3]

An endowed chair at the University of Kassel for research into biodynamic agriculture was unfortunately closed after a few years because of alleged "unscientificness".


The farm with its unique flora and fauna is regarded as a living organism. Cattle husbandry, the farm's own seeds and fodder, fertilisation with composted or fermented farm manure (preparations) and legume cultivation are the basis for a self-sufficient farm cycle in which soil, plants, animals and people live in harmonious balance and can unite to form a vital overall organism. Instead of chemical mineral fertilisers and pest control, biodynamic farming uses special herbal, quartz and manure preparations for fertilisation, pest control and compost preparation. Preparations made from cow dung and from medicinal plants such as dandelion or valerian promote the vitality of the soil. The components are dynamically mixed with water, allowing their subtle qualities to unfold, and applied in homeopathic dilution. All processes, from preparation to application, must take place at the right time, which is determined by the interaction of earthly and cosmic rhythms. The fact that wood harvested during a waning moon is much more resistant is already widely recognised today; but other cosmic rhythms also have a significant effect on earthly life processes (constellation research).

Today, biodynamic agriculture can look back on 80 years of success. Biodynamically produced products are marketed under the Demeter trademark.


  • Adalbert Graf von Keyserlingk: Koberwitz 1924. Geburtsstunde einer neuen Landwirtschaft, Hilfswerk Elisabeth 1985, ASIN B0050G36Q4; New Edition: Books on Demand 2018, ISBN 978-3752862775
  • Hugo Erbe: Präparate zur Förderung des elementarischen Lebens im biologisch-dynamischen Land- und Gartenbau, Lohengrin-Verlag, Tellingstedt 2003
  • Christian von Wistinghausen, Wolfgang Scheibe, Eckard von Wistinghausen, Uli Johannes König: Anleitung zur Herstellung der Biologisch-Dynamischen Präparate, Arbeitsheft Nr. 1, 4. erweitere Auflage, Verlag Lebendige Erde, Darmstadt 2007, ISBN 3-921536-56-0
  • Christian von Wistinghausen, Wolfgang Scheibe, Eckard von Wistinghausen, Uli Johannes König: Anleitung zur Anwendung der biologisch-dynamischen Feldspritz- und Düngerpräparate, Arbeitsheft Nr. 2, Verlag Lebendige Erde, Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 978-941232-07-5
  • John Paull: Biodynamic Agriculture: The Journey from Koberwitz to the World, 1924-1938. in: Journal of Organic Systems, 6(1), 2011
  • John Paull: The Pioneers of Biodynamics in USA: The Early Milestones of Organic Agriculture in the United States, in: American Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development Vol. 6, No. 2, 2019, pp. 89-94
  • Rudolf Steiner: Geisteswissenschaftliche Grundlagen zum Gedeihen der Landwirtschaft, 8. Auflage, GA 327 (1999) English: German: pdf pdf(2) html mobi epub
References to the work of Rudolf Steiner follow Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works (CW or GA), Rudolf Steiner Verlag, Dornach/Switzerland, unless otherwise stated.
Email: URL:
Index to the Complete Works of Rudolf Steiner - Aelzina Books
A complete list by Volume Number and a full list of known English translations you may also find at Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works
Rudolf Steiner Archive - The largest online collection of Rudolf Steiner's books, lectures and articles in English.
Rudolf Steiner Audio - Recorded and Read by Dale Brunsvold - Anthroposophic Press Inc. (USA)
Rudolf Steiner Handbook - Christian Karl's proven standard work for orientation in Rudolf Steiner's Collected Works for free download as PDF.
This article is partly based on the article Biologisch-dynamische Landwirtschaft from the free encyclopedia de.wikipedia and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike. Wikipedia has a list of authors available.