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bio-dynamic Quality Produce

Outline

The soil is the most important basis of agriculture. Soils are gradually developed into a humus-rich, friable, well structured, well-drained state. Rudolf Steiner, in 1924, described a method of making a series of biological activator preparations that would powerfully influence soil development in all these aspects and allow plants to grow with optimum health, feeding naturally from the soil humus, not artificially from the soil water as described below.

Plant Feeding

Natural Plant Nutrition Nutrients are contained mostly in the soil colloidal humus, in a soluble state, available to plant roots, but held by the humus colloids. The soil water is relatively free of soluble minerals. Plants have no independent warmth metabolism as have animals, and rely on sun warmth to tell them when to feed. When sun warmth indicates, the plant takes up nutrients from the soil humus using fine hair feeder roots. Plants have to transpire (evaporate water from the leaves) continuously, just as we must breathe continuously, and the roots have to take water in from the soil to replace water lost from the leaves. Water uptake is essentially a separate process from nutrient uptake. Water is taken in by thicker, more vertical roots and is relatively free of dissolved minerals. The plant is metabolically balanced, with nutrient uptake matching growth needs as dictated by the sun. The plant is upright, a healthy green colour and resistant to insect and disease attack.
Unnatural Plant Nutrition When artificial, water soluble fertilisers, raw manures or poorly made composts are applied to the soil, minerals dissolve in, and spread throughout the soil water. The plant is thus forced to feed continuously because the water taken up by the roots, to replace that lost in transpiration, contains dissolved minerals - the role of the sun in governing feeding is diminished. Plants obtain more than they can metabolically use, and cells become over-full with mineral salts. The plant takes in more water to dilute these excess salts, but with the water comes more minerals. Cells be come distended with mineral salts and water, the plant becomes overblown and darker green in colour. Photosynthetic efficiency is adversely affected. The plant becomes more susceptible to insects and diseases, and flavour, nutritional value and keeping quality are impaired.

Biodynamic growers use a variety of materials and techniques to develop healthy humus levels, good structure and biological activity in the soil. Some of these are:

The Biodynamic Preparations


500 The most powerful substance on earth for the development of soil fertility. Sprayed on moist soil, it fosters microbial activity, humus levels and root growth, and leads to progressively better structured, richer, deeper and darker soils. It is made from cow manure.
501 The light spray. It is used to bring more light into plants when excess wateriness or fertility are present in plants. Plants become crisper and more upright, and develop more flavour, sweetness and keeping quality. 501 is made from quartz crystals.


Compost Preparations
The compost preparations, 502 - 507 are made from specially prepared plant materials and are used in compost heaps, and added to 500 to make what is known as prepared 500, an enhanced 500.

Cultivation

Biodynamic growers used carefully selected implements to conserve, and further develop soil structure. For instance, gardeners use thin tyned forks rather than spades for digging.

Sowing by the moon and stars
BD growers use a sowing chart developed as a result of many years of scientific research (not based on folklore or mysticism!). Plants can be influenced to grow more to root, leaf, flower or fruit. Pruning, transplanting, weeding can also be carried out at optimum times.

This is only the very briefest of outlines. Refer to the articles Biodynamics - an Introduction, and The Biodynamic Preparations in Biodynamic Growing No.1 (see www.bdgrowing.com) and to Alex Podolinsky's Bio-Dynamic Agriculture, Introductory Lectures, Vol 1 for more detail (see www.demeter.org.au)

As a consumer, when you buy DEMETER quality products you support the objectives and achievements of many farmers who, long before it became customary to talk of "sustainable" or "ecological" agriculture, practised all this.

John Cashmore of Nyonger Farm proudly supports the development of Environmental Rejuvenation through DEMETER Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Practices.

Salination and bio-dynamics



In general, salt scalds first occur in valleys. As much of Nyonger farm lies on the valley floor, it would be the first place to experience salt scalding.
Bio-dynamic farming practices have helped our salt problems to recede. See Case Study 1 on the Demeter Australia website where some salt affected land on Nyonger is discussed. Reclamation of Salinity Affected Farmland

Please send any comments and emails to John & Bernadette Cashmore: nyonger@gmail.com