A friend gave me some bio-dynamic barrel compost that he produced with much love. I've read up on what believers have to say about it, but am wondering if anyone has objectively explored verifying whether there is improvement in crops as a result of using this material in their compost piles. I am planning to use it in my next compost pile, but the million dollar question is whether I'll have the discipline to use this compost on half of some crops, and keep track of which half is which. Are there more scientifically-minded folk out there who have already done this work?
let me preface this post by saying that I'm only casually familiar with biodynamic methods. I don't even know what exactly biodynamic barrel compost is. onward.
I've seen a few comparisons (no references, just vague recollections. sorry.) of biodynamic operations to conventional and organic operations. the biodynamic operations generally came out on top, but not always definitively so. none of the comparisons that I can recall set up control groups et cetera as per scientific method.
biodynamic practices don't seem to lend themselves well to objective observation. it's difficult, for example, to determine the amount of cosmic energy my broccoli contains. I'm not such a strict adherent to the religion of science that I would dismiss out of hand the importance of cosmic energy for growing good broccoli, though.
I would be interested to see comparisons between full-fledged biodynamic agriculture with a sort of half-assed biodynamic agriculture. maybe use the same raw ingredients, but skip the cow horn. or use the cow horn, but don't bury it as deep. or spin things the wrong direction. there's very little doubt in my mind that some pretty good ideas are contained in these practices, but I'm skeptical of the more ritualistic aspects. I think the rituals could potentially have positive effects on our attitudes and relationship to the dirt even if they don't have any concrete benefits, but dogmatism in any form makes me immediately suspicious.
I think a trial at home is worth a shot and you should go for it.
The proof for me is in the farms of the original farmers who asked Rudolf Steiner why their farms were failing. Sick animals, low yields, and low fertility in general were threatening the livelihood of Austria's farmers and food production. So Steiner gave his lectures in 1924 (I think that's right), outlining biodynamic methods (the term given to his methods by his followers), and he insisted that intellectuals AND farmers were in attendance. Those farms that did what he said had huge improvements in a short period of time....and I would love to say that those farms are STILL doing really well, but I can't because I don't know that for sure.
"For Steiner, the cosmos is permeated and continually transformed by the creative activity of non-physical processes and spiritual beings."
I'd use it! It's not going to harm anything, even if you don't follow his formula exactly.
Hi. I've made & used barrel compost. Test it yourself (through observation as farmers & scientists do). Is it moist? Does it break easily? Smell sweet? Does it slip between your fingers like clay? Then it's colloidal & good to use...on compost or as a seed bath (for the best cabbages ever!) or after you've slashed green manure/weeds/sheet mulched. Try it on half & not the other half (control).