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Settling the dust around Biodynamic applications  RSS feed

 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Xisca,
For a person who is aware of the things you talk about, this thread would simply show another method of achieving the end products (the preparations and use of them).
For a person who doesn't have such a good understanding, this thread may help them have that lightbulb click on and that could be good for them.


Hola RedHawk, Cernícalo rojo (some live next door to me too!)
I read all the remarks about Steiner in this thread, drawbacks and reluctances about his spirituality, and I have seen various times before that I have had some very specific learnings that make a bridge between things that seem to not go together. As I think it is valuable for permaculture, and as I have done a few trainings that are not common ones, I share it. It does not complicate but simplifies. The spiritual needs no justification, and I never bother to check if there is truth in what I believe at this level: it just does not go to the same part of the nervous system, even beyond left and right brain.

It is very true that most of the scientific world does not choose to recognize the other parts of the human inner trinity.  



The paradox is that there is scientific knowledge about it! It just happens that when the scientific side is prefered over the spiritual side, there is a scientific justification that can interest those who are on the scientific side. Some people who see the spiritual side can indeed be upset to see that there is some science in this too. I admit that it can stop some of the fluent feelings at the beginning... I think the ANS is the only body system nobody seem to want to call by its name unlike digestive or respiratory ones. It has its way of functionning that is a surprise when you learn about it.

I started to read Teri McLuhan book ‘Touch the Earth’ and others from 11 onward... I was trying as a child to soak myself with words until I could feel between the lines. I accepted meditation only when I found one that included all three aspects. Knowing what I do can make me take care of myself with no fear when I have no external help, as I can let my body shake off some stuff from me with an anchor for my soul.

My opinion is that Steiner was not using mystical justification, but was using a certain language when he lacked the scientific explanation for his feelings and intuitions.

Also, maybe he knew that people are more prone to follow rules they are afraid to brake, especially when the process is demanding. The process of the preparations is difficult to implement and long, thus demanding. Can the spiritual aspects make it easier to follow?  I can see that warning - at cortical level of the mind - about bees deseapearing is not very efficient.

(Example: When wise leaders in Polynesia were seeing that some fish populations were lowering, they did not explain WHY they should not eat those ones for a while.... They were just saying that the spirits had told them that those fish were taboo... (then they would remove the taboo, when fish populations were recovering) It just makes people follow the rule more easily! which seems to be what happens to biodynamics followers.)

This being said, I am interested in adapting, as I have asked before
- how I can replace some plants I don't have,
- and also we have no cows here, and I am more than happy to use my glass jars for anything useful...
- I was also asking if non-ruminants manure gives the same result.
- And also if you can burry the stuff, card-board in that case, and leave it underground.

Also I can add that I do not know if I can bury my guinea pig manure - also dead animals - and down to what max depth, to help microorganism to thrive.

We can "disobey" Steiner only if we know what can be changed while keeping the result he meant!

Thanks
 
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Awesome thread! Back to the biodynamics: Bryant, you say the effects of biodynamics is similar to Ingham's methods - increasing the life in the soil. But istn't there a huge difference in the quantities used? I once bought a preparation 501 and there is about a heaped teaspoon use in a bucket of water for the whole garden, doesn't compost tea use much more? So there should be much more bacteria added than with the preparations?? In the very beginning of the thread you mention a teaspoon of silica for a whole area isn't silica a common element? Why would that work?
And the other question is did you test the 'pure' Steiner preparation against your version of it growing something or did you only try you version at once? And did you compare Inghams's 'preparations' vs Stiener preparations in the garden?
 
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Angelika Maier wrote:Awesome thread! Back to the biodynamics: Bryant, you say the effects of biodynamics is similar to Ingham's methods - increasing the life in the soil. But istn't there a huge difference in the quantities used? I once bought a preparation 501 and there is about a heaped teaspoon use in a bucket of water for the whole garden, doesn't compost tea use much more? So there should be much more bacteria added than with the preparations?? In the very beginning of the thread you mention a teaspoon of silica for a whole area isn't silica a common element? Why would that work?
And the other question is did you test the 'pure' Steiner preparation against your version of it growing something or did you only try you version at once? And did you compare Inghams's 'preparations' vs Stiener preparations in the garden?



hau  Angelika,  
Yes there are differences in quantities but this is at the "brewing stage" for the most part since once you have brewed the teas you then dilute them before you spray them on the soil.
As I mentioned, there seems to be a large amount of profit making by those who make and sell the preparations.  
If you purchase preparations, first off they are not going to be as fresh and thus will contain many more sleeping bacteria that have to wake up, so if you can make them fresh, you will get faster, better colonies growing in the treated soil.
Silica is indeed a common element, so is Iron but many humans are anemic (lack or low Iron in the blood), so it should not be dismissed that adding some silica, which is necessary for several mineral breakdowns by bacteria, shouldn't be done.
Steiner had two or three preparations that either included silica, one is ground quartz crystal, so a lot of silica in that one.

My experimentation was to first created the Steiner preparations exactly as described then I created my own method from having done them the first way.
Elaine, at that time had not codified nor published her methods.
Last year I started comparison planting areas consisting of one bed per each method, and will let you know the conclusions after this years season, which is the trial timing (2 year study).

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
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Thanks! I did not think on the dormant bacteria, indeed my preparation was laying around in a shop for probably some months. Yes, we all wait for the trials!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Xisca Nicolas wrote:

My opinion is that Steiner was not using mystical justification, but was using a certain language when he lacked the scientific explanation for his feelings and intuitions.

I was also asking if non-ruminants manure gives the same result.

Also I can add that I do not know if I can bury my guinea pig manure - also dead animals - and down to what max depth, to help microorganism to thrive.



I tend to agree with you but Steiner was a rather "mystical" oriented person too. His lectures were actually based in scientific data taken from papers written the year prior to his 1924 lectures so his ideas were based on solid scientific data that was current.

I have been using donkey manure to make some "cow horn manure" and it seems to work just fine. I have used rabbit manure too and it works pretty well as long as I pack it after misting it with water.

The cow horn manure is supposed to be buried at a depth of one foot from the top of the horn as it lays in the trench.
Dead animals can be composted as long as they are kept in an anaerobic state (if composting whole) if you chop them up and use dry materials to surround them the result will be quite good compost. (keep lots of material all around the "bodies")

Cardboard buried works great if you first wet it with some compost tea, that allows it to be a bacterial housing development.

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
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If you bury cardboard you lose the packaging as the cardboard decomposes??? Why a whole animal anaerobic? We buried a whole dead chicken and it went very quickly.
In Steiner's time there was next to no roadkill which might be a great source as well.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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Angelika Maier wrote: Why a whole animal anaerobic? We buried a whole dead chicken and it went very quickly.


Burying reaches the goal of things going anaerobic, I think.

I have an article to share, showing our similarity to plants, and also that their roots are affected the same way our nervous system is. If they react to anesthesia, of course we can also give them great cares with good preparations!

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/12/we-can-make-plants-pass-out-with-the-same-drugs-that-mysteriously-knock-us-out/

https://academic.oup.com/aob/advance-article/doi/10.1093/aob/mcx155/4722571

The first article is more for general public and the second is more scientific. Quite fascinating...
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Angelika, the cardboard works because it allows the bacteria to colonize and as the earthworms come to eat the bacteria and process the cardboard they leave behind their tunnels which the bacteria begin to use as nature intends.
Along with the bacteria, many different species of fungi hyphae will fill those left behind tunnels as they spread (most hyphae can be found to extend nearly a mile over time) and connect both with plant roots and other hyphae, this creates a hyphae internet of sorts that allows nutrient flow and communication.

When you bury anything, it tends to go anaerobic and that is the condition that meat decaying bacteria prefer so the animals bodies go away very quickly.
The dead baby hogs I compost only last about 30 days and then even the bones are decomposed into the compost, making it very rich in calcium and trace minerals.

Redhawk
 
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Bryant,

Thank you for another great series. It helps the thinking about providing healthier soils, separate from those that sell the parts and the process : )

Maybe off topic, and as such, I hope not to distract, but if I may ask, do you believe we need to be drinking vortexed (sp?) water?  Are you familiar with, and accepting of, what Dr Gerald Pollack has studied about H3O2, called EZ water? His studies have shown that the water we drink has to be transformed to this more gel like water, but that plants naturally have this form already.  

Maybe another forum, or topic, but your comment about water and a vortex effect made me wonder.  Thank you.  Betty
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Beth, no I don't think drinking H3O2 is such a great idea for humans or other animals.

What I drink is Icelandic Glacial spring water because it has a natural pH of 8.4, just alkaline enough to move my body to the right pH spot for better health.
Over the last three years I have done a lot of research and this is one part of my new regimen.

I do believe that vortexing water is good for soil amendments, it stimulates bacteria and fungi growth rates.

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
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We drove through the country and we will never do that anymore without a trailer and some gloves. We could have loaded the whole trailer with roadkill. If one dead roo weighs approx. the same than a bag aof blood and bone then this is $30+ per dead roo (poor roo). That would mean that all these dead roos and wallabies would go into an aerobic pile? How would I do that? It should not stink terribly or our neighbours might complain a little stink is OK though.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Angelika,
Unless the "body" is almost completely desiccated you need to use anaerobic conditions to compost dead animals.
The reason for this is that the bacteria that do the decomposing of flesh and bone are not oxygen lovers, they prefer a distinct lack of O2 in their environment, this is also what keeps the smell of death away.

If you want to do an aerobic composting you will need a minimum of 8 inches of material encompassing the core, where the critter goes, to keep the odors down.
To be "odorless" you would need to have a minimum of 12 inches of encompassing material and it would need to be heating up from nitrogen (you can use ammonia from a bottle, 5 gal. of spent coffee grounds, or lots of fresh cut green grass) to kick start this heating process.
During the decomposition you will probably notice beetles (black with a white abdomen stripe) running in and out of your compost heap, no worries, those are the flesh eaters and they will go away once they have done their job, then the bone eating bacteria will disassemble the bones.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Evan is a great guy and knows from where he speaks. I have great respect for him.
 
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Rudolf did not ever organize a school where his methods were taught, so any reference to a Steiner School is not accurate, they should be called Steiner Method Schools or something similar to that.



Hau Redhawk, Wikipedia says:

Steiner's lecture activity expanded enormously with the end of the war. Most importantly, from 1919 on Steiner began to work with other members of the society to found numerous practical institutions and activities, including the first Waldorf school, founded that year in Stuttgart, Germany. (Ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Steiner)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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indeed he worked with the school, he did not found it. I've never found any accurate source that spoke about his founding any school, most all of them came into existence after his death.
Prior to 1924 most of his writings and lectures were on religious subjects and their relation with spirituality.

Rudolf Steiner gave his first lectures about his methods for improving soil in 1924, and he died in 1925.
He was not approached about coming up with ways to rejuvenate worn out soil on farms until 1922.
So how is it that he was doing these things before he gave his lectures?

This quote is from the Biodynamic Association web site

In the early 1920s, a group of practicing farmers, concerned with the decline in the health of soils, plants and animals, sought the advice of Rudolf Steiner, founder of anthroposophy, who had spent all his life researching and investigating the subtle forces within nature. From a series of lectures and conversations held at Koberwitz, Germany (now in Poland) in June 1924, there emerged the fundamental principles of biodynamic farming and gardening, a unified approach to agriculture that relates the ecology of the farm-organism to that of the entire cosmos. This approach has been under development in many parts of the world ever since. Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who worked with Dr. Steiner during the formative period, brought biodynamic concepts to the United States in the 1930s. It was during this period that the Biodynamic Association was founded in 1938.



As to the Waldorf School, Steiner's Essay: An Introduction to the Waldorf School

Wiki has a lot of misinformation within it's pages, all that information is put up by people using the internet not by librarians or historians.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Lee Kochel wrote:I am extremely interested in this forum entry.  I have some additional questions.  Would any source of manure work or does it have to come from a herbivore?  Are you suggesting that spraying a dilute aqueous solution of DE on the garden would give a lot of the advantages of using these horn preparations?  Also, you reference the similarity of your concepts with Elaine Ingham's; yet you seem to imply that the effect of these horn preparations is to significantly increase the bacteria in the soil, whereas, Elaine constantly references having a significant quantity (often about =) of fungi AND an adequate supply of predators of these microorganisms.  So, did you mean bacteria or were you using bacteria as shorthand for the other critters as well?  If you meant to say just bacteria, how do you explain the significantly increased plant results?  Do you think that  you could get the same results by adding garden soil to the mixture and then just burying the combined mixture in a cardboard container in a slow compost pile?   Thanks.  
One more question.  You suggest that one of the preparations  produces a lot of humus.  Another prominent agriculturist, John Kempf, strongly asserts that humus is the result of the repeated digestion of fats by fungi until it cannot be digested any more.  Do you see any evidence for this or would you posit another mechanism?  Thanks again.  



I have used Cow, Horse, Donkey, Goat and Hog manures both separately and as a blend, the Horse, Donkey and Hog manures do seem to be lacking something for full bio activity to become present but they do work fairly well, the blend did quite well when compared to pure cow manure.
This is probably because there was some cow dung, providing the microorganisms that were missing from the non ruminant manures (goat manure works very well since it is ruminant manure).
When I said bacteria I meant the entirety of microorgansims, there are some times when all you want to grow are the fungi, this sort of preparation works best if there is some woody material to provide lignin for the fungi to eat.
For general soil health improvement you want a ratio that is slanted towards the fungi, especially when you are going to have trees and other woody plants growing in the space you are treating.
For most vegetables and non-woody plants you optimally would have an even mix of bacteria and fungi along with around 10 percent of the other organisms for your starting treatments.

Redhawk
 
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Late to the game, but another scientist who's investigated paramagnetic rocks, insect communication, etc., etc. is Philip S. Callahan...written a few books, including "Ancient Mysteries, Modern Visions: The Magnetic Life of Agriculture."  
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Nancy,
I am familiar with Philip's work.
One of the most interesting things to me about science is that science as a whole, really has no clue as to why many things happen and or work the way they do simply because they have to take out our bodies natural ability to sense things happening.
When this is left out so that the scientific method will work, we have excluded the ability to fully understand our world. Philip got onto something big and ways to actually measure a few of these "anomalies".
I suspect that it will not be much longer before we have a scientific paper on the origins of what is currently known as magic but is actually just taking and arranging what has always been here and used to be understood by a few.

edhawk
 
nancy sutton
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OK, Bryant, you made the 'mistake' of replying, so I'll add more :)  I love Rupert Sheldrake, another bona fide scientist who is heroically plugging away at the 'anomalies'.  And a recent book, 'Suggestible You', about science finally taking the astonishing power of 'suggestion, expectation and belief', i.e., the placebo/nocebo effect, seriously.  I love mysteries, so I love science, because taking them on is supposed to be its business!  And, it is also in the business of always disproving itself :)  "There is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophies, Horatio!"
'
(PS, I think the hubris of 'scientism' will be the downfall of legit research (along with selling out)... maybe the 'replication crisis' will lead to it's rehabilitation :)

Oh, and back on topic, a truly brilliant man (read Thomas Aquinas in original Latin, for pleasure ;) I worked for also had organic acreage, and used Biodynamic 'ashing' protocol to greatly reduce a weed ... I think it was knappweed or some thistle.  It seemed to work for him.  
 
Bryant RedHawk
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"The more we learn, the more we realize how much we don't know"

"Acquiring knowledge is not for the faint of heart, it can create a feeling of supreme inadequacy"

and my favorite quote "We has met the enemy and he is US"
 
Angelika Maier
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Nancy, Boral in Australia had some mines with paramagnetic I think it was basalt, which they used to sell in agriculture. Unfortunaltey they gave up on it.
Briant, there was another thread with the reprint of a book " compost the quitck return method" it works with prparations, and the lady who invented it simplified the preparations just like you do - did you try this method or anyone else?
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I believe you are referring to "Common Sense Compost making by the Quick Return Method" written by Maye E. Bruce.
Maye took Steiner's directions of how to use his preparations to create a quick compost that was as good or better than most "normal" compost, she developed some methods of her own that worked in unison with Steiner's ideas from his book.
What she proved was that compost can be created in a short period of time using the preparations as Steiner described.  Her work was instrumental in compost making, much of what she described in her methods is used in commercial composting today.

When using preparations to create great compost for compost teas and direct application, methods are based on both Steiner and Bruce methods.
I use my own blend of methods taken from studying Steiner, Bruce and Ingham.

Redhawk
 
Angelika Maier
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yes I refer to that. I like that she does not turn, but proabably it would be even better with turning but we're not getting any younger.
 
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Hello Redhawk.

I was watching a video on making Korean Natural Farming IMO preparations/magnets/general soil biology loving...

And I thought to myself:
"hmm rice that makes sense, it's a staple crop where the gentleman Cho Ha-Kyu was developing his methods, but I wonder if other cereal crops would work. If there's a person who has experimented with that it's probably Bryant Redhawk on the permies forum."

My question to you is indeed, have you ever gotten curious about KNF and if so (and time willing) would you please share your experiments?
 
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hau Kamaar, KNF is not much different than the other all natural methods when we break down what is really going on.

KNF uses rice, which is a carbohydrate grain that also has a little protein. The difference is that this grain is constructed differently that wheat, corn, oats or barley, which are the other widely produced grains.
The rice wash that is used in KNF is starch, so if you don't have rice, you just need a different type of natural starch, such as corn starch (this also needs experimentation to determine the right mix ratios).
Then there is the way to make this rice wash, which is fermenting with lactobacillus for a period of 5 to 7 days. The method is to soak the rice grain in a bucket that has a loose lid so the bacillus can infiltrate and start growing.
The next step is to add a raw sugar (non refined) either a dark brown, or diluted molasses to provide food for the bacteria (you are going to end up with several different types of bacteria in this method of culturing.

The rice is used because it is the primary grain of the area where it was developed, in the western world the best grain to use for this method of lactobacillus growing is barley.
The rice bran layers are loosened and they then float to the surface of the liquid where they can be skimmed off (this material will sour the whole culture so it has to be discarded).
Barley reacts much the same in that the bran layers loosen and float where they can be skimmed and tossed once the fermentation has completed.
The same raw sugars are used in many culturing mediums for bacteria production, regardless of the method being used.

Hope that answers your question Kamaar.

Redhawk
 
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I thought it would be somewhat tangential to this thread.

Sounds to me, just as you said, more experimentation is needed. Excuse me while I go put on my googles, gloves and lab coat.

Thank you Redhawk.
 
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Well I am a skeptic. Can anyone find a published study that provides evidence that these biodynamic preparations have a greater effect on crop yields than, say, applications of compost or even green manuring? I sure can't.

For example, this study examined affects of biodynamic preparations on potato yield. It found that biodynamic preparations increased potato yields by 0%, 6%, and 33%, depending on variety. That is an average of 13% yield increase compared with the control. It is not clear whether the control was sprayed with water lacking biodynamic preparations or not.

In contrast, this study found that applications of compost improved potato yield by 50% at 7,344 kg compost/ha and by 89% at double that rate over the control treatment.

Similarly, this study found that green manure applications increased potato yield by 24% over mineral fertilizers and 56% over the control treatment.

To summarize:
1) compost applications improved potato yields 37%-76% more than biodynamic preparations, compared with controls
2) green manure applications improved potato yields 43% more than biodynamic preparations, compared with controls
3) Mineral fertilizers (without compost or green manure application) improved potato yields 11% more than biodynamic preparations, compared with controls.

I picked potatoes because the first legit study I came across examining affects of biodynamic preparations on crop yields studied potatoes. Could other crops react differently? Sure. But we have to start somewhere.

However, this isn't the whole story. The ultimate question for a farmer is which treatment is most cost effective? Based on real world costs and percent yield increases from studies cited above these work out to:
Compost: I can get good compost for $30/cubic yard, delivered. 7,344 kg/ha equals 6,552 lbs/acre, roughly 6 cubic yards per acre, worth $180. A skilled operator can spread that much in about 2 hours, costing $3 for fuel and 2 labor hours @$13/hour = $29. $219 total, or $4.18 per percentage increase in yield over the control.
Green Manure: Net costs of cover cropping run around $25-$30 per acre. That amounts to $0.53 per percent increase in yield over the control.
Biodynamic preparations: According to this study, 2 applications each of BD500 and BD501 cost $79/acre, or $6.07 per percent increase in mean yield over the control. Note that in the biodynamic study, BD501 was applied three times, but I won't waste more time accounting for that.

Thus the biodynamic preparations have the smallest effect on, and the highest cost per unit of, yield increase compared with doing nothing. If I could only afford to do one thing to my field, application of biodynamic preparations would not be my choice. I challenge the BD folks out there to convince me otherwise.
 
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Deep thanks to Redhawk for getting some data on this and taking the time to shed some light onto Steiner's work and context.

I haven't been so bothered about the spiritual side of biodynamics--if the farmer is happy / enlightened / atuned / whatever while doing their stuff it certainly won't harm the plants, and growing is also about the fun, at least in my permaworld.  What bothers me is that, as with many teachings that end up going in the direction of a religion or philosophy, we lose the ecological context.  What works for the soils in the Rhein basin, continental Europe or the Alps--or wherever Steiner actually came up with the preparations--of the early 1900s could very likely be quite different from whatever works in a different place and time.  Understanding the processes behind the myths liberates the wisdom, making it accessible to other ecologies.

The use of animal parts worked great in those farms of central Europe, where dead cattle was a given, and, at a time when de-horning was a general practice, these recipes made good use of a resource that would otherwise become a waste.  But, to me, importing cow horns just to be "true" to the original sounds like not the best ecological practice, no matter how biodynamically grown those cows were.

Funnily enough, one of the principles of biodynamic agriculture is flexibility: every farm being unique and different, requiring a lot of observation and individually designed amendments.  So, I find it rather puzzling that the preparations have been so inflexible.  I guess that comes from that lack of understanding of the processes, and perhaps a certain lazyness from the users and the original teachers... something like "just do it like this, and stop asking all those questions".

I look forward to that book!
 
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hau Jeffrey, I don't know if you noticed but the studies you mentioned used the preparations directly, which is not exactly how they were designed to be used.
Steiner designed the preparations to be part of the composting method, others decided that they could use them directly, I only use them as additions to compost heaps, which means the compost is the additive to the soil or what my compost teas are made from.

Potatoes as you posted do very well with compost amended soil (other vegetables and tubers follow suit).

Many people also promote spraying plants with compost teas, I prefer to no give the plant's stomas the opportunity to become plugged up with something I sprayed trying to help them.
When I spray a plant I try to keep the spray on the lower stem,  not the leaves, I do the same for trees, I also spray the soil around the plant or tree.

Compost that has had the "preparations" added to it benefits two ways, first is the added aeration that occurs from poking the holes down into the bottom of the heap from the top for the purpose of adding the preparations.
The second benefit comes from the added microbiology added through the addition of those preparations.
Thus the good compost is allowed to become great compost, rich in variety of microorganisms thriving in the compost.

It isn't rocket science it is soil science, using one single crop for a test only gives us the inkling of whether or not further experiments are worth performing. (potato was used for this initial feasibility testing)
I am working with four species of squash, three of beans, two of tomatoes, peppers, and beets. After two years of the experiment, I can verify that there are significant differences in yields between the E-1 group and the C-1 group, with the E-1 Group producing in the vicinity of 38% better yield and nutrient values.

Redhawk
 
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Dita Vizoso wrote:Deep thanks to Redhawk for getting some data on this and taking the time to shed some light onto Steiner's work and context.

I haven't been so bothered about the spiritual side of biodynamics--if the farmer is happy / enlightened / atuned / whatever while doing their stuff it certainly won't harm the plants, and growing is also about the fun, at least in my permaworld.  What bothers me is that, as with many teachings that end up going in the direction of a religion or philosophy, we lose the ecological context.  What works for the soils in the Rhein basin, continental Europe or the Alps--or wherever Steiner actually came up with the preparations--of the early 1900s could very likely be quite different from whatever works in a different place and time.  Understanding the processes behind the myths liberates the wisdom, making it accessible to other ecologies.

The use of animal parts worked great in those farms of central Europe, where dead cattle was a given, and, at a time when de-horning was a general practice, these recipes made good use of a resource that would otherwise become a waste.  But, to me, importing cow horns just to be "true" to the original sounds like not the best ecological practice, no matter how biodynamically grown those cows were.

Funnily enough, one of the principles of biodynamic agriculture is flexibility: every farm being unique and different, requiring a lot of observation and individually designed amendments.  So, I find it rather puzzling that the preparations have been so inflexible.  I guess that comes from that lack of understanding of the processes, and perhaps a certain lazyness from the users and the original teachers... something like "just do it like this, and stop asking all those questions".

I look forward to that book!



As you have noted, the people who trademarked the Biodynamic name are very rigid in their thinking, exactly the opposite of what Steiner probably wanted.
When you allow your thinking to become so narrow you intentionally become tied up and you are going to do the same to your soil, which is not nature's way.
Only when we provide wide ranging diversity can we truly bring soil to the levels of productivity that nature wants soil to be.
Limits also are detrimental to full nutrient content both in soil and in plants and their fruits.
This limits the nutrients available to the consumer of those fruits and greens, I liken it to eating from a grocery store instead of your own garden.
Grocery stores carry nutrient depleted foods, made that way from the farming mind set of production over nutritional value.
Our own gardens are far more capable of providing us with foods that contain the entire spectrum of nutrients those foods are meant to provide our bodies.
 
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"What bothers me is that, as with many teachings that end up going in the direction of a religion or philosophy, we lose the ecological context.  What works for the soils in the Rhein basin, continental Europe or the Alps--or wherever Steiner actually came up with the preparations--of the early 1900s could very likely be quite different from whatever works in a different place and time.  Understanding the processes behind the myths liberates the wisdom, making it accessible to other ecologies.

The use of animal parts worked great in those farms of central Europe, where dead cattle was a given, and, at a time when de-horning was a general practice, these recipes made good use of a resource that would otherwise become a waste.  But, to me, importing cow horns just to be "true" to the original sounds like not the best ecological practice, no matter how biodynamically grown those cows were.

Funnily enough, one of the principles of biodynamic agriculture is flexibility: every farm being unique and different, requiring a lot of observation and individually designed amendments."



Just for interest, Biodynamics has not only been developed in Europe. There is a leader in the field called Alex Podolinsky, who grew up in Poland but emigrated to Australia, where he has been developing "Demeter Biodynamics" for over half a century.

https://www.ifoam.bio/en/alex-podolinsky

In the past, I subscribed to the Australian Biodynamics magazine. What impressed me about this movement is how much time was spent observing their plants/soil. To me, it's the opposite of the approach that you get in industrial agriculture: "I read it in a textbook, so it must be true, and that theory fits with my other theory, so it will work, no need for study". I would far rather listen to a careful, thoughtful person tell me anything about the world, than one who has every degree known to humanity. That's not because I don't believe in science, because I do, but because humans often seem to be attracted to simplistic theories rather than complicated reality.

I never particularly believed in the theories of Biodynamics, but I could see the real-world results they produced. Each edition would cover several Biodynamic properties, and would include a photo of the soil, often with a photo of a neighbour's soil. It was quite clear that the Biodynamic soil was darker, fluffier and more crumbly. They also talked a lot about increasing the depth of their topsoil, and testing that showed a large growth in soil carbon. To me, no matter the method, any practise that increases soil carbon content organically is pretty good.

I am very satisfied with Dr RedHawk's explanations. I always felt the Biodynamic practitioners were onto something, but because they didn't actually know what it was, various rather airy sounding ideas were given. Probably the magical sounding theories put people off, where just a list of tests and results achieved may have been more convincing.

Just thought I'd post this, for the benefit of anyone who had not heard of Australian Biodynamics.
 
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