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Did anyone try biodynamic preparations, did it make a difference?  RSS feed

 
Angelika Maier
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I will go to the shop and buy this biodynamic preparation it is not very expensive. Did anyone try it? Did it make a difference?
 
Todd Parr
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I would like to hear from anyone that has any experience with any biodynamic technique or method that made a difference.  I'm very curious how the techniques came to be "discovered".
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Since Todd has asked the question.  In 1924 Rudolf Steiner gave a series of 8 lectures on the properties of soil and he presented Ideas on ways we humans could improve the soils that were under use for agriculture.
The first thing to know about Rudolf Steiner is that he was a Philosopher not a chemist or biologist, he did have some knowledge of the sciences but he did not hold any BS or higher degree from university.
The people who produced the lecture series had asked Mr. Steiner to consider whether or not soils could be improved in order to produce more crops without depletion of that soil's nutrient base.
Mr. Steiner contemplated this question and then developed his 8 lectures as he continued to think about how best to approach the question to arrive at the best answers he could give.
Mr. Steiner never mentioned the term "Biodynamic" not in his lectures or later on in life, the term was used by those who rediscovered his published lecture series many years later during the second go round of soil awareness. 

His proposals described ways to improve soil biology through application of various preparations and it was a fairly long time before these formulations were commercially made for sale.
In the beginning, you had to make the preparations by following his descriptions from the lecture series, his idea was that each farm should adjust the preparations to meet that soils particular needs.
This little bit of information seems to be lost upon those seeking to make his formulas for sale.

Do these preparations work? well, since that is a subjective issue, the answer would have to be, it depends. What do you expect to see occur from using these preparations?

Will they improve the soil? Mr. Steiner's formulas are meant to improve soil life, thus improving the uptake of nutrients by the plants living in that soil. In this respect, yes they work.
What they don't do is chemically improve the soil to a noticeable extent, however, since improvement of the quantity and quality of life in the soil will have the effect of making more minerals available to the plants living in that soil, yes they will improve that.

Is in necessary to use these preparations to achieve great soil life and thus great growing medium for plant life? No, you can achieve the same results in other ways.
They will have the effect of increasing the organism counts, since they are specific to the bacteria and fungi we want in our soil.
In some of the preparations, you are actually growing quantities of these organisms once they have been extracted from the compost used to start the preparation.

There are many people who categorically dismiss "biodynamics" as snake oil.
In some respects (mostly the current advertising hype) they are correct in that assessment.
If you get hold of the original lectures and read them, you can create the preparations by the original formulas, making the adjustments for your piece of earth as Mr. Steiner proposed.
In that setting, you will see better, that even though Mr. Steiner was not a "soil scientist", he did have good insights of many ways to improve soil.
His methodology however is not the only way, nor is it perhaps the best way, it is one way that follows a multi faceted approach.
The prime thing I personally gained from reading his lectures was that we should think of improving soil from every possible angle of attack, for only by using the variety approach that mimics mother nature can we hope to achieve the completeness that naturally occurs over eons.
Our goal is to shorten those eons of time to a few years or perhaps even months, so we can enjoy the fruits great soil produces during our own life time.

Redhawk
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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"From an esoteric point of view and from Steiner’s point of view, the evolution of the Earth depends on the evolution of human consciousness. They are not separate. The ancient peoples understood that. They understood that human consciousness is woven in with the destiny and life of the Earth as a spiritual being. As a result they lived in a sacred manner. Their daily round was the stuff of a priesthood. They understood the relationship between the human and the divine by seeing the Earth as the mother and the sky as the father of humanity.

"It was just a given for them that nature was permeated by spiritual entities. However, that worldview had to evolve to the spot where we are today. Today the vast majority of people feel totally divorced from a real connection to the spiritual being of the Earth. The Earth primarily is a resource to be used. If you go tell your mother she is just a resource to be used, you have a lot of problems. My thesis is that the evolution of consciousness requires us to understand that our state of consciousness has an impact on the evolution of the Earth as a spiritual being." —Dennis Klocek  Author of Sacred Agriculture
 
Todd Parr
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Thanks Redhawk.  Even given that any of his ideas were true, I wonder how he came up with things like putting quartz in a cow horn?  I'm very curious how he came to the conclusion that that would work, or how he got the idea in the first place.  I agree that some of the things he came up with could improve the soil, thereby improving soil life, and in turn, helping produce better crops.  I just have trouble understanding how they would improve soil more than just compost and mulch, or similar.  I'm still very much a skeptic with regards to this, but I find it really interesting, so thank you for the info.
 
mary jayne richmond
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Hi Todd, i see your in wisconsin, i'm in upper michigan... and we have used the field spray on quack grass, we had about an acre of quack and we wanted to turn it into a garden area, we put the prep on and disked it down then went back about a week later and disked again and i could put my hand in it all the way to my wrist. and have had very little problem in that area with the quack since
 
David Hernick
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Hi Todd,  From what I know of it the origination of the preparation comes from philosophies dealing with celestial forces such as the sun,moon and planets.   Each prep has a story about it's functionality and there are practitioners that can provide you a lot more information than I can.   There is actually a different method/philosophy of learning that Steiner practiced that involved a sort of meditation.  There are lot of book and articles out there, good luck finding your answers on the discover of the preps.  I find biodynamic method to be good tools to have in the tool belt.  I have a hard time finding time for the methods and they do not excuse you from being solid on the fundamentals of plan husbandry.   I like using/spraying barrel compost (BC).  I will ferment nettles and horsetail which are not bio-dynamic preps strictly speaking but are easy to make and great for the garden.  In the biodynamic community there are both traditionalists and some who do a lot more experimentation, definitely reach out to your local group, they may be able to answer your question.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Mr. Steiner approached life in general from a spiritual and relational point of view, if you can think of him as if he were a member of the First Nations, it is easier to understand how he came up with many of his ideas.

For me it is simple since I am Nakota, Spirit is part of my life and world, looking at the connections and knowing that everything is related and interacts is just the way I see the world.
This makes it easier for me to understand his ideas.  That Horn with a crystal is a cleansing tool, we place one in the center of a camp and place crystals at the perimeter of a camp, this is to keep bad spirits away and to bring the camp into balance.

If you can open your mind so that your body can show you what it feels, you can sit on the ground and you will feel an energy come up into you.
While most humans can't feel this, it can be measured with scientific instrumentation and has been recorded and written about.
There is much of this world that we do not know, accepting that we don't know everything is the first step to learning more about the world we live in.
Unfortunately most folks live on the earth not in it.
It is part of the great disconnect and why the earth is in trouble from how the people have treated her.
This is also why many consider Mr. Steiner some what of an odd ball personage, but is he really any different than the Dali Llama? 

Compost will (upon finishing) contain a finite number of micro organisms, if you take some of that and place it in good water and add oxygen to that water, you will extract the micro organisms and they will multiply faster in the high O2 environment.
What that means to you the grower is that you can now add many more of the same micro organisms that you would add by simply adding compost. The more micro organisms that are in the soil, the better the soil becomes.
That is how using Steiner's or other folks teas and so on can build the soil faster than just using compost, it is a matter of numbers of micro organisms added.

Many people today still think that adding sea salts is bad for soil, yet it has been done and shown to work wonders.
This is because sea salts contain many more minerals than even rock dusts, and most of the salinity in sea salt is not NaCl, what we are led to believe is the only salt molecule.
It has been said "There are none more blind than those who follow blindly".  Yet I run into people all the time who do just that without even realizing that is what they are doing.
We must open our eyes, ears, minds, hearts, even our souls must be opened so that we can be whole.

Science has not always disagreed with the above statements. Today we have decided to be so narrow minded that we limit ourselves to only five senses, there used to be seven, but then things changed.
 
Todd Parr
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mary jayne richmond wrote:Hi Todd, i see your in wisconsin, i'm in upper michigan... and we have used the field spray on quack grass, we had about an acre of quack and we wanted to turn it into a garden area, we put the prep on and disked it down then went back about a week later and disked again and i could put my hand in it all the way to my wrist. and have had very little problem in that area with the quack since


I would love to hear more about that product.  My entire property is quack, except areas I have killed with rubber sheet material and planted with other things.  Even then, it's a constant fight to keep it from re-invading.
 
Todd Parr
pollinator
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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David, thanks for your reply.

Redhawk, thanks again for taking time to add information.
 
Henry Jabel
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Location: Worcestershire, England
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I decided to try some biodynamic preparations this year in my garden having worked at a biodynamic vineyard for the last few years.

Do I think they have helped? I would say yes, though as I am on a small piece of land I don't really have the ability to do a comparison to properly rule out other variables. However after composting for a few years I put little to no effort in this years pile except the preparations and probably have the best compost I have ever made. A few days later after adding the preps I looked at the pile it was really teeming with life, it was almost freakishly alive like something you would expect to see in a John Carpenter horror film.

I would also say the lectures are really interesting and suprised me how logical it was even if there is a talk of 'forces' underlying the more scientific aspects. It certainly makes you more aware of plant nutrients outside the conventional emphasis of NPK.

I recommend watching some of Hugh Lovel's videos as I find him easier to understand than the Steiner lectures.



 
Bill Erickson
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The lectures are available at the Rudolf Steiner Archive.

http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA327/English/BDA1958/Ag1958_index.html
 
Alexandra Clark
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What a wonderful discussion, not because I have used identifiable biodynamic preparations, but because, as Redhawk shared, I too am connected to our blessed mother Sophia-Gaia deeply and as I tend the garden, I can feel her energy. It has been scientifically measured that the earth emits negative ions, and when we connect with bare feet and hands to the ground, it balances the body, which spends far too much time separated from these ions--think rubber soled shoes.

As a student of biology, it also strikes me when folks "discover" that getting dirty improves the immune system. In fact there is even a healing method that involves eating earth.  Getting our hands in the dirt and in contact with the earth's biome also improves mood. Without micro organisms we couldn't digest most foods!

I also love to tinker in the compost. I create brews from food scraps, coffee filters, dynamic accumulators and compost activators and put them into the big compost pile and dang it spikes the process. Not only that. It spikes the insect activity, which spikes the bird activity. In fact, the other day, I couldn't dig in the pile because a family of wrens was indignant that I would disturb their dinner of crawlies with a compost run!

One thing, being on a plot with 20 mature oaks-very old and over 100 feet tall each, I am very interested in the mychorizha relationship. I had one tree that was struggling and so I bedded its base with oak leaf mulch and sprinkled on some sterile soil that was innoculated with these fungal colonies. It took a few months to establish, but now the tree is thriving! Other trees already have the perfect balance as there are wild flowers like wintergreen and ghost pipe that will ONLY grow where the tree roots are that have the perfect fungal conditions. You can't even transplant these wild flowers or grow them from seed. They will only sprout in exactly the perfect place....and that is such a joy...and a sign that all is in balance in my space of love!

I am considering a round of compost tea to spray in my side yard that I am reclaiming after Hurricane Sandy damage--but I must first rid it of invasives and poison ivy--slow process, but on it goes...
 
Angelika Maier
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As a first step I'll buy the 500 preparation tomorrow spray it onto the veggie garden (can I use a watering can?) and on a piece of woodland garden were I planted some rarer plants. I will see.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Yes Angelika, you can use a watering can, that is how I prefer to apply compost teas.

Redhawk
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/email
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