When talking about organic produce and farming practices, the term ‘Biodynamic’ often comes up. Although there is significant overlap between biodynamic and organic farming, these terms are not interchangeable.
Biodynamics combines the practices of organic farming with a more holistic approach. It really is an extension of organic farming, taking what’s great about organics and pushing it even further. In fact, to earn a biodynamic certification in Australia you first need an organic certification.
In this blog we’ll explore the ideas behind, as well as the principles that guide biodynamic farming.
The Biodynamic Philosophy
Biodynamics is an ecologically minded and ethical approach to farming. It’s the combination of tried and true farming methods combined with the guiding philosophies of Rudolf Steiner.
At its core the philosophy is about seeing the farm as an extension of the surrounding ecosystem. All aspects of the farm are viewed as interconnected living systems. This includes livestock, plants, soil and even wild animals that interact with the farm.
The aim of biodynamic farming is to build fertility from within the farm, this in turn creates healthier soil which leads to healthier plants. This philosophy can be used anywhere food is grown, with considerations for scale, landscape, climate, and culture. Throughout Australia, and around the world, the biodynamic ethos is being used in countless farms, vineyards, orchards and home gardens.
The Principles of Biodynamic Farming
Now we understand the core philosophy behind biodynamic farming, let’s explore the principles that differentiate it from organic farming.
A biodynamic farm is a whole, living and self-sustaining organism. Inputs from outside the farm and its surrounding ecosystem are strictly minimised. Instead, biodynamic farmers focus on fostering biodiversity through crop rotation and by producing fertilizers through natural composting methods.
One of the key ways biodynamic farming differs from organic is when it comes to animal feed. The ACO standard for Biodynamics dictates that feed produced on the farm must form the basis of livestock nutrition. This is not the case in organic farming where any amount of organic feed may come from outside of the farm.
Animals Left to Live Naturally
Like organic farming, biodynamic farming really is all about happy, healthy animals. Livestock are cared for in a way which allows them to ‘fully express their nature’. This includes being given space to roam and breed naturally, as well as feed appropriate for their digestive systems.
Where biodynamic and organic farming differ is when it comes to dehorning cattle. In Biodynamic farming dehorning is not allowed. In comparison, while organic farmers may choose to keep their cow’s horns, it is not part of the Australian organic certification.
Biodynamics Focuses on Biodiversity
Biodynamic farms make the most of their surrounding ecosystem, drawing inspiration from the uniqueness of nature. Annual and perennial vegetables, herbs, flowers, native plants, and pollinator hedgerows all contribute to the health and resilience of the farm.
Many organic farms only grow crops or only raise livestock. While this may be more efficient, it can lead to imbalances like nutrient deficiency. Biodynamic farms unite plants, animals, and soil together through living, conscious relationships. That way they each support each other and create balance.
Interested in learning more about biodynamic produce and animal products? Check out our comprehensive blog on organic and biodynamic milk and dairy.