Biodynamic FarmingApr 17, 2023
Now that spring has arrived, we can start looking forward to locally grown produce, purchased at farmers’ markets or even directly from local farms. And if you are able to purchase from smaller producers, rather than buying conventional food from large-chain supermarkets, you’re more likely to be buying from what are known as Biodynamic Farms. And this has a lot of advantages in terms of freshness, quality and overall health for you and the farm!
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Biodynamic farms and gardens are natural ecosystems. They have no need for outside additives such as agricultural chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. They preserve soil fertility and human vitality, and each farm is a self-supporting ecosystem.
A Biodynamic Farm Is a Living Organism
Each biodynamic farm or garden is an integrated, whole, living organism. This organism is made up of many interdependent elements: fields, forests, plants, animals, soils, compost, people, and the spirit of the place. Biodynamic farmers and gardeners work to nurture and harmonize these elements, managing them in a holistic and dynamic way to support the health and vitality of the whole. Biodynamic practitioners also endeavour to listen to the land, to sense what may want to emerge through it, and to develop and evolve their farm as a unique individuality.
It Starts With The Soil
Soil is one of the most important natural resources and medium for plant growth. The soil’s ecosystem is where the nutrient exchanges between soil, microbes and plants take place (similar to what takes place in our human intestinal systems).
The biodynamic cycle occurs when the microbiota in the soil live around a new plant’s root system. This creates a community where the microbiota eat substances produced by the growing plant, which they reciprocate by producing thousands of enzymes and antioxidants that nourish the plant, boost its immunity and protect it from pests and unfriendly weeds. The microbiota also communicate with the plant’s roots to offer them an ideal dose and combination of micronutrients.
Interventions such as tillage, irrigation, and fertilizer application can affect the health of the soil. Use of the fertilizer nitrogen for crop production influences soil health primarily through changes in organic matter content, microbial life, and acidity in the soil. Some of the harm chemical fertilizers may cause include waterway pollution, chemical burn to crops, increased air pollution, acidification of the soil and mineral depletion of the soil.
Research shows the biodynamic fields had a higher microbial biomass and more nutrient availability in the soil than conventional farms that use synthetic fertilizers and imported minerals. Biodynamic fields required 20-50% less fertilizer and fossil fuel than conventional fields to get the same crop yield.
Biodynamic practices include
- Food is freshly picked from a local farm.
- The farm produces its own fertility (manure and compost) and avoids importing minerals or fertilizers or ‘natural’ pesticides.
- Recycles its water and other waste.
- Animals are raised outdoors in pastures.
- Uses no-plow or no-till soil management.
- Has hiring practices and protects the safety of its workers.
Soil Bacteria and Human Health
It turns out that children raised on farms have healthier gut bacteria compared to children in urban areas. They are regularly exposed to the native fungi and bacteria, which help develop a healthy immune system reducing the development of asthma and allergies. Farm children have a greater diversity of microbes, which seems to boost a healthy immune response, as a larger diversity and mixed population of microbes keeps the bad pathogens in the gut in check. Microbial diversity alone can boost a healthy immune response!
Your Home Practice This Week (or as soon as possible this spring!)
- Buy Local! Whenever possible, head to your local farmers’ market for your food purchases
- Don’t be afraid to speak directly to the farmers and growers, and ask them about their farming practices.
For more info on this and other natural health topics:
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