We started using the biodynamic preparations over twenty-five years ago when we began farming. What began as a practice that “seems a bit far-fetched, but we will see what happens” quickly became a magical process from which we continue to see results. As farmers we have limited time and many things to do. Adding a “Woo Woo” element that sounds interesting, but lacks practical results would just not last long on our To Do List.
In the beginning we were pretty desperate. The land immediately surrounding our home and barn had been clear cut and the top soil stripped before we purchased it. The adjacent ten acre farm field had been grown in corn using chemicals for years. The land needed a lot and we had a limited budget. We started by spreading an inch and a half of topsoil over the acre and a half of clearcut that would be our gardens and lawn. On the farm field we spread organic fertilizers as indicated by a soil test. Then we spread the biodynamic Horn Manure Preparation (BD 500) and the Biodynamic Compound Preparation (aka Barrel Compost or BC) everywhere. This was in the spring.
Next we seeded the farm field for hay and pasture. To our dismay, very little grew. We discovered that residual herbicides, sprayed on the soil to reduce weed pressure on the previous corn crop, were still active. We waited a year and tried again, this time the grasses and legumes we planted emerged beautifully.
Ever since this beginning, once in the spring and again in the fall we spread these two biodynamic preparations (BD 500 & BC) and add whatever compost and organic fertilizers we can afford. As we developed our small dairy herd, we began to make more compost. Each time we “put a compost pile to bed” for use the following year, we insert a set of the Biodynamic Compost Preparations. In the summer, we also spray all of the gardens and fields with the Horn Silica Preparation (BD 501) at least once. This preparation supports photosynthesis and enhances the vitality and keeping capacity of vegetables, fruits and flowers. BD 501 works together with BD 500 and the Compost Preparations to create a healthy ecosystem. We started seeing results and others began remarking about our vital animals, vibrant fields and lush gardens.
Nearly a decade ago, after we had been using the preparations on our land for about a dozen years, we had a 100 foot trench dug to bring a new water line out to the barn. To our amazement the topsoil exposed was over a foot deep! The contractor who did the digging knew the history of our clearcut land. He asked us when we brought in more topsoil. We said we never did. He couldn’t believe it, and told us the depth of the topsoil was unexplainable. We told him about the Biodynamic Preparations.
One summer about five years ago we engaged, Sarah Flack, a grazing consultant, to help us learn more about grass farming. While standing out in the hayfield/pasture, she told us that our combination of good grazing practices and the use of the Biodynamic Preparations had a significant impact on the quality and vitality of our field. She told us that we had one of the top ten fields that she’d seen in New Hampshire.
We cannot fully explain all of the whys and hows, but the results are undeniable. Rudolph Steiner, the founder of biodynamic agriculture, has given us the guidance and tools to co-create with the natural and cosmic forces with remarkable results. Applying biodynamic preparations is not a one-time panacea for building topsoil or making your pastures more vital. It is a process that requires willingness to engage, a commitment to consistently use the preparations over time, and finding your own rhythms. We are believers because it has worked and it does work on our farm.
There are lots of good biodynamic agriculture books to gain greater understanding; Rudolf Steiner’s Agriculture Lectures is the foundation of all. Gardening with Moon & Stars by Elen Sentier is a good primer. We also recommend Maria Thun’s Gardening for Life and her Biodynamic Almanac (calendar) and the Stella Natura Biodynamic Calendar edited by Sherry Wildfeuer, which we offer for sale. A biodynamic calendar is an indispensable tool during the growing season.