The Difference Between Biodynamic Farming & Organic Farming
November 1, 2023
What is the difference between biodynamic and organic farming?
Biodynamic farming gives new meaning to reduce, reuse, and recycle. By reducing outside inputs, reusing and regenerating soil, and recycling the organic material that the system generates, biodynamic farms bring plants and animals together to create an agricultural ecosystem that heals the planet.
Biodynamic VS Organic
The organic and biodynamic methods are similar in that both are grown without chemicals and GMOs. However, the biodynamic farming practices go one step further. Designed to promote nutrient and energy cycling in the soil and above ground, biodynamic farms give back to the environment by creating a self-sustaining agricultural ecosystem. Biodynamic methods create healthier plants and heal the earth by replenishing the soil while invigorating the plant, soil, and livestock. These farms' practices generate superior soil quality, more fertile and stable compost piles, more robust crops, and decreased reliance or complete elimination of outside inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides.
What is Biodynamic Farming?
Imagine managing a farm where sheep, cows, and chickens roam freely grazing fields. Your crops are full of fruit that house beneficial insects, while honey bees pollinate flowers. The fruit is nutritious and delicious in its purest form. The soil is a rich dark brown and habitat to worms and beneficial bacteria. You can smell the clean, fresh air. Everything is living in mutual symbiosis. Everything is renewed, not one thing is wasted.
Biodynamic farming focuses on:
Biodynamic farming is an approach to agriculture that focuses on self-sustainability, using regenerative methods to offer a solution to climate change. This method of regenerative organic agriculture aims to operate as a self-contained and integrated ecosystem, focusing on building soil fertility and sequestering carbon for a cleaner earth.
You could say it is the ultimate form of organic since it does not allow for any synthetic inputs and establishes self-sustaining ecosystems, coining food produced from these farms as "climate-friendly food."
Views of biodynamic agriculture
Biodynamic agriculture views the farm as an active organism capable of maintaining its health and vitality from its living dynamics instead of imported materials. The decades-old but not widely adopted farming system could just be what we need to transform traditional agriculture practices into practices that give back to the earth instead of taking from it.
Soil Health - This, in turn, supports plant nutrient distribution.
Food Quality - Produce quality and nutritious food through minimal processing and healthy soil.
Climate Mitigation & Adaptation
Food Security - Healthy soil equals higher yields, efficient water usage, and fewer pest and disease issues.
Now that we know what biodynamic agriculture is all about, let's get into some of the practices that go into sustaining one of these farms based on the Demeter Farm Standard.
Ways to generate fertility
Ways to reduce inputs
Use of preparations
10% of a biodynamic farm must be dedicated to a wild area, such as forests, meadows, and waterways, where diverse insects, birds, and other natural life can live in an ecosystem.
2. Create Fertility
Integrating livestock, compost, and cover crops generates in-house fertility that results in healthy, carbon-rich soil and enables regeneration. As the soil gets richer in carbon, it pulls more carbon out of the air, naturally reducing pollution and slowing climate change.
3. ways to generate fertility:
Nutrient catch crops
4. Ways to Reduce Inputs:
Botanical species diversity
Balanced crop nutrition
Timing of plant and pest life cycles
Management of light and airflow
There are many restricted agricultural products that are unavailable to biodynamic farmers, and PureCrop1 is NOT one of them.
5. Water Conservation
One of the main problems in agriculture today is the inefficient use of water. According to bio-agriculture.org, tests show biodynamic farming results in a 40% higher water retention rate. The increase in soil humus is related to the water-holding capacity of the soil.
6. Use of Preparations
Biodynamic preparations are natural remedies for your farm, made from resources on your farm, including herbs, manure, and mineral substances administered in minimal doses. Think of biodynamic preparations as homeopathic remedies for humans, like using red onion to reside allergy symptoms.
7. Livestock Integration
Farmers can use the animals as tools for their farms to grow, not for the sale of food commodities. They have to be raised humanly with care and be able to graze and roam freely.
8. Post-harvest handling
It's important that harvested produce stay clean and pure post-harvest.
9. Become Certified
To become a certified biodynamic farm, you have to do just that - create, manage, and sustain a farm ecosystem that satisfies and regenerates its own needs. Certifications go through the Demeter Association, Inc., a non-profit and the only international organization recognized as a certifier of biodynamic farms. Their vision to heal the planet through agriculture is reflected in their extensive requirements.