What is the difference between Organic and Bio-dynamic produce/products?
In short this relates as to how the plant has been grown, but basically it is
related to the way the soil is treated or cultivated. A plant will then grow
based upon the condition of the soil and the environment ( rainfall,
Both systems are practiced worldwide and are quite similar, the main difference
is that in Bio-Dynamic is a highly organised regime which uses specific systems
to enhance the soil. Whereas in Organic production there is more scope for
individual interpretation of the organic standards of farm management.
This is a natural method of soil culture that excludes the use of all
chemical fertilisers, eg super-phosphate, urea, sulphate of ammonia, etc. Also
excluded is the use of any synthesised (synthetic) chemicals, eg pesticides,
weedicides, fungicides, fumigants, etc.
Basic soil management is aiming for the development of a higher organic matter
content within the soil. This can be done by various procedures including
'green manuring' and this works for either broad scale farming or in the home
Animal manures also play a major part in any organic system, but particularly
in more intensive vegetables and tree crop production. The use of animal
manures are important but must be put through a composting process. The OPAC
standards, which really control the certifying bodies, state that all animal
manures must be composted.
Other commercial fertilisers can be used such as composted animal manures and
crushed natural rock, being a source of minerals. Some products derived from
the sea such as kelp or fish residues may be used.
In addition there are other management systems such as grazing animals,
cultivation techniques and particular rotations to further enhance this system.
Bio-dynamic agriculture began in 1924 in Selesia when a group of farmers
were noticing a decline in agriculture and asked an Austrian philosopher, Dr
Rudolf Steiner, to give his views on agriculture. These lectures were his
suggestions on how to enliven the soil and particularly the plant.
The lectures illustrated his depth in understanding nature and consequently
various people have put these suggestions into practice as well as developing
into a highly practical soil cultural system.
A basic principle is that a farm is looked upon as a living entity with only a
minimum of inputs being brought in from outside. A real point when we speak of
sustainability. When a special need arises in the mineral balance within the
soil, such products as crushed rock will be brought onto the property and used.
As with the organic system, chemical fertilisers and synthesised chemicals are
The bio-dynamic principle suggested by Dr Steiner is that soil enlivening is
carried out by the use of the various preparations. These are used in
incredibly small amounts some down to a gram to the acre. The eight
preparations are derived from animal manure, quartz crystal or herbs. They are
especially prepared and go through a composting process.
One preparation called "500" is used for soil and root development while
another called "501" can, in special circumstances, be used to bring more light
into the plant. The other preparations are used in the compost heap to assist
in the breakdown and eventual quality of the compost. Animal manures must be
Farm management is also important, The legume cycle for the natural production
of soil nitrogen is paramount. Grazing livestock and cultivation techniques are
Bio-dynamics is a highly organised system, the aims of enlivening earth is so
important as soils are becoming so chemical contaminated and impoverished. This
fact is of course reflected in the quality of product/food produced.
Reproduced with thanks to Four Leaf
for the background to this article