Biodynamic farming



Author's page :
Welcome to the wonderful world of biodynamics
An inspirational international movement that promotes a uniquely holistic approach to organic agriculture and gardening, food and health.

Founded in 1924, Biodynamic farming is the oldest 'green' farming movement, and forerunner of organics. All biodynamic farmers and growers practice organic methods of cultivation, are against genetic modification (GM), and share its ideals, but there are important differences. Biodynamics has metaphysical and spiritual roots that organics does not. Biodynamics thus embraces the mystery of all life processes, including the subtle and energetic realities that are not necessarily easy to measure or justify using current scientific methods.

The essence of biodynamic agriculture

For biodynamics, farming is not a means to maximum production, but an ongoing dialogue with Nature. We consider the land we steward to be an ecological web of biodiversity; our role is to nurture this and help it reach its full potential, whilst balancing the needs of farming and growing with those of the natural world.

The farm becomes a self-sustaining organism

Central to biodynamics is the idea that everything is related to everything else. Each farm or holding has its own identity, and is a self-sustaining organism in its own right, where its diverse activities and habitats strengthen and balance each other; where external inputs are kept to an absolute minimum; and where the farmer, grower or gardener puts back more than he/she takes out. This is the goal that biodynamic farmers, growers and gardeners strive for.

Regenerative rather than sustainable

Organic and sustainable farming systems aim to sustain nature and agriculture. In contrast, biodynamics is regenerative and transformative - it seeks both to maximize health and vitality of soils, crops, and livestock, and through this human health, and to transform agriculture in a spiritual and holistic way.

Compost is king

Compost assumes huge importance in biodynamics and great attention is paid to producing the best humus forming compost possible. Adding tiny amounts of the biodynamic compost preparations to inoculate the compost is essential. These enliven the compost, speed up humus formation, and help regulate the composting process and balance its nutrient and mineral availability. The compost, in turn, when applied to the soil, acts as a 'sensitizing' agent, increases soil microbial life and aids harmonisation of plant growth, leading to healthier more robust crops, and nutrient rich foods.

Biodynamic growers use herbal preparations and field sprays

9 unique medicinal herbal and mineral remedies are pivotal to successful biodynamic farming and growing.

There is a special biodynamic sowing and planting calendar

This annual astronomical calendar, based on more than forty years of ongoing research by Maria and Matthias Thun into the cosmic influences on plant growth, is used to determine auspicious sowing, planting, cultivating and harvesting times of crops. It is not part of Demeter (biodynamic) standards, but many biodynamic farmers, growers and gardeners use it.

Calendars : (You can select North or South hemisphere & Time Zone) (Android App)

Biodynamic cows are allowed to keep their horns

Most breeds of cattle naturally develop horns, which continue to grow throughout their lives and contribute to their overall health. This is why we never remove our cows’ horns; and to do so is not allowed under the Demeter (biodynamic) standards.

All biodynamic farmers and growers practice organic methods of production, and share very similar certification standards. Both also share similar aims and ideals, but biodynamics has metaphysical and spiritual roots that organics does not.

It is this that makes biodynamics distinctively different in both its approach to agriculture, and its farming practices.

The main differences between biodynamic and organic farming standards are:

The farm is viewed differently

In biodynamic agriculture the farm (or holding) is considered to have its own identity and be a self- sustaining organism in its own right. A fundamental principle which a biodynamic farm works towards is thus to be a 'closed loop' system that does not need to buy in feed or fertility from external suppliers, or one that is stretched beyond its natural capacity. To find out more, click here, to read an article about converting to biodynamics

Compost is king

The use of home made compost (and manures) enlivened with biodynamic herbal preparations is obligatory and unique to biodynamic farming.

Biodynamic farmers have a tool box of herbal sprays to support their farms

The use of biodynamic herbal and mineral preparations to improve the health and vitality of land and crops is also unique to biodynamic farming.

The compost preparations

These are made from six well known medicinal plants – yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak, dandelion and valerian. Their specific properties are enhanced and made effective for soil life during fermentation, often using sheaths made from animal organ materials, which serve as catalysts for bringing about the required process.

Link : Biodynamic preparations

When ready, these dark, friable, sweet – smelling humus-like substances are added to the composting material in minute amounts where they ‘sensitise’ the compost, and radiate their effects throughout the heap. These preparations help to guide and regulate the decomposition and humus forming processes in the soil, and make plant nutrients (sulphur, potash, nitrogen, calcium, silica, phosphorous) bio-available i.e. available in the organic form needed for healthy plant growth.

Their effects are primarily qualitative, energetic and subtle. Research has also shown that compost preparations increase soil life and promote stronger, more robust, and pest and disease resistant plants.



502 Yarrow preparation: Yarrow flowers are encased in a stag’s bladder, hung up in a tree over summer, then buried over winter. Yarrow is connected to the potassium and sulphur processes of the soil and helps draw in substances, finely distributed in the atmosphere and beyond, to replenish a soil grown tired through many years of cultivation.

503 Chamomile Preparation: Chamomile flowers are encased in a cow’s intestine and buried over winter. Chamomile is connected with living calcium processes and helps to stabilise plant nutrients, dampen down excessive fermentation, and invigorate plant growth.

504 Stinging Nettle Preparation: Stinging nettles are buried in wooden boxes or claypots encased in peat for 1 year. Stinging nettle has a relationship to iron, develops sensitivity in the soil, helps to stabilise nitrogen, and promotes the formation of humus.??

505 Oak Bark Preparation: Oak bark is buried in a sheep’s skull in a damp place over winter. With its calcium rich nature, oak bark helps increases resistance to plant diseases and fungal attacks.??

506 Dandelion Preparation: Dandelion flowers are buried over winter in a cow’s mesentery. Dandelion is connected with living silica processes, activates light influences in the soil, and enables the interrelationships of nature to become fully effective.

507 Valerian Preparation: A solution of valerian flowers is sprayed over the whole compost heap. Valerian has a strong affinity to the activity of phosphorous. It acts like a protective skin and provides a warmth blanket around and over the compost heap.

Why are animal organs used?

Animal organs are chosen for the particular properties they possess as a result of their former function within the animal. For example, chamomile flowers are used medicinally to treat disturbances of the digestive tract. When making this particular compost preparation a section of bovine intestine (part of the animal’s digestive tract) is used as a catalyst in the fermentation. A clear affinity between chamomile flowers and this organ thus becomes apparent.

The need for such animal organ material for making compost preparations or horn-based field sprays may be understood by considering that fertile soil is not made up simply of mineral substances. It is alive and also filled with animal life. Earthworms are the best known of the animal organisms that live there. They spend their lives devouring decayed vegetable matter along with eroded mineral substances. The stable combination of plant and mineral matter found in the resulting worm casts is brought about through the workings of the worm’s digestive system. Soil has therefore been created through an active interweaving of mineral, plant and animal processes. Earthworms along with other micro-organisms act as catalysts in the creation of soil, so it’s perhaps not quite so surprising that several of the preparations require something from the animal world, in order to make them fully effective.

Stirring the preparations

Before being applied, very small amounts of the spray preparations are dissolved in water and stirred rigorously for one whole hour. This is done by stirring (preferably by hand) in one direction in such a way that a deep crater is formed in the stirring vessel (bucket, barrel). Then the direction is changed, the water seethes and slowly a new vortex is formed. Each time a well-formed crater is achieved the direction is changed until the full hour is completed. In this way the dynamic effects concentrated in the prepared manure and quartz meal are released into the rhythmically moved water and become effective for soil and plant. It is then sprayed out immediately.

Horn Manure is sprayed towards evening directly on the soil prior to sowing and planting, or on pasture in the spring or after mowing or grazing. It encourages healthy root growth, vitalises the soil and helps the plant find what it needs from the soil.

Horn Silica is sprayed as a fine mist directly on the growing plant early in the morning. It helps to stabilise plant metabolism and enhance the qualitative development of the crop.

These are field sprays made from cow manure and quartz meal, known respectively as ‘Horn Manure’ and ‘Horn Silica’. Horn Manure is cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn. Horn Silica is finely ground quartz meal that spends the summer in the soil embedded inside a cow horn.

“We don’t really know how to quantify the effects of these biodynamic field sprays, but there is no question in our minds that there is a visible difference in the vigour of the growing plants. Once we harvest the plants, the qualities we can discern in their depth of colour, taste and improved storage are very apparent. We regularly make the time to stir and apply the sprays throughout the growing season” Jane Scotter and Harry Astley, “Helping our Crops to Reach their Potential”, in Fern Verrow, published by Quadrille, 2015


Author's page :
BDAI Secretariat, #20, 16th 'C' Main, 2nd 'A' Cross, 4th Block, Koramangala, Bangalore 560 034, India

The Planting Calendar Rhythms                                                         

Biodynamic agriculture works from two poles -- the cosmic and the earthly. Understanding and using the rhythms of the cosmos for sowing and planting in conjunction with the practice of soil fertility, makes organic farming truly work.
Peter Proctor


The Planting Calendar is about RHYTHMS - Cosmic solar & lunar/moon rhythms and Earth rhythms. It is an aid to our conscious and purposeful participation in these rhythms.

These are rhythms that sustain all life on Earth. Biodynamic farmers strive to bring life back into the soil, so that the food produced from this living soil has increased life force/vitality/nutrition, enhancing the quality of human life.

This can be accomplished when the rhythms of our farming activities are aligned with the natural Cosmic and Earth rhythms.

Human life, as well as animal and plant life, is strongly dependent on the rhythms of the Earth. As the Earth turns on its axis in the course of 24 hours, we have day and then night. As it travels in the course of 1 year around the sun we have the seasons - hot and cool.

Earth's Axis Seasons

Perhaps the most familiar is the rhythmic movement from New Moon to Full Moon that we witness each month.Moon Phases This is only 1 of numerous lunar or moon rhythms that astronomy scientists have mapped and can accurately calculate. The biodynamic farmer works primarily with 6 different moon rhythms that recur every 27-29 days.  The Planting Calendar indicates the important days for farming activities during these 6 different rhythmic cycles each month.

The 6 Moon Rhythms are:
Full-New Moon                       29.5 days
Moon opposite Saturn              27.3 days
Ascending-Descending Moon   27.3 days
Moon Nodes                            27.2 days
Perigee-Apogee                        27.5 days
Moon in Zodiac Constellations  27.3 days

New Moon - Full Moon
29.5 day rhythm

New Moon

This rhythm is easy to see. It begins at new moon, when the moon is close to the sun and almost invisible. As the moon moves away from the sun we see it more clearly, first as a slender very beautiful crescent in the sky - the new moon. Just over 7 days later it reaches first quarter, when the moon's disk is half bright, half dark. First quarter is followed by full moon which is about 12 times as bright as first quarter, then comes last quarter, when the other half is illuminated. After approx. 29.5 days the rhythm begins again.

Full Moon

Farmer observations and scientific experiments over many centuries have identified noticable effects of the Full Moon on plant growth. Based on the Agriculture Lectures of Rudolf Steiner and subsequent scientific research, biodynamic agriculture recognizes the following New Moon and Full Moon influences:

 The element most affected by the moon energies is water (for example, the sap in plants).

 In the 48 hours leading up to Full Moon there appears a distinct increase in the moisture content of the earth. The growth forces of plants seem to be    enhanced.

 During the Full Moon period there is quick gemination of seeds, fast plant growth, and a rapid re-growth of any cut, mown or pruned vegetation.

 There appears to be a quicker cell division and a tendency to elongation of growth.

 Seed germination is fast but may be soft and prone to fungus attack, particularly in warm conditions and high humidity.

 The influence of the Full Moon appears to provide favourable conditions for the growth of fungus on all plants. This is related to the increase of moisture and humidity.

 There is an increase in insect activity. Particularly slugs and snails, and internal worm parasites in humans and animals.

 The Full Moon influence allows good absorption of liquid manures.

 Often there is a tendency for rain at Full Moon.

 Towards New Moon there is more activity underground in the soil and the flow of sap in plants is less strong. Therefore, a good time for turning under green manure and cutting hay.

Moon Opposite Saturn
27.5 day rhythm

Blackboard Drawing of Saturn opposite Moon

This is when the Moon and Saturn are on opposite sides of the Earth and their respective forces are raying into the Earth from opposite directions. This occurs every 27.5 days. The Moon forces bring in the calcium processes which are connected to propagation and growth forms, while the Saturn forces bring in the silica processes, which are connected to the building up substance or bulk of the plant in root, leaf and fruit. The balancing effect of these two influences streaming into the Earth produces very strong plants from seed sown at this time. A strengthening effect is also observed when transplanting seedlings during Moon opposite Saturn. The spraying of BD 501 (Horn silica) at this time, has been found to strengthen plants to the extent that they can resist plant diseases and certain insect attacks.

Ascending & Descending Moon
27.3 day rhythm

The Moon's daily path across the sky as seen from the Earth is not always the same. Sometimes it is higher in the sky, sometimes lower. The Sun follows a similar ascending then descending rhythm as it moves through the Zodiac during each year. The Moon takes only 27.3 days to complete it's journey through the Zodiac constellations in an ascending and descending rhythm each month.

Ascending Moon

We see the Moon moving in an arc from East to West and when we see these arcs getting higher in the sky every day, the Moon is Ascending. When we see them getting lower every day the Moon is Descending.  As the Moon takes 27.3 days to complete this cycle, each ascending and descending period lasts about two weeks.

Rudolf Steiner speaks of the Earth as a living organism with an inhaling-exhaling breathing rhythm, similar to ours. He relates the ascending and descending moon periods to the inhaling and exhaling cycle of the Earth.

Breathing In = earth forces active
Breathing Out = light energy active
   Yearly Planetary Breath                     Monthly Planetary Breath
Cool Season -- Earth breathes in       Desc Moon -- Earth breathes in
Hot Season -- Earth breathes out       Asc Moon -- Earth breathes out

                        Daily Planetary Breath
Late afternoon/evening (sunset) dew falling -- Earth breathes in
Early morning (sunrise) dew rising -- Earth breathes out

The ascending period is much like the warm or hot season of the year, the Earth breaths out. We see this as an outpouring of growth activity above the soil surface. Growth forces and saps flow upwards more strongly and fill the plant with vitality. Although germination takes place below the ground, it also takes part in this upward striving. This is the time to spray BD preparation 501 (Horn silica).

The descending period on the other hand is related to the activity below the soil surface and can be compared with the cool or cold season of the year. The Earth breathes in and draws growth forces back down below the soil surface. The lower parts of the plant, especially the roots, are activated. This is the time for cultivation, composting, planting and making cuttings. It is also the time to apply BD preparation 500 (Horn manure).

The Moon Nodes
27.2 days rhythm

As it ascends and descends, the Moon crosses the path of the Sun (the ecliptic). The crossing points are called nodes, and are the only places and times where eclipses can occur.

Moon Nodes

The Moon makes one complete nodal cycle every 27.2 days, so there is a node approximately every 14 days, which is two nodes every month. Astronomers can calculate the exact time the nodes will occur. These times are given in the Planting Calendar. The influence of the nodes lasts for approximately 6 hours before and after the exact time of crossing.

The Moon while crossing in front of the Sun will negate the Sun's beneficient influence for this brief period. This negative influence works into soil being freshly cultivated at the time of the node. Therefore biodynamic farmers do not cultivate the soil, sow any seeds, transplant, prune trees or shrubs, or do any other agricultural or horticultural work on the Node Day. The effect is similar to that of an eclipse of the Sun by the Moon.

Apogee & Perigee
27.5 days rhythm

Moon's Orbit

The Moon moves around the Earth in an ellipse, as seen in the picture above taken in 2005, completing one full orbit every 27.5 days. The Moon's nearest point to the Earth on this ellipse is the Perigee and the furthermost point is the Apogee.

At Perigee, the time when the Moon is closest to the Earth, it will bring greater moisture to the Earth and a tendency towards fungus growth and insect attack. This is especially so when Perigee occurs near Full Moon, which is also the bringer of moisture.

Researchers and farmers have found that Apogee appears to be a good time to plant potatoes, as there seems to be a multiplicity of form (meaning more potatoes), where as at Perigee there are fewer potatoes but bigger.

There is one Perigee and one Apogee every month. Astronomy scientists can calculate the exact time of both.  These dates and timings are given in the Planting Calendar. Apogee and Perigee times bring a stress period and seed sowing should be avoided 12 hours on either side of these times (except potatoes!).

Moon in Zodiac Constellations
27.3 days rhythm

The Zodiac is a belt of fixed stars which are in groupings we call constellations. This belt of stars lies behind the ecliptic path of the Sun. All the planets, and the Moon, move in front of the zodiac constellations. In the star maps below the blue dotted line represents the ecliptic path of the Sun over a period of 1 year. The constellations in green are the 12 zodiac constellations.

The corresponding constellation names are as follows:

Aquarius  (Waterman)          =  Kumbha                  Leo  (Lion)         =  Simha
Capricorn  (Mountain Goat)   =  Makara                   Cancer  (Crab)   =  Karkata
Sagittarius  (Archer)             =  Dhanush                Gemini  (Twins)  =  Mithuna
Scorpio  (Scorpion)               =  Vrischika                Taurus  (Bull)     =  Vrishaba
Libra  (Scales)                     =  Tula                        Aries  (Ram)      =  Mesha
Virgo  (Virgin)                     =  Kanya                     Pisces  (Fishes)   =  Mina

Here we are concerned with the Moon, which passes quickly in front of all 12 zodiac constellations in just 27.3 days. Because the zodiac constellations are of different sizes, the Moon stands in front of each for a shorter or longer time, approx. between 1-1/2 to 3-1/2 days. Rudolf Steiner taught that every zodiac constellation radiates certain favourable conditions to the plants, which the Moon will focus as it passes in front of each constellation. The influences of the constellations are passed on, reflected by the Moon, through the 4 classical elements of nature - warmth/fire, light/air, water and earth in the following groupings.

The Elements

The influences of the particular constellation are brought into the soil through cultivation of the soil at the appropriate time, and also by spraying BD 501 (Horn silica) at the appropriate time. The germinating seed also receives these influences, so if it is desired to promote a certain influence, such as more leaves in a cabbage head or more kernels on a corn cob, then the biodynamic farmer cultivates and sows the seed during the favourable constellation period. Astronomy scientists can calculate the exact time the Moon passes through each constellation. These times are given in the Planting Calendar.

Studing the Planets

The mechanics may appear complex but the premise is simple.
This planet, and everything on it, is an integral part of both the solar system and the cosmos :
every last blade of grass is affected by the whole.   

For an introduction to the Symbols click on this   link here.

You know what the day's Rhythm is but can't remember what farming activities are best on that day - click   here.

You want to sow seed, or harvest, or cultivate, etc. but can't remember which is the recommended Rhythm for that particular activity -- click   here.


Useful Links :

class-1 : Introduction — What is Biodynamics?
class-2 : What is Missing? The Dynamics !
class-3 : Ripening, Maturity and Cosmic Influences
class-4 : The Biodynamic Materials
class-5 : Eco-system Management
class-6 : Gardening Tips
class-7 : Talk on Biodynamics 2/11/02 (Complete 8 Lectures : "The Agriculture Course" by Rudolf Steiner, june 1924) (can print or download in ePub format)

Applying Biodynamics in  Organic Seed System (PDF, 24 pages, 556 KB)


Biodynamic Calendar for ANDROID phones

Moon & Garden Calendar for ANDROID phones


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