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By Farm Services Consultant Dan Powell
Biodynamics offers a regenerative form of agriculture
There’s a lot of talk these days about regeneration in Agriculture through reversing the damage done as a result of our mis-management of soils. Central to these practices is a care and nurture for the mantle of the Earth that we generally call SOIL. Biodynamics holds great promise in protecting soils very much in the same way that these other regenerative approaches do. The biodynamic method sees no separation between the healthy development of people and society, and the healthy development of the soil.
Understanding soil structure and what makes for a healthy soil
Soils are made up four important components. These are; minerals, air, water, and the smallest component – organic matter, (barely 10% on average of the entirety of the soil structure, and in many cases much less, of the total). Outside of the communities of those who work with soils – farmers, gardeners, biologists and the like – not many people realise that in fact half of the soil is up of air and water. Healthy soils rely exclusively on the arrangement of soil components in a pattern to form, what we call in the trade, “soil pores: in other words: the spaces between the physical components.
The arrangement of these spaces is critical, not only to how water behaves in the soil, but also to how roots explore their underground environment; and how they interact with their micro and macro neighbours within the soil. All of this comes together in a particular soil quality that we call “soil structure”. Even the relatively inexperienced are easily able to develop a sense of what makes for good soil structure when they encounter it. It is found in the colour, smell and texture of a good loamy soil – as a point of reference you can think of it much like a moist chocolate cake. It is this structure that fully supports a wholesome plant soil life.
In such a soil environment, roots can maximise their potential to seek nutrients and water. In turn, a healthy plant life will fully use the power of the sun, through photosynthesis, to draw down energy, convert it to sugars, feed the microbial life in the soil; which will then support healthy plants, animals, and also healthy people.
How do biodynamic methods support a healthy soil?
Biodynamic practice uses carefully prepared sprays and herbal plants that enhance these plant-soil interactions and help to direct both the decomposition processes (that facilitate the creation of soil), and the growth of plants. The ingredients in these preparations are drawn from carefully chosen elements and prepared with seasonal timing to make the most of the natural influences that would create healthy soils without human intervention. This builds the basis for the development of good soil structure, and thus we aid the soil restoration process.