With the dramatic growth of organic food in Australia’s grocery stores, restaurants and kitchens, many people have been wondering about the differences between organic and biodynamic farming. In fact, the similarities far outweigh the differences, but there are a few to take note of.
Most people are now somewhat familiar with organic farming, but they may not have heard of biodynamics. Biodynamic farming is a practice that was first developed by Rudolf Steiner – most famous for his contributions to education that led to Steiner Schools. The main principle of biodynamic farming is that the entire farm exists as a single entity without the need for outside inputs. In other words, where an organic farm may purchase organic seeds or organic feed for livestock, a biodynamic farm must produce everything on the premises.
Principles of organic and biodynamic farming
Organic farming can be defined by a commitment to the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care.
The principle of health refers to the idea that all organic farming should enhance and sustain everything involved in the process, from the soil all the way to the people who consume the food.
The principle of ecology says that the practices of organic farms should work with existent ecological cycles and systems.
The principle of fairness says that organic agriculture should be practiced in ways that are fair to the environment and to the opportunities of those in the farm’s community.
The principle of care says that organic agriculture should always be managed in a responsible manner that protects the health of both people and the environment.
By definition, “Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.”
While similar, biodynamic farming principles have a greater focus on astrological cycles and the idea of the farm as a single ‘organism’.
A biodynamic farm is conceived as a single entity that can be viewed as an organism in and of itself.
Biodynamic farms should remain as enclosed from their surrounding ecosystems as is possible.
Biodynamic farms are structured around lunar and astrological cycles that are said to affect the biological systems.
Biodynamic farms are built to integrate all the living organisms within the system, including plants, livestock and farmers.
The soil is seen as the central component of all biodynamic farms.
Similarities between organic and biodynamic farms
Both organic and biodynamic farms grow their food without the use of pesticides, herbicides or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). As a result, both practices produce significantly healthier food and produce. At the foundation of both practices is also a respect for ecological processes and the environment; they rely, for example, on natural remedies to combat insects and disease. In the end, both practices are respectful of the environment, the food and the people who consume it.
Which principles of organic or biodynamic farming are most important to you?