The term organic is described as "a system of agriculture able to balance productivity with low vulnerability to problems such as pest infestation and environmental degradation, while maintaining the quality of the land for future generations" by some sources.
Organic farmers do not use synthetic chemicals and they only use natural breeding processes for plant propagation and seed development. They also aim to achieve a balance with nature by using methods and materials that have a low impact on the overall environment.
In practice this involves a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators, livestock feed additives and other harmful or potentially harmful substances. It includes the use of technologies such as crop rotations, mechanical cultivation and biological pest control; and such materials as legumes, crop residues, animal manures, green manures, compost, other organic wastes and mineral bearing rocks. The intention is to encourage natural biological systems." (Standards for Organic Agricultural Production, NASAA, 1993.)
Bio-dynamic farming is based on the work of Austrian scientist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925). You may remember his name from Steiner Schools which run in many places including Melbourne, Australia. If you would like to read more about Steiner Education and its philosophy, this is one of many informative websites for you.
In regards to biodynamics as an agricultural term, this is what it refers to: 'an enhanced organic method and it is about a recognition that the whole earth is a single, self-regulating, multi-dimensional ecosystem'.
Biodynamic practitioners seek to understand and work with the life processes as well as increase their understanding of the mineral processes used in conventional agriculture.
They seek to enhance soil structure and nutrient cycles resulting in maximised plant growth and development, with the use of specific preparations that are made from farm-sourced materials.
The observation of nature's natural rhythm such as moon cycles is very important to biodynamics producers.
Biodynamic farming aims to achieve “self sufficiency” by generating fertilizers for crops and food for animals through natural processes that regenerate the farm system.
The aim is to "redeem dead soils and make farms viable without the use of water-soluble fertilisers and chemicals." (Bio-dynamic Movement in Australia - Agriculture, Standards, Certification and Marketing.)
Biodynamic farming uses different principles that add vitality to the plant, soil and/or livestock, whereas traditional farming typically deteriorates the soil.
According to a source, biodynamics provides tools to make organics easier by:
- organising the nutrient cycles with the farm or garden,
- activating the soil food web, which creates humus,
- creating resilience in plants and animals against stress and extreme weather events,
- balancing the atmosphere around plants, and
- optimising growth cycles using lunar and cosmic rhythms.