Biodynamics and Sustag

From: "Geraldo Defune" <pah_gd@wye.ac.uk>
Organization: Wye College, University of London
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 1997 23:27:51 GMT
Subject: Contribution to the Concept of BD

Dear dynamic and sustainable friends,

The following text is an excerpt from my 1990 MSc thesis (under 
revision for my PhD). As it is intended for the conventional scientist 
and general layman,  I've tried to be as concise as possible in 
agricultural terms. So, please do take it with a pinch of salt.

I hope it complements Scott Fuller's very nice text in the sense of 
bridging the gap with the orthodox scientific approach (and also 
between the BD & Sustag lists!).

I welcome any comments and criticisms. 


Geraldo DEFFUNE - G.Deffune@wye.ac.uk
Wye College - University of London 
Sustainable Agriculture Research Group 
Wye, Ashford, Kent TN25 5AH, England, U.K.
Tel.:(44-1233)813658, Fax: (44-1233)812855
WEB http://www.wye.ac.uk/agriculture/sargintro.html
PhD Student sponsored by CNPq - The Brazilian Research Council

A concise concept of Biological-dynamic Agriculture
                                                (by Geraldo DEFFUNE)

Bio-dynamic farming is the oldest movement for sustainable
agriculture, originated from a course given by the Austrian
philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) in Koberwitz, Silesia in 1924,
after the work started in 1922 in Dornach, Switzerland  (Steiner,
1924).  Its basic approach consists in considering and treating the
farm as a self-contained agricultural individuality or organism
interacting with the surrounding environment, including cosmic
influences. This organism is conceived as composed by soil, plants,
animals (including microorganisms), man (the farmer) and the cosmic
environment (Koepf, 1976) and it is considered as the generating
concept for the term organic farming (Scofield, 1986). 

Steiner also considered a spiritual dimension of reality, leading to a
spiritual science and methodology. This is not completely strange to
the very origins of the scientific method (Descartes, 1637) and
related phenomena have been subject of recent rigorous research
(Scofield & Hodges, 1991).

Biodynamics differs from the other alternative agriculture movements
basically by the use of the so-called bio-dynamic preparations, which
are mineral, plant or animal extracts, most of the times treated by
some months of fermentation buried in the soil and applied in quite
small proportions to organic manures, to the soil or directly on
plants, sometimes after dilution stirring procedures called
dynamizations.  One can easily trace a parallel between Bio-dynamics
in Agriculture and Homoeopathy in relation to Medicine (Scofield, 1984), 
both consisting in wide but controversial fields of work and research
(Davenas, Benveniste et al., 1988) whereas still very promising for
their basic holistic approach to phenomena and their low-cost,
low-input, high independence characteristics (Deffune, 1986).


- Davenas, E.; Benveniste, J. et al. (1988) Human basophil
degranulation triggered by very dilute antiserum against IgE in
Nature, 333  no.6176, pp. 816-818.

- Deffune, G. (1986) "Agricultura alternativa e desenvolvimento
integrado em Agudos do Sul - Parana - Brasil. Three page monograph
for the Destaque Agrontmico (agronomic distinction award) FAEAB/
TREVO ed. 1990.

- Descartes, R. (1637) Discours de la Mithode. Commented 1979
edition by Itienne Gilson; Librairie Philosophique J.Vrin, Paris.

- Koepf, H.H., Petersson, B. and Schaumann, W. (1976) "Bio-dynamic
Agriculture: an introduction" - Anthroposophic Press.

- Scofield, A.M. (1984) "Homoeopathy and its potential role in
agriculture - A critical review"  - in Biol. Agriculture & 
Horticulture Vol. 2, 1-50. 

- Scofield, A.M. (1986) "Editorial: Organic Farming - the Origin of 
the Name"  - in Biol. agr. & hort. 4, 1-5.

- Scofield, A.M. and Hodges, R.D. (1991) "Demonstration of a healing
effect in the laboratory using a simple plant model" in  Journal of
the Society for Psychic Research, Vol. 57, no.822, pp. 321-343.

- Steiner, R. (1924) Agriculture- a course of eight lectures. 3rd
edition 1974, translated by G.Adams. Biodynamic Agricultural
Association, London.