By Hugh Lovel
The following is an excerpt from the book, A Biodynamic Farm, and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.
As yet, biodynamic agriculture has few adherents Often people hear about it, investigate superficially, and write it off. Why?
It requires few outside inputs. It passes the tests of being a regenerative system that reliably produces food of high quality and it is economically viable. Why, then, is it passed over and ignored? Is this an example of the fear of success?
A New Way of Thinking
Biodynamic agriculture, rather than theorizing, proceeds from what is known. It is known that there is a plant kingdom and an animal kingdom. Their functions are different and complementary. Plants are formative. They build. Animals are transformative, and they recycle or break down and rebuild.
Conventional scientists are apt to say, “Plants build through photosynthesis.”
This is all right since plants do photosynthesize. But the BD practitioner is likely to take exception to the implication that photosynthesis is all that is involved in the plant’s building. Far from being all, it is only one of the many features of how plants build. It is sloppy thinking to suggest otherwise.
Again, the conventional investigator may say the animal breaks down plant tissues with digestive enzymes. No doubt he will acknowledge that in most cases there is a certain amount of chewing involved. But, the BD practitioner can only shake his head since he knows animal digestion and nervous development run parallel, and both these activities are transformative. For one thing, how does the animal select what it chooses to eat?
Digestive enzymes are not all that count, and knowledge of such details does not explain everything. The biodynamic investigator knows that, overall, animals have a digestive impulse. Enzymes play a part in this digestive impulse, but there is a lot more. Much of the detail is yet undiscovered.
The biodynamic investigator does not pretend to know every detail. He looks at the broader picture and talks of the formative or digestive impulses as a whole. He concentrates on the process of observing the functioning of this digestive impulse so that he learns more and more about it. He avoids jumping to (incomplete) conclusions.
Biodynamic practitioners are likely to talk about formative forces, digestive impulses, cosmic and earthly influences as generalities that they know exist in the broader scheme of things. Though they may know numerous details, they do not want to lose sight of the larger picture. It is better to refrain from citing details as though these are all that exist. This puzzles and annoys people who are so immersed in details that they form snap conclusions, incomplete theories and mistaken assumptions.
Particularly since Immanuel Kant there has been widespread acceptance that science must rest on a mathematical foundation. I like mathematics as much as anyone, but I must point out that mathematics rests on unproven statements called axioms. For example, mathematics assumes that equalities exist. This often is a convenient assumption, but it also is absurd. Nowhere in nature are any two things the same. Before two things can be treated as equal, one must disregard subtle differences as inconsequential.
As a biodynamic practitioner I know that planting corn today is not the same as planting corn tomorrow or the next day. What all the differences are, I don’t know. But I am not so confused as to think that there are none. This unflinching scientific accuracy sets a biodynamic practitioner apart as a little odd. It also is a key to success.
Some inquirers may be turned off when they cannot take a course complete with textbook, classroom, instructor, and test papers, thereafter calling themselves biodynamic experts. That is okay. Biodynamic expertise is not a theoretical study. It grows out of first-hand experience.
The biodynamic tutor must give individual attention to the apprentice, as expertise is educed, or drawn out. Biodynamic agriculture is concerned with the known, which is concealed by misconceptions, assumptions and automatic behavior. Tutors must bring these occlusions to the fore with their guidance and questions, instructions, and activities, the tutor may get an apprentice to understand the nature of his stumbling blocks. This is the essence of study. Memorization and recital are superficial or even counter-productive by comparison.
For example, when I began farming I assumed that it was necessary to add only organic matter to revive barren land. This meant hauling large quantities of organic materials to the farm. Problems arose, as this went beyond what I could be certain of. In fact, had I paid closer attention I would have known better.
I got my organic materials from mills and animal confinement operations where these wastes were toxic problems. I should not have assumed that large quantities of these things would make my land thrive when plainly their sources were toxic wast sites. But until my activity rubbed my nose in my preconceived ideas I could not progress in understanding. I did not need so much organic matter. I only needed to handle it rightly. So, to a certain extent apprentices must be allowed to err so that the causes of error are elucidated.
There are, of course, some general guidelines. The rapid reclamation of worn-out land depends on achieving an optimum dynamic balance between plant and animal impulses. This means maximizing both active leaf surface and digestive activity.
Collecting leaves from city streets or bagasse from a mill simply brings in substances. Depending on how they are used, these substances may or may not be of much benefit. Trucking them in leaves the fuller activities of these plants behind.
Nor is it enough simply to truck in manure. One really needs the animals themselves to obtain the dynamics required for self sufficient agriculture. Even then, just having diverse kinds of plants and animals on the farm does not mean they are functioning in an optimum relationship or at an optimum level.
Many plants, on reaching the flowering stage, die back and their leaves cease to function. If this dead vegetation is left in place it thwarts regrowth and wastes potential. Thus cutting hayfields at the blossoming stage makes better use of plant potential.
Likewise if a pasture is continually grazed and the grasses and legumes kept short, they never develop much leaf surface or roots. This means wasting plant potential, and it also wastes animal potential as there is less for the animals to eat. Grazing mixed grass and legume pastures one day per month has the added benefit of stimulating the nitrogen fixing legumes, which tend to bloom sooner than the grasses. This is a good way to utilize both plant and animal potential to build fertility. If large pastures are divided up into a number of smaller paddocks and grazed in rotation, much more is made out of both plants and animals.
Corn, pumpkins and soybeans are diverse and robust summer annuals which can be grown together on the same plots. Rye, vetch, turnips and rape are similarly robust winter combinations. Likewise bees, chickens, cows, pigs and earthworms are productive farm animals which can share a common environment. The possible combinations are numerous.
In my market vegetable plots I have forty inch wide beds with thirty inch wide mowable permanent coverstrips in between. This conserves soil and allows good access even in wet weather. It also allow for fifty or more plant and animal species to thrive symbiotically in the same location. I have a rear-bagging lawnmower and can feed the mower clippings to my chickens. Moreover, mowing my paths is much easier than cultivating them.
By workin at the day-to-day activities of the farm, the apprentice has the opportunity to get an understanding of how optimum dynamic balances may be achieved and maintained.
When a plant finishes its growth and dies, its protoplasm tends to leach and be taken up by other organisms. However, much is locked up in the fibrous tissues left behind. Without the digestive activities of animals, plant fibers would be much slower to break down and return to the soil. Thus a diversity of both plant and animal species is needed to assure rapid recycling of plant materials, as successful biodynamic farms show.
As the above suggests, farm animals are valuable above all for their manure. Treating manure as a disposal problem wastes animal potential. On a biodynamic farm, manure production is of great importance. Composting and enhancing manures with the BD preps brings digestive impulses to their highest expression. All in all, biodynamic agriculture goes far beyond simply growing foods without chemicals. It establishes a resilient, self-sufficient, farm organism that produces wholesome foods which are supportive of both mind and body.
These foods are important, not only for those suffering from illness, but for those who wish to function at a higher level. Above all, they do the most good for children who are not yet fully developed, and the sooner in life they get this kind of nourishment the more good it does.
About the Author
Hugh Lovel is the author of many articles on radionics, atmospheric reorganization and the biochemical sequencing of the soil. He consults, speaks and teaches on all aspects of agriculture and is an expert on AgPhysics and the use of biodynamic energy patterns to affect the atmosphere, weather cycles and soil in order to grow the highest quality food.
Lovel built on his formal education in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and psychology to formulate his concepts and developments during more than 30 years of farming, first in the mountains of northern Georgia and currently on the tablelands of Tolga, Australia.