Biodynamics & Viticulture

Ξ February 26th, 2008 | → 16 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, Technology, Wineries |

On the occasion of Rudolf Steiner’s birthday, February 27.

 

Biodynamics (BD) apppears on course to become the next ‘big thing’ in viticulture and wine marketing. ‘Organic’ no longer seems quite enough. Witness on the web site Fork & Bottle (F&B) which maintains perhaps the only Master List of biodynamic wine producers. F&B’s list currently numbers 425. Actually, that’s not quite true. Despite the title the list also includes wineries “practicing very sustainable agriculture”, “practicing Organic with some BD practices”, making wines “from BD grown grapes”, “a mix of Organic and BD”, “converting to BD”. Which is to say the actual number of BD producers cannot, in fact, be learned from the list. Be that as it may, it is telling of Biodynamic’s popularity that F&B, as of this writing, offers has no comparable list of Organic producers. Has Organic become irrelevant or, at the very least, a mere servant to BD? And just what is “practicing very sustainable agriculture” besides a very general orientation? The list’s ambiguities are actually the consequence of Organic and BD certification requirements (including “converting to BD”) by the USDA and Demeter-International respectively. But the list also points to a wider debate between forms of certification and, too, the practice of “very sustainable agriculture” without benefit of a trademark.

 

One of the odd consequences of the Biodynamic movement as shaped by Demeter-International, its proprietary arbiter, has been the fixing of a date, 1924, for the birth of any and all sustainable agricultural practices. It was in that year Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) delivered his Agricultural Lectures, Demeter-International’s founding texts. A modern reader could be forgiven in thinking agriculture before Steiner was poorly practiced, misguided, devoid of ’spirituality’. But that is far from accurate. Virtually all of Steiner’s practical ‘innovations’, in fact, precede him. (With a notable ‘exception’ I’ll get to in a moment.) Take the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Practical Farming published in 1916 under the direction of Sears, for example. We read in the chapter “How Poor Soils May Be Improved” the following advice under the heading: How to Keep the Soil Fertile

  1. Raise Live Stock
  2. Rotate the Crops
  3. Grow Clover, Alfafa, and other Legumes
  4. Save Barnyard Manure
  5. Pasture Rolling Lands to Prevent Washing
  6. Add Humus-Don’t Burn the Stocks
  7. Supply Needed Elements

Or review the holdings of USDA’s National Agricultural Library under the title “Tracing the Evolution of Organic/Sustainable Agriculture”. There we find American texts from the 19th century forward dedicated to composting, growing cover crops for green manuring and nitrogen fixing, soil improvement through the incorporation of cow manure, Henry David Thoreau’s, ‘Walden’ (1854), among other volumes. Not included on the library’s page, but available for the dedicated researcher, are the thousands of agriculture-related essays, pamphlets, the serial run of the Farmer’s Almanac, and so much more, all printed on behalf of the US farmer.
 

And such historical farming bibliographies exist in the libraries of other nations, of course. The French periodical Annals comes to mind. And on the British list must be included the work of Sir Albert Howard (1873-1947). Howard was raised on a farm in England, was a mycologist, taught agricultural science before leaving for India where from 1905 to 1931 he conducted ag research. Though he is generally credited with founding organic farming, he did not coin the word. He called his approach Nature’s farming: “Mother earth never attempts to farm without livestock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; ample provision is made to maintain large reserves of fertility; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves from disease.” From his An Agricultural Testament, 1940.

 

The term ‘organic’ was coined in 1940 by Walter Northbourne, and he meant it in its philosophical sense, “Having a complex but necessary interrelationship of parts, similar to that in living things”. Look to the Land, 1940. So, strictly speaking, we cannot really say the greater part of the history of agriculture before the modern era, before the environmental calamities of the Green Revolution or Intensive farming, was ‘organic’. (Or even ’sustainable’ for the word is ‘post-modern’, a shuffling of past and future without a decidable present.) Perhaps we can call it ‘custodial’ agriculture: the exercise of the principle ‘farm today so that you may farm tomorrow’. In any event, the most successful historical agricultural practices, from China and India, and from a host of researchers preceding Howard, all were gathered together, enriched by Howard’s own work, but only later placed by others under the concept ‘organic’, and with a small ‘o’. The point here is that Howard situated himself in an ongoing, informal world-wide research program. Any new development would be welcomed.

 

With Steiner, as read by Demeter, it is a bit different. Unlike Howard, Steiner himself knew little of farming. He admitted as much in the Discussions of June 11th in the essays. “I myself planted potatoes, and though I did not breed horses, at any rate I helped to breed pigs. And in the farmyard of our immediate neighbourhood I lent a hand with the cattle.” That’s about it. Yet, throughout his prolific body of writings he will often return again and again to the same few bucolic farming visions of his childhood. Of his younger brother, Gustav (1866-1941), born deaf, or his sister, Leopoldine (1864-1927), a seamstress, both with whom he gardened as a child, we read virtually nothing. Rarely has the potato been so fixed in a mind.

Of course it’s true, Steiner wrote and delivered his 1924 essays (at the insistence of others) as a response to the perceptible decline of soil and livestock vitality brought about by the increasing use of technology, of chemical fertilizers, and especially by what we might popularly call the ’scientific/materialist’ mindset. Still, his concerns, it is clear, were already shared by farmers, philosophers, and agricultural researchers decades earlier. Work on the subject was already well under way by the time he stepped into the matter.

 

So how, then, does Biodynamics differ from the centuries of farming that has gone before, whether custodial, sustainable, or organic? We shall never know from Demeter for they do research solely from 1924 forward. However rich and creative historical agricultural practices world-wide may have been, whatever instruction they might provide us, they are of limited interest to Demeter for a very simple reason: recognition of historical precedence would erode the centrality of Rudolf Steiner.

 

Demeter has its origins in the ‘Experimental Circle’, a group inspired by Steiner and ratified by his presentation of the Agricultural Lectures before them. They were largely gentlemen farmers of a decidedly aristocratic bent, hence, their ‘natural’ inclination was high-minded, exclusive. Of the peasantry they had little to say. Indeed, Steiner was aware, to his lasting credit, not only of the limits of his own farming background but, more importantly, of the danger the Experimental Circle posed to the preservation of what we might call ‘peasant memory’. Steiner, following the discussion of June 11th, 1924 (op.cit.) made very clear that he was of both the ‘high-minded’ and of the peasantry, however remote. He cautioned his host, Count Keyserlingk, that one must never forget what was called by the circle “peasant stupidity”. Steiner insisted we must draw from their agricultural efforts: “Then this stupidity will become — “wisdom before God.” Demeter and their trademarked Biodynamics, however, neglects this implied research program. Instead, after assuming organic agricultural principles, they take as their start and end point Steiner’s sole practical innovation: The Preparations.

 

The Preparations, numbered 500-507, are as follows: for spraying, 500-Horn manure, cow manure that has been fermented in the soil over winter inside a cow horn, and 501-Horn silica, finely ground quartz meal that spends the summer in the soil inside a cow horn. For the compost, preparations 502-507, yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian. Specific formulations described in Steiner’s words may be found by clicking the Preparations link above. More modern expressions, with a few supplemental preps created since Steiner, may be found on the Josephine Porter Institute web site and that of The Biodynamic Agricultural Association, respectively Demeter’s US and UK distributors.

 

The Preparations are meant for any and all manner of agriculture. But of Viticulture, do they work? I mean, above and beyond organic methods? Here are three voices: The first from Red White and Green, an Australian web site dedicated to biodynamic viticulture. The second is a video testimonial from grower/producer Steve Beckmen out of Santa Barbara. And the third is of special interest. Jennifer Reeve is a scientist from Washington State University, yet also well-versed in Rudolf Steiner. She grew up on a biodynamic farm, attended a Waldorf school and worked at the above-referenced Josephine Porter Institute. She has perhaps done the most detailed research on the actual benefits BD might bring to the vineyard. Now, if you think you already know what she would write you would be wrong. Here is her report, first published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 2005. She later published an addendum of sorts wherein she writes, “I have to be blunt because it was a shock to me when I first started reading the small amount of scientific literature on biodynamics and conducting my own experiments: the dramatic results I had heard about simply were not there. Statistically significant effects in flavour [sic] of the preparations can be seen some of the time but not all of the time, and perhaps most telling is that the differences are very small.” Wisdom before God, perhaps.

[see comment #1 above for a correction. Admin]

 

Rudolf Steiner needs better readers. That is not to say I have done much here. The blog format has a significant weakness: brevity! The point is that Steiner wrote hundreds of books, thousands of essays, lectured daily for years, most have been recorded. He was afflicted with the dreadful German impulse to build a philosophical system to swallow the world. His work is as demanding as it is inconsistent and contradictory. But you’d never know from the texts of his acolytes and defenders. Similarly is his biography fraught with discontinuities and omissions. He forgets his siblings. Though married twice he had no children. Whenever ‘women’ were under discussion they quickly vanished, buried under a ton of ‘cosmic’ elocution. I read in vain the Ag Lectures for a single comparison of soil fertility to women, a pregnancy motif. Nope, not there. But it is to his childhood, even in the Agricultural Lectures, delivered a year before his death in 1925, that he returns to…potatoes.

 

Johann Steiner, Rudolf’s father, worked for the Southern Austrian Railway. He was the telegraph operator. Little Rudolf, maybe six, was in the train station with him one day. While his father sat in another room a few feet away, indifferent to the boy, silently transcribing electronic pulses into language, Rudolf had his first clairvoyant experience. Father and son, together they pluck messages out of thin air.

Happy Birthday, Mr.Steiner.

 
For further information, please also see Reflections on Biodynamics.
 
Admin

 

16 Responses to ' Biodynamics & Viticulture '

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  1. Brian Clark said,

    on February 26th, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Just a quick correction: Jennifer Reeve isn’t a Washington State University scientist; she was a Master’s student here, and did work with WSU scientist Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, a well-know soil scientist who has done considerable research in organic and biodynamic production methods.

  2. Administrator said,

    on February 26th, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Thank you for the correction.

  3. Greybeard said,

    on February 26th, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Strange how organic on its own is becoming less desirable, I was just reading in this months Decanter how Chester Osborne, of D’Arenberg, runs the winery as organic, but hasn’t gone for certification as he thinks it counts against the wines in people’s perceptions, and that he can’t go fully BioDynamic because they run too many vineyards. Interesting article.

  4. Morton Leslie said,

    on February 26th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    I think you shortchange Steiner. He brought us quite a few original concepts. He first explained how spirits appear and act as forces that operate on inorganic objects to give them life. Steiner explained how these spirits had three components: plant, animal and human. Steiner was able to open a pathway to all other spirits who have ever existed in the past or present universe; and, by looking deeply inside his own spirit he found that human beings evolved from primitive beings that lived on the surfaces of the sun, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury.
    If it were not for him we would not know that Nitrogen’s role is “to mediate between life and the spiritual essence.” He taught us of the “influence” of the positions of the sun, moon and planets (We should note the great man was particularly troubled by the zigzag motion of Saturn across the sky, exhibiting his pre-Copernican notion of the solar system.) Steiner first corrected our view of the forces between the earth and the moon, and in doing so he showed us Isaac Newton’s error. “If Newton’s gravity was the only force between the moon and the earth, why wouldn’t the moon fall down on us?” It must have been frustrating to Steiner to be ignored by the establishment over his revelations about the inherent power found in buried cow horns while they paid attention to his contemporaries like Einstein who had that sillyness about space and time.


  5. on February 27th, 2008 at 8:16 am

    This is a great article, thank you for writing this and including the links.

  6. Wine dude said,

    on February 27th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Hmm… I wonder if BD will help those vines I have growing on Mars.


  7. on February 27th, 2008 at 9:37 am

    “that F&B, as of this writing, offers no comparable list of Organic producers”.”

    I have been asked several times to do a list of Organic producers, but it’s both hard enough to keep up on the Biodynamic Producers list (except, now, for Australia, I have to pretty much discover most of the producers myself), and the rules for “organic wine” differ in the US from, say, France.

    Btw, I never heard of biodynamics until a few years ago. And then, as I learned every so often of a producer who happened to be biodynamic, I was so surprised that a high percentage of the wines I liked/wines I have in my cellar were from biodynamic producers. Combined with the sustainability aspect, it seemed a natural for me to create a real master list.

  8. evan said,

    on February 21st, 2009 at 4:08 am

    last paragraph has a problem: when you admit you have not read extensively, steiner’s works, then it is not justified to make statements about his works such as “His work is as demanding as it is inconsistent and contradictory”

    it requires careful study to understand the man’s teachings, and above all, good will, and CERTAINLY not a predisposition to reject him offhand, and no superficial examination is valid in a professional sense, just as a cursory study for a few weeks even, of a subject such as the calculus doesen’t render you a competent mathematician…

    you are admitting ill will, it looks like due to personal bias regarding his core teachings about ’spirit’ “Father and son, together they pluck messages out of thin air.”

    steiner has a reason to call it spiritual science: it presents universally validatable principles, just like any science, in this case requiring ‘tools’ that have to be built with human forces of thinking, feeling and willing. unless you have built up these tools, you cant disprove the propositions!

    -cheers

  9. Administrator said,

    on February 21st, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Thank you, evan, for your thoughtful comments. The difficulty with your objections, as I see them, is that they exclude the meaningful exchange of ideas. The true believer insists on an impossible standard of reading before any critique might be tolerated.
    First of all, it is not to speak poorly of a thinker to say that they are inconsistent and contradictory. All the great minds of the human sciences and philosophy are restless and constantly searching.
     
    And it is important to recall that Steiner himself was in a perpetetual struggle, more obvious later in his career, with members of the very groups he either joined or formed. His primary battles were not only with ’scientists’ and of the day but also with fellow metaphysicians. So intense were these disputes among his brothers and sisters in thought that when he passed of a mysterious stomach ailment it was immediately believed, a position held to this day, that it must have been that a cabal of spiritual rivals poisoned him.
     
    Now, among his many followers ‘Steiner’ has come to mean many different things. For the sake of brevity, let’s take the winemaking community as an example. It is a rude truth that those practicing biodynamics, loosely based on Steiner’s Agricultural Essays, know next to nothing of Steiner’s work as a whole. Some winemakers have only adopted Demeter’s (which, by the way, claims ownership of Steiner’s thought experiment) constantly shifting guidelines, remain students of only Demeter’s sclerotic pamphlets. Others, more cynically, shrug off his work and see it as a marketing opportunity. Some use copper in the vineyard or shun farm animals. The flexibility of Steiner’s instructions in agricultural matters is put to good use, to put it charitably!
     
    And your example of calculus misses a more profound point. Calculus is an organized body of mathematics constructively elaborated by peer-reviewed mastery of earlier axioms and propositions. The point of doing calculus, for the mathematician, is to positively advance the discipline. It is not to passively occupy the subject position of the student. Very different with Steiner and his philosophy. Are you resolved to remain a permanent student or to think for yourself? Wittgenstein referred to philosophy as a ladder that, once climbed, is tossed away. This seems to me a more thrilling invitation to intellection than to remain captive a single ’system’ of thought.
     
    And what are we to do with the work of soil scientists and organic researchers these past 70 years? How can the Steiner devotee fault the Steiner critic for partiality, an incomplete reading, when this far more demanding research, filling libraries, goes begging?
     
    Finally, more amusing than anything else, what are we to make of the international trafficking in cow horns? I was under the impression that the various body parts, including the internal organs of forest creatures, needed to share the same specific energies of the area where the agricultural activity also takes place.
     
    It is one thing to insist on spiritual perfection, quite another to live in this world.

  10. RobinE said,

    on March 7th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I was directed here via a biodynamic (BD) discussion group and enjoyed reading your observations on Steiner. I am currently a full-time student of biodynamics after a career in industry and finance having been drawn by its esoteric, spiritual yet ultimately practical approach to agriculture. So many modern, reductionist and ‘conventional’ approaches to almost any area of our life you care to name are having crisis of confidence in their ability to nurture our society and support our current definition of growth that I found appeal in something so different yet so broadly based. It is a challenge to consider he might be right in much of what he reputedly clairvoyantly communicated. I have yet to validate much and probably never will but much of what he said is surprisingly progressive, fascinating, prescient, relevant and, for me, worthy of further exploration. I would certainly prefer to spend the next 25 years investigating the effects of the preparations than putting my future and faith in Monsanto’s latest invention (although I imagine the preps are extremely time, place and person dependent, as you suggest re the horns)

    As you also say, he was an imperfect man (but certainly less so than other prominent Austrians of the time) with many contradictions, that to me makes him more plausible rather than less. To shoot the messenger seems pointless. Importantly he states in all his lecture courses that research, research, research is key, don’t take his word. HE was not dogmatic, although many who have taken up his writings have become so, perhaps because much of what he suggests is a lifetime’s research.

    I think your critique of Demeter and early agriculture a little clumsy. Demeter has grasped a small marketing hook around 1924. But there is no claim within BD that organics started then. As I see it Steiner tried to crystallize methods, ideas, images, feelings (spiritual connections) that by 1924 were changing so rapidly or disappearing. He was reminding people that humans were moving away from the animal and spiritual worlds, that a new approach was needed, that agriculture was (and still is generally) heading off in the wrong direction. Not that he had invented some novel form of working the land. And, from what I have read, he was well aware of the fragility of our existence on this earth and its possible shortlivedness.

    I too have seen research suggesting one thing and another. However, I do know I see little in modern agricultural practises that is environmentally, socially or economically viable on an ongoing basis. A childhood growing up in the midst of industrial agriculture (unaware of the alternative except as romantic ideal in school books) meant I have found BD farms (of which I have seen many) a revelation and an inspiration (as, it must be said, I have many organic and a small number of non-organic). Not all are perfect either, not everyone who farms BD is a good farmer.

    Steiner did at least give (in your words dreadful) a philosophy including social, medical, legal and economic ideals within which to build a sustainable community. High ideals then and now but something to grapple with, something to inspire and work into the soul whilst ploughing a furrow or awaiting a lambing. Mainstream organic farming has become the absence of something, it is defined by what is not there. There is much in organics, now and historically, as you list, that overlaps with BD. No surprise there, Steiner, I don’t think, was trying to be original or exclusive. BD gives you more than just preps though, it gives you a whole realm of beings and forces that are there, waiting for you to engage your mind and your will, who will then help you in your tasks. Far fetched? Maybe, but it can work, does work, and it might all be true. It would be great if enough money were put into researching aspects to find out but what would be the point if you couldn’t patent something at the end of it?

    I came to BD with an openmind and I have found nothing comparable for creating a beautiful, productive, socially alive, living agricultural organism as a commitment to the practices of biodynamics allows. Practiced well, and that is necessarily open to very wide interpretation, I believe it is one the most sustainable forms of agriculture. Practitioners too need to be flexible but that is not precluded by the ideas laid down by Steiner.

    As for the cow horns, if modern scientific, economic and social systems hadn’t allowed us to reach the point where we manifested BSE in cows then the trade in them wouldn’t be necessary. If society hadn’t become so divorced from the soil, the plants and the animals that it lives off, then their use might not seem so bizarre.

    The only thing is to seek spiritual progress whilst living in this world.

  11. Administrator said,

    on March 13th, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    RobinE, thank you for your thoughtful ideas. However, you hold inquisitive writers to a standard you do not keep. Nowhere in your remarks do I read a word of the last 85 years of soil/ag research. Indeed, there is not a single word about ag science since Steiner’s day. It is as though the world ceased inquiry in 1924.
     
    Why not venture beyond the safe confines of Steiner’s dusty tomes? If, as you say, he championed ‘research, research, research’, then where may we read yours?
     
    Your words are a lullaby to ahistorical children, a dreamy celebration of stasis.
     
    That said, there is no doubt biodynamics is of positive value for the wine world and agriculture generally. The dedication of bio farmers to improving their lands for future generations is beyond dispute. Cheers.
     

  12. andra said,

    on March 14th, 2009 at 8:04 am

    I love it. The most thoughtful exchange on biodynamics and Steiner himself i have come across. Thank you again for your hard work and critical thinking. And by the way, I do not find the statement “Father and son, together they pluck messages out of thin air.” as being evidence of personal bias, as one reader would suggest. Rather I find it a clever acknowledgement of the truth in nature that two men approaching a “challenge” from two different directions (and working in two different media) may achieve similar results. Happens all the time.

  13. evan said,

    on March 17th, 2009 at 1:30 am

    Steiner lecturing on farming in the light of anthroposophy does not automatically imply that there were no valid farming techniques beforehand, indeed, Steiner was intending to reintroduce farming which was commonly practiced before the dangers of modern agruculture became a concern, that concern was the reason he was asked to lecture on how anthroposophical concepts might apply to farming.
     
    If the begging 85 years of research, which you said i also was ignoring, has a contribution, believe me i will use it as a farmer. If Steiner’s ideas have a contribution i’ll use that. Any efficiently validatable principle is useable. i do not reject Steiner’s methods offhand, nor any method offhand, i take it all in and use my best judgment and healthy feeling and thinking to use what works!
     
    IE, your biochar review/article: “He [steiner] did not envision, because of his otherworldly, metaphysical obsession, that this world might die.”
    ‘metaphysical obsession’ … implies your offhand rejection of his spiritual worldview, with which his lectures on farming were based. offhand, meaning perhaps you dont have the time or interest in a critical analisys of his spiritual worldview (therefore disqualifying yourself as an authority)? I, on the other hand, have 16 years of such critical analisys and study, having read at least 100 of his titles, slowly and carefully, so if you ever need any questions answered i’m certain i can help. (btw, biochar sounds very promising as an enhancement of the soil from my unqualified reading of resources here!)
     
    FYI, he reports that there will be a cessation of human physical life on earth (lowest element of our being would then be what he calls the ‘life body’ or ‘etheric body’) sometime as soon as 8th millenia, and in general points to cyles of birth and death at every level, human individual life, planetary evolution, solar system evolution… compare with concurring current natural science hypothesis about the same cycles… he in general actually points to a potential devastation of the earth due to egotistical and destructive human habits, but he means a very subtle connection with materialistic tendencies’ impoverishing of soul life, and certain physical productive powers of the earth… current popular opinion uncritically based on the IPCC reports may seem easier to form without further research, but this is only because we are in an age of uncritcal belief in anything anyone says who has been certified as a ’scientist’ by our universities, we’re all so excited by our recent conquering of pure material existence that we have made it accountable for every mystery in the universe!
     
    One of my goals is to run a farm, on a scale matching larger industrial farms, using bio dynamic techniques, and see if i can keep up with them on a dollar per hectare basis (BD prices are expected to have to be higher, but i plan on being as competitive with price as possible as well)… and have double blind subjective quality tests and nutritional analysis done by a third party as well every year… i would think any intelligent farmer would do the same and not just run the Demeter certified farm out of blind faith… IE personally i dont like to run any enterprise in a manner that wastes my time and energy to no avail, and constant analisys and improvement are the rule. By the time i run it, i may not go for Demeter certification, as i might have ideas i’ll require to add in (such as biochar?), that i think enhance a BD farm without compromising the essence of BD philosophy.

  14. RobinE said,

    on March 20th, 2009 at 7:20 am

    ‘Your words are a lullaby to a historical children, a dreamy celebration of stasis.’

    Poetic indeed and not an unfair criticism of some ‘believers’ of BD. I see preps sprayed dogmatically with limited effect and have no direct experience of spiritual beings. However, I am convinced by much of the research and researchers and am open to learning and experiencing more. Where is my research? As with evan, it will materialise when I convert my farm and I hope to be able to report back.

    The DOK trials are probably the longest running BD/organic trials in Europe although by far the most striking evidence for the effects of BD preps can be seen in Australia where aerial spraying (and using Flowform stirring) is now quite extensive (see Secrets of the Soil by Tomkins & Bird).

    Here a few links to english websites, where I have ventured form the dusty tomes, of practitioners and researchers that I have links for in my bookmarks. Unfortunately not all their research is available free and much of the BD research out there is in German only, but contact them for information. Dr Haushka, Weleda, Laverstoke Park conduct private research. ISOFAR research includes many BD farms (because they are amoung some of the longest running organic farms). Much research is unpublished as it is out there on farms and requires you to go and look for it:

    http://www.fibl.org/en/homepage.html
    http://www.garudabd.org/
    http://www.considera.org/
    http://www.isofar.org/publications/scientific-01.html
    http://soil.scijournals.org/cgi/content/full/64/5/1651
    http://www.jdb.se/sbfi/default.asp?lang=GB
    http://www.ecotropic-consulting.com/en/profile/index.html

    Glen Atkinson and Enzo Nastati, in particular, have done some fascinating work in developing and researching Steiner’s ideas. Much of their work is published and accessible. You can also buy products that ‘do exactly what it says on the tin’ as a result of said research.

    And to an extent this misses the point. Most of the research we have today in no way negates what Steiner has suggested, it simply does not directly support it because it was not looking at that. The largest sponsors of soil science research today are hardly likely to publicise research that does not promote one of their products. It is a sad and unprogressive fact that there is so little independent university research done today. I, as you, would love to see more research. However, until then I shall continue to support BD as a spiritual, engaging world of possibilities that promotes sustainability, extensive farming and high animal husbandry techniques, improves soil fertility and places emphasis on the social aspect of farming.

  15. Administrator said,

    on March 20th, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Thanks to evan and RobinE for their very constructive comments on this subject.

  16. RobinE said,

    on March 20th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    For one of the more successful, working research projects try Farmer John.

    The film is great. He is due to publish a report on his 2008/2009 tour of European BD farms very soon.

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