Animals and Biodynamic Composting

Animals and Biodynamic Composting

In nature, all organisms are interconnected, from the largest to the smallest, from the simplest to the most complex. Everything functions in a very simple yet extremely refined way, making it not always easy to understand the connections that link the natural world we live in. The biodynamic farmer carefully observes what happens and season after season refines their knowledge and skills to better allow the vital forces to flow within their products. The goal of biodynamic agriculture is to produce healthy food to support the physical and mental activities of human beings.

It is important to take good care of the soil as well as the air to obtain good biodynamic products, and this is achieved by caring for the agricultural organism through hedges, ponds, plant and animal biodiversity, and also by using treatments on plants that do not harm beneficial insects, and paying particular attention to animal welfare.

Animals in a biodynamic farm are always very important, whether they are domesticated animals such as horses, cows, sheep, donkeys, bees, or wild ones like earthworms, small birds, insects, up to deer and wild boars that often visit the crops. Animals change the atmosphere of the farm by bringing specific qualities typical of their species.

Anyone who has had the chance to have a cat, dog, or bird at home has experienced this. Each animal has a specific quality: while the cat is sly and sophisticated, the dog tends to be more affectionate and loyal. The same can happen with lively chickens or peaceful cows. The connections that link these animals to their environment and the effects their introduction into the farm can have are not yet fully explored. It is certain that from a "macroscopic" point of view—as suggested by R. Steiner in his series of lectures* on agriculture—every animal feeds on the farm and releases its droppings, which in the economy of nature are destined to fertilize the soil. Even in the case of droppings, each animal releases its own characteristics. Horse manure heats a lot, chicken manure is rich in nitrogen and makes plants grow quickly, goat and sheep manure are small air-filled pellets, cow manure is among the most balanced. This is why in biodynamics a pile of cow manure is made and properly matured to be spread on the fields. This biodynamic compost brings a particular balance to our soil, makes it fertile, increases the activity of biological flora, and mitigates seasonal imbalances. The plants are healthier and the products more flavorful.

However, manure is not distributed fresh as it is but is processed through biodynamic composting to bring greater vitality to the soil, plants, and consequently to products like grapes.

A manure pile is formed, not too high to avoid abnormal fermentation at the bottom, and specific herbs properly transformed are added. For this purpose, biodynamic compost preparations are used. These consist of six plant species: yarrow, chamomile, nettle, oak, dandelion, and valerian. Each of them brings a specific quality to the compost, such as nettle, which supports the iron process, preventing plants from yellowing.

By doing so, biodynamic compost promotes the health of plants and consequently animals, a fundamental goal for the biodynamic farmer who wants to prevent problems. In biodynamics, caring for soil, plants, and animals means increasing their vitality to provide a product that nourishes humans in a complete and healthy way.

 

di Elena Zaramella

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