Biodynamic preparations and compost

According to Wikus, a distinguishing feature of biodynamic farming is the use of nine biodynamic preparations which are said to enhance soil quality and stimulate plant life.

Biodynamic preparations and compost
- Advertisement -

The biodynamic preparations are numbered 500 through to 508. The first two, BD 500 to BD 501 are used for preparing lands.  The BD 500 preparation (horn-manure) is made from cow manure that has been fermented in a cow horn buried in the soil for six months through autumn and winter. This is used as a soil spray to stimulate root growth and humus formation.

BD 501 (horn silica) is made from powdered quartz which has been packed inside a cow horn and buried in the soil for six months through spring and summer. This is applied as a foliar spray to stimulate and regulate growth. Six of the preparations, BD 502 to BD 507, are used for making compost.

The traditional manner in which the biodynamic compost is made is rather onerous and sticking to the rules is quite important.
After the compost windrow is constructed, small amounts (1g to 3g) of the preparations are strategically added to the compost heap. However, the BD 507 preparation is stirred into 5l of water and sprayed over the entire compost surface.

- Advertisement -

Wikus places the biodynamic preparations into the compost heap. Small amounts of the biodynamic preparations are added by digging 50cm holes about 2m apart.

Wikus explains that in BD 502, yarrow blossom is added to help the vines access trace minerals, BD 503 (chamomile blossoms) helps stabilise nitrogen, BD 504 (stinging nettle) stimulates soil health, BD 505 (oak bark) is rich in calcium and is believed to help strengthen the plant. BD 506 (dandelion flowers) enhances the vines’ ability to absorb sunlight via photosynthesis.

BD 507 (valerian flower) is applied to help influence phosphorus levels. Finally, there is BD 508, which is prepared from the silica-rich horsetail plant and used as a foliar spray to suppress fungal diseases in plants. According to Rudolf Steiner’s original instructions, the yarrow blossoms have to be stuffed into a red deer’s bladder, placed in the sun during summer, buried in the soil during winter, and retrieved in spring.

The chamomile blossoms are used after being stuffed into small intestines from cattle, buried in the ground in autumn and retrieved in spring. Stinging nettle plants in full bloom have to be stuffed underground for a year surrounded on all sides by peat.
The oak bark has to be chopped in small pieces, placed inside the skull of a domesticated animal, surrounded by peat and buried in the ground where lots of rainwater runs past.

The dandelion flowers have to be stuffed into the mesentery of a cow, buried in winter and retrieved in spring. “We work closely with Bloublommetjieskloof biodynamic farm in Wellington and buy ‘ready-made’ BD preparations from them,” says Wikus.