This particularly intense school of agriculture has both organic and spiritual aspects. Based on a series of lectures given in 1924 by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, biodynamic agriculture views the farm as a single organism, with the plants, animals, crops, soil, air and celestial influences, such as the moon and stars, all interconnected. By balancing these elements, the farmer, in theory, makes his property self-sustaining, thus eliminating the need for artificial nutrients or pesticides.
Protecting the Vineyard
As part of creating a self-sustaining farm, Steiner devised nine biodynamic preparations, numbered 500 to 508. Most are compost treatments made with stag’s bladders or other animal parts stuffed with herbs and minerals, meant to improve the soil. Two are called field sprays. They holistically treat the entire farm, including a spray made by burying a cow horn in the spring, unearthing it in the fall, and diluting the contents with water.
The two field sprays are activated during what’s called dynamization, when a small portion is diluted in lukewarm water in a circular vessel. The farmer stirs the water in a steady rhythm for a good hour, swirling first in one direction, then quickly reversing to animate the solution. While stirring machines have also been invented to dynamize the treatments, many practitioners prefer to use their hands. Once the treatments have been dynamized, they are sprayed on either the grounds or vines.