Living agriculture

Living agriculture

22 September 2021 Jean-Michel Florin 3452 views

The second international biodynamic research conference, held online from 30 August to 2 September, explored the preconditions for a living agriculture.

Some media claim that the products of biodynamic farming are good but that its underlaying foundations are ‘mumbo-jumbo’. They were unscientific and there was no evidence of the effectivity of its methods and of the biodynamic preparations. However, research has been carried out since the very beginning of biodynamic farming in 1924. Its founder, Rudolf Steiner, asked early on for practical experiments to be conducted and he encouraged those attending his Agriculture Course (GA 327) to actively develop and confirm the methods in practice.

Internationally, there is growing interest in more sharing and networking within the biodynamic research community. An initial step in this direction was taken in September 2018 with the first international biodynamic research conference (Anthroposophy Worldwide 10/2018). Because of the positive response to this conference, the Section for Agriculture decided to hold research conferences regularly every three years, each time in a different country.

The second conference was therefore scheduled to take place in the UK, at the Royal Agricultural University, with the involvement of more partners, including Coventry University (UK), Stellenbosch University (SA) Pondicherry University (IN), the Biodynamic Associations in the UK and the United States, Kassel University (DE), Forschungsring (DE), the Research Institute for Organic Farming (CH), the Natural Sciences Section at the Goetheanum and the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International.

After in-depth planning, the conference could only be held online due to the global situation. This meant, however, that over 1700 people from 34 countries on all continents could attend the more than 60 contributions provided, including presentations, working groups, posters showing research results etc.

Increase in extreme climate events

It has been confirmed that the challenges for farming have risen hugely: climate change, loss of biodiversity, the destruction of ecosystems, new epidemics and much more. Relying on the rhythms of nature is becoming increasingly difficult. After a very hot summer, a cold and wet year follows with many storms. Extreme climate events have become much more frequent.

The conference committee chose the topic of Growing Beyond Resilience in order to examine together the conditions of a living agriculture such as biodynamics. A broad range of topics and perspectives was addressed: from the exact effect of biodynamic preparations on soil to the activity of micro-organisms to the use of intuitive skills in farming and the effect of raw milk on health.

More networking and communication among researchers will be essential in future. At the same time, PR and interdisciplinary work – of agriculture, medicine and education, for instance – should be further developed and extended, for we cannot be healthy if the earth is not healthy!

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