Features of bio-dynamic cultivation
In 1924 Rudolf Steiner shared his knowedge on agriculture for a new cultivation of the earth:
The earth is a living organism, the humus layer the skin of the earth, the basis for our development. The intention is to care for the earth in such a way that earthly and cosmic forces can cross-fertilize each other to resonate in harmony.
In order to support this, we spread the substances horn fertilizer 500 and horn silica 501 on the fields. The horn fertilizer encourages the soil building process quantitatively; the horn silica encourages assimilation process, essential plant forces qualitatively. Applied in the right way they help the plant world to a harmonious growth and healthier nutrition for animals and humans.
The compost substances of yarrows, camomile, stinging nettles, dandelions and valerian guide the rotting process of the farm fertilizer and plant compost so that not the plants are fertilized but the soil is rejuvenated. This enables the plants to thrive in ways appropriate to their being.
This way a farm or landscape develops the sensibility to be open to cosmic and spiritual influences and to establish a farm's individuality.
Features of conservational soil treatment
The hallmark of conservational soil cultivation is abstaining from turning the soil over with a plow, with the goal of keeping, "conserving" the water and nutrients in the soil.
The remains of the harvest or plant remains of the main or catch crop are left on or near the surface of the soil and the soil is less treated intensively. The result is a treatment of the whole surface, which means by definition that after sowing at least 30% of the soil surface is covered with mulch (plant remains).
In less deep and less intensively loosened soil, in which straw is only worked in horizontally or left on the surface, the life of the soil, earth worms are clearly encouraged.
Features of direct sowing
Direct sowing means depositing the seeds in absolutely untreated soil. With special slice or chisel sowing-shares, only a narrow slit is opened in which the seeds are deposited, allowing the soil to close well. If straw is left on the fields, all the plant remains are chopped with a mowing thresher and spread evenly over the surface of the soil. With direct sowing, weeds are suppressed with a complete and permanent vegetative soil cover. As herbicides are generally not used in organic cultivation, weeds are exclusively fought by crop rotation, sowing appropriate (high growing) green fertilizer, harvest remains as well as mechanical or thermal weed regulation.
The transition from conventional soil treatment with plowing to the conservational soil treatment without plowing all the way to direct sowing without any soil treatment has the following ecological advantages:
- stabler pores and aggregation of soil
- better rainwater drainage
- better soil productivity
- greater activity and biodiversity of soil life (earth worms)
- better root-work especially in the lower soil
- less sludge on the soil surface
- less erosion damage
- build up, and no cutback of humus
- less moisture evaporation
- less need of fuel
More detailed information on these cultivation methods are available in the bulletin published by three Swiss specialized organizations for agriculture. Download Merkblatt