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An Introduction To Demeter Biodynamic Farming

February 18, 2015

An Introduction To Demeter Biodynamic Farming

Many products in the Clearspring BioKitchen range are certified Demeter Organic, but what does that really mean?

Demeter certifies food produced from biodynamic farming, a methodology created and defined by philosopher Rudolph Steiner in the 1920s, combining agriculture, cosmology and herbalism/homeopathy.

A biodynamic farm should be aiming towards being a self-sufficient organism, where the plants grown nourish the soil and the livestock, which in turn fertilise the fields. The resultant soil fertility and enhanced life forces in the plants produce healthier and more nourishing food. Farmers treat their field with specific biodynamic preparations and work in respect of cosmic rhythms, imbuing the food with nature’s energy in line with the aim to “provide the basis not only for bodily nutrition but also for the soul and spiritual life.”

Demeter Standards for Biodynamic Farming and Growing

Biodynamic Certification provides certification for Biodynamic Farming and Growing to the internationally agreed and recognised Demeter Standards. Demeter Standards are fully compliant with the EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 and associated regulations. BD Certification is a Defra approved certification body for the EU Organic Regulation. However, the Demeter Standards go much farther than the EU Organic Regulation, therefore achieving a more rigorous organic methodology and delivering a high level of environmental benefit.

Key additional and higher requirements of the Demeter Standards include:

  • Strong emphasis on the Biodynamic Farm as a self-sustaining farm organism 
  • Seeds and plant material produced using protoplasm and cytoplasm fusion techniques are prohibited. No mention of these invasive seed breeding techniques is found in the EU organic regulation or in other UK organic standards. 
  • Nitrogen levels for agriculture are limited to 112 kg n/ha. The limit in the EU regulation and other UK organic standards is 170 kg n/ha.
  • Use of copper to treat fungal disease is limited to 3 kg/ha averaged over 5 years. Limit in the EU reg is 6 kg/ha.
  • Use of biodynamic preparations to improve soil biology, photosynthesis, plant health, and control decomposition of organic materials are required. The EU organic regulation permits, but does not require biodynamic preparations. 
  • Requirement for farms to keep ruminants or equidae under normal. There is no similar requirement in the EU regulation. 
  • Dehorning and keeping of dehorned cattle is normally prohibited. There is a general provision against mutilation of livestock in the EU organic regulation and other UK organic standards, but no specific prohibition of dehorning and keeping of dehorned livestock. Keeping of dehorned cattle is widely practiced on organic farms certified by other organic bodies. 
  • Livestock for meat production must be born and reared on a certified biodynamic or organic holding. The EU organic regulation permits bringing in non organic livestock for breeding and eventually for meat under certain circumstances. 
  • Organophosphates are prohibited. Organophosphates are not prohibited in the EU organic regulation. 
  • Avermectin Products are restricted as they are systemic and pass through in the dung and damage soil life. There is no restriction of oganophosphates in the EU Organic Regulation. 
  • The normal Demeter conversion period is 3 years. Normal organic conversion period is 2 years in the EU Organic Regulation and other UK organic standards. 
  • In addition, permitted additives and ingredients in the Demeter Processing Standards are much more limited than in the EU Organic Regulation.

The above lists some of the key additional and higher requirements in the Demeter Standards for Biodynamic Agriculture. The list is not exhaustive and there are many more additional and higher requirements contained in the Demeter Standards. As a result the Demeter Standards are respected internationally as being among the most rigorous Organic Standards in the world, and the quality of Biodynamic farms and products is widely recognised.

For more information visit: www.demeter.net

By Hannah Phoebe Bowen: Freelance Food Writer

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