Biodynamic agriculture

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The biodynamic agriculture or biodynamic agriculture is a field management , livestock farming , seed production and landscape conservation comprehensive economy based on agricultural ideas of Rudolf Steiner is based, which he presented in a series of lectures 1924th A special feature is the use of so-called biodynamic preparations for soil and plant treatment. Anthroposophical farmers founded the Demeter collecting society in 1927 .

Demeter association logo

History of biodynamic agriculture

Biodynamic agriculture goes back to Rudolf Steiner , the founder of anthroposophy . It sees itself as part of the anthroposophical movement. The founding date is a conference in 1924 in the Silesian town of Koberwitz near Breslau , at which Steiner gave a series of lectures on agriculture, the transcripts of which were later understood as the founding document. The expression "biodynamic agriculture" was only chosen after 1930 by Erhard Bartsch and Ernst Stegemann for the agricultural concept suggested by Steiner.


In 1921 Steiner was asked by an anthroposophist and farmer on the Marienstein monastery near Göttingen , Ernst Stegemann, about the development of new cultivated plants, whereupon Steiner is said to have given tips on how new types of grain can be grown from grasses, because "with the expiry of Kaliyuga all our crops would be exhausted ”. Similar questions about the “degeneration of seeds” apparently also occupied other anthroposophical farmers during this time. Stegemann converted his farm anthroposophically in 1922 and is said to have started appropriate breeding attempts immediately. In the summers of 1921 and 1922, agricultural trials for plant breeding were carried out in Dornach, including fertilizers from cow horns. Steiner visited Koberwitz for the first time in January 1922 . In 1923 and in the spring of 1924, Guenther Wachsmuth , member of the board of the Anthroposophical Society , and Pfeiffer produced horn preparations under Steiner's supervision .

The conference in Koberwitz in June 1924

The landlord Carl Wilhelm Graf von Keyserlingk can be regarded as the initiator of biodynamic agriculture . In August 1922 Steiner was asked by two anthroposophists working at the Koberwitz estate, Erhard Bartsch and Immanuel Voegele, to hold a course. In November 1923 at the latest, Steiner was persuaded by some farmers around Count von Keyserlingk to give a lecture cycle. Before the course began, he was asked specific questions about this. In addition, Steiner was "guaranteed a guaranteed sum of 20,000 marks so that travel expenses and fees could be paid for the artists", since an artist group that gave eurythmy performances was supposed to accompany him.

In the week of Pentecost in 1924, around 100 anthroposophists, not all of them farmers, met on the Silesian Gut Koberwitz , near Breslau , of the landowner Carl Graf von Keyserlingk , and Steiner, who was already suffering from health problems, presented his more or less spontaneously invented "humanistic agriculture" in courses . Steiner held his oral courses during the day. He wrote the lectures for the next day at night.

The agricultural course , which Steiner held a few days after the Koberwitz conference in Dornach, with lectures, answers to questions and a review, almost the entire material basis of his agricultural ideas, took place from June 7th to 16th. The audience was strictly controlled at the door, Almar von Wistinghausen acted as Steiner's “bodyguard” as part of a protection force, and von Keyserlingk - “his hand in his pocket on the pistol” - guided Steiner to the lectures. With these security precautions one wanted to prevent attacks by right-wing troublemakers on Steiner, as they had previously happened in Munich. In addition to these agricultural lectures, Steiner gave a cycle of nine speeches as well as several individual lectures, including several in events for the esoteric class, at the Whitsun conference of the Anthroposophical Society in Breslau . Steiner's second visit to Koberwitz, which was already scheduled for September 2, 1924, did not take place because of his serious illness. Steiner died in 1925.

Draft of an alternative agriculture concept

Steiner did not present a complete ecological agricultural concept in Koberwitz. In his eight lectures he only suggested a few guidelines. Because the Keyserlingk family business was structured on a large scale, large-scale agricultural issues and specific topics relating to the Keyserlingks' farms formed the socio-historical context, whereas Steiner did not discuss any questions about small-scale farm management and the problems of anthroposophically oriented farmers with different perspectives took a back seat. In Steiner's lectures, the topic of plant production took up most of the space, whereby he spoke most often about fertilization , especially about fertilizer processing in cow horns for “mental dung”, and recommended compost and animal dung. Critically assessed, but also usable are nitrogen, phosphoric acid , lime, potash, chlorine and iron. Steiner also recommended highly toxic substances in homeopathic doses: silica, lead, arsenic, mercury and baking soda. Only in the last, the eighth lecture, did he devote himself to animal husbandry , but only to the aspect of feeding. He left a lot of advice and instructions for various agricultural questions, such as pest control . One could z. B. fight by burning them when the sun is in the sign of Taurus. In order to curb mouse plagues, Steiner recommended, based on homeopathic rules, to burn a mouse's fur and to scatter the ashes over the fields as "pepper" as soon as Venus is under the sign of Scorpio.

Trial ring of anthroposophical farmers

Based on Steiner's design, biodynamic agriculture was further developed by a group of anthroposophical farmers. Since Count von Keyserlingk was not prepared to introduce Steiner's methods on one of his estates, the trial ring of anthroposophical farmers was founded on the third day of the course in Koberwitz in order to fulfill Steiner's ardent wish for an empirical confirmation of the clairvoyant anthroposophical agriculture. Keyserlingk took over the chairmanship, which he gave up in 1926 in favor of Wachsmuth and Stegemann.


In the Worpswede artists' colony near Bremen, there was an information center for biodynamic horticulture , which required four years of confidentiality from those involved before sending out test conditions . The Agricultural Course could be spent on loan to secrecy only up to the 1930s only after signing an undertaking. Only the editions of the Versuchsring's communications (1926–1929) were semi-public , while the Demeter magazine was published publicly from 1930 to 1941. The question of secrecy has been the subject of long disputes. Steiner's agricultural lectures were first published in 1963, up to this point only a limited, numbered number of copies were circulating in anthroposophical circles, which were marked with the note “For personal use only”.

Biodynamic pioneers and their activities in the 1920s and 1930s

The development of biodynamic agriculture took place predominantly on goods in the eastern parts of the German Reich before the Second World War. Well-known biodynamic farms were located in Marienstein near Göttingen , Heynitz and Wunschwitz near Meißen , Marienhöhe in Bad Saarow and Pilgrimshain in Silesia. Organic farming was successfully established on the large estates in the 1920s and 1930s by combining Steiner's proposals with traditional and modern farming methods. The gardener Max Karl Schwarz (1895–1963) introduced complex composting methods for biodynamic agriculture. Immanuel Vögele (1897–1959) dealt with fertilization and preferred, despite Steiner's critical remarks, green manure and the use of composted urban organic waste. Ernst Stegemann and Immanuel Vögele dealt with the breeding of cultures that were adapted to biodynamic agricultural conditions. Ironically, Steiner's key concept, the farm as a living organism and individuality, played no role during this pioneering period. While the focus was solely on biodynamic preparations and fertilization, no attempts were made to develop appropriate concepts for animal breeding. One focus was the investigation of biodynamic preparations: the field preparations, consisting of horn manure and horn silicon, as well as the compost preparations, made from yarrow flowers, chamomile flowers, nettle , oak bark, dandelion flowers and valerian flowers . Contradicting results led to different uses of the preparations depending on the plant species, soil and climate.

In the late 1920s, biodynamic agriculture was the subject of public agricultural and scientific debates. Most field trials and farm comparisons showed lower yields on biodynamic farms, but some were found to be of higher food quality. In scientific experiments, no specific effects of the biodynamic preparations on plant development, yield or quality could be determined. Most comparative studies or field observations by farmers could not prove that biodynamic preparations had any effects, as in addition to the use or non-use of the preparations, other treatment differences such as minerals versus organic fertilization were included. Even if different results were observed in experiments, they could not be specifically linked to biodynamic preparations.

Anthroposophical farmers founded the Demeter collecting society in 1927 . In 1932 the name for biodynamic products was patented. The 100 hectare farm of Erhard Bartsch in Marienhöhe near Bad Saarow in Brandenburg was first acquired by Georg Michaelis and developed into a model farm and center for Demeter.

time of the nationalsocialism

The biodynamic economy met with high acceptance for a long time during the time of National Socialism , due to the esoteric interests of leaders like Rudolf Heß and because the self-sufficiency policy of the time was promoted by the Nazi-related positions of anthroposophical farmers. On July 29, 1933, the Reich Association for Biological-Dynamic Management in Agriculture and Horticulture e. V. founded, in particular to represent its own interests at important party and government agencies.

With a little help from the National Socialists, in 1933 more than 1000 of the 100 or so farms that were originally working in Steiner's sense had grown. Steiner's close companion, Erhard Bartsch , maintained good relations with Adolf Hitler's deputy Hess and Minister of Agriculture Walther Darré , who placed biodynamic agriculture under their personal protection. At Bartsch's court in Marienhöhe , Brandenburg , NSDAP functionaries and government officials were regular guests. They supplied themselves with food there. Bartsch and other anthroposophical farmers taught their methods on the farms of the SS .

Agricultural audit office

As bans became apparent in Thuringia and Württemberg, Fritz Todts ' agricultural advisor , Alwin Seifert , had a discussion with Hess on January 18, 1934. As a result, Hitler's deputy arranged for a letter to be sent to all Gauleiter on January 22, 1934 , whereupon the attacks on the biodynamic economy clearly decreased. Under the motto "The worldview of the German life reform movement is National Socialism", the Reich Association for Biological-Dynamic Economy became a cooperative member of the National Socialist German life reform movement in 1935 , and the two anthroposophists Franz Dreidax and Bartsch were accepted as members of the leadership council of this society. Despite the prohibition of the Anthroposophical Society in November 1935 and the rejection of anthroposophy by the Nazi regime, individual organizations that only dealt with applied anthroposophy could remain in existence. However, the interest of individual persons of the National Socialist regime in the biodynamic farming method consistently excluded anthroposophy and was limited to the goal of sustainable farming. One of the concessions to the regime was the less frequent mention of the anthroposophical background. Hess urged comparative experiments in order to be able to determine the performance potential of the biodynamic economy. On his initiative, a farm comparison was carried out by the agricultural tax auditor . However, his involvement in the Nazi leadership was controversial and aroused opposition.

Working group for agriculture based on the law of life

From the turn of the year 1939/1940 onwards, despite the rejection of the anthroposophical background, the biodynamic economy received temporary support from Walther Darré , who hoped that this type of farming would preserve the fertility of the soil . Darré liked the emphasis on sustainable land management and the production of high quality food. He also opposed mineral fertilizers and pesticides . His goal was the development of an organic farming system , a farming method based on the law of life , which should be scientifically based and which dispenses with anthroposophical principles. Reinhard Heydrich rejected the biodynamic economy, while his head of office ( SD -Inland) in the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), Otto Ohlendorf promoted it. Biodynamic farming was also popular with the Nazi leaders Alfred Rosenberg , Wilhelm Frick , Alfred Baeumler and Robert Ley . Martin Bormann and Hermann Göring were interested.

The National Socialist press celebrated biodynamic farming extravagantly. On May 10, 1937, Alwin Seifert, the Reich landscape lawyer and strong proponent of biodynamic methods, wrote to Hess: "Astonishingly much intellectual material has been taken over from the anthroposophical movement without naming the originator." Authoritative officials from Darré's staff have long been committed to biodynamic farming, and shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939, Darré set up the working group for agriculture based on the law of life , which operated biodynamic farming with the leading anthroposophical participation. In mid-1941 Darré stated that "some circles in the supreme leadership of the NSDAP have gone over to an affirmation of the biodynamic economy".

Destruction of the Reich Association and Hess' fertilization attempts

After Hess' flight to Great Britain , the Reich Association for Biological-Dynamic Economics was smashed in June 1941 as part of the campaign against secret doctrines and so-called secret sciences . Anthroposophic literature was confiscated and individual members of the Reich Association were temporarily imprisoned. With this action, however, the cooperation between biodynamics and National Socialists did not end, but the influence of the SS on biodynamic agriculture grew. Heinrich Himmler was sympathetic towards her as a farmer, but rejected her “sect-like religion”. Erhard Bartsch taught at the SS courts. In doing so, he initiated a collaboration with the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office. Bartsch intended to reform National Socialism “from within” and felt it to be compatible with anthroposophy, a view that was widespread in biodynamic circles at the time. Himmler, who, like Darré, viewed the chemical-technical intensification of agriculture with skepticism, ordered in June 1941 that fertilization tests also be carried out with a biodynamic variant. The experiments were carried out on agricultural goods belonging to the German Research Institute for Nutrition and Catering , which was assigned to the SS and founded in 1939. The medicinal herb plantation of the Dachau concentration camp also belonged to the research institute .

Biodynamic medicinal plant experiments in concentration camps

The director of the Weleda medicinal plant complex , the anthroposophist Franz Lippert , was involved in the experiments in the Dachau concentration camp . The SS also carried out experiments with medicinal plants using biodynamic methods in Auschwitz concentration camp . The head of the SS Economic and Administrative Main Office , Oswald Pohl , was responsible for the network of biodynamic courtyards at the various concentration camps, including the Ravensbrück concentration camp . Since the beginning of the war, anthroposophists have been involved in the design and implementation of settlement plans in the occupied eastern territories of the German Reich , and with the permission of Himmler and under the auspices of the SS, the collaboration of biodynamics on various projects and on expropriated farms and teaching materials continued. The head of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA), SS-Obergruppenführer Günther Pancke , favored biodynamic agriculture as the only suitable form of cultivation "for the future military farmers and farmers in the East ". All SS-owned biodynamic operations existed until the end of the war in 1945.

1945 until today

After the Second World War, the former centers of biodynamic agriculture, the extensive estates in the eastern regions of the German Empire , were lost. In 1946 the Reich Association for Biodynamic Economy was re-founded by Josef Blockhuys , Kurt Eisele , Hans Heinze, Ernst Meyer, Nicolaus Remer , Immanuel Voegele , Kurt Willmann and Brunhild-Erika Windeck as a research ring for Biodynamic Economy (since 1950 based in Darmstadt ). The journal Lebendige Erde , which appears from 1950 onwards , was the organ of publication of the research ring . First steps have been taken to develop marketing - mainly through health food stores . In 1954 the trademark rights were transferred to the Demeter Association and in 1956 association guidelines were drawn up and issued.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the preservation of the rural world became a central issue. The securing of the economic basis was to be achieved through high-quality products that were sold at reasonable prices through producer-consumer communities. At the same time, an approach to the scientifically based knowledge of the ecological economy took place by integrating scientific knowledge from the biologically oriented agricultural research. This was initiated in particular by Nicolaus Remer (1906-2001). As a result, the anthroposophical aspects lost their importance. As a counter-reaction to this scientific orientation, a group was founded around Hellmut Finsterlin , which brought the esoteric-occult elements back to the fore and published the magazine Earth and Kosmos from 1975 to 1991 . When organic nutrition from the health food tradition was taken up by the alternative movement , biodynamic farmers were part of it - and perhaps at the forefront.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the topics of ecology, environmental protection and sustainability moved into focus, and the topic of “preservation of the rural environment”, which had dominated until then, took a back seat. One dealt with the key concept, which regarded the biodynamic farm as a living entity, defined it as a farm organism and at the same time as a farm individuality, as Rudolf Steiner had intended in his agricultural lectures. This came from Nicolaus Remer and later Manfred Klett and Wolfgang Schaumann in particular. In addition, attempts were made to breed cultivars that were adapted to the conditions of organic farming, and animal husbandry concepts were developed that should correspond to the nature of the animals. Many biodynamic projects today successfully combine agricultural work with social work by integrating people with disabilities or psychosocial problems such as drug addiction.

In Austria there has been the Wurzerhof in Sankt Veit an der Glan ( Carinthia ) since 1927 , known as the oldest existing farm that is still farmed biodynamically today. The Austrian Demeter Association was founded in April 1969.

Organized biodynamic agriculture has existed in Switzerland since 1937, when Swiss farmers formed the Association for Biodynamic Agriculture. Currently (as of 2016) a school for biodynamic agriculture is under construction in Rheinau in the canton of Zurich. The four-year training should conclude after three years with the Federal Certificate of Competence EFZ and ends after a further year with the higher professional certificate “specialist in biodynamic agriculture”.


Biodynamic products can be certified by the Demeter Association, which was founded in 1927 as the Demeter collecting society . The Demeter International Association was founded in 1997. In 2016 it was represented in 60 countries with a total area of ​​161,074 hectares . Germany had a share of 45.1%. Since the beginning of 2020 there have been 1,695 agricultural holdings in Germany with a total area of ​​93,000 ha. For Austria and Switzerland, 231 holdings on 7,164 ha and 297 holdings on 5,070 ha were determined. Worldwide there are 6,396 certified Demeter farms on an area of ​​208,327 hectares. Germany's share of this is 45% based on the cultivated area and 27% based on the number of farms. For Austria and Switzerland the proportions are 3.4% and 2.4% related to area and 3.6% and 4.6% related to farms. France ranks second worldwide with 14,629 hectares and 606 holdings.

In 2006 there were around 2,000 uncertified biodynamic farms in India, and around 1,000 communal farms in the USA were uncertified using biodynamic methods.



The biodynamic farming method is based on Rudolf Steiner and has developed independently in the context of other ecological cultivation methods. This is reflected in the business, social and economic. The expressions and terms used to describe this agricultural method also differ.

A central aspect of the biodynamic economy is the company's individuality. This means that each farm is designed individually by including site conditions, landscape, animals and people in the concept. It is desirable to have a largely closed operating cycle that relies as little as possible on the supply of substances from outside. In practical implementation, this means, for example, that the entire farm is organized in a biodynamic manner and a large proportion of the feed requirements are generated by the own farm. The company's individuality is also understood as part of the landscape with its various aspects and the animals that live in it. Based on the idea that a balance between the forces of nature is closely linked to agricultural production, suitable measures are taken in practice to positively influence the biotope density and the biodiversity of the operating natural area .

Biodynamic practice of filling cow horns for preparation production

Biodynamic agriculture sees soil and plants as a unit. Excessive pest infestation or fungal diseases are interpreted as the result of a disturbed balance . Based on Steiner, the soil is understood as a decisive factor that mediates substances in agriculture. Therefore, measures that have an increasing effect on soil fertility are of great importance. This includes the way animals are kept and fed, the handling of the manure, such as B. composting or diverse crop rotations. Steiner saw agriculture as a tendency to deplete the living forces of the soil. To compensate for this, biodynamic agriculture uses, in addition to the feed-manure cycle, biodynamic preparations that are added in small doses. An example of this is the use of horsetail in fungal infections.

Most biodynamic farms keep ruminants . The manure of cattle is of great importance for soil fertility. According to Steiner, cow organs should also be processed in the preparations.

Cows with horns
Chicken rearing with mobile chicken coops in the Demeter farm, Ökodorf Brodowin near Chorin

Biodynamic agriculture has high standards with regard to animal welfare , based on the goal of promoting the integrity and natural development of farm animals . So when Demeter farms is dehorning prohibited from cattle, bees are given the opportunity to rave about, even chickens are kept in smaller organizations. In some farms, mother-bound calf husbandry was introduced. Also take in the plant breeding aspects such as preservation of the integrity of the plant as well as transparency of the breeding work and food quality central role one. Our own breeding of vegetables and grains was developed from biodynamic cultivation. Examples are the cereal variety light grain rye and the barley variety Pirona . In addition to nourishing aspects, product quality is also viewed as a means of positively influencing mental and spiritual development. This is reflected in practice, for example, in the Demeter guideline not to homogenize milk .

Philosophical superstructure

The agricultural conception is based on Steiner's ideas, which differ from “ materialism ”, which he legitimized clairvoyantly and which also shape the other fields of activity of the anthroposophy he founded: He wanted to understand the agricultural economy as part of “spiritual” and “cosmic” interactions. In doing so, he wanted to differentiate himself from the "agricultural economy", which is understood as "materialistic" and based on biochemical functions. Cosmic interpretations also played a role in Steiner's thinking: he did not interpret the reproduction of plants as the sprouting of seeds; rather, plants are images of the entire surrounding universe, or cosmic constellations, whereby forces of the spiritual world are at work, which can be felt in the results of anthroposophical agriculture. Like the other areas of anthroposophy, Steiner's agriculture was laid out as a “supersensible” spiritual science, and farmers were encouraged to meditate “gradually grow into an experience of the nitrogen around them”, which would then reveal itself to them. In addition, agriculture was viewed as an organism, whereby the earth is an organ comparable to the human diaphragm , while the atmosphere corresponds to "that which is in the human abdominal organ ". Like “living beings”, minerals have a “ longing ” to crystallize. Steiner considered the old peasant rules to be a reliable source. Despite all science, rural instincts , which Steiner believed lost, are needed . Scientific evidence for these effects has not yet been provided.

In the agricultural course, Steiner describes what was later referred to as preparation 500 (see below):

“If we take fertilizer as we can get it, we stuff a cow horn with it and we give it at a certain depth - I mean about three quarters to one half meters deep if we have a soil that is not too clay or too sandy - the cow horn into the earth. We can choose a good soil that is not sandy. You see, because we have now buried the cow horn with its dung content, we preserve in the cow horn the forces that the cow horn was used to exert in the cow itself, namely to reflect back what is animating and astral. Because the cow horn is externally surrounded by the earth, all rays radiate into its inner cavity, which go in the sense of aetherization and astralization. And the manure content of the cow horn with these forces, which now draw everything from the surrounding earth, which is invigorating and ethereal, the entire content of the cow horn is animated internally throughout the winter, where the earth is most animated . Internally, the earth is most animated in winter. Everything that is alive is preserved in this manure, and you get an extraordinarily concentrated, invigorating fertilizing power in the contents of the cow horn. "

The biodynamic preparations

Application and mode of action

In contrast to organic farming , certain preparations are used in biodynamic agriculture , whereby the anthroposophical farmers have to expect “cosmic influences” because “the whole sky with its stars” participates in the plant growth and each plant “always the image of someone cosmic constellation ”. That is why the task of anthroposophic farmers when “meditating” is to gradually experience the nitrogen in their environment in order to recognize its revelations, so that they can ultimately become clairvoyant and “light-smelling” farmers. In crop cultivation, care measures (weed control) as well as sowing or planting and harvesting are coordinated with the moon phase and planetary positions (if the soil condition allows this), and recommendations are given for certain times of the day and seasons (e.g. some applications should only be followed in the early morning immediately Sunrise).

The preparations are one of the main features of biodynamic farming. They are mandatory in the Demeter guidelines. However, not all Demeter farmers consistently follow Steiner's ideas - some of them are less close to anthroposophy. It is also possible to buy the preparations ready-made instead of making them yourself. Spreading can also be done on foot and by hand as well as via an automatic metering device on the tractor - in some cases during field cultivation that is already necessary.

The preparations should have a balancing effect. For example, in a very good year the yields are lower than comparable yields from ecological farming, whereas in a difficult year the yields should be higher. The aim of using the preparations is not to maximize, but to stabilize the yield. In biodynamic parlance this is called "harmonizing".

The anthroposophical pharmacist and singer Hugo Erbe developed additional biodynamic preparations, which are, however, controversial within the biodynamic movement.

Overview of the preparations

As a special biodynamic measure, the production and use of certain preparations is customary, which are either added to farm manure (stable manure, slurry, liquid manure) or stirred in water and then sprayed on the soil and plants in order to reduce the effect of the earthly growth factors (for example Nutrients) and the cosmic growth factors (light, warmth and "rhythms") as well as the effects of the cultivation measures.

There are different groups of preparations, each for certain areas of application: field preparations or spray preparations ( horn pebbles and horn manure ), fertilizer additives (yarrow, chamomile, nettle, oak bark, dandelion and valerian preparations ), special preparations such as horsetail boiling and the so-called Ash preparations for weed and pest control. The preparations are provided with individual numbers and their manufacture and use are standardized. The following preparations are used:


  • Preparation 500 - Horn manure : fresh cow manure is filled into the hollowed out horn of a dead cow, which is buried in the earth when the moon is full
  • Preparation 501 - Horn pebbles : a rock crystal ground to a powder is put into a cow horn and buried in the ground in summer when there is a new moon

Compost preparations:

  • Preparation 502 - Yarrow flowers fermented in a deer bladder: Yarrow flowers are filled into the bladder of a dead deer and then hung on a branch for the summer
  • Preparation 503 - chamomile flowers prepared in beef intestine: Dried chamomile is stuffed into cow innards with a funnel and a stick and then buried in a clay pot from autumn to spring
  • Preparation 504 - nettle in soil: The nettle is mixed with soil in a water solution and stirred biodynamically, first in a clockwise direction and then in an anti-clockwise direction
  • Preparation 505 - Oak Bark in Pet Skull: A skull is filled with white oak bark, wrapped in leaves and buried under water
  • Preparation 506 - Chamomile blossoms prepared in a beef muzzle: A ball is formed from the blossoms, which is then wrapped with mesentery
  • Preparation 507 - juice or extract from the fermented flowers

Scientific assessment

Mechanisms of Action

A fundamental problem with the biodynamic method is that it cannot provide any information on the mechanism of action of the treatment methods it proposes, which would be in accordance with scientific findings; this is certainly admitted by supporters of the method. The method is characterized by spirituality and postulates cosmic influences that would positively influence the "life forces". In a study from 1994, Holger Kirchmann even came to the conclusion that Steiner's instructions were occult and dogmatic and, moreover, unsuitable for contributing to the development of alternative and sustainable agriculture. Many of Steiner's statements are unprovable, since no scientifically clear hypotheses could be derived from his descriptions: For example, it is difficult to prove that "cosmic forces" have been harnessed in the food produced in this way. Kirchmann asserted that a scientific review of the methods of biodynamic agriculture had not produced convincing results.

Steiner's methods were not developed through scientific methodology , but rather through meditation and clairvoyance that he practiced . His spiritualistic methods do not have to be confirmed by traditional, scientific tests, because they are "true and correct", says Steiner. Because of his rejection of scientific objectivity in favor of his subjective, mystical approach, many of Steiner's biodynamic recommendations can neither be tested nor validated using traditional methods. In practice this means that any effect that is ascribed to biodynamic farming is a question of belief . According to his critics, Steiner even knew that he did not have the necessary expertise for the agricultural course , but he gave in to the expectations of having to know everything as a clairvoyant.

Comparative studies

The effect of biodynamic agriculture according to Steiner's methodology must be methodologically differentiated from the comparison of all organic farming methods, i.e. also other methods not based on Steiner's approach, versus conventional cultivation methods. In studies by the Darmstadt Institute for Biodynamic Research, which is closely related to anthroposophy, the biodiversity, the amount of microorganisms and the humus content of previously conventionally farmed soils increased significantly after a few years of biodynamic cultivation, but this does not allow conclusions to be drawn about the specific contribution of biological -dynamic method as such. Influences of organic farming on various parameters of soil and biodiversity have been suggested in a number of studies. Convincing evidence of the particular advantages of biodynamic agriculture over other forms of organic farming has also been given in a number of studies, but their validity is controversial.

In 2004, Linda Chalker-Scott, garden and landscape architect at Washington State University , found in a review essay on biodynamic agriculture that summarized the results of numerous original studies in most research articles no particular effect of the applications of biodynamic preparations. "Biodynamic" (biodynamic) should not be used synonymously with "organic" (ie ecological in the sense of ecological agriculture ). Chalker-Scott's conclusion is: “The scientific review of biodynamic preparations is only possible to a limited extent. There is no evidence whatsoever that adding these preparations improves the quality of plants or soil in ecologically cultivated areas. ”The agricultural scientist Gunter Vogt also stated in 2007 that there are no convincing results from basic research or from agricultural observations on the effects of biodynamic preparations that take into account different locations and were carried out over several years. In most of the comparative studies or field observations, the farmers were unable to prove that biodynamic preparations had any effects. There are virtually no scientific experiments that show the specific effects of biodynamic preparations on plant development, yield or quality.

Research by the Swiss Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FIBL) over more than 20 years indicates that when using biodynamic as well as organic-biological agriculture, the fertility of the soil was significantly higher than in the comparison group with conventional agriculture. However, yields also fell by an average of 20%. In terms of the essential parameters such as the biomass of earthworms , the number of weed species or the number of ground beetle species , the biodynamic test areas were mostly ahead of the organic and conventionally cultivated areas. This evaluation is known as the DOK test (dynamic, organic, conventional). Since the biodynamic and organic-biological variants of the DOK experiment differ in a number of other parameters in addition to the use of Steiner's biodynamic preparations, they are methodologically only of limited significance as a test of the specific effects of the biodynamic preparations .

Product quality

The producers of "organic" food generally demand a higher quality for their products, which is shown, among other things, in higher contents of secondary plant substances and unsaturated fatty acids, a better shelf life, a distinctive taste and a lower level of pollution. There is also empirical evidence for this. However, there are still no methods with which organically grown products, or even specifically biodynamic products, can be reliably differentiated from conventionally produced products. Analyzes of the content of stable isotopes, such as δ15N , allow precise guarantees of origin to be carried out right down to the individual farm and can prove the use of artificial fertilizers. However, they are unsuitable for demonstrating the cultivation method. Other analytical methods do not allow individual samples to be addressed reliably, either individually or in combination.

Many proponents of biodynamic agriculture hope to use so-called “ holistic ” or “holistic” methods, which have been developed in the context of the anthroposophical movement and are rarely or never used outside of it, to tell the difference between their products, or sometimes also from Organically grown foods in general to be able to prove that they are produced in other ways. The focus is particularly on the so-called image-creating methods, above all copper chloride crystallization , round filter chromatography and the so-called rising image method. The problem with these methods is that they can usually only be used qualitatively by specially trained people on the basis of unclearly defined criteria such as shape perception, i.e. they do not allow replication .

In the past decades, research has been intensified with the aim of standardizing processes such as copper chloride crystallization for practical applicability, for example in the context of ISO standard 11035. To this end, three European institutions, the Louis Bolk Institute (LBI) in the Netherlands, the University of Kassel (Witzenhausen location) and the Biodynamic Research Association Denmark (BRAD), in some cases with other partners, are working together in a long-term research network. One goal of the work is u. a. to enable recognition by means of automated image capture. The authors report substantial successes, which, however, have not yet been verified by independent studies. Even in the opinion of the proponents, the method is not yet capable of reliably differentiating it apart from artificial laboratory environments, at least not yet. In addition, numerous influencing factors have to be taken into account, which interact in a way that is difficult to understand.

The copper chloride diagnostics, also used in medical diagnostics, was, however, controversial from the start. The test procedure developed by the anthroposophists Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Lili Kolisko at the end of the 1920s was intended to show that biodynamic vegetables have more so-called “vitality” than conventionally produced vegetables. In 2006, Hubert Rehm pointed out in the journal Laborjournal that the later concentration camp doctor Sigmund Rascher was doing his doctorate on this subject, and he received a subsequent DFG research grant. Rascher published three articles in the then Nazi- related Münchner Medizinischen Wochenschrift with fairy-tale positive results on this copper chloride diagnostics, which made a DFG reviewer suspicious. However, his request for an independent examination was rejected because Rascher had already become a protégé of Heinrich Himmler . In new investigations, the scientists Benno Müller-Hill and Hubert Rehm independently of one another came to the conclusion that Rascher's work must have been scientific fraud. The image-creating method of copper chloride crystallization does not allow any conclusions to be drawn about the quality of the products.

Related concepts

Steiner's lecture ideas and concepts of a spiritually reformed agriculture, which he wrote down spontaneously almost overnight in Breslau, show striking similarities and similarities with the ideas that the German agricultural scientist Richard Krzymowski drafted and published in his Philosophy of Agriculture in 1919 . Richard Krzymowski happened to be teaching in Breslau in 1924 , i.e. in the immediate vicinity of Koberwitz, where Steiner held his agricultural course in 1924 . Krzymowski also spoke out against mineral theory and, in the tradition of idealistic thinking, demanded that speculation must be linked with “experience” and “experimental research”.

The central subject areas in Steiner's agricultural considerations were not new territory. They have been discussed among advocates of organic farming since the 1860s, the results and answers of which were merely taken up by anthroposophy. For the anthroposophists, the history of organic farming as a whole only begins with Steiner in the 1920s, in irritating historical oblivion. However, in his work The Origin and Development of Organic Agriculture in German-speaking countries , Gunter Vogt was able to show how biodynamic agriculture emerged from the pool of an alternative agricultural movement. Vogt demonstrated massive similarities with ideas that were not very older and of the same time. All debates that revolved around the fertilizer question, as with Steiner, have been commonplaces in discussions between alternative farmers since the prewar period. Their demand to revolutionize agriculture “with plow and book”, which the pioneer of natural farming, Ewald Könemann (1899–1976), also represented, could also be a leitmotif of Steiner's farmers.


In an article in the FAZ , the agricultural scientist at the University of Kiel , Peter Treue, pointed out in 2002, with regard to the influence of biodynamic agriculture on the concepts of the consumer ministry, that similar or identical results can also be achieved with the methods of organic farming. Because the ecologically dynamic agriculture as part of an occult movement and the ways of thinking and practices on which it is based are not scientific, but magical , Treue warned against the seepage of such completely irrational ideas into scientific institutions.

Eberhard Rathgeb , editor of the FAZ, has come to the opinion through personal experience that the peculiarities of biodynamic agriculture, such as the preparation of preparations and their ritual use, are no more absurd than other urban phenomena.

Alard von Kittlitz asks what causes persistent opponents of the biodynamic economy to reproach their occultism and black art instead of adopting a laissez-faire attitude, also under the aspect that preparations such as "nettle-horned horn-pebble bark" are not harmful. Von Kittlitz suspects that some critics see the "hardcore organic farmers" as opponents of progressive thinking or that the lower yields of biodynamic agriculture are unsettling in view of the increasing world population. As the main motive of the criticism, however, he sees the provocation emanating from "insolently satisfied", living organic farmers on their "picture book farms".


  • H. Kirchmann: Biological Dynamic Farming - an Occult Form of Alternative Agriculture? In: Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics (1994) 7: 173-187.
  • Forschungsring / Universität Kassel-Witzenhausen (ed.): Biological-dynamic agriculture in research, Verlag Lebendige Erde 2001, ISBN 3-921536-62-6
  • Herbert H. Koepf, Wolfgang Schaumann and M. Haccius: Biological-Dynamic Agriculture, Verlag Eugen Ulmer 1996, ISBN 3-8001-3075-0
  • Herbert H. Koepf: Biological-Dynamic Research. Methods and results, Free Spiritual Life 1997, ISBN 3-7725-1664-5
  • Herbert H. Koepf and Bodo von Plato: The biodynamic economy in the 20th century. The history of the development of biodynamic agriculture. Verlag am Goetheanun, Dornach 2001, ISBN 3-7235-1122-8
  • F. Leiber, N. Fuchs and H. Spiess: Biodynamic dynamic agriculture today In: Kristiansen, Taji, Reganold: Organic Farming: a global Perspective , CSIRO Publishing, 2006. ISBN 0-8014-4524-8
  • Hugo Erbe: Preparations to promote elementary life in biodynamic agriculture and horticulture. Lohengrin-Verlag, Tellingstedt 2003.

Web links

Links from the environment of biodynamic agriculture


Individual evidence

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