Here’s a picture taken during the biodynamic course :
The course was held by Sir Hans van Florenstein Mulder who has been involved in Biodynamic agriculture since 1972. He was born in Netherland but he spent almost all his youth in Indonesia. Later, he moved to New Zealand where he has helped established educational project. He also served for many years as General Secretary of the NZ Anthroposophical Society until 2006.
Now he is travelling the world to promote biodynamic farming.
Biodynamic is a type of organic farming that includes an understanding of « dynamic forces » in nature such as : the rythm of the sun. By working creatively with these energies, farmers are able to significantly improve the health of their farms and the quality of food. It recognizes farms as a self-regulating, biodiverse ecosystems.
The course first started with an introduction of chemical farming and monoculture impacts : degradation of the soil, deterioration in the health and quality of crops and livestock. This awareness led to the emergence of various trends such as biodynamic farming.
We learned how to prepare a cow horn manure which is known as the preparation 500 prescribed by the philidopher Rudolf Steiner. Preparation 500 is made by filling a cow’s horn with cow manure, and burying it in the soil during the dry season in the best location as possible. If we use bull horns, we have to put in bull manure. The manure must come from a lactating female cow or bull which will bring in the calcium processes to the preparation. To ensure the good quality of manure, the cow should be fed with organic fodder. Then the horns should be buried in a hole about 40 cm deep and covered with soil that has been enriched with good quality compost. Be careful not to allow weeds to grow, otherwise the weed roots will grow into the preparation and also avoid tree roots. The horns should be buried open end down so that they will not become water logged if the hole is over watered. The hole must be kept cool by mulching with paddy straw for example. After 4 months, cow horns should have turned into dark humus and should be sweet smelling. Horns are now ready. It is used in small quantities at the rate of 25 g in 13 litres of water per acre (2,5 rai). In a bucket, the mix preparation is stirred for one hour making a vortex in one direction and then reversing the direction and making a vortex in the other direction. Preparation 500 is sprayed at the descending phase of the moon and four times a year : October and November and then February and March.
The second day, we learned how to make BD compost. In BD farmind plants are maintained in the soil by addition of compost (animal manures combined with plant material : fodder and straw). The organic materials OM are conberted into a stable humus through a fermentation process. Composting the OM will avoid the nutrients (NPK) losses from oxidation or leaching. In BD, making quality compost is very important as a way to maintain humus in the soil. The best way to learn manking compost is ti do it. Be careful on the aeration of the OM. Without air, the heap will not heat up and it will become anaerobic and smelly.
We started by building a tunnel out of dry matter that will allow air to flow through it easily. Then we put some straw that formed the perimeter of the bed and sprinkle water over the straw. We sprinkled cow manures onto straw and then add a green layer (fresh grass) for nitrogen. Finaly sprinkle a fine dusting of hydrated lime. Another layer of straw and sprinckle it with fresh grass. Again, sprinkle a fine dustung of hydrated lime. Another smattering of manure and then more greens. We can also use kitchen scraps. Repeat operation several times to get layers and layers of straw-grass-manure.
"Using a stick, make five spaced holes (about 30 cm apart), along the top of the heap. One portion of each preparation (5 ml) in turn should then be mixed into a small piece of moist (clay) soil or compost, kneaded into a ball and dropped into one of the holes. Once the preparations have been inserted, the holes should be filled with compost material or pushed together to ensure that the preparation comes into full contact with the soil and does not hang in an air pocket." (source : www.biodynamic.org.uk)