Biodynamic farming and plant breeding are holistic

The practices of biodynamic farming take both the complexity of the ecological system and the living forces of nature into consideration. The mission of a biodynamic farmer is to work in harmony with nature and not irrespective of the ecological system. Within this way of working, every single element, from soil, water and air to living organisms (no matter how small and seemingly irrelevant), plays a vital role. Treating any single component of the environment as a separate or independent entity disrupts the system.  It understands that our health and wellbeing is very much dependent on this harmonious interaction between the elements.

Biodynamic farmers strive towards self-sustainability because the farm is seen as a living organism. They are committed to increasing the fertility of the soil, seeds and every component of that system. In biodynamic farming, everything is derived from and prepared on the farm. The farmer, therefore, uses natural seeds, organic fertilisers (their own compost, for example), worms and water so that the seeds can develop resistance and tolerance to pests, diseases or drought. The seeds must be adapted to the conditions of the local climate. Nutrient-rich crops with a high standard of flavour and aroma are key goals for any biodynamic plant breeder.

The ‘organic and biodynamic farming approach’ is definitely more labour intensive than the ‘industrial’ method. This is because it strives for sustainable maintenance and the increase of resources – for example, improving soil structure, diversifying and integrating with local ecology, closing nutrient cycles and breeding crop varieties that work with local ecology and human biology (see Down to Earth from Jozef Visser, page 192/193). In June 2018, FAO introduced the programme AfriSoils, promoting natural methods of increasing fertility in the soil to reduce erosion and to stop deforestation.

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