At Forstbauer Farm, soil & plant health is at the forefront of our philosophy on farming. In order to achieve good soil and plant life we farm using Biodynamic Methods as well as the Soil Food Web approach.
What is Biodynamic Farming?
Biodynamic Farming is a form of agriculture that focuses on soil health and food quality. In 1924 Rudolph Steiner gave a series of lectures on agriculture and this is where the Biodynamics was born.
A Biodynamic Farm is an Organic farm, but it goes above and beyond the simple practice of producing food without chemicals. All of the most important practices of a well managed sustainable organic farm such as composting, crop rotation & cover cropping are carried out on the Biodynamic Farm. On top of that, the biodynamic farm is viewed as a ‘whole farm organism’, & a series of preparations are used to nourish the farm and the soil health. The Biodynamic Farmer also uses cosmic rhythms when dealing with the day to day activities on the farm.
Many Organic farmers will farm with what is know as the input substitution method. The Farmer will look to non chemical ways to find substitutes for the chemicals that conventional agriculture uses (NPK - Nitrogen, Phosphorus & Potassium). The Biodynamic farm focuses on the health of the farm and the soil, not simply on the short term gains of a high yielding plant. Through proper composting techniques and with the use of the preparations, the Biodynamic farm as a whole becomes healthier and fully functional as a whole farm ecosystem. Once the Biodynamic farm is fully functional, one can achieve a greater yield on a healthier plant, which will result in better quality food.
What is the Soil Food Web Approach?
The soil food web is the community of organisms living all or part of their lives in the soil. It describes a complex living system in the soil and how it interacts with the environment, plants, and animals (this definition was taken from Wikipedia).
The Soil Food Web Approach to farming is a scientific way of farming which can be describe simply in the following steps -
1 - Testing the Soil
The farmer looks at the Microbial life in the Soil (those millions of bacteria, fungi, nematodes etc...) to determine the health of the soil. 2 - Composting
Compost is made or using proper techniques to insure proper decomposition and vigorous microbial life in the finished product. 3- Application of the Compost and or Compost Tea
Compost is applied to the fields. A Compost Tea can also be produced, by using a compost tea brewer in which oxygen is is pumped into the brewer with water and compost. The Compost tea is carefully monitored to insure that there are plenty of aerobic microbes that will help benefit the health of the plants & soil. The Tea is sprayed over the the fields (it can be sprayed over the leaves of your plants or over the ground) reintroducing billions of beneficial microbes back into the soil.
As you have probably realized by now, we are convinced that food grown in a healthy soil is far superior in many ways. It’s makeup is totally different that that of a similar vegetable grown strictly on a diet of Nitrogen, Water and Chemicals (whether these are obtained through chemical or natural means). It is healthier, more nutritious, it’s got real minerals, it’s simply better.
More information about the Soil Food Web is available at the Soil Food Web Website at www.soilfoodweb.com