What is Demeter Biodynamic Farming?

What is Demeter Biodynamic Farming?

May 1, 2018
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The import of the name Demeter comes from the Greek Goddess Demeter who amongst her other talents, was proclaimed the Goddess of harvest and fertility and she revealed to man the art of growing and using corn.

Demeter certifies food produced from biodynamic farming, which despite being a relatively new terminology, is a methodology that was created and defined in the 1920s by a philosopher by the name of Rudolph Steiner which sets out to combine agriculture, cosmology and herbalism/homoeopathy.

The aims of a Demeter farm

A biodynamic farm should work towards being a self-sufficient enterprise, where the plants that are grown on the land also nourish the livestock, which in turn fertilise the fields. Excess or unusable plants can be ploughed back into fields so that the resultant enriched soil fertility produce healthier and more nourishing food. Biodynamic preparations are applied and these work by way of cosmic rhythms, permeating the food with nature’s energy forces in the quest to provide the basis for bodily nutrition as well as feeding the soul and spiritual being.

What are the requirements?

The following text shows some of the more stringent requirements needed to gain Demeter status over normal organic requirements necessary to achieve the Demeter Standards for Biodynamic Farming and Growing.

  • Farming and Growing has to be to the internationally agreed and recognised Demeter Standards.
  • Biodynamic Certification provides certification for Biodynamic Demeter Standards and is fully compliant with the EU Organic Regulation 834/2007 and associated regulations.
  • Biodynamic Certification is a DEFRA approved certification body for the EU Organic Regulation.

In respect of the Demeter Standards, these go much farther than the EU Organic Regulation and achieve a more rigorous organic methodology for delivering a high standard of environmental benefits.
Additional higher requirements of the Demeter Standards include:

  • Biodynamic farms must show a strong emphasis as a self-sustaining farming organisation.
  • Seeds and plant material produced using protoplasm and cytoplasm fusion techniques are prohibited. (This invasive seed breeding technique is not mentioned in the EU organic regulations or UK organic standards.)
  •  Nitrogen levels for agriculture restricted to 112 kg n/ha. As opposed to 170 kg in the EU regulation and other UK organic standards.
  • Treatment of fungal disease using copper is limited to 3 kg/ha averaged over five years. The current limit in the EU regulations is 6 kg/ha.

Biodynamic preparations to improve soil biology, photosynthesis, plant health, and control decomposition of organic matter are a mandatory requirement. The EU organic regulation allows, but does not require biodynamic preparations. Farms are required to keep ruminants or equine under normal management conditions and shall follow principles appropriate to the being of the animal and its type. No similar requirements appear in the EU regulation, although dehorning and keeping of dehorned cattle is prohibited.

Livestock intended for meat production must be born and reared on a certified biodynamic or organic holding, whereas the EU organic regulation, in certain circumstances, allows bringing in non-organic livestock for the purposes of breeding and eventually for meat.

Organophosphates are prohibited. Organophosphates are not prohibited in the EU organic regulation.
Ivermectin Products are prohibited as they are systemic and pass through in the dung and will cause damage to soil life. There is no restriction of organophosphates in EU Organic Regulations.

The normal Demeter conversion period is three years. The organic conversion period is two years in the EU Organic Regulation and UK organic standards.

Additives and ingredients permitted in the Demeter Processing Standards are much more restricted than those found in the EU Organic Regulation.
The Demeter Standards are internationally recognised as being aligned to the most rigorous Organic Standards throughout the world, and the high standards and quality of Biodynamic farms and products are widely acclaimed.

The above lists some of the key requirements in the Demeter Standards for Biodynamic Agriculture. There are much more additional stringent requirements set out in the Demeter Standards which are available from the Demeter website at http://bdcertification.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Demeter-Production-Stds-February-2017.pdf