Research into biodynamic food and farming has a long history within the biodynamic movement. Whilst the basic aim of this research has always been to provide knowledge for furthering the development of this farming approach, recently interest has increased in sharing research activities and results with the global scientific community. After commencing with an introduction to biodynamic agriculture, this review gives an overview of peer-reviewed publications on issues in biodynamic food and farming that have been published between 2006 and 2017. The time before this period is covered by the reviews of Leiber et al. (2006) and Turinek et al. (2009).
Overall, 86 articles were included into this review. The most recognized topics were soil quality and soil health in biodynamic vs. conventional and organic farming, effects of biodynamic preparations, food quality, and viticulture. The studies provide substantial evidence for positive effects of biodynamic management on agroecosystems and food quality:
- Biodynamic management creates system effects on soils, where compost application plays a crucial role.
- Biodynamic preparations create effects on food chemical composition and food quality.
- Biodynamic production can improve the value of food with regard to nutritive properties, taste and human health and well-being.
- Biodynamic management improves grape quality and plant traits compared to non-biodynamic management.
Until now, the effects of biodynamic management have usually been studied with classical analytical methods in natural and life sciences through disciplinary and reductionist study designs. An application of study designs or specific methods that are conducive for a more holistic analysis are rarely implemented. Thus, we identify the development of appropriate methods and study designs for a holistic examination as a major challenge of future research in biodynamic food and farming.