Some media reports claim that, although biodynamic agriculture produces good products, it is based on 'hocus-pocus'. It is unscientific, and there is no proof of the effect of its methods or the biodynamic preparations. However, research has been carried out since the start of biodynamic agriculture in 1924. The founder, Rudolf Steiner, was in favour of practical trials on the farms from the start, and encouraged the participants of the Agriculture Course (GA 327) to actively develop and verify the methods in practice themselves.
Internationally an interest is developing in the biodynamic research community for better communication and networking. The first step towards this was taken in September 2018 with the first international biodynamic research conference. Due to the positive feedback, the Section for Agriculture decided to organise further regular (every three years) research conferences in different countries.
Accordingly, the second conference was planned with a larger group of partners, these being the Royal Agriculture University (UK), Coventry University (UK), Stellenbosch University (SA), Pondicherry University (IN), Biodynamic Association UK and US, the University of Kassel (DE), the Research Circle (DE), Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (CH), the Natural Science Section at the Goetheanum and the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International.
After detailed planning, the conference was only able to take place online due to the global situation, and not at the Royal Agriculture University in Great Britain. However, this meant that over 170 delegates from 34 countries from all the continents were able to participate in over 60 contributions in the form of presentations, working groups, posters with research results, etc.
Increase in extreme weather events
It has been confirmed that the challenges faced by agriculture have risen dramatically: climate change, loss of biodiversity, ecosystem destruction, new epidemics, etc. It gets increasingly difficult to rely on the rhythms of nature. A very hot summer is followed by a cold wet year, accompanied by storms. Extreme weather events have become much more frequent.
The conference committee has chosen the topic of 'Growing beyond resilience' to promote joint research on the conditions for an agriculture for life such as biodynamics. A broad range of topics and viewpoints were discussed, from the exact effect of the biodynamic preparations on the soils, via the activity of microorganisms to the use of intuitive faculties in agriculture and the effect of raw milk on health.
Improved networking and better communication amongst the researchers is necessary for the future organisation of the research. There is also the need for the further development and expansion of public relations work and interdisciplinary cooperation – for instance between agriculture, medicine and education. After all, people cannot be healthy unless the earth is healthy too!