The first Farm Standard was written in Germany in 1928 following Rudolf Steinerâ€™s Agriculture Course.Â Its purpose was to codify what Steiner had presented in his lectures and ensure its adherence through a strict certification program.Â Â The Farm Standard is historically significant because it dates back to the beginning of the modern sustainable farming movement, and captures key agronomic principles not comprehensively addressed within any other agriculture certification system. Here in the United States, it provides the legal definition of â€śBiodynamicâ€ť through the certification mark.
Sections of the Farm Standard include necessary elements of the farm organism, soil fertility management, crop protection, greenhouse management, animal welfare, and the use of the preparations. Biological diversity within the farm landscape is emphasized, and requires that a minimum of ten percent of the total farm acreage be set-aside as a biodiversity preserve. That may include but is not limited to forests, wetlands, riparian corridors, and intentionally planted insectaries. Diversity in crop rotation and perennial planting is required: no annual crop can be planted in the same field for more than two years in succession. Bare tillage year round is prohibited so land needs to maintain adequate green cover.
The Farm Standard instructs that the foundation of the fertility system, and strategies for disease, insect, and weed control, must originate from the farm itself. Fertility is generated via the integration of livestock, compost and green manure, nutrient catch crops, and careful crop rotation. Disease and insect control are addressed through botanical species diversity, predator habitat, balanced crop nutrition, and attention to light penetration and airflow. Weed control emphasizes prevention, including timing of planting, mulching, and identifying and avoiding the spread of invasive weed species.
The use of the preparations is a requirement of the Farm Standard. There are nine in all, made from herbs, mineral substances and animal manures, that are utilized in field sprays and compost inoculants applied in minute doses, much like homeopathic remedies are for humans. Timely applications revitalize the soil and stimulate root growth, enhance the development of microorganisms and humus formation, and aid in photosynthetic activity.
The crops resulting from a certified Biodynamic farm are themselves certified (for example Biodynamic tomatoes), but in order to produce a certified processed productÂ (for example pasta sauce) the product must be produced in accordance with the Demeter BiodynamicÂ® Processing Standard.Â There are sixteen different processing standard categories (compared to one for the entire National Organic Program), including wine, cheese, olive oil, dairy and body care.Â The Processing Standard is very important because it guarantees an unbroken chain of accountability from the farm to the finished product, and delivers a product that allows for the integrity and purity of the agricultural ingredients to define it.