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Biodynamic Agriculture and Traditional Farming Practices in Sri Lanka



This report is based on work carried out while the writer was the holder of a Commonwealth Research Fellowship based in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, UK from March to December 1995. The aim of the work was to investigate the philosophy of biodynamic agriculture and to explore the extent to which these principles could be applied to the context of indigenous agriculture in Sri Lanka. The purpose of such application would be to enhance the knowledge based and income generating capacity of farmers who are outside the commercial sector. The report concludes that although there are many ways in which biodynamics could fit into the pattern of rural community life, there are nevertheless significant constraints which would have to be overcome.
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WonrING PAPER 9618
PnacucEs IN SRI LaNra:
A study of the potential of
biodynamic agriculture
for alleviating current
agricultural problems
Rohana [llluwishewa
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WonrrNG PAPBn 9618
BroovNaurc AcRTcULTURE
eNo TneurroNAl Famawc
Pnacrrces w Snr La.Nre:
A study of the potential of
biodynamic agriculture
for alleviating current
agricultural problems
Rohana Ulluwishewa
PuelrsHeo Mav 1996
For further copies cctntact the Working Paper Secretctry,
School of Geographl', Unive rsity of Leetls, Leeds, LS2 9.lT
7.,t,,,-1.^",., ttt t 2 )22 22/t^
1.1 Background
1.2 Objectives
1.3 MethodologY
2.1 ABrief History of Biodynamic Agricuiture
2.2Biodynamic Farming Practices: A Review
2.3 Potentials of Biodynamic Agricuiture
3.1 Philosophies of Biodynamic Agriculture and of Traditional Farming
Systems in Sri Lanka
3 .2 F arm Components and Interrelationships
3.3 Soil Management
3.4 Pest and Weed Control
(4) FARMING AI\D ASTROLOGY: A Comparison of the use of Astrology
in Traditional Sri Lankan Farming and in Biodynamics
4.1 Cosmic Influence on Farming
4.2 Moon and Farming
4.2Farming in Relation to Planets and Consteliations
5. 1 Possible Constraints
5.2 Potential WaYs Forward
This report is based on work carried out while the writer was the holder of a Commonwealth
Research Fellowship based in the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, UK from
March to December 1995.
The aim of the work was to investigate the philosophy and methods of biodynamic agriculture
and to explore the extent to which these principles could be applied in the context of indigenous
farming in Sri Lanka. The purpose of such application would be to enhance the knowledge base
and income generating capacity of farmers who are largely outside the commercial sector.
The report concludes that although there are many ways in which biodynamics could fit into the
pattern of rural community life, there are nevertheless significant constraints which would have
to be overcome.
1.1 Background: Sri Lanka is an island of 65,600 sqrure km which lies between 6 and 8
degrees north latitude about 40 km south-east of southem India across the Palk Stait. It has
a fopulation of 17 million with agriculture the most important sector of the economy.
While the export-oriented sector of agriculture produces tea, rubber and coconuts' small
farmers in the subsistence sector focus on the cultivation of rice and other subsidiary crops'
The island is geographically divided into two regions; the Wet Zone and the Dry Zone'
While the Wet Zoni, whicir covers the south - west quarter of the island, receives rains
almost throughout the year, the Dry Zone, which covers the rest of the island' is
characterised ty its long iry ,"*o., and high annual rainfall variability. Agriculture plays a
very important role in the national economy, contributing 2! percent of the gross domestic
production afi 42 percent of employment (CBSL, 1995).Therefore, improvement of
agriculture is synonymous with national development and wilt promote the quality of
tiirlng of the people. Most development projects which have so far been made have been
aimed at promoting the food producing agricultural sector. Under these projects, massive
investment has been made in t.r-, of capital and technology in order to bring more land
under crops and to increase farm productivity'
Though the use of modern technologies in agriculture has to some extent contributed to
increasing farm productivity, the increased cost of farm inputs has absorbed a considerable
share of farm income, rlducing the net income of farmers' Hence, increased farm
productivity has failed to alleviate poverty. Furthermore, clearing forest for the expansion
of land under crops and the heavy use of chemical inputs has led to environmental
degradation, threatening ecological sustainability. Introduction of modern technology has
dslo bro.rght social anJ cdtural changes which have had negative impacts on equity and
social harmony (CEA, 1988). Having witnessed the failure of the conventional approach
over the last3-4 decades, attention is now being focused on alternative approaches. In our
search for alternatives, the experience of other countries suggests that it would be
worthwhile to consider the suitability of organic farming methods, and in particular, a type
of organic farming which is practised in both temperate and tropical parts of the world -
biodynamics. However, since it has developed in Europe in a background largely different
from that of Sri Lanka before intoducing biodynamics to Sri Lanka, it would be advisable
to examine similarities and differences between biodynamic agriculture and traditional Sri
Lankan agriculture. Such a study will help formulate stategies that should be adopted in
introducing biodynamic agriculture to Sri Lanka. That is the purpose of the present study'
i-. r
1.2 Objectives:
The specific objectives of the study were:
1. To identifu similarities and differences between biodynamic agriculture and traditional
farming practices in Sri Lanka
2. To identify the potentials of biodynamic agriculture to alleviate the present agricultural
problems in Sri Lanka
3. To identifu strategies that should be adopted in introducing biodynamic agriculture to
Sri Lanka
1.3 Methodology: This study is based on the author's field experience in Sri Lanka, an
extensive literature review, and personal travel and communication with a number of
biodynamic farmers and practitioners in the United Kingdom.
2.1 ABrief History of Biodynamic Agriculture: During the later part of the 19th century,
it was noticed that the soil fertility of the farms in westem and central Europe which had
been farmed over cenhnies was on the decline. Science at the time failed to find reasons for
this. It was with the rise of agricultural chemistry pioneered by Justus von Liebig (1803-73)
that chemical fertilisers became popular among farmers as an easy method for maintaining
soil fertility. Then the First World War broke out in Europe and wartime technology had
discovered a method of making explosives with nitrogen extracted from the atmosphere,
and after the war these methods were adapted for the foundation of agricultural
development. In the same way, the technology for producing poisonous gases could be
used to produce pesticides. These chemicals, were welcomed by farmers to enhance farm
However, with the excessive use of chemicals in farming, some farmers became concemed
about the deteriorating environment and food quality, and this gave rise to organic
movements in Europe. It was during this period that Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), an
Austrian scientist and philosopher, pointed out the incompleteness of natural science.
Having been inspired by Goethe's writings, he introduced a 'spiritual science' which he
called anthroposophy ,which bridged the gap between nature and the spirit. He pointed out
that natural science did not explain the whole nature but only the physical aspect. He was
aware that behind the physical aspects of nature there is a spiritual counterpart, which could
be 'seen' and 'heard' but not with physical senses. His vision allowed him to see the
spiritual World but there were very few to share his experience. Those who were interested
came to him for inspirations and new ideas.
In 1922-23, a group of farmers and land owners went to ask Rudolf Steiner's advice about
the increasing degeneration they had noticed in seed-strains and in many cultivated plants.
They sought new insights for healthy farming aimed at the future. For their benefits, in June
1924, Rudolf Steiner delivered a series of 8 lectures to about a hundred farmers on the
Koberwitz estate near Breslau, which was then in the eastem part of Germany. This lecture
series, now known as the 'Agriculture Course', laid down the concepts which were to form
the basis of biodynamic agriculture. Steiner indicated that the spiritual and scientific ideas
given in the course did not in themselves constitute a practical method of farming.
Therefore, in order to implement these ideas and evaluate them, an 'Experimental Circle'
was formed. The Experimental Circle was affrliated to the faculty of science at the
Goetheanum, the academy of Anthroposophy established by Rudolf Steiner, at Dornach in
Switzerland. After the death of Rudolf Steiner in 1925, the Experimental Circle went to
undertake experiments and provide evidence to demonstrate what was taught in the
Agriculture Course.
In the meantime, attempts were made to put biodynamic agriculture into practice and to
intoduce it to other countries. However, the biodynamic movement in Europe faced a
severe setback during the second world war, and when the war ended in 1945, there was
virtually nothing left of the biodynamic movement. After the war new initiatives were taken
to revive it. Once agatn biodynamic associations were re-established and were formed in
many other countries including USA, Catada,New Zealand and Australia. Each is involved
in a wide range of activities such as research, advisory services, and training prografilmes
aimed at fi.rthering biodynamic agriculture.
2.2 Biodynamic Farming Practices: A Review: Organic farming is fundamentally
different from conventional farming. The main objective of conventional farming is to
maximise profit and this is usually achieved by using capital intensive methods. In this
case, little attention is paid to the natural balance in nature. On the other hand, organic
farmers work in a way that is environmentally friendly. They attempt to run successful
enterprises within nature's limits. They rely on nattral processes leading to regeneration of
soil fertility and take action to strengthen these processes by applying organic manure and
employing natural methods of pest and weed control. Biodynamic farming is a further step
beyond organic farming, and is distinctive on account of its underlying spiritual philosophy.
As Schilthuis, (1994) points out, biodynamic farmers work on the basis of understanding
that every living being has a link with the spiritual cosmic world, and it is the duty of
human beings to guide their life in such a way that these links can take place unimpeded.
In biodynamic agriculture, the Earth in its entirety is viewed as an organism. Everything
within and upon the Earth is interrelated and functions as a whole. All minerals, plants,
animals and human beings are influenced by the cosmic world, ineluding the sun, the moon
and stars. In contrast to conventional farming, biodynamic farming takes into accourt not
only the nutrient substances which living organisms need but also forces, i.e. life forces and
astral forces which cannot be seen by the physical eye but the physical manifestations of
which are visible. According to Steiner, these cosmic forces work through substances and
play an important role in living organisms. A living organism is different from a substance
by its life body (etheric body). All living beings receive life forces by consuming living
matter which is rich in life forces and vitality. In other words synthetic food is poor in life
forces. Healthy soils full of organic matter permit plants to intake life forces, so intake of
healthy fodder and food bring life forces to animals and human beings. Hence, in
biodynamic farming, heatthy soils, healthy plants and animals and healthy food are crucial.
While plants have only physical body and life body, animals including human beings have
an additional body: an 'inner world of feeling' which is called 'astral body'. It is called
astral because the forces which act on the astral body come from the world of stars and
planets. Astral forces influence all substances and organisms on the Earth and therefore
proper use of astral forces enhances health of plants and animals, and farm productivity.
For instance, when an animal consumes green fodder, it assimilates substances and forces
which are contained in fodder which the animal uses and afterwards its manure returns to
the soil astrality from the animal. When the soil has manure added to it, it becomes
enriched in forces. As a result, soils become able to develop their own life, to form humus
and become more open to the beneficial cosmic effects. Therefore, biodynamic farming is
done in such a way that astal forces can be utilised to enhance quality and to some extent
the quantif of farm products too.
In biodynamic farming, the ideal is to create the farm as a self-supporting organism of
which the key organs are soils, plants and animals. All these organs are closely interrelated
and interdependent. In principle, one organ shouid not produce more than is needed by other
organs, except for what is produced for human consumption. For instance, an ideal farm
should not keep more animals than it could feed with its own fodder, and should not grow
more crops than it could support by its own manure. An ideal biodynamic farm should be a
mixed farm which would not need extemal rnputs. Such a mixed farm could maintain a
farming cycle: what livestock eat later becomes partly available in the form of manure
which is returned to the soil so that the soil can produce more crops and fodder.
Biodynamics makes use of a number of unique preparations. Two of these preparations are
known as the preparation 500, made with cow hom and cow dung, and the preparation 501,
made with cow horn and ground quartz. While in the former case, cow horns filled with
cow dung are kept buried for one winter, in the latter case, cow homs filled with ground
qnrv are kept buried for a summer. When being prepared for spraying, a small amount is
stirred thoroughly in water for an hour. While the 500 enhances root growth and
biochemical processes in the soils, the 501 encourages the process of light assimilation and
the development of a strong structure in young plants, and maturation and flavour in mature
plants. Application of both these preparations gives life forces and astral forces better
access to the life processes in soil and plants and thereby enhances farm productivity and
the qualrty of farm products (Schilthuis, 1994).
In contrast to conventional farming and organic farming, the eflects of the whole planetary-
cosmic system on plants and animals is taken into account in biodynamics. Therefore,
farming is practised in such a way that maximum benefits from the planetary influence
could be gained to enhance the farm productivity and the quality of farm products. For
instance, sowing and planting dates and the dates for the application of biodynamic
preparations are determined according to the rhythms of the moon and the planetary
system. In this case, full moon and new moon and movement of the moon in relation to the
signs of zodiac are taken into consideration. Each sign of the zodiac has a special relation
with one of the four elements: earth, water, light/air and heat, and each element has a
particular effect on plant growth. While the earth element has an effect on root formation,
the water element has an effect on the formation on leaves. Light/air and heat elements have
efflects on the formation of flowers and fruit/seed respectively. According to the part of the
plant most needed in cultivation, e.g. roots, leaves etc. one can choose the dates for planting,
sowing and working the soils for the cultivation of that particular plant.
2.3 Potentials of Biodynamic Agriculture: The experience of biodynamic farmers and
results of scientific experiments provide evidence to show its potential to alleviate crucial
problems faced by the farmers in the Third World. Poverty prevailing among the farmers is
a common problem in the Third World. Modern inputs have increased the farm
productivity, but decreased farmers' income and their access to basic needs. This is due to
the expenditure on extemal chemical inputs which absorbs a considerable share of the farm
income, reducing net revenues. Biodynamic farming, which almost exclusively relies on
intemal inputs is obviously a way to save the cost that farmers spend on external inputs,
and therefore to promote net farm income. Schlueter (1985) has compared revenues and
expenses of biodynamic and conventional farms in Germany and pointed out that
biodynamic farms can produce higher profits. Furthermore, there is experimental evidence
to prove the yield-increasing effect of biodynamics. Several research projects carried out in
Germany and Sweden have shown ttrat ttre application of biodynamic preparations increase
yields in, for example, sugar beet, by 8-14 per cent and stimulate the growth of leaves by 8-
26 percent (Spiess 1979, Abele 1973). Significant increases in yield of grains, root crops
and vegetables have been demonstrated u{rile the way of activating preparations before the
appticalion can also have beneficial effects onyields (Klett,1968; Pettersson,l9TT; Schikorr,
Furthermore, biodynamic farming requires a mixed farming system r,vhich has potential to
enhance farm-level biodiversity. It is self-evident that the presence of both crops and
animals on a farm and their species diversity keep the risk of crop damages caused by
drought, flood, diseases and epidemics which is common in the tropical world, at a
minimum level and increase the overall farm productivity. Poor keeping quality and storage
loss often reduce net farm output. The potential of biodynamics for improving keeping
quahty of farm produce has been proved by experimental evidence. Some recent research
irto tfr" physical composition of food has demonstrated that crops grown with the use of
biodynamic preparations show an improved keeping quahty. Samaras (1978) showed that
biodynamically grown carots were beffer in keeping quality than conventionally grown
ones. Biodynamic teatnents reduce the production of carbon dioxide, decomposition
enzyme activrty and the number of epiphytic bacteri4 reducing losses during storage. Abele
(1987) having experimented with carots, beetroot and potatoes, has also demonstrated that
biodynamically treated crops produced food with better keeping quahty.
Specialisation and the market orientation in modem farming is, to a certain extent,
responsible for increasing food insecurity among farming communities in the Third World.
Untit<e traditional style mixed farming which aimed at producing food mainly for family
consumption, they now have to tum to the market for most foodstuffs. This affects
household food security in two ways. On the one hand, specialisation and market orientation
reduces domestic food stocks. On the other hand, the lowering net farm income reduces
their purchasing power. Both situations threaten household food security. Therefore, change
from conventional to biodynamic farming, which involves mixed farming, would
undoubtedly enhance household food security. Furthermore, as pointed out earlier,
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biodynamic methods improve the keeping quality of farm products. Improved keeping
quality would also help to enhance household food security. The use of organic manures
and the biodynamic preparations has been proved to be capable of enhancing the water
holding capacity of soils and the root growth of plants (Abele, 1987). Pettersson and
Wistinghausen (1979) found that the appiication of 500 and 501 improved the soil in terms
of humus formation, structure of the subsoil (helped by deeper penetration of the rooting
system) and microbial activities in general. All these improvements will obviously enhance
the plants' resistance to drought, which frequently cause food shortage and famine in the
tropical world.
It is increasingly evident that the technological improvements in farming have brought
about serious environmental problems, including pollution of water, which is the source of
life. The pollution of water caused by modern farming is the consequence of two main
components: (1) pesticides and herbicides and (2) chemical fertilisers. The pollution
resulting fiom the use of agrochemicals is not only excessive in surface waters but also
penetrates to the ground water. Both forms of water pollution threaten human health in rural
areas in the Third World where people have little access to pipe-borne water. Transition
from conventional chemical farming to biodynamic farming, which rejects the use of any
synthetic chemicals, would undoubtedly help to preserve the environment in general and
water quality in particular. Furthermore, cessation of the use of synthetic chemicals in
farming would also lead to improvement of the quality and safety of food. Biodynamic food
is understandably free from harmful pesticide residues and chemical additives. People who
regularly consume organic and biodynamic products are convinced that quality of
biodynamic food is better than conventional farm products in terms of taste and flavour.
Biodynamic farming also has potential to promote human health. Nutritional superiority of
biodynamic food over conventional food has been demonstrated by some experiments.
Pettersson (1977) has compared quality of potatoes under conventional and biodynamic
management, and pointed out that the biodynamically grown potatoes were richer in true
protein and vitamin C content, and with superior flavour. Klett (1968) has pointed out that
application of 501 (horn silica) on cereals and vegetables, increased protein qualities. Higher
sugar levels in sugar beat treated with 501 was found by Abele (1973). There is evidence to
indicate that organic and biodynamic food enhances immunity and thereby promotes the
capacity to resist diseases. An experiment conducted with two groups of white mice, one
fed with biodynamic feeds and the other with conventional feeds, has demonstrated that the
animals fed with biodynamic feeds have developed a strong immunity system. Furthermore,
their offspring have become stronger than their parents whereas the second generation of
those which were fed with conventional feeds have become weaker (Pfeiffer, 1983). Again
Tallarico (1931), who experimented with turkeys, has demonstrated similar results. Thus,
there is suffrcient evidence to believe that consumption of biodynamic food does enhance
the immunity system in human beings. It is also believed that consumption of organic and
biodynamic food reduces cancer risk (Last, 1995). These foods have been used as part ofa
strategy in cancer therapy.
The community based self-help system which was crucial for the functioning of traditional
societies in most of the Third World countries, is increasingly disappearing with the
progress of agricultural modernisation, and it has caused conflicts and disharmony in
village communities. However, biodynamic farming calls for a community self-help system.
For instance, some activities which are necessary for biodynamic farming, e.g. composting,
making biodynamic preparations, are more practical if they are undertaken on a self-help
basis. Preparation of compost calls for exchange of straw, marlure as well as labour within
the community. Collection of herbal matter required for biodynamic preparations and also
stirring of liquid preparations are often done communally, partly because these tasks involve
a lot of manual work which single person sometimes cannot manage. Therefore, it seems
that biodynamic farming has potentials to re-strengthen the traditional community based
self-help system which would enhance social harmony.
3.1 Philosophy of Biodynamic Farming and Traditional Farming Systems: While
traditional Sri Lankan farmers' attitude towards the environment, including the cosmic
world, physical world, animal world and plant world is based on Buddhism; biodynamic
farmers' attitude is based on anthroposophy which is fundamentally connected with
Christianity. Both Buddhism and anthroposophy have reverence towards the cosmos and
the earth, and emphasise environmentally-friendly farming systems. Both advocate the
existence of spiritual beings. Traditional farmers in Sri Lanka seek the help of spiritual
beings to protect their crops and animals from natural disasters. Buddhism as well as
anthroposophy recommend a way of life with leads to conservation of natural resources.
Use of synthetic chemicals in farming is unacceptable in both cases. In a Buddhist farming
society it is unacceptable because chemicals harm living beings. Biodynamic farming is
opposed to the use of synthetic chemicals since it disrupts the cyclic flow of life forces.
However, in contrast to Buddhism, anthroposophy distinguishes animals from human
beings. Buddhism considers animals to have the same right as humans to survive on the
earth and therefore animal husbandry for meat production is not acceptable in traditional
farming society. But it ls acceptable in biodynamic farming because antkoposophy
distinguishes animals from human beings on the basis that human beings belong to a higher
level of existence. According to anthroposophy, human beings are on a higher level as they
have self consciousness and ego. According to Buddhism, killing animals is an evil
activity. However, keeping animals for dairy, draught power and manure ls acceptable for
Buddhism and therefore it supports crop-livestock integration which is vital in biodynamic
farming. The non-violent attitude of Buddhism towards animals, however, supports the non-
chemical farming methods advocated in biodynamic farming. Both Buddhism and
anthroposophy quite naturally encourage the integration of farming and wildlife.
3.2 The Farm: Components and Interrelationships: In biodynamic farming, the farm is
considered as a self-supporting system or organism which should not require extemal
inputs. Output of one component is often the input of another on the same farm. The same
principle can be seen in traditional farming systems in Sri Lanka. But the interrelatedness is
at village rather than farm level, as it in biodynamic farming. A typical traditional village
consists of six major components such as the village irrigation tank, paddy tract, home
gardens, shifting cultivation, livestock and fishery. Each farm family has a plot in the
village paddy tract, ablock of shifting cultivation in the village forest, a home garden and a
numbeiof buffaloes or cattle. They also catch fish in the village irrigation system which is a
common property. All these components are, at the village level, ecologically interrelated
and function as a self-sustaining agro-ecocomplex.
Cows play a central role in both biodynamic farming and traditional farming systems in Sri
Lanka. In both cases, the cow is considered as a source of milk and manure. In addition,
while she is used for draught by traditional Sri Lankan farmers, cows are slaughtered for
meat by biodynamic farmers. Cow manure and cow-horn are essential for some of the key
biodynamic preparations. However, there is a wide contrast between the management
practices of cows under the two systems. Under the traditional farming systems of Sri
Luota the common practice is the free granngsystem under which animals are allowed to
move freely in search of green fodder whereas under biodynamic farming stall-feeding is
cornmon. Free-grazing ,ytt"a is appropriate in areas where there is no severe winter and
where there are ro--""ity owned jungles and grasslands. Since it does not involve hand-
feeding and cleaning of stalls it saves much labour. But it does not permit accumulation of
cow ding in a single spot so that the latter could be collected for composting and fertilising
soils. On-the other hand, stall-feeding systems allow proper management and easy collection
of dung, though demanding labour (Ulluwishewa 1989)'
However, under the free grdngsystem, animals eat natural green fodder: gfass and weeds
grow in the wild, which is recommended to be given to animals under biodynamic farming.
After the paddy crop is harvested, all the animals are led to the fields to feed on paddy
residues. There is no practice of feeding cows with artificial foodstuffs either here or in
biodynamics. Sick animals are usually feated with indigenous veterinary medicines which
are made of native herbs, and animals are not de-homed. This is also identical for
biodynamics. Throughout the year, animals enjoy light and fresh air in their natural habitat
since they are usually kept outside. Young calves are allowed to follow the cows and are
usualty fea UV them. Though these practices seem consistent with biodynamic principles,
animals in this system are vulnerable to seasonal scarcity of fodder and water which cause a
substantial weight loss during the dry season. The free graamgsystem can also lead to rapid
spread of diseases and epidemics. By the end of the dry season when the animals become
physically weak they become highly vulnerable to epidemics.
3.3 Soil Management: According to biodynamic farming, plants have a life body in
addition to their physical body, and it is the vitality of the life body which brings health and
silength to the pfrysicA body. Therefore, it is the prime task of biodynamics to assist
plants building up a vital ife Uoay. In order to achieve this, soils must contain living
substances or, at least, nutrients which have passed through a life process' It is the soils
which have to be fertitised, not the plant. When soil is fertilised with living substances, e.g.
organic manure and compos! soii organisms start to work in soil and consequently soils
be-come alive, facilitating b"tt . growth of plant roots and hence, absorption of nutrients
from the soil.
Biodynamic farmers must also work the soil in such a way that four elements: water, air,
warmth and nutrients are maintained in the soil in appropriate proportions which is crucial
for keeping the soils alive. For instance, there should be enough water in soil, but too much
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water will disturb the movement of air. It is also necessary to facilitate the penetration of
warmth into soils so that soil organisms can exist. Living soil permits the plants growing in
it to absorb life forces from it. Application of synthetically produced chemical fertilisers
adds the necessary substances but not the life forces since the synthetic material has not
passed through life processes. Such artificially or chemically produced substances promote
active growth but plants are short of vital life forces and consequently may be more
susceptible to diseases. As it has been pointed out earlier, such farm products may have a
good appearance but are inferior to the biodynamic farm products in terms of texture,
flavour and keeping quality. Therefore, treatment of soils with organic manure from
animals and compost is of vital importance in biodynamic farming.
Traditional farmers in Sri Lanka too appreciate organic soil fertility management, and they
are aware of the significance of cow dung and green manure in soils. They facilitate or
preserve natural processes which add organic matter to the soils rather than applying these
organic substances by themselves. Some of these strategies which enhance the natural
processes of the regeneration of soil fertility in paddy fields are a fallow period, growing
trees on paddy fields, aliowing cattle and buffaloes to roam freely on the paddy fields after
harvesting, and encouraging fish into paddy fields (Ulluwishewa, 1991). The fallow period
permits paddy soils to regain the nutrients that are lost during the cultivation period.
During this period paddy fields are colonised by a wide range of leguminous weeds which
add nitrogen to the soil. It is during the fallow period that cattle and buffaloes add their
dung and urine to the soil, enhancing its fertility. It is a common practice among the
traditional farmers to grow about 6 - 8 trees per acre of paddy field, mainly Maduca
longifulia which provide seed from which a kind of oil is produced. Apart from the leaves
from these trees, dung of the fruit bats using the trees to feed on fruits adds nitrogen to the
paddy soils. Flooded paddy fields facilitate fish life in the paddy fields and their excretion
also adds a certain amount of manure to the soil.
A further conlmon practice occurs at the beginning of each cultivation season. The branches
of trees around paddy fields, which have grown during the fallow period and which shade
the paddy field, are cut down and buried. Decaying of these buried green leaves adds
organic matter into the paddy soil. In the same way, when inigation canals are de-silted at
the beginning of the cultivation season, the silts taken out of canals are also added to the
adjacent paddy fields, enhancing their fertility. There is evidence that in addition to the
application of green manure as by-products of other farm activities, they purposely add
green manure to the paddy soils. They identiff various herbs which have specific favourable
effects on soil when they are applied to soil as green manure. In the case of shifting
cultivation, after cultivating a patch of cleared forest land over 5 - 8 years the land is left
fallow until the particular piece of land is re-occupied by the forest and soil fertility is
regenerated. In addition, the combination of a wide range of species and crop rotation are
some of the methods which contribute to the management of soil fertility in shifting
Composting plays a prime role in soil fertility management in biodynamic farming, and it is
recommended that 6 specific biodynamic compost preparations be used in composting.
These six compost preparations are made out of mainly herbal substances, i.e. yarrow
flower, camomile flower, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion flower and valerian flower.l
These substances are treated in various ways, placed in specific animal organs and left
under different circumstances exposed to cosmic forces over certain periods of the year.
The final products are then placed in minute quantities into holes made in the compost heap.
It is understood that these substances radiate the forces contained in them everywhere in
the compost heap and thereby promote the activity of micro-organisms. In an experiment
carried out in co-operation with an agdcultural school and a govemment research station in
Germany, preparations 502 - 507 were shown to increase the exchange capacity of organic
matter in the finished compost heaps. They have also the ability to even out fluctuations in
temperature in the compost heaps Qireirun and Breda, 1962). After application into soils,
nuhients from biodynamic composts were released more slowly than compost without the
preparations and thus the dangers of over manuring were reduced.
3.4 pest and Weed Control: Biodynamic farmers as well as traditional farmers in Sri
Lanka, do not rely on conventional chemical methods of pest and weed control. Both
believe and know through experience that if crops and soils are healthy, pests are less
active and easier to control. They point out *rat serious pest problems nowadays are mainly
a product of conventional chemical agriculture. Wide use of hybrid seeds, and the chemical
triatment of soils, have intemrpted the natural processes which keep the pest population at
a controllable level. This has also reduced the vitality of plants which should enable them to
resist the attacks of pests. Both traditional Sri Lankan farmers and biodynamic farmers
mostly rely on natural processes for pest contol. For instance, both encourage the existence
of natural enemies of pests in and around the farm. While the former use various herbal
preparations to control pests, the latter use a combination of cutural and unique burnt
substances to discourage the pest population. In addition, fiaditional Sri Lankan farmers use
various mechanical methods, e.g. light traps, and setting devices which generate frightening
noise etc. In the case of both type of farmers, pest control is done by environmentally
friendly methods (Ulluwishew4 1993).
The biodynamic treatnents recommended for both pest and weed control are based on the
same principle. The Earth by itself can only support growth processes in plants and animals.
For reproduction, organisms need support from cosmic forces, e.g' lu:rar forces, forces
coming from the planets or from fixed stars. The influence of the cosmic forces thus raise
the noimal growth processes in plants and animals to the level of reproduction, i.e. seed
formation o1 phnts and fertility of animals. The cosmic forces received by plants and
animals are enclosed within themselves, and these forces generate positive effects on their
reproduction. When either seeds or animals are bumed at a time they are saturated with the
,o.rni" forces, it creates exactly the opposite reaction: destuction of the formation of seeds
and the fertility of animals. Based on this principle, Rudolf Steiner suggested that the seeds
of the weed or the animal pest in question be burned when they are saturated with
favograble cosmic forces, and the remaining ash diluted in water be spread on the farm
and its sgrrounding in order to get rid of the weed or the pest in question. He pointed out
that correct timing for burning is very crucial for this activrty. According to him, in the case
I Each preparation is identified by code numbers: 502: Yarrow flower; 503: Chamomile
flower; 504: Stinging Nettle; 505: Oak bark and 506: Dandelion flowers
of higher animal pests e.g. field mice the best time is when Venus is in Scorpio, and in the
case of lower animal pests, e.g. insects, the best period is when the Sun is in Taurus.
Again, with regard to plant diseases, biodynamic farming suggests using special herb teas.
Rudolf Steiner distinguished plant diseases from the diseases of animals and humans. In the
case of the latter, diseases occur when the astral body exerts too much on any organ or the
whole life body. Plants, have no astral body, md get diseases due to certain extemal
influences. For instance, plants get fungus diseases when they are subject to an excess of
lunar forces (wetness). It is the lunar forces, which act tlrough the medium of water, which
help plants in seed formation. However, if the soil remains too wet over a prolonged period
lunar forces become too active and it arrests the flow of cosmic forces up to the seed
formation zone. This facilitates the growth of fungi, giving rise to fungal diseases.
Therefore, the practical way to contol this disease is to remove the excessive lunar forces
from the soil by reducing the mediatory capacity of water. According to Rudolf Steiner,
this could be achieved by spraying a fairly concentrated tea of Equisetum orvense in the
affected field. Then, water does not absorb the excess lunar influence and the disease is
broughtunder control.
Somewhat similar to biodynamic practices of pest control, traditional farmers in Sri Lanka
make use of the lunar calendar in order to protect their crops from pest attacks. According
to the accepted tradition, while planting and sowing should be done on the day after the
full moon, harvesting should be done during the new moon days. Both of these taditions
are aimed at combating pests. The logic behind this tadition is that insects become more
active when the moon waxes, and become less active or inactive when the moon wanes.
When seeds are planted or sown just after the frrll moon when the moon begins to wane,
insects begin to be less active, and therefore the planted or sown seeds are less likely to be
damaged by the insects. In the same way, it is oir fi;ll moon days that the harvest is likely to
be damaged by the insects. Therefore, possible loss of harvest by insects could be reduced
by harvesting on new moon days before the insects begin to be active. Depending on the
time required for the growth of the crop in question, the farmers determine the
planting/sowing days in such a way that the days of harvesting fall in the waning period. ln
addition, traditional farmers perform rituals and religious practices in order to protect their
crops from pests.
A Comparison of the Use of Astrology in Traditional f,'arming in Sri Lanka and
Biodynamic Farming
4.1 Cosmic Influence on Farming: Biodynamic farmers as well as traditional farmers in
Sri Lanka believe in cosmic influence on farming. In both cases, when dates for farm
activities are determined, cosmic influence is taken into account. However, in Sri Lanka
such practices are more or less confined to the lunar phases whereas they are far more
widely rooted in biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farmers consider the whole cosmos as an
single entity, of which all components, e.g. planets and stars (groups of stars:
constellations) , are related to each other by cosmic forces that each component radiates.
The cosmic forces are important for the life on the earth because they are associated with
basic elements such as water, warmth, airllight and earth (solidity), which form the life.
element with which any planet or constellation is associated is as follows:
Constellation Element Planet
Ram, Lion, Archer
Bull, Virgin, Goat
Twins, Scales, Waterman
Crab, Scorpion, Fishes
The tlpe of cosmic forces that the earth receives at any given moment is determined by the
position of the earth in relation to other planets and constellations. In this case, the position
of the moon is particularly important because the moon radiates not only its own forces but
also the forces that it collects from the constellation standing behind it. For instance, when
the moon appears in Ram it radiates the warmth element towards the earth.
4.2 Moon and Farming: In Sri Lanka, as pointed out already, farmers' belief in lunar
influence on crops is almost exclusively based on the synodic revolution of the moon
(moon's phases: waxing and waning) which is totally dependent upon the moon's
connection with the Sun's illumination. In biodynamic farming, in addition to the moon's
phases, its position in relation to constellations (based on the sidereal revolution of the moon
and including ascending and descending moon, perigee and apogee) is also taken into
account. The high significance assigned to the lunar phases by Sri Lankan traditional
farmers might be due to: (1) religious significance of the moon's phases and (2) its location
in tropics. In Sri Lanka, as a predominantly Buddhist country, full moon, new moon and
both quarter-moon days are considered as holy days ( fotx poya days) on which the farmers
ought not to work2. Onpoya days they are supposed to be invoived in religious activities.
Hence, poya days cause some kind of breaking points in the farming calendar, giving high
significance to the moon's phases. On the other hand, being a tropical country, ascending
and descending of the moon is not so evident as it is in the temperate zone.
In the traditional farming society of Sri Lanka as well as in biodynamic agriculture, planting
is recommended during the full moon. For planting and tansplanting, one day after the full
moon is recommended in Sri Lanka whereas one to two days before the firll moon is
recommended in the biodynamic agriculture. Suitability of full moon for planting and
transplanting has been mentioned by Rudotf Steiner (1923) and subsequently proved by
experimental evidence by Kolisko (1982). Rudolf Steiner has stated that 'the rays of the
moon are reflected Sun-rays, but the Moon has imbued them with its own forces, and so
they strike the earth as lunar forces. It is these lunar forces which enhance growth to
reproduction. For a given location on Earth, atl this is available only at full moon. At new
moon, that area does not receive the benefit of the lunar influences'. He further states that
we could achieve significant results if already at planting time, for instance, we were to
2 Most important events of Buddha's life has taken place on poya days. For instance,
His birth, enlightenment and death have taken place on full moon days of May (Vesak:
according to the traditional calendar) 13
Saturn, Mercury, Pluto
Sun, Earth, Ringall (M Thun)
Jupiter, Venus, Uranus
Mars, Moon, Neptune
utilise the Moon to support early germination, if we were to sow according to the phase of
the Moon as people in India did well into the nineteenth century''
Lunar influence on plant growth has been explained by Leavons (1972) in terms of three
factors: (l) lunar gravity (lunar tide) which is greatest at full and new moon, (2) earth's
gravity which correspondingly increases when lunar gravity decreases and (3) moon light
*t l"t increases from new moon to fuIl moon. If seeds are planted at full moon or new
moon when lunar gravity is at its maximum, the lunar gril/ity which exerts on the water in
the seed, swells the seed and bursts the seed coat, accelerating the germinating process' On
the other hand, on quarter-moon days, when the lunar graYLty is least and therefore the
Earth,s gravlty is greatest, root growth is enhanced. As the moon light increases from new
moon to full moon, leaf growth is enhanced, and again it begins to decline after the full
moon. Therefore, during the first seven days after new moon, as lunar gravity decreases
(with conesponding relative increase in the earth's gravrty) and moon light increases, plants
undergo a period of bul*""d growth: increased root growth due to increasing Earth's
gravity and increased leaf growth due to increasing moon light.
During the second seven days, lunar gravity begins to increase, the Earth's gravity begins to
decline, and the moon light increases. Therefore, this period is characterised by germination
of the seeds (which have not yet germinated) due to increasing lunar gravity, and stimulated
leaf growth due to increasingmoon light. During the third seven days, from full moon to the
,."orrd quarter-moon, both moon light and lunar gravrty begin to decrease, which slows
down leaf growttr but enhances root growth due to the relative increase in the Earth's
gravrty. This period is recommended for transplanting, since root growth is active. Again,
during the last seven days, from second quarter moon to new moon, lunar gravity increases,
and due to the corresponding relative decline in Earth's gravity, root growth slows down'
The moon light also decreases and slows down leaf growth. Therefore, this period is
considered as a 'rest period' which comes before the bursting forth of the period of new life.
As mentioned before, it is recommended in biodynamic agriculture to take advantage of
lunar phases for weed and pest contol. Somewhat parallel to this, Sri Lankan farmers who
practise shifting cultivation, take the advantage of lunar phases to protect their crops and
themselves from wild animals. While strong fences are erected around the farms in order to
protect the crops from tespassing wild animas and roaming cattle, sturdy farm-lodges3are
tuilt up above the ground, often on strong tees, to protect themselves from dangerous
animals. Dates for the commencement of work on erection of fence and construction of
farm-lodge are traditionally determined according to karana which are based on lunar
phases. According to the astrology of traditional farmers, there are seven karana which are
iro* by the name of seven animals: Lion, Pig, Elephant, cock, Tiger, Goat and Bull. The
28 days of the lunar month are divided into seven groups of knrana as follows, with each
troraia having four days, 2 days during the waning moon and 2 days during the waxing
3 A tree-house for observation ofpredators
New Moon a
10 4
t2 6
t3 7
t2 6
10 4
Lion Elephant Cock Tiger Goat Bull Lion
The farmers believe that the stronger the animal the better the karana. For instance, for
activities such as fencing and erecting a guard-lodge, Lion Karana is most preferred.
However, if it is missed, then either Tiger or Elephant Karana is preferred respectively. On
the other hand, the Karana of weak animals, are never taken for any important farm
activity. The idea behind this is that if the activity is initiated, for example, on a Lion Karana
day, any animat other than lion cannot enter the farm. Since all other animals are weaker
than lions and there are no lions in the locality, the farm is believed to be safe.
43 Planets, Constellations and Farming: According to biodynamics as well as traditional
farming systems in Sri Lanka, planets and constellations influence farming activities.
Although biodynamic farmers accept that there is a direct influence of planets and
constellations on plants, Sri Lankan farmers do not believe in such a direct influence. Their
belief in the planetary influence on farming is mainly restricted to the use of astrology for
determining auspicious time(s) for undertaking important farm activities. They seek ttre
support of astrologers in order to find auspicious times(s) for the commencement of crucial
farm activities such as sowing and harvesting. When these time(s) are determined, the
positions of planets in relation to constellations on the particular day on which the given
farm activity is undertaken and on the day (and also time) on which the particular farmer
was born are taken into account. Almost everybody has got a document, in many cases
written on a palm-leaf, which describes the position of planets in relation to constellations at
the time when the particulil person was born, and this document (horoscope) is studied by
the asftologer when he is requested to give an auspicious time. It is a common custom in Sri
Lanka to seek auspicious time(s) and it is then that most important events take place.
However, in biodynamic farming, direct planetary influence on plant growth is well
described. According to Rudolf Steiner, while near planets such as Mercury, Venus and
Moon influence the plants through the soils, distant planets such as Jupiter, Mars and
Saturn influence through air. It has been mentioned in his agricultural course that on the one
hand, there are the forces that actually originate in the cosmos, but which are first absorbed
into the Earth and then work on the plants from there (Mercury, Venus and Moon). On the
other hand ttre forces coming from the distant planets act more directly on plants (Steiner,
1923). The planetary influence in also linked to minerals. While the forces coming from the
near planets are heavily influenced by the lime, those coming from the distant planets are
influenced by the silica. Therefore, when silica influences proceed from the Earth itself,
they still transmit what comes from Jupiter, Mars and Satum, and not what comes from
Moon, Mercury and Venus. Furthermore, biodynamic agriculture relates each plant variety
to a certain planet, and considers that plants reflect aspects of those planets (Kranich, 1984).
As pointed out earlier, each constellation has a special relationship with one of the four
elements (earth, water, light/ar and warmth) which have an effect on the growth and
development of the plant. According to biodynamic farming, each element has a positive
effect on the growth of a particular part of the plant. While the earth element enhances the
growth of roots, the water element enhances that of the leaves and the light/air and warmth
elements enhance the growth of flowers and fruit/seed respectively. It is the moon which
collects these effects (forces) from the constellations and directs them towards the earth.
This explains why a particular effect the earth receives on a given day depends on the
moon's position in relation to the constellations. For instance when moon appears in
constellations which are related to the earth element, the moon radiates root-enhancing
forces to the earth, and these days would be better for planting or sowing of root crops.
According to experimental evidence and farmers' experience, planting according to the
lunar calendar can substantially improve the harvest both qualitatively and quantitatively
(Thun, 1990; Kolisko, 1982).
5.1 Possible Constraints: Though biodynamic agriculture has potential to alleviate some
current agricultural problems in Sri Lanka any attempt being made to introduce it to Sri
Lanka, would have to overcome some significant constraints. Those which have been
identified in the present study can be divided into four categories: (1) economic, (2)
political, (3) soeio-cultural and ( ) technical.
5. 1. 1 Economic Constraints:
Though there is experimental evidence to prove the profitability of biodynamic farming, the
conversion of a conventional farm into a organic or biodynamic farm is followed by a
relatively short period of reduced net income due to lower yields. Therefore, unless there is
some specific programme of support, farmers are unlikely to shift from conventional to
organic/biodynamic farming. In Sri Lank4 there is no such programme to support those
who convert from conventional to organic/biodynamic farming.
The majority of consumers in Sri Lanka, as in other Third World countries, have relatively
low income, and therefore are not in a position to pay more for organic and biodynamic
foods. Hence, unless avenues are opened for an overseas market, organic and biodynamic
farmers may not find a market for their products. This would constrain the introduction of
organic/biodynamic farming, especially during the fust few years when farmers need
income to compensate for lower yields before their produce can qualiff for a fully organic
5. 1.2 Political Constraints:
The State's goal is to achieve self-sufficiency in food and therefore it is committed to raise
national food production. It is the responsibilrty of the State to maintain the national food
supply and the food prices at an affordable level. Therefore, the State' policy is in favour of
conventional agriculture which appears capable of increasing yield by using more and more
chemical inputs. Since organic/biodynamic farming is concerned with food quality and
agricultural sustainability rather than being committed to huge yield increases it clearly
cannot expect to attract State suppo;t rurder present circumstances.
The State not only provides subsidies for purchasing of chemical rnputs which are
inevitable for conventional farming but also bears its environmental and health cost.
Therefore, the price of conventional produce is always less than the actual cost of
production. There is no such policy towards organic/biodynamic farming. Hence,
organic/biodynamic farmers would find it diffrcuit to compete with their conventional
counterparts for the market.
The existing extension service has been designed to promote conventional agriculture, and
therefore, it is incapable of supporting organic/biodynamic farming. Support of a well-
equipped extension service is inevitable when a new package of farm technologies is
introduced, beeause without such a service farmers would frnd it difficult to deal with new
problems that they encounter.
Most of the agricultural development projects in Sri Lanka are funded by Westem funding
agencies, and therefore such projects are heavily influenced by the their own policies which
encourage conventional methods of farming. In some cases, chemical inputs are provided as
part of their aid and loan packages. Furthermore, multinational companies involved in agro-
chemical business are also quite influential in local politics. In such circumstances,
attempts being made to introduce organic/biodynamic farming would be hampered.
5.1.3 Socio-Cultural:
The farmers in Sri Lanka might perceive biodynamic agriculture to be another package of
technology produced and introduced by the West. Within their living memory, they have
once adopted the green revolution package produced in the West, and converted themselves
from traditional to conventional farming. But conventional farming has failed to improve
their quality of life as they expected, and consequently now they may be suspicious of
anything new being introduced by the West. Therefore, at the beginning, it might be
difficult to convince them of the advantages of biodynamic agriculture.
Organic/biodynamic farming is more labour-intensive, and therefore, transition from
conventional to organic/biodynamic will add extra work than conventional farming, e.g.
composting, hand weeding, etc. Those who are akeady accustomed to capital-intensive easy
and comfortable farming methods are unlikely to be willing to adopt new farming methods
which involve hard labour. The present young generation in farm families would be highly
reluctant to adopt organic/biodynamic farming due to its labour-intensive nature.
Community participation is, to some extent, a pre-requisite for success of organic and
biodynamic farming. This is particularly true in the case of biodynamic farming, because
making biodynamic preparations is more feasible if that is undertaken communally.
Though such community based activities were corlmon in the past, they are rapidly
disappearing in the modem society in which competition is more important than co-
operation. Hence, organic/biodynamic farming would be constrained in the modern farming
5.1.4 Technical Constraints
Ever since the indigenous farming systems were replaced by conventional farming, farmers
have been relying on purchased highbred seeds which are responsive to chemical inputs.
Indigenous seed varieties have been virtually neglected, and no attempts have been made
to preserve local varieties. Consequently indigenous varieties which yield without the
support of chemical inputs are now hardly available. Therefore, shortage of appropriate
seeds would impede attempts being made to introduce organic/biodynamic farming.
Though biodynamic farming is generally accepted to be universal, it was originated in the
West, in an area with temperate climate. Most of the biodynamic preparations appear to
need material of herbs and animals that are available largely in the temperate zone.
According to the way prescribed by Rudolf Steiner, the preparations have to be exposed to
nature during particular seasons which exist only in the temperate zone. Therefore,
biodynamic farming would find problems of interpretation in the tropics.
Biodynamic farming has been mainly designed to address the problems in non-irrigated
farming, e.g. vegetable and fruit gardening. However, irrigated farming is predominant in
the food producing sector in Sri Lanka. Although rice has been grown successfully by
biodynamic methods in other tropical areas, further experiments are inevitably needed to
apply these methods in Sri Lankan conditions.
5.2 Potential Ways f,'orward:
5.2.1 Recommendations: The following measures are suggested in order to alleviate some
of the above constraints
Appropriate measures should be adopted in order to compensate for the initial loss of
income following the conversion from conventional to organic/biodynamic farming.
Organic/biodynamic farmers should have a right to enjoy the subsidies given in various
ways to their conventional courterparts.
An awareness programme should be undertaken in order to educate consumers about the
health-promoting effects of organic/biodynamic foods. Such an effort would contribute to
promoting the market for organic/biodynamic products. Initially, higher income categories
would be prepared to pay more for healthier food.
Policy makers should be made aware of the advantages of organic/biodynamic farming. e.g.
its contribution to employment generation in rural areas, its capacity to reduce the public
expenditure on health and environment,
niche markets etc. as a source of foreign exchange
Support of local NGOs should be sought to pressurise the policy makers in order to get
them to formulate policies which are favourable to organic and biodynamic farming.
At the initial stage, organic/biodynamic farming should be introduced to traditional farming
communities in which indigenous farming practices and socio-cultural systems still exist.
In such communities, people may still be prepared to work harder and in co-operation with
Importation of seeds and biodynamic preparations would be a short-term solution to the
problem arising from the non-availability of seeds and the herbal matter and animal
organs required for biodynamic preparations'
5.2.2 Areas for Further Research: In view of overcoming the constraints identified the
following areas are recommended for research.
In order to adapt biodynamic farming to tropical conditions, it is necessary to undertake
research projects aimed at the following:, (1) identiffing suitable periods and methods for
composting and making biodynamic preparations, (2) adapting biodynamic practices to
irrigatedpuaAy farming, (3) identifying tropical plants and sources of animal organs suitable
for biodynamic preparations,(4) determining lunar influence on plants and animals in
In order to identifii the scientific validity of biodynamic preparations under tropical
conditions, research should be undertaken on the following areas:, (1) potential of
biodynamic preparations: 500 and cow-pat pit to rehabilitate degraded lands in tropics, e.g.
degradeO puaayt*ds, tea lands etc., (2) potential of the same preparations to aceelerate the
pro".r, oi soil recovery during the fallow periods of paddy and shifting cultivation. (3)
efficiency of biodynamic pest contol and weed control under tropical conditions,
In order to identiff the yield-increasing potential of biodynamic practices, the following
areas are recommended to be researched: (1) effect of planting according to lunar calendar,
(2) identi$ing suitable planting dates for tropical tree crops, e.g. coconut, rubber and
tropical fruits,(3) effects of biodynamic methods in promoting the productivity and health
of dairy animals
In order to demonstrate the health-promoting effects of organic and biodynamic food, the
following areas are recommended for further research: (1) the effects of organic and
biodynamic food in enhancing immunity in human body and reducing susceptibility to
diseases co111mon in tropics, (2) the adverse effects on health of conventional foods with
significant levels of chemical residues.
The author wishes to thank Dr. Richard Thomton Smith, Senior Lecturer at the School of
Geography of the University of Leeds and Ms. Freya Schikorr for their guidance and very
kind assistance for this study from its very beginning. The biodynamic farmers and
practitioners in the United Kingdom and the traditional farmers in Sri Lanka who provided
information for this study deserve a special note of thanks. This study was made possible by
a fellowship awarded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities in the United
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Reviews environmental history, followed by an introduction to pre-Hispanic crop plants and to the origins of agriculture. A major section is then devoted to a variety of pre-Hispanic agricultural forms appropriate to different terrain and their significance for local subsistence and wider exchanges. The final sections are concerned with changes in agricultural outlook since the Spanish conquest, problems which lie ahead, and whether indigenous practices have a future role to play. -from Author
Food Quality in Relation to Fertiliser Application: Chemical. Organic and Biodynamic. Summary report on work carried out at the Biodynamic Research Institute
  • U Abele
Abele, U. (1987) Food Quality in Relation to Fertiliser Application: Chemical. Organic and Biodynamic. Summary report on work carried out at the Biodynamic Research Institute, Germany. Landwirtschftsverlag Gmbh, 44 Muenster-Hiltrup, Germany
Vergleichende [Jntersuchungen zum konventionellen und biologischbtnamischen P/lanzenbau [Comparative studies on conventional and biodynamic plant cultivation
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