Bio.-dyn. spray preparations: hypotheses and results.
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On television, in newspapers and in social media, information is sometimes disseminated about the biodynamic spray preparations horn manure (500) and horn silica (501), which does not correspond to the current state of knowledge. In the following brief presentation, the leading hypotheses and research results on the preparations are presented.
The basic hypotheses on the effect of the biodynamic spray preparations were put forward in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, the developer of these preparations: Increasing (a) soil activity, (b) plant health, and (c) food quality (Steiner 2020).
In the 1970s, doctoral theses were conducted at the University of Giessen at the Institute of Plant Production and Plant Breeding under the direction of Prof. Boguslawski and Prof. Ahrens to test the effect of biodynamic preparations on yield and storage properties of various crops. These doctoral theses (Spieß 1978, Samaras 1978; Figures 1-4) showed that the effects postulated by Steiner occurred particularly clearly under unfavorable growing conditions. The original hypothesis was thus made more precise: The b.d. spray preparations can partially compensate for unfavorable growth conditions, i.e., the tolerance of plants to stress during growth is increased.
Current results from Europe over the last 3 years
In a joint evaluation of three experimental years each, horn manure and horn silica treatments were used to (a) increase soil activity in cucurbits (Juknevičienė et al. 2019, Figures 5/6) and potatoes (Vaitkevičienė et al. 2019, Figures 6/7) significantly increased (b) yield and secondary plant constituent content in pumpkin (Juknevičienė et al 2021, Figures 8-10) and potato (Vaitkevičienė 2016;) significantly increased(Figure 11).
Horn manure and horn silica treatments had a significant positive balancing effect on soil respiration (Fritz et al. 2020b, Figure 12): Soil respiration was increased in soils with low soil respiration, and soil respiration was decreased in soils with very high soil respiration. This can be cautiously interpreted as a move toward a balance between respiration-induced carbon and nutrient mineralization while avoiding climate-changing high carbon decomposition. On vineyard soils in France, soil structure was significantly improved with the application of b.d. spray preparations (Fritz et al. 2021, Figure 13).
International work in Asia
On experimental sites in Asia, yield levels were low for soybean (Tung and Fernandes 2007), rice (Valez and Fernandes 2008), and caraway (Sharma et al. 2012). With the application of horn manure and horn silica, yield was significantly increased in the experimental sites(Figures 14-17).
Over the past decade, research has revealed that food structure plays an important role in the physical, sensory, and nutritional properties of foods and the health effects derived from them (Aguilera et al. 2019). High aging resistance indicates a high ability to maintain external and internal structure under stress. It is therefore an indicator of high stress tolerance as an important concept of organic food quality (Kahl et al. 2012).
Aging of pressed juice at 8°C systematically changes crystal structures in the copper chloride crystallization method. Treatment of plants in cultivation with the biodynamic preparations increased aging resistance and thus food quality in grape juice (Fritz et al. 2017, 2020a) and arugula (Athmann et al. 2021), visually evaluated on scrambled samples(Figure 18).
Positive effects of biodynamic vs. organic-biological management.
In system comparisons, favorable effects of biodynamic vs. organic-biological management have been found in recent years: For example, in the Swiss DOK trial, the b.d. cropping system showed the highest aggregate stability, the highest soil biodiversity, and the lowest metabolic quotient (Mäder et al. 2002, Figures 19/20). Skinner et al. (2019, Figures 21/22) found the lowest nitrous oxide emissions in the DOK trial under the b.d. cropping system. Ortiz-Alvarez et al. (2021, Figures 23/24) found the lowest modularity and highest clustering, both measures of microbial network stability, in biodynamic vineyards compared to organic and conventionally managed vineyards in microbiome studies. The differences were significant for vineyards in both Spain and the United States.
Literature list on scientifically edited articles and dissertations:
Athmann M., Bornhütter R., Busscher N. Doesburg P., Geier U., Mergardt G., Scherr C., Köpke U., Fritz J. (2021): An update on image forming methods: structure analysis and Gestalt evaluation of images from rocket lettuce with shading, N supply, organic or mineral fertilization, and biodynamic preparations. Organic Agriculture. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13165-021-00347-1
Fritz J., Athmann M., Meissner G., Kauer R., Schultz H.R. (2020a): Quality assessment of grape juice from integrated, organic and biodynamic viticulture using image forming methods. OENO one, https://doi.org/10.20870/oeno-one.2020.54.2.2548
Fritz J., Jannoura R., Lauer F., Schenk J., Masson P., Joergensen R. G. (2020b): Functional microbial diversity responses to biodynamic management in Burgundy on vineyard soils. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 36(3), 172-186, https://doi.org/10.1080/01448765.2020.1762739
Fritz J., Lauer F., Wilkening A., Masson P., Peth S. (2021): Aggregate stability and visual evaluation of soil structure in biodynamic cultivation of Burgundy vineyard soils. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, https://doi.org/10.1080/01448765.2021.1929480.
Fritz, J., Athmann, M., Meissner, G., Kauer, R., Köpke, U. (2017): Quality characterization via image forming methods differentiates grape juice produced from integrated, organic or biodynamic vineyards in the first year after conversion. Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, https://doi.org/10.1080/01448765.2017.1322003
Juknevičienė E., Danilčenko H., Jarienė E., Živatkauskienė V., Zeise J., Fritz J. (2021): The effect of biodynamic preparations on growth and fruit quality of giant pumpkin(Cucurbita maxima D.). Chemical and Biological Technologies in Agriculture, https://doi.org/10.1186/s40538-021-00258-z
Juknevičienė, E., Danilčenko, H., Jarienė, E., Fritz, J. (2019): The effect of horn-manure preparation on enzymes activity and nutrient contents in soil as well as great pumpkin yield. Open Agric 4, 452-459, doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2019-0044
Mäder P., Fliessbach A., Dubois D., Gunst L., Fried P., Niggli U. (2002): Soil fertility and biodiversity in organic farming. Science. 296(5573):1694-1697. DOI: 10.1126/science.1071148.
Ortiz- Álvarez R., Ortega-Arranz H., Ontiveros V.J., de Celis M., Ravarani C., Acedo A., Beldaa I. (2021): Network Properties of Local Fungal Communities Reveal the Anthropogenic Disturbance Consequences of Farming Practices in Vineyard Soils. American Society for Microbiology. journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/mSystems.00344-21
Samaras I. (1978): Post-harvest behaviour of differently fertilized vegetable species with special consideration of physiological and microbiological parameters]. Dissertation, University of Giessen.
Sharma S.K., Laddha K.C., Sharma R.K., Gupta P.K., Chatta L.K., Pareeek P. (2012): Application of biodynamic preparations and organic manures for organic production of cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.). International Journal of Seed Spices 2(01): 7-11.
Skinner C., Gattinger A., Krauss M, Krause H.M., Mayer J., van der Heijden M.G., Mäder P. (2019): The impact of long-term organic farming on soil-derived greenhouse gas emissions. Sci Rep 9, 1702. https://doi. org/10.1038/s41598-018-38207-w
Tung L.D., Fernandez P.G. (2007): Soybeans under organic, biodynamic and chemical production at the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Philippine Journal of Crop Science 32(02): 49-62.
Vaitkevičienė N., Jarienė E., Ingold R., Peschke J. (2019): Effect of biodynamic preparations on the soil biological and agrochemical properties and coloured potato tubers quality. Open Agriculture 4: 17-23. https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2019-0002
Vaitkevičienė N. (2016): The effect of biodynamic preparations on the accumulation of biologically active compounds in the tubers of different genotypes of ware potatoes. PhD thesis, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Akademija.
Valdez R.E., Fernandez P.G. (2008): Productivity and seed quality of rice (Oryza sativa L.) cultivars grown under synthetic, organic fertilizer and biodynamic farming practices. Philippine Journal of Crop Science 33(01): 37-58.
Aguilera J.M. (2019): The food matrix: implications in processing, nutrition and health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 59(22):3612-29. 10.1080/10408398.2018.1502743 .
Kahl J., Baars T., Bügel S., Busscher N., Huber M., Kusche D., Rembialkowska E., Schmid O., Seidel K., Taupier-Letage B., Velimirov A., Zalecka A. (2012): Organic food quality: a framework for concept, definition and evlauation from the European perspective. J Sci Food Agric 92(14):2760-2765. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.5640
Steiner R. (2020): Agricultural course - Humanities fundamentals for agriculture to thrive. Verlag epubli, Berlin.