Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access June 25, 2019

Biodynamic preparations, greater root growth and health, stress resistance, and soil organic matter increases are linked

  • Walter A. Goldstein EMAIL logo , Herbert H. Koepf and Chris J. Koopmans
From the journal Open Agriculture


The effects of biodynamic preparations were tested in the context of comparisons of conventional, organic, and biodynamic systems and diverse crop rotations in Washington and Wisconsin, USA. Wisconsin research also entailed testing a new nettle-and-manure-based field spray preparation (NCP). Focus was on winter wheat and maize and on soil quality. In Washington, preparations increased root growth of winter wheat, microbial biomass, and soil organic matter. In Wisconsin, applying a combination of preparations that included NCP increased root growth of maize, root health, and particulate organic matter in the soil. Relative to the organic treatments, root dry matter increases associated with the use of preparations varied from 12% to 39% and root length differences varied from 10% to 37% depending on the experiment, crop, year, and preparation application. The biodynamic + NCP treatment also induced substantial, positive yield compensatory effects for maize and wheat under stress condition years. The response slopes were practically identical for wheat and maize, indicating that the effect is of the same magnitude for both crops. Results were higher average grain yields and gross financial returns than for organic grain. The greater root production and root health stimulated by preparations is probably linked to greater vegetative growth, enhanced yield under stress conditions, and increased soil quality and carbon in soils.


Anderson J.P. and Domsch K.H., A physiological method for the quantitative measurement of microbial biomass in soils. Soil Biol. Biochem. 1978, 10, 215-22110.1016/0038-0717(78)90099-8Search in Google Scholar

Anonymous, Biodynamic Information and communication network for biodynamic research. Picture Forming Methods, 2019, in Google Scholar

Bachinger J., The effects of different types of fertilization (mineral, organic, biodynamic) on the temporal dynamics and spacial distribution of chemical and microbiological parameters of C and N dynamics in the soil and also of crop and root growth of winter rye. 1996, (German Language) Institute for Biodynamic Research, Research Report Volume 7, pp. 166, Darmstadt, Germany, 1996Search in Google Scholar

Cambardella C.A. and Elliot E.T., Particulate soil organic matter changes across a grassland cultivation sequence. Soil Sci Soc Am J, 1992, 56, 777-8310.2136/sssaj1992.03615995005600030017xSearch in Google Scholar

Fließbach A., Oberholzer H.R., Gunst L. and Mäder P., Soil organic matter and biological soil quality indicators after 21 years of organic and conventional farming. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment, 2007, 118, 273-28410.1016/j.agee.2006.05.022Search in Google Scholar

Fritz J., The foundations of biodynamic plant production; methods and research towards understanding the organismPub. Lebendige Erde, Darmstadt, Germany, 2019, (in German)Search in Google Scholar

Fritz J. and Köpke U., Effects of light, manuring and biodynamic horn silica applications by dwarf beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L. var. nanus) on germination characteristics of the newly formed seeds. (in German). Pflanzenbauwissenschaften, 2005, 9(2), 55–60, 2005Search in Google Scholar

Fronning B.E., Thelen K.D., and Min D., Use of manure, compost, and cover crops to supplant crop residue carbon in corn stover removed cropping systems. Agron J, 2008, 100,1703-1010.2134/agronj2008.0052Search in Google Scholar

Goldstein W.A., A report on previous work done with biodynamic preparations. Biodynamics, 1979, 129, 1-10Search in Google Scholar

Goldstein, W.A., Alternative crops, rotations, and management systems for the Palouse, Ph.D. Thesis, Washington State University Dept. of Agronomy and Soils, 1986Search in Google Scholar

Goldstein W.A., The effect of farming systems on the relationship of corn root growth to grain yields. Am. J. Alternative Agric., 2000, 15, 101-10910.1017/S0889189300008602Search in Google Scholar

Goldstein W.A., Barber W., Yield and Root Growth in a Long-Term trial with Biodynamic Preparations. 5 pp. In the proceedings of the International Society for Organic Farming Research (ISOFAR), Scientific Conference in cooperation with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) 21 – 23 September 2005, in Adelaide, South Australia, 2005Search in Google Scholar

Goldstein W., Barber W., Carpenter-Boggs L., Dalsoren D., Koopmans C., Comparisons of Conventional, Organic, and Biodynamic Methods. Exploring Biodynamics in Research Trials: Results with Crops. Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, 1999, in Google Scholar

Goldstein W.A. and Koepf H.H., A contribution to the development of tests for the biodynamic preparations. Elemente der Naturwissenschaft, 1982, 36, 41-56Search in Google Scholar

Kemper R.C. and Rosenau R.C., Aggregate stability and size distribution. Chapter 17 in Methods of Soil Analysis, Part 1. Physical and Mineralogical Methods. Agronomy monographs no. 9. American Society of Soil Science, Madison, WI., 1986, pp. 425-44210.2136/sssabookser5.1.2ed.c17Search in Google Scholar

Kjellenberg L., Granstedt A., Pettersson B.D., The connection between soil, crop and manure. Results from the k-trial, a 33-year study on the effect of fertilisation on the properties of soil and crop. Nordisk Forskningsring; Järna, Sweden, 2005Search in Google Scholar

Koenig U., Personal communication, Biodynamic Research Counsel, Darmstadt, Germany, January, 2019Search in Google Scholar

Koepf H.H., Pettersson B.D., Schaumann W., Biodynamic Agriculture, Anthroposophical Press, Spring Valley, NY, 1976Search in Google Scholar

Koepf H.H., Shouldice R., and Goldstein W., The Biodynamic Farm. Anthroposophical Press, Hudson, NY, 1989Search in Google Scholar

Maeder P., Fliessbach A., Dubois D., Gunst L. et al., Soil fertility and biodiversity in organic farming. Science, 2002, 296, 1694-169710.1126/science.1071148Search in Google Scholar PubMed

Plénet D., Lubet E. and Juste C., Évolution à long terme du statut carboné du sol en monoculture non irriguée du maïs (Zea mays L.). Agronomie. 1993, 13, 685–698 (in French)10.1051/agro:19930802Search in Google Scholar

Rasse D.P., Rumpel C, Dignac M.F., Is soil carbon mostly root carbon? Mechanisms for a specific stabilization. Plant and Soil, 2005, 269(1–2), 341–35610.1007/s11104-004-0907-ySearch in Google Scholar

Raupp J., Oltmanns M., Soil properties, crop yield and quality with farmyard manure with and without biodynamic preparations and with inorganic fertilizers. In: Raupp J., Pekrun C., Oltmanns M., Koepke U. (Eds.); Long-term Field Experiments in Organic Farming, ISOFAR Scientific Series 1; Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin, 2006, 135-155Search in Google Scholar

Raupp J. and König U.J., Biodynamic preparations cause opposite yield effects depending upon yield levels. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture, 1996, 13, 175–18810.1080/01448765.1996.9754776Search in Google Scholar

Spiess H., Konventionelle und biologisch-dynamische verfahren zur steigerung der bodenfruchtbarkeit. Ph.D. Dissertation, Institute for Plant Production and Breeding, Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany, 1978 (in German)Search in Google Scholar

Schlichting E. and Blume H.P., Bodenkundliches Praktikum. Paul Parey (Pub.), Hamburg, Germany, 1960 (in German)Search in Google Scholar

Stearn W.C., Effectiveness of two biodynamic preparations on higher plants and possible mechanisms for the observed response. M.Sc. Thesis. Dept. of Agronomy. Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 1976Search in Google Scholar

Steiner R., Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture, lectures given in Silesia in 1924, Published by the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, USA, 1993Search in Google Scholar

Turinek M., Grobelnik-Mlakar S., Bavec M., Bavec F., Biodynamic agriculture research progress and priorities. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 2009, 24(2), 146–154, doi:10.1017/S174217050900252X10.1017/S174217050900252XSearch in Google Scholar

Zhang W., Liu K., Wang J., Shao X, Xu M, Li J, Wang X., Murphy D.V., Relative contribution of maize and external manure amendment to soil carbon sequestration in a long-term intensive maize cropping system. Sci Rep. 2015, 5, 10791, Published online 2015 Jun 3. doi: 10.1038/srep1079110.1038/srep10791Search in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

Received: 2018-09-26
Accepted: 2019-02-26
Published Online: 2019-06-25

© 2019 Walter A. Goldstein et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

Downloaded on 26.2.2024 from
Scroll to top button