BIODYNAMIC OR ORGANIC: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?27/01/2023
Biodynamic and organic are two of the most “ambiguous” terms of the agri-food sector. Although often considered as synonyms, in actual facts they are not interchangeable. We all have heard or read them many times by now, yet their respective meanings may still need a clarification. Despite both organic and biodynamic farming aim at creating a synergy between natural environment and biodiversity, substantial differences define and regulate these methodologies of production. In order to understand them, it is necessary to know their principles and regulations.
Biodynamic and organic farming pursue the same objectives but act differently on crops and herds. Both aim at respecting biodiversity in order to guarantee the production of healthy food in a sustainable way, hence they ban the use of synthesized and chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides as well as GMOs. They also apply crop rotation and intercropping of species. Yet, they differ in production practices.
While organic farming is a practice that aims to produce high-quality food without the use of artificial fertilizers, biodynamic farming is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach which entails the observance of a wider number of farming practices. This methodology is carried out by taking into consideration mainly three principles: the regeneration of the environment, the moon and the cosmic influences and the use of natural preparations to enhance ecological harmony.
The cornerstone of biodynamic agriculture is the (re)activation of soil life and plant growth on the land through the use of the so-called biodynamic preparations which are used in a specific timeframe, with precise combinations of organic material or minerals, to specific parts of the cultivation such as roots, ground or plants.
The preparations – classified from 500 to 508 – are made with selected natural ingredients such as fermented cow dung, silica, yarrow, chamomile, nettle, oak, dandelion, valerian and horsetail. Each one of them has a purpose: stimulate root growth and humus production, regulate growth, improve production performance and increase disease resistance, boost calcium metabolism and regular nitrogen processes, promote humus formation, increase calcium assimilation and make plants more resistant, help regulate silica and potassium, boost the mobility of phosphorus in the soil and protect against frost, suppress fungal infections.
Moreover, as previously mentioned, biodynamic agriculture does not only entail the use of natural fertilizers but it also integrates the moon phases and constellation positioning to scan the rhythms of cultivation. In this perspective, pruning and cutting should be carried out during the descending moon phase as sap production is decreasing, whereas fruit harvest or grafting should take place during the rising moon phase because sap production is increasing and the plants are stronger.
Another difference between organic and biodynamic farming is linked to legal recognition. The European Organic Label is disciplined by (EU) 2018/848 regulation whereas the Biodynamic Label is regulated by Demeter International Standards. In Europe, biodynamic productions undergo a double check by the certification bodies as biodynamic products also have the organic certification label.
In conclusion, despite both biodynamic and organic products are toxic residues-free, rich in vitamins and minerals and produced in a sustainable way, a biodynamic product is also an organic one, but not viceversa.