Boron’s Role in Sap Uptake

I realize Marschner doesn’t make the role of boron very clear. I refer to Marschner’s second edition on silicon, pages 417 – 426. Marschner classifies silicon as ‘beneficial’ rather than essential. Boron he considers essential, pages 379 – 396. Although he acknowledges their close similarity, he doesn’t make the connection I do. And Marschner is, I reckon, the best of the lot as far as academia is concerned. For instance he does make a connection between manganese and silicon, which I reckon is a very important connection, (p. 423).

Unfortunately an over-reliance on such tools as gas chromatographic/mass spectroscopy tends to miss some of the broader connections in nature. We get a snapshot at a point in time and it fails to reveal the processes that are going on.

For example, I work directly with farmers who farm on a commercial scale. I was lecturing in Atherton, QLD Australia and remarked the appropriate way to apply boron was with humic acid because humic acid was food for the microbial species that took up boron and silicon. I mentioned applying a rate of 25 kg/ha boron stabilised humate granules. These are 3% B. A mango farmer in the audience made a note, 25 kg/ha boron. I got an emergency call while in the states from a colleague in Queensland saying the farmer–who we both knew–had applied 25 kg/ha solubor (disodium octaborate tetrahydrate which is nearly 21% B) and the bark is splitting on his trees and his fruit is starting to split open. What can he do? I knew the farmer had a tipper truck and bobcat, so I recommended he go to a diatomaceous earth deposit in the not too distant vicinity (90 km) and load up his truck with DE and crush and spread it like he was frosting a cake (about 1 cm thick) and water it in. He did this and the fissures in his bark and fruit closed up. He saved his trees and his crop.

My reasoning was that boron embeds itself in the capillary linings of the cellular transport system in the xylem, and if the ratio of boron to silicon was too high and the sap flow too great, the remedy would be more silicon to correct the ratio. The next year this farmer came in to our depot in the industrial park near Atherton and gave us all a case of mangos because he was picking the best crop he’d ever grown.

This sort of macro rather than micro evidence is often dismissed as anecdotal–as if what we see in the big picture can only be accepted if we can demonstrate at the micro-level what is going on and it gets published in the peer reviewed literature. I don’t accept those limitations. I can do a paper disc chromatogram and see the charged particles (dominated by the cations Ca, Mg, K and Na) adhere to the central region of the disc and the silicon particles flow to the periphery since they are the most non-polar, or have the least charge. Urea, if present, actually will out-strip the silicon as being the most non-polar and mobile–but it is a minor component in relation to silicon complexes.

That’s proof enough for me at the chemical level that silicon is the non-polar contrast to the polar lime, but you could take it further and analyse cell walls and connective tissues and compare them with cell nuclei and see the contrast there too. I don’t want to go too far toward isolating details because I think it is an unnecessary detour unless we first look at the evidence of our senses and see what the bigger picture tells us about the on-going processes in nature. Isolated details are fine, but they don’t do much for understanding the processes in the wider realm of nature. Once we understand the processes the details make more sense. We need to understand the silicon process is one of containment and transport and the boron process stirs up the silicon process, makes it ‘thirsty’ and this drives nutrient uptake and sap flow. Then I think we are getting somewhere. To understand that too much sap pressure will cause the bark to split and fruit to fissure, then it becomes clear that when you have too much sap pressure (boron) for your transport system (silicon) you need to strengthen your transport system (more silicon). That got the farmer out of some very serious trouble because he could have lost his whole orchard. As it was, his mistake ended up improving his production. I take that as evidence I had correctly observed the boron process and its interaction with the silicon process. I don’t think that’s going to get me past peer review into publication in a scientific journal, but it is all the evidence I need.

 

Establishing A Self-Sufficient System

                                

 

 

Establishing a Self-Sufficient System

Developing Basic Soil Fertility

by Hugh Lovel 

                        
404
                 

 

Because soil fertility involves biological processes as well as mineral substances, it is extremely complex and always changing. Biodynamic agriculture acknowledges that most soils today need their health and vitality rebuilt. In times past nature built healthy, vital soils, and there is value in copying nature in rebuilding soil health. However, we cannot afford to take millions of years to do so as nature did—we need intelligent intervention. Cultivation, grazing, composting, soil conservation, green manuring, soil testing, soil remineralisation, fertiliser priorities, fossil humates and visual soil assessment all play a role in establishing self-regenerative, self-sufficient fertile soils.

The biological activities at the basis of self-regenerative soil fertility occur at the surfaces of soil particles where minerals come in contact with water, air and warmth. It is at these surfaces that biological activities provide nitrogen fixation and silicon release, engaging the two substances—nitrogen and silicon—whose abundance will last as long as farming exists.

 

Soil Building

Nature, with minimal human intervention, developed biologically diverse, richly fertile soils and eco-systems with little by way of inputs other than the accumulation of dust, periodic rainfall, fresh air and sunlight. Rainforests are examples fertile ecosystems with rich diversity of microbial, plant and animal species.

While rainforests can be quite fertile, the world’s deepest, richest topsoils evolved as grazing lands—prairies, steppes, plains, savannahs, veldt and meadows that grew grasses, legumes and herbaceous plants and supported herds of herbivores along with the predators they attracted.

 In both forests and grasslands the vegetation draws in carbon. Forests store most of their carbon above the surface of the soil where it cools the earth and helps precipitate rain. Grasslands store more of their carbon in the soil as humus complexes. With forest fires most of the carbon returns to the atmosphere; but with grassland fires most of the carbon remains.

Nature’s way of building soil fertility involves awesome diversity and intense cooperation. Insofar as possible, every ecological niche is filled, every job is done by something, every need is satisfied and everything is gathered, recycled and conserved. No area is left bare and no opportunity lost. And, nature is patient. If something is missing or deficient it may take eons upon eons for it to accumulate from dust and rainfall or cosmic ray bombardment. Nature can use our help.

Cultivation 

In nature, soil animals cultivate the soil—from the smallest protozoa, arthropods, nematodes, mites and collembolans to beetle grubs, earthworms, ants and even larger burrowing animals. Plants and their fungal symbiotes spread rocks and soil particles apart by growing into pores, cracks and crevasses. They secrete substances that etch the surfaces of rocks and soil particles and feed micro-organisms that free up minerals. Inevitably at some point animals will consume the plant roots and open up passages where air and water are absorbed by the soil. Some, like earthworms, grind soil particles up in their digestion. They also recycle plant matter as manures, building soil fertility and feeding further growth. This softens the soil and builds crumb structure, tilth and retention of moisture and nutrients while allowing water, air and root penetration. Conversely, continuous grazing, to say nothing of human and machinery impact, compresses the soil and reverses these gains.

Mechanical cultivation softens the soil and prepares a clean seedbed for planting. For the most part cultivation destroys soil life and is highly digestive and oxidative. In an age of machinery and power equipment with excessive cultivation and monocropping as the norm this provides more and faster nutrient release as it collapses the soil biology. More importantly, it depletes nutrient reserves. This leads to higher and higher fertiliser inputs while bio-diversity and soil fertility declines.

Even back in the 1920s Steiner saw the trends and introduced horn manure [500], horn silica [501], horn clay and biodynamic compost made with the herbal preparations [502-507] as remedies. But we also need to reverse the trends outlined above. Too much cultivation burns up organic matter, impoverishes soil life, breaks down soil structure and releases nutrients that then may be lost. Wind and water erosion may also occur, and the result all too often is loss of soil fertility. The biodynamic preparations are no universal remedy for all mistakes. We must farm sensitively and intelligently as well.

Various strategies are used for minimizing cultivation damage while still enjoying cultivation’s benefits. Some crops, such as potatoes, require cultivation. But with a mixed operation, crop rotations can take this into account and soil building can still proceed. Strip cropping, composting and rotations in pasture and hay can help restore diversity so soil biology recovers. Controlled traffic, where machinery strictly follows pre-determined lanes, reduces compaction. No-till and minimum till planting methods help, especially when used with biological fertilisers and biodynamic preparations to feed the soil foodweb and take the place of harsh chemicals. Inter-cropping, multi-cropping and succession cropping increase diversity and reduce machinery impact. Instead of herbicides, managing mixed vegetative cover on roads, access strips, headlands, fence rows, laneways, waterways and ditches provides biological reservoirs that interact with cultivated areas.                                                                                           

Grazing

High density cell grazing is particularly effective, where large numbers of livestock graze and trample small blocks for a few hours and then are moved on, not to return till plants have regrown. Based on what a pasture needs rather than on a calendar, this could be two weeks, two months or more than a year. With high density cell grazing the impact is minimal, and what is not grazed is trampled so the more sought after plants that get grazed hard have an even chance at regrowth.  

Soil animals recycle what was trampled, feeding it back to the regrowth. Some avenues to investigate in this regard are Holistic Resource Management www.savoryinstitute.com and Resource Consulting Services www.rcs.au.com   (yes the url is .au.com this is not an error!).

Composting 

This is more than a simple digestion and decay process. Nature breaks down every sort of organic material into simple carbohydrates and amino acids, but in many cases these would oxidize and leach if there weren’t ways of storing and conserving them in easy to use forms.

Bees gather nectar, digest it, concentrated it and store it in their honeycomb. Similarly there are micro-organisms in the soil that gather up loose nutrients, store them in large, carbon molecules called humic acids and complex them with clay particles in the soil. As with bees, the organisms that gather and complex these nutrients have access to them when needed, and these micro-organisms are mainly the actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi that form close relationships with plants to the benefit of both. To favour these microbes and their activities, manures and organic wastes can be composted by building stacks, piles or windrows with a favourable mix of carbon and nitrogen rich materials, soil, moisture and air. A ratio of 30 to 1 carbon to nitrogen materials along with 10% soil and at least 50% water is a good starting mix.

Into the newly built pile, insert a small spoonful of each of the herbal ‘composting’ preparations [502–507] described in Steiner’s agriculture course. In the case of the valerian flower juice tincture the liquid is diluted in water, stirred intensively and sprinkled over the pile. Sprinkling the horsetail herb [508] over the pile before covering can also help.

These preparations impart a balanced range of activities that assist and improve the breakdown and humification process. A covering of some sort will be very helpful in providing an outer skin or membrane that holds in the life and vitality of the compost heap as it matures into humified, fresh smelling, ready to spread fertiliser. Once it is stable with most of its nutrients bound up in humic complexes its microbial activity should be rich with nitrogen fixing, phosphorous solubilizing and humus-forming species. 

Using the composting preparations is equally important in large scale composting operations, whether piles are frequently turned or left static. However, what about the economies of scale? On the one hand Steiner indicated each preparation need only be inserted in a single place—even in a pile as large as a house—and its effects would radiate throughout the pile. On the other hand, since Steiner’s death special composts known as manure concentrate, cow pat pit [CPP], barrel compost [BC] contain all the herbal preparations in one easy-to-use formula that can be stirred intensively for 20 minutes and sprayed throughout the pile as it is assembled or added to the water used to moisten the compost. This can bring the benefits of the preparations into a large scale operation economically.

Some composters prefer to use the horn preparations with the herbal preparations, and a Biodynamic Agriculture Australia formula called Soil Activator combines all the preparations in one compound that is stirred and applied like Cow Pat Pit. According to John Priestley, one of Australia’s most experienced and innovative biodynamic farmers, “The only way the biodynamic preparations don’t work is if you don’t use them.”

Volatilization and Leaching

A criticism identified by organic farm research is volatilization and leaching from raw animal or plant wastes. These losses can be pollutants in the atmosphere, in waterways or in the water table. Biodynamic management of plant and animal wastes prior to application on soils involves composting of solid wastes and fermentation of liquids, such as effluents, with the herbal preparations. All materials need to be broken down into stable humus or stable liquid brews before use. Proper application of the full range of biodynamic preparations ties up loose nutrients and minimizes run-off or leaching. Rank, manurey smells are a sure sign of nitrogen loss and are also an invitation for weeds, pests and diseases. This is neither a plus for soil fertility nor a plus for the environment. Wherever animal wastes collect or nitrogenous materials break down, soil or rock powders can be scattered and Cow Pat Pit or Soil Activator can be sprayed to minimize losses and keep smells in check.

Cover Crops and Green Manures 

In general these are quick growing annual plantings of grasses, legumes and herbaceous species intended to rebuild soil biology, restore nitrogen fixation and provide material for grazing, composting, mulching or ploughing back into the soil. In some cases seed is harvested off of these mixes before they are grazed, composted, used for mulch or ploughed down. Applications of Barrel Compost, Cow Pat Pit or Soil Activator can assist in rapid breakdown, re-incorporation and humification of these green manures.

Ideally cover crop mixtures should include at least fifteen or twenty species of annual grasses, legumes and herbs. These can restore diversity, rebuild soil biota, conserve loose nutrients, help with pest, weed and disease control, increase soil carbon, conserve moisture, reduce run-off and prevent erosion—while protecting what might otherwise be bare soil.

Broadacre cover crops may be under-sown with succession species to take over after harvest. Or cover crops may be planted as catch crops at the end of growing seasons. They may also follow short season crops depending on region and climate, and they may be handy ways to feed rock powders and composts to the soil biology. Vegetation is almost always a plus, while bare soil ensures the opportunity is lost.

For example, a winter crop of oats, lupines, rape, clovers and corn salad could be taken to the point the grain and other seeds are harvested and separated. Alternatively mixes of winter cereals, legumes and broadleaf plants might include wheat, barley, rye, triticale, vetches, clovers, medics, turnips, mustards, rape and radishes. If the area in question is to be used as pasture, perennial grasses, legumes and other species such as dandelions, plantains, chicories and yarrow may be sown along with the annuals as succession species. For summer covers a mix may include different kinds of sorghums, millets, cowpeas, lab lab, maize, soybeans and buckwheat, harvested either green or at seed to be milled for animal feed. Experiments along these lines were pioneered by Colin Seis of Winona Farms. Visit his website at www.pasturecropping.com. Direct seeding [minimum or no-till] of a diversified mixture of compatible annual species into existing vegetation, such as pastures and hayfields, shows considerable promise for soil improvement and increased forage yields and at the same time reduces risks where droughts can be followed by floods which would devastate cultivated soils.

Soil Testing

Before bringing in manures or mineral inputs it is important to have reliable information about what is already there. Soil testing can be helpful, but it also can be misleading. Since the birth of chemical agriculture most soils have been tested for soluble nutrients using dilute solutions of mild acids in an attempt to mimic the weak acids plants give off at plant roots. This ignores the wider range of soil biology and assumes plants only access those elements in the soluble form as shown by the testing method.

In his retirement Justus von Liebig, the father of chemical agriculture realized he was wrong in thinking plants depended on solubility, and this was his mea culpa:

“At one time, the view permeated my every fibre that plants obtained their nourishment in soluble form. This view was false and was the source of my error, but the human mind is a curious thing and it sees nothing beyond its field of vision. In truth, agriculture is both contemplative and spiritual. Unfortunately almost no one realizes the true beauty of agriculture—its inner spirituality and beingness. It warrants the best efforts of science—not only because of its produce and the benefits it bestows on those who understand the language of nature—but because it stands above all other vocations. As my final wish, I pass on the mission to cleanse my teachings of the accumulated deceptions others have used to obscure them, lo these many years”

Total Testing

Rudolf Steiner took up the challenge of correcting Liebig’s errors by teaching his agriculture course. Time passed and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, who worked closely with Rudolf Steiner in his agricultural researches, immigrated to the United States after World War II and set up testing laboratories in Spring Valley, New York. He conducted extensive total testing of soils and found that most soils contained large quantities of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium that didn’t show up on soluble tests. These were the very elements being applied in large quantities to agricultural crops, though soils continued to decline in fertility.

In many cases soil biology, given encouragement and sufficient trace elements, would provide access to the insoluble but available nutrients stored in the humic fraction of the soil. However, fertiliser industries using soluble testing as a sales tool and selling farmers minerals they already had in abundance, were unstoppable. They perpetuated Liebig’s errors, and financed on-going research into solubility based agriculture, building a momentum that relegated Liebig’s final wish to obscurity.

Today in Australia Environmental Analysis Laboratories at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales offers both the soluble Albrecht test and a hot aqua regia total digest test similar to the one Pfeiffer used. EAL accepts samples from anywhere in Australia or the world. It is recommended to contact EAL and ask for both the Albrecht and total tests. See: www. http://scu.edu.au/eal/

The Albrecht test measures the ratios of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, which are the major cations or metallic elements in the exchangeable portion of the soil. The ratio of calcium to magnesium is particularly important for soil mechanics. Heavy soils may need as high as a 7 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium to crumble and expose particle surfaces. By the same token, light soils may need more like a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio to hold them together. Other soluble analysis targets of importance for robust, vigorous growth include 50 ppm sulphur, 2 ppm boron, 100 ppm silicon, 70 ppm phosphorous, 80 ppm manganese, 7 to 10 ppm zinc, 5 to 7 ppm copper, 1 ppm molybdenum, 2 ppm cobalt and 0.8 ppm selenium.

In total tests the targets for nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium depend on the carbon content of the soil, since most soil reserves are stored in humus or accessed by humus based organisms. Most importantly, total testing finds out what is in the soil reserves despite what may seem like deficiencies in soluble tests. As Pfeifer discovered, it is common to find huge reserves of phosphorous, potassium and other elements that are deficient in soluble tests—which indicates something else is going on.

The Biochemical Sequence

There is a hierarchy or biochemical sequence of what must function first before the next thing and the next thing works. The elements early in this sequence must be remedied before later elements have much effect. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium occur late in this sequence, while sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium start things off.

Sulphur

Since everything going on in the biology of the soil occurs at the surfaces of soil particles where minerals combine with water, air and warmth, sulphur is the essential key-in-the-ignition for activating the soil biochemistry. In his third Agriculture Course lecture Steiner speaks of how ‘the spirit-activity of the universe works as a sculptor, moistening its fingers with sulphur . . .’ [1]

Sulphur works at the surfaces, boundaries and edges of things to bring life and organization into being. It is the classic catalyst of carbon based chemistry. Regardless of the other soluble elements in the soil test, there should be 50 ppm sulphur [Morgan test] for biological soil fertility to function properly, and a 60 to 1 carbon to sulphur ratio in the total test.

Silicon

Silicon forms the basis for the capillary action that transports nutrients from the soil up. Fortunately for agriculture, the activity of silicon is to defy gravity, but this silica activity relies on boron, a component of clay, to do so. In lecture two Steiner asserts, “First we need to know what is really going on. However else clay may be described, however else we must treat it so that it becomes fertile—all this is of secondary importance; the primary thing we need to know is that clay promotes the upward stream of the cosmic factor.”[2] Thus boron is the accelerator while silicon is the highway. If either boron or silicon are deficient the soil biology will function below its potential. Ironically, the most effective way to make sure boron and silicon are deficient is 1.) clean cultivation, and 2.) heavy use of soluble nitrogen fertilisers. Hello, this is modern agriculture.

Calcium

Calcium, which comes next in the biochemical sequence, is the truck that travels on the highway. It collects and carries with it the nutrients that follow in the biochemical sequence. As the opposite polarity from the aloof silicon, calcium is hungry, even greedy. Calcium engages nitrogen to make amino acids, the basis of DNA, RNA and proteins. These in turn are responsible for the complex enzyme and hormone chemistry of life which utilize magnesium, iron and various trace elements as well as depending on chlorophyll and photosynthesis for energy.

Photosynthesis is where magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and a wide range of micronutrients follow nitrogen in the biochemical sequence. Unfortunately, NPK fertilisers stimulate this latter portion of the sequence without addressing the priorities of sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium. This explains why these fertilisers stimulate growth, but are like methamphetamine. The NPK approach usually grows crops that are highly susceptible to pests and diseases.  

 


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Supplementation with Minerals and Rock Powders

Even though bio-dynamics is primarily about organization and biological activities, soil mineralization must be considered. It is pretty hard to organise some-thing if it isn’t there. Many soils need gyp-sum or elemental sul-phur. Many soils also need boron, especially after nitrogen fertilis-ation, but also follow-ing overgrazing or clean cultivation. Silicon may also be needed to get the soil biology up and running so it can release more silicon from the surfaces of soil particles. It too is depleted by overgrazing, clean cultivation or nitrogen fertilisation. Many ‘organic’ farms using raw manure—especially chicken manure—as a nitrogen source deplete their sulphur, boron and silicon.

In addition to silicon rock powders, lime will provide calcium, dolomite also provides magnesium and rock phosphorous provides silicon, calcium and phosphorus. There are also natural potassium sulphates and many rock powders provide trace elements. For high pH soils with large excesses of sodium and potassium the remedy may be humates and zeolite to buffer pH and build additional storage capacity.

Most importantly, the biochemical sequence shows us we need to start with a full correction for sulphur to expose the surfaces of soil particles to biological activity before the biochemistry can kick in. Other methods may not recognize sulphur’s key importance, but in biodynamics this should be clear. Liebig’s ‘law of the minimum’ rightly says plants only perform as well as their most deficient nutrient.

Calculating Inputs

A soil test can show how many parts per million [ppm] of each element are present and whether it meets target levels. The question is, how can we calculate the right adjustment and add no more and no less? Fortunately there is a rule of thumb.

250 kg/ha [250 lbs/ac] of any input supplies that input’s per cent analysis as parts per million.[3] (Since a hectare is 2.5 acres and a kilo is 2.2 pounds we can approximate this rule fairly closely using 250 lbs/acre in the place of kilos and hectares.) For example, if the soluble test for sulphur [Morgan test] shows 5 ppm when the target is 50 ppm, then 45 ppm sulphur is needed. If gypsum is 15% sulphur then 750 kg/ha [750 lbs/ac] gypsum will deliver 45 ppm sulphur. If gypsum is 20% S then only 565 kg/ha [565 lbs/ac] will be required. If the gypsum is 12% S then nearly a metric ton per hectare [or 1000 lbs/acre] is needed. Use a calculator if needed.

Since gypsum is calcium sulphate, it provides both calcium and sulphur, which usually is desirable. However, in the event the soil is already rich in calcium and has a pH of 6.3 or higher, elemental sulphur may be a better choice. In contact with moist soil, sulphur will oxidize to sulphate and lower the pH slightly; but it will open up the surfaces in the soil, stimulate soil biology and release some mineral reserves. For practical purposes elemental sulphur may be combined with 10% bentonite for ease of handling.  90% elemental sulphur would require 125 kg/ha [125 lbs/ac] to deliver 45 ppm S.

As a different example, sodium molybdate is 42% molybdenum. To add 0.5 ppm Mo to the soil requires 42 divided by 0.5 which equals 84. If we divide 250 kg by 84 we get 2.976 kg sodium molybdate. However, to add this much in one go would be expensive and unwise. With most inputs, especially the traces, the soil has trouble adjusting to a full correction of anything other than sulphur. In the case of sodium molybdate 0.5 kg/ha [0.5 lbs/ac] is the usual correction and 1 kg/ha [1 lb/ac] is considered the limit. The maximum manganese or zinc sulphate per application per hectare is 25 kg/ha [25 lbs/ac], and copper sulphate rarely is applied at any rate higher than 15 kg/ha [15 lbs/ac]. Nevertheless do the math to see where things stand, keeping in mind soil biology has access to the total test.

Boron, Humates and Trace Minerals

When adding trace elements, especially boron, food for the fungal activity of the soil foodweb is essential. Fungi hold on to inputs that otherwise would leach. If available, well-humified compost produced within the farm is highly desirable. If this is not available then other humic inputs must be considered. Humic acids are extracted commercially from carbon rich deposits such as leonardite, soft brown coal and peat. While raw leonardite or brown coal may be processed and sold as raw humates, the extracts, sold as soluble humates, are a handy food concentrate for actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi, which are amongst the most important micro-organisms for nutrient retention and delivery in the soil. Soluble humates and raw humates are excellent for buffering boron and trace elements such as copper, zinc, manganese or sea minerals[4]. They also are helpful when adding bulk minerals such as gypsum, silica rock powders, lime, rock phosphate or potassium sulphate. Trace elements may be combined with 250 kg/ha [250 lbs/ac] of raw humates or 25 kg/ha [25 lbs/ac] soluble humate extracts in dry blends, or they may be dissolved in liquid soil drenches with soluble humates and water. Feeding them in this fashion to the soil biology delivers them to the soil’s fungi which holds on to them and delivers them to plants.

Crusher Dusts

Siliceous rock powders such as granite or basalt crusher dusts only provide silicon from the surfaces of their particles, but they can be helpful in repairing silicon deficiencies while the soil biology gets going to release the soil’s silicon reserves. Siliceous rock powders can be fed to the soil biology along with humates as a food source and the actinomycetes and mycorrhizae will gradually weather the particle surfaces and release silicon. Crusher dusts are especially effective when fed to pigs and their manure is composted. They also can be added to composts or spread along with composts. Generally 2 or 3 tons per hectare will get a helpful response, and usually these rock powders also release boron, which is especially essential for legumes.

Lime, Rock Phosphate, Potassium Sulphate, etc.

Each of these has its own story, and, as Pfeiffer discovered, the soil total test is a better indication of whether these are needed than the soluble test. If deficient, any of these can be built into soils by inputs, with the exception that it is not a good idea to add bulk lime to composts. Lime should not be added to compost at more than 0.1% of the total mass, as it tends to drive off nitrogen as ammonia. It can be spread along with composts, but when added to composts at more than a kilo per ton it tends to waste valuable nitrogen.

Visual Soil and Crop Assessment

In order to evaluate how well the soil biology is going and what can be expected of it, visual soil assessment is helpful. New Zealand soil scientist Graham Shepherd, has published a book[5] on this, and while it may not be the last word on the subject, it is a surprisingly good start toward evaluating soils, their conditions and their biological activity. This system assesses texture, structure, porosity, mottling, soil colour, earthworm activity, aroma, root depth, drainage and vegetative cover.

There also are many visual clues to mineral deficiencies. For example, hollow stem clover, lucerne, beans, potatoes, etc. indicates boron deficiency. Boron deficiency is also indicated by high brix in the early morning which shows plants are holding their sugars in the foliage and the cycle of root exudation is not occurring at night.

Dwarf leaves in clover indicates zinc deficiency. Purpling of grass and clover in winter indicates copper deficiency, and so on. Poor chlorophyll development and pale, yellowish green vegetation often is magnesium deficiency on a magnesium rich soil. This is common where the soil is too sulphur deficient to release magnesium properly. Under these conditions foliar analysis usually shows high sulphur because what little sulphate is present is soluble and plants take it up even though there is not enough in the soil for magnesium release. This slows growth and sulphur builds up in the plant because it is not being used. Adding magnesium to a high mag soil will only make matters worse, while the real cause of magnesium deficiency is the first priority of all soil amendment programs—sulphur.

Taste and smell of vegetation can be clues to excess nitrate uptake and poor photosynthesis, while complex, delicious flavours and aromas indicate high brix and nutritional density. Biodynamic growers should be aware that their own senses can be the best guides to determining what is going on with pastures and crops. Sending soil and plant specimens to laboratories for analysis is a useful tool for learning what the senses reveal, but first hand observation is quicker as well as less expensive, and it can be far more informative. 

Nitrogen Fixation and Silicon Release

These two elements, nitrogen and silicon, are present in enormous abundance, though this usually goes ignored. Nitrogen fixation and silicon release should be the highest priority in agricultural research. If growers knew how to access nitrogen and silicon in abundance it would eliminate the larger part of their fertiliser costs, to say nothing of most of the rescue remedies for weeds, pests and diseases. Unfortunately little funding is available for such research since industrial concerns would suffer is this knowledge was wide-spread.

Currently the nitrogen fertiliser industry uses ten units of methane to manufacture one unit of ammonia. With a little more energy, this can then be converted into urea and applied as fertiliser. With straight urea applications to the soil, losses of 50% and more are normal, since large amounts of nitrogen evaporate as nitrous oxide [N2O] when the urea oxidizes.

The same ten to one carbon to nitrogen ratio holds true for biological nitrogen fixation since it takes ten units of sugar from photosynthesis to fix one amino acid. However, the losses are nowhere near as great. The grower’s challenge is making photosynthesis as efficient as possible so biological nitrogen fixation is abundant.

Potentially nitrogen fixation is more robust when plants have steady access to all the necessary requirements for efficient photosynthesis. This feeds a steady abundance of carbohydrates to their microbial nitrogen fixing partners in return for amino acid nitrogen. Biodynamic farms attain this level of mineral balance and photosynthetic efficiency when everything is working near optimum. This deserves replicated scientific trials, but it hardly makes sense to wait for funding when there isn’t any money to be made from the research. Farmers must simply try their hand at it. Some will undoubtedly succeed with relative ease while others will find it difficult for a variety of reasons. Some may not sort it out, which is how life is.

 

The previous subheading on soil testing indicates optimum levels of minerals for plant efficiency and nitrogen fixation. Though these guidelines are generally higher than those considered adequate in chemical agriculture, these levels are desirable for efficient photosynthesis, especially at lower temperatures. This is particularly true for silicon, which is almost always deficient in conventionally farmed soils. Silicon, and its co-factor, boron, are the principal keys to transport speed, which is the key to abundant photosynthesis in plants. Energy must be transferred from the chloroplasts in the leaf panel to the leaf ribs where sugars are made. Silicon is basic to fluid transport, and this transport determines how fast sunlight is converted into sugar.


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A chromatogram of poorly composted feedlot manure shows strong solubility of silicon in its outer boundaries and lack of internal organization which will lead to nitrate leaching and silicon loss in both plants and soils.Unlike amino acid nitrogen, nitrates, nitrites and other non-organic forms of nitrogen impair the silicon chemistry of the plant as well as the symbiosis between plants and their microbial partners in the soil. Raw manures and poorly composted manures, especially raw chicken manure, are extremely detrimental because of the nitrate burden they impose on the soil biology. Nitrates flush silicon out of both plants and soils. How well a plant picks up silicon from the soil depends, at least in part, on the level of actinomycete activity at its roots. This in turn depends on the extent to which the soil opens up and is aerated, which in turn depends on sulphur levels and soil microbes such as Archaea which digest siliceous rocks. The sensitive biochemistry of these activities, in both soils and plants, is impaired by high levels of nitrates.

Animal activity in the soil around plant roots provides freshly digested amino acid nitrogen, which encourages rather than discourages the release of silicon from the surfaces of soil particles. Living in partnership with plant roots, Actinomycetes form fine fuzz along the root exudate zone of young roots, and nitrogen fixing microbes make this their home. In the process the actinomycetes utilize the silicon and boron in forming their fine, fuzzy hairs. As roots age and mature these microbes are consumed by soil animals ranging from single celled protozoa upwards. The nutrients they excrete are taken up as nourishment by plants, often providing a high proportion of amino acid nitrogen and amorphous fluid silicon.

Soil microbial life can only access silicon at the surfaces of soil particles where moisture, air and warmth interact. The rest is locked up. Nitrogen fertilisers, particularly nitrates, suppress actinomycete development and the nitrogen fixing microbial activity they host. If, on the other hand, actinomycete activity is robust the soil foodweb freely provides a luxury supply of both amino acids and amorphous fluid silicon.


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Biodynamic practices promote this activity as a way to achieve quality production that sustainably and efficiently rivals the yields of chemical agriculture. The bonus comes when environmental conditions are less than ideal. Then biodynamic production can easily surpass chemical yields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 reported the Australian average continental rate of soil loss is 6.97 tonnes/hectare/year.



[1] Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, Creeger-Gardner translation, pp 44-47.

[2] Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, Creeger-Gardner translation, page 31.

[3] This is based on the average weight of the top 17 cm of soil in one hectare, which is approximately 2,500,000 kg. [To do the maths, 2,500,000 / 250 = 10,000 which is 1 per cent of a million parts per million.]

[4] Left over after extraction of table salt from sea water, sea minerals provide iodine and selenium, as well as elements which may be useful even though not proven to be essential.

[5] Visual Soil Assessment Volume 1: Field guide for cropping & pastoral grazing on flat to rolling country by Graham Shepherd.

 

Oxygen The Activator

Oxygen the Activator 

by Hugh Lovel

In agriculture we’re in trouble when the soil doesn’t get enough oxygen. Even with crops like rice oxygen must diffuse into the water and the soil even while the field is soaked. However, oxygen deficiency usually goes unrecognized. What are its signs? How can we look at oxygen’s functions and learn to spot its deficiency? What plants best exemplify the role of oxygen? Why does the soil need oxygen and how does it get it? How do we know when the soil is properly oxygenated?

To understand the role of oxygen let’s go back to the processes of life itself where oxygen is the carrier of life force. Oxygen internalizes dynamic order and organization just as carbon internalizes form and nitrogen internalizes awareness. Rudolf Steiner pointed out that lime, the oxide of calcium rather than calcium itself, was the preeminent influence in the soil, and that silica, the oxide of silicon, was the preeminent influence in the atmosphere. Furthermore it is clay, the oxide of aluminium allied with silica, that provides the give and take between the lime and silica polarities.

Of course, loose talk about calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, boron, etc. will continue since it serves as shorthand when talking about the influences of these elements. But the truth is none of these occur in pure form in living organisms. Rather they invariably are allied one way or another with oxygen.

 

Historically

 

            Oxygen was discovered more or less independently at the same time by Karl Scheele (1742-1786) in Sweden and Joseph Priestly (1733-1804) in England, with Priestly isolating oxygen in 1774. However it was Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) who named it oxy, from the Greek meaning acid, and gen as source of, as he found oxygen was the basis of virtually all acids except the halogens, or salt makers. The halogens—fluorine, chlorine, bromine and iodine—all form strong acids without assistance from oxygen, though they also form acids with oxygen.

            Hydrogen, the water maker, joins with oxygen, the acid maker, to form water, the universal solvent. Hydrogen thus becomes active chemically by uniting with oxygen, making it the basis of pH* which is fundamental to chemistry. With water we see oxygen, the maker of acids, balanced by hydrogen, which is the fundamental alkali.

Always chemists treat reactions as simultaneously proceeding both forward and backward until they reach an equilibrium, no matter if the reaction barely proceeds at all or if it proceeds to virtual completion. Thus chemical reactions are talked about in terms of oxidation/reduction, and a useful measure of a soil’s chemical responsiveness is its oxidation/reduction potential (ORP).

Chemical reagents (pronounced re-agents) are any substances that take part in chemical reactions. Reagents may be used in detecting, examining or measuring other substances or in preparing materials. Any reagent that shifts the equilibrium of reaction toward oxygen and away from hydrogen is called an oxidizing agent. Any reagent that shifts the equilibrium toward hydrogen and away from oxygen is called a reducing agent.

 

Early Soil Analysis

 

At first analytical chemists concerned with agriculture assayed the chemical components of plants, summing up their mineral contents. They then tested soils for these elements. Because plants generally release fine quantities of mild, organic acids at their roots chemists used dilute mild acids such as citric or acetic acid to test soils to see how much of each nutrient could be released. These tests were taken as measures of how much of various nutrients were available over the growing season. It was assumed that the entire amount of each nutrient required by the plant to reach harvest would have to be present at the time of planting or would have to be added during the growing season. This tragically flawed assumption took no notice of the use of oxygen by the soil micro-life to release nutrients over the growing season, and is still taught in many prestigious agricultural schools. The belief is that plants can only absorb water soluble nutrients, makes no allowance for plants absorbing complex protoplasmic or colloidal nutrients. Even stranger, little allowance is made for soil losses by leaching or volatilization, and in most cases the tie-up of nutrients in insoluble reserves completely ignores microbial activities.*  

Early on another peculiar belief took root, namely that the only acceptable way of establishing the necessity for a given nutrient in the soil was to exclude it from the plant environment and see if the plant could or could not grow without it. Since both silicon and oxygen were virtually impossible to exclude from plant environments they were not considered essential elements—even though all plants contain considerable quantities of both. Oxygen is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust and silicon is close behind. In fact, silica, which is SiO2, is estimated to make up 52% of the earth’s crust, and is also present as fine dust in the atmosphere. Both oxygen and silicon were impossible to exclude from plant environments. The absurdity of believing these two elements were not essential was most apparent with oxygen since it combines with all the minerals in the earth’s crust and is eight ninths of water by weight. Plants give off oxygen when they photosynthesize, so plants can never be deficient in oxygen. And yet, according to this belief both oxygen and silicon can be ignored as if neither have anything to do with plant vigor.

 

Oxygen and Tilth

 

Since the dawn of history farmers have used cultivation as a means of increasing the oxygenation of their soils. In modern times with tractor power degrading soil structure one must wonder how we can expect to maintain oxygen levels in soils. How does nature achieve soil oxygenation?

All soils with a history of abundant oxygenation, whether or not they are cultivated, enjoy rich soil structure, otherwise known as tilth. Mostly this boils down to the ratio of space between soil particles and the total volume, or the ‘interstice to volume ratio’ of the soil. In sands and gravels this is a simple matter of porosity due to large particle size, although the nutrient holding capacity known as the cation exchange capacity (CEC) will be low. In heavy clay soils the CEC can be quite high, but because clay particle size is so small porosity suffers if the particles pack tightly together. In fact, clay particles are often referred to as platelets because they are flat and thus they can stack more tightly with less air space than if they combine with organic compounds that make them more rounded. This means that many soils with high nutrient holding and releasing capacity have low tilth.

Tilth depends on soil organic matter, a rich and diverse soil foodweb and soil aggregation. Whether we are dealing with sand or clay soils, good tilth involves carbon that is available to micro-organisms and higher lifeforms as well as sufficient oxygen to make use of it. Soil microbes—including protozoa and higher soil animals—open up the soil and create a food web of soil islands or aggregates connected by an intricate maze of pathways between them. This turns a pottery grade clay into a crumbly sponge cake, or on the other hand holds sand and gravel soils together and improves their retention and release of nutrients.

In most cases the primary microbial players are archaea, fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and protozoa. It also helps to have legumes—which bring oxygen down to their root tips and supply this all important nutrient to the soil food web. In wetland clays or mucks, as with rice culture, algae and aquatic plants like azolla take over from fungi and legumes as the primary suppliers of mineral complexes and the all-important oxygen.

The Role of Legumes

 

If we honestly wanted to understand the healthy natural processes that produce and maintain fertile soils we would not start with degraded soils and see what happens when we pump them up with bits of soluble nutrients. Instead we would study what goes on in undisturbed fertile soils such as tropical rain forests and native prairies or steppes. In both cases we find that soil fungi and actinomycetes, with their large requirement for oxygen, are the chief means of activating minerals and incorporating them into the soil’s biology. One of the first things to stand out if we do is the fact that fertility does not depend so much on solubility. Rather, it depends on activity, which means oxygen.

Most plants and bacteria release mild acids such as carbonic, acetic, lactic and citric, but legumes and fungi eat into the soil with powerful organic acids. This works on the lime organization of the soil, activating calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, sulphur and trace elements.

Arguably the most fundamental biodynamic preparation is the horn manure or “500” remedy, which triggers the patterns for healthy soil development. These are the patterns that bring oxygen into the soil and wake up its lime activity. And, as quantum mechanics teaches us, patterns give rise to activity—if the pattern is present the phenomenon arises. Soil that is treated with BD 500 typically loosens up and oxidizes. In the process it comes alive with myriad bacteria and fungi that expand it and bring in air.

Compact soils are starved for oxygen, and legumes are a powerful means remediate this lack. Rudolf Steiner called legumes “the lungs of the soil.” Some suppose that must be because they draw nitrogen into the soil. But actually they release oxygen rich acids along their roots, releasing calcium and other minerals and uniting them carbohydrates and proteins, making them biological. Actually legumes do not fix nitrogen. Rather, they provide the mineral support for the microbes that do, and their follow on nitrogen effect is a result of the biological mineral reserves they build. Their primary function is to diffuse oxygen into the soil in order to wrest the lime complex away from the mineral realm. The Rhizobia that form nodules on legume roots use this biological lime for nitrogen fixation.

As an inert gas in the atmosphere nitrogen triple bonds with itself as one of the more intense chemical bonds in nature. Microorganisms with the molybdenum enzyme, nitrogenase, only teases open the first of nitrogen’s bonds and inserts carbon linked calcium into the breach. The remaining two nitrogen bonds open up like zippers at a drive-in movie, and nitrogen is seduced away from its love affair with itself.

 

Nature’s Wellsprings

 

In the mineral realm things disperse from higher concentration to lower concentration. But in the living realm life force flows from lower concentration to higher concentration. If this was not true there would be no living organisms. They would all run down, and as their energies dissipated they would die. But, as we know, living organisms have the remarkable ability to concentrate a stream of order on themselves.

To be sure, this is cyclic. Living organisms unfold or progress through conception, birth, childhood, adolescence, maturity, old age, senescence and death. Life is all about cyclic organization.

 

The Octave Rule

 

Also there is something known as the octave rule. Awareness of this in western culture goes back as least to Pythagoras. Eight is the number of cyclic return and going to the next level. There are seven notes in the musical scale with the octave being the return. There are seven colours in the visible spectrum with the eighth returning to the next level. There are seven elements in the first (chemical) row of the periodic table with the eighth being neon, an inert gas.

When we deal with the periodic table of the elements, it has eight primary groups or columes. The fundamental character of each group is revealed in its first representative, which has only one layer of electrons enshrouding its nucleus. Oxygen is at the top of the sixth column although it is the eighth element in the periodic table. Its most common isotope, oxygen16, has eight protons, eight neutrons and eight electrons. Thus oxygen is the dynamic recycler, the cleanser and returner. Where plants build up carbohydrate stores via photosynthesis, oxygen breaks these free of their rigidity and frees their components as carbon dioxide and water.

Since it is in the first (chemical) row of the periodic table oxygen is a universal element of great power and abundance. Oxygen’s sibling in the next (physical) row of the periodic table is sulfur. Sulfur is the catalyst in carbon chemistry, and it acts more as a lubricant than as a primary player. Oxygen’s sibling in the next (etheric) row is selenium. Selenium is an essential enzyme co-factor for reproductive processes. Selenium deficient cattle are famous for retained placenta and prolapsed uterus. Selenium deficiency in males leads to impotence. Selenium deficiency in general leads to cancer. All of which shows us things about oxygen’s role in life, growth and reproduction.

 

Transmutation

            Since the early twentieth century when Rutherford bombarded nitrogen14 with alpha particles (He4 nuclei) making oxygen17 plus a proton (H1 nuclei) (N14 + He4 → O17 + H1), chemists and physicists have had conclusive evidence that transmutation of elements occurs. A classic case is the creation of carbon14 by cosmic ray bombardment of nitrogen14 in the upper atmosphere. By assuming cosmic ray levels have always been the same, geologists and archeologists have used this as the basis of carbon dating of fossils and artifacts. In fact, it was discovered that deuterium (heavy hydrogen) and tritium (radioactive hydrogen) could be induced to fuse in a plasma somewhere around 100 million degrees Kelvin.* This is the stuff of thermonuclear explosions and weapons of mass destruction, although unlike GMOs thermonuclear devices don’t reproduce themselves. But billions—perhaps trillions—of dollars have been spent on this research, which shows where priorities presently lie. It also shows that transmutation occurs.

            Throughout the twentieth century most well-known transmutations amounted to penetrating the electron shroud of the atomic nucleus by blasting through. But it seems living organisms have to fit the key in the lock and enter through the door, as they can’t blast through the walls. Louis Kervran was a French investigator who developed a passion for investigating biological transmutation after running exhaustive experiments to determine the source of carbon monoxide, which caused deaths of welders working in a closed space. What he found was molecules of nitrogen gas, composed of two atoms of nitrogen (2N14 = N28) became so excited in contact with red hot iron that they transmuted to molecules of carbon monoxide [C12O16] in the welders’ lungs. This set him on a trail of investigation that ended up mapping dozens of transmutations in nature where living organisms fit their keys in the locks and opened doorways that permitted biological transmutation. He found that oxygen, along with hydrogen, was one of the two most important elements in biological transmutations, which has tremendous implications for low budget agriculture.

 

Carrier of the Ether

 

Oxygen internalizes organization just as carbon internalizes form and nitrogen internalizes awareness. The English word for the element that epitomizes this is quaintly symbolic, as the ‘O’ symbolizes origin or something out of nothingness, while the ‘X’ symbolizes corporeality. Organization is fundamental to life—organic, organize, organelle, organ, organism, orgy, orgasm. Dynamic oxygen, the big “O” at the cross “X” roads, is the primary agency in this organization. For example it is only where calcium meets oxygen that it becomes activated as lime, or where silicon meets oxygen that it becomes enlivened as silica, and so forth. In the earth’s biological economy, hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water; plants release oxygen as they combine carbon dioxide and water to make sugars; animals require oxygen to free carbon of its rigidity and move, as carbon is the be-er while oxygen is the do-er.

Without oxygen there would be no life as we know it, as there would be no activity. With the help of the sun, plants release oxygen into the atmosphere. Thus plants, along with the sun, are primary agencies of earthly life. The organization that oxygen embodies can be called the ether, or the life force. Dr. Phil Callahan’s theory of the importance of paramagnetism (mild magnetism) is based on the fact that oxygen, at 3449 centimetres grams/second (cgs) is the most paramagnetic element in the periodic table. Of course, this ether that oxygen carries is dynamic and is wedded to the compounds it is associated with, particularly the oxygen part. This leads to the question of what is ether?

 

Elements and Ethers

 

For over a hundred years there was debate about the term ‘ether’, as there is no fixed ether field that objects move through as was believed in physics during the early and mid-nineteenth century. In 1887 when Michelson and Morley’s experiments disproved the idea of a fixed etheric field, physicists took this as proof there was no ether whatsoever, and the term fell from use. Rudolf Steiner was one of the few that unwaveringly called the organizational aspect of energy, where energy flowed from lower to higher concentration, the ether. The realization has since dawned in physics that anything and everything has an organizational field associated with it. Oxygen, it turns out, epitomizes this in the most dynamic way, and thus can be said to carry the ether.

When we consider what used to be called the elements—fire, air, water and earth—we now call these the states of matter, or the radiant, gaseous, liquid and solid states. But where organization is involved there still is value in thinking of these as fire, air, water and earth. Each of these classical elements has a periodic table element that best characterizes it. Sulphur is associated with fire, nitrogen with air, hydrogen with water and carbon with earth. Each of these elements combines with oxygen to produce the warmth, light, chemical and life ethers that characterize it. Which is to say there is no warmth in sulphur/fire until it combines with oxygen. The light we see in the air/nitrogen is produced in combination with oxygen. The chemistry in water depends on hydrogen in combination with oxygen. And the carbon based life in the soil is animated by combining with oxygen. Oxygen truly is the carrier of the ether.

 



* pH is defined as the inverse log of the hydrogen ion concentration in water. At neutral where acidity and alkalinity are balanced the hydrogen ion (H3O+) concentration is one part in ten million or 1/107, or 1 over 10 with seven zeros. If the pH goes down to 6 this is one part in one million. At five it is one part in one hundred thousand, etc. Corresponding to this, the hydroxyl ion (OH־) concentration decreases as the hydrogen increases and vice versa.

* There is also the assumption that the atomic structure of all elements in the growing environment is immutable. This was disproven early in the twentieth century with the discovery of transmutation by radioactive decay and cosmic ray bombardment, which yielded many useful analytical tools such as radioactive dating. However, the assumption that transmutation does not occur still widely persists. Interestingly, U.S. military research in the late twentieth century established significant pathways of biological transmutation in soils, which should have dispelled any notions that biological transmutation was impossible, but such notions die hard. There is an additional debate about spontaneous coalescence, such as the formation of hydrogen in outer space. There is widespread disbelief in spontaneous coalescence in agricultural schools, but the truth is we simply do not know how widespread transmutation and spontaneous coalescence may be in biological environments. Perhaps of all scientific disciplines the debate against prejudice and assumption is stormiest in soil science.

* The Kelvin scale is named after Lord Kelvin, the nineteenth century physicist who found there was a temperature where matter would theoretically come to rest and cease vibrating. This was -273ºC, a temperature closely approached though never achieved by experiment. The Kelvin scale, used in physics research, starts at this absolute zero with the melting point of water being 273ºC and the boiling point of water being 373ºC.

 

Hugh’s best article ever on Biochemical Sequence and Plant Growth

The Biochemical Sequence

 

© 2014 by Hugh Lovel

 

What is the hierarchy or ‘biochemical sequence’ of what must function first before the next thing and the next thing works. The elements early in this sequence must be present and working well before later elements have any chance of being useful for plant growth. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium occur late in this biochemical sequence, while sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium start things off.

 

0 Sulphur: Sulphur interacts with life chemistry (carbon-hydrogen-oxygen-nitrogen compounds) at surfaces. Along with warmth, it is the principle catalyst in biochemistry. Since everything going on in the soil biology occurs at the surfaces of soil particles where minerals react with water, air and warmth, sulphur activates surfaces—is the essential ‘key-in-the-ignition’ for kicking off robust soil biochemistry. In his Agriculture Course, Steiner speaks of how ‘the spirit-activity of the universe works as a sculptor, moistening its fingers with sulphur . . .’ [1]

Along with warmth, it is the classic catalyst of carbon chemistry.

 

Biochemical Sequence 3_3

Sulphur works at the surfaces, boundaries and edges of things to bring organization and life into being. Regardless of other soluble elements, the soluble soil test for sulphur should show 50 ppm sulphur [Morgan test] for biological soil fertility to function properly. Light soils may need a bit less and heavy soils may need more. In the total test a 60 to 1 carbon to sulphur ratio is helpful to ensure enough sulphur in soil reserves.

 

Silicon forms the basis for the capillary action that takes up nutrients from the soil. Fortunately for agriculture, silicon’s activity defies gravity. But to do this silica relies on boron, a component of clay. In his second agricultural lecture Steiner insightfully asserts, “First we need to know what is really going on. However else clay may be described, however else we must treat it so that it becomes fertile—all this is of secondary importance; the primary thing we need to know is that clay promotes the upward stream of the cosmic factor.”[2]

 

1 Boron: It is the boron component in clay that is the accelerator pedal of agriculture, while silicon forms the highway that carries nutrients throughout plants and animals. Boron interacts with silica in the linings of transport vessels and stimulates the flow of nutrients along the silicon highway. This places boron first in the biochemical sequence, and if either boron or silicon is deficient the soil biology will function below its potential. With either boron or silicon deficiency—and especially with both—crops will wilt instead of growing on hot days. Ironically, the two most effective ways to create boron and silicon deficiency are: 

 

1. Clean cultivation  

2. Use of artificial nitrogen fertilisers 

 

Though standard in modern agriculture, these practices make boron and silica available by killing off the soil biology that builds and maintains the soil’s clay/humus complexes. This releases a flush of boron and silicon which can easily drain way through the landscape.

 

2  Silicon: Of course, sap pressure would be no use without a transport system to contain it, and silicon provides the actual transport of nutrients. Interestingly, applying too much boron too early in a crop cycle is notable for burning seedlings and young transplants-such as sprouting squash, beans or tomatoes-because too much sap pressure in such a tiny plant drives sodium out the leaf margins. Nevertheless, in plants where leaf veins are highly branched, like peas, beans, squash and tomatoes, boron is important in later growth to maintain strong enough sap pressure to make such a complex system work.

On the other hand, highly siliceous plants, such as grasses, do well on less boron to give them sap pressure since their transport vessels all run parallel without branching. That’s like irrigation lines that only feed one sprinkler head. Such a thing doesn’t take much pressure.

Obviously without robust transport, nowhere near as much nutrient reaches the leaves or is stored in the fruits. Chemical agriculture gets around this to some extent, since-even with a weak transport system-anything that is highly soluble, such as potassium nitrate, is simply taken up along with water. Though this dilutes the sap, it flows quite easily due to low sap density. This is why chemically grown foods commonly have coarse, watery cell structure, as well as lower nutrition and poorer keeping quality. However, without a robust transport system, heavier, less-soluble nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, carbohydrate-and-amino-acid complexes can easily be left behind.

 

3  Calcium, which comes next in the sequence, is the truck that travels on the highway. Along with magnesium, potassium and sodium calcium forms the lime complex traffic that dominates the reactive side of life chemistry.

Where silicon, along with carbon forms the weakly-reactive nutrient highway, calcium, along with oxygen, forms the strongly reactive cargo that flows down the silica transport and containment system. Calcium and the lime complex is the last thing you want to leave behind because of its role in nitrogen fixation and amino acid chemistry. Calcium balances charge in proteins and is particularly important in cell division, which is the first thing that happens in fruit or seed formation after pollination. Without it there would be no fruit or seed. It collects and carries with it the nutrients that follow in the biochemical sequence.

As the opposite polarity of plant chemistry from the free-handed silicon, calcium is hungry, even greedy. This is why it needs the aloof silica to line the transport system. Above all else, calcium engages nitrogen to make amino acids, the basis of DNA, RNA and proteins. In turn, these nitrogen compounds are responsible for the complex enzyme and hormone chemistry of life which employs everything from sulphur and silicon to magnesium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, manganese copper and other trace elements. Probably the most important point is, nitrogen provides the amino acids in chlorophyll, which is key to photosynthesis, a highly efficient means of catching energy.

For example, taking corn, Zea maize, if calcium does not reach the ear in sufficient quantities, the kernels near the end of the ear simply do not fill out. With a crop like soybeans Glycene max, double or even triple the calcium values of maize are needed for full pod set without shedding pods-a common problem in soybeans. Wouldn’t you like to see every kernel on your maize fill out to the end of the ear and every soybean blossom produce a full pod of beans? This only happens when boron, silicon and the calcium lime complex work together well.

 

4 Nitrogen: As just mentioned, wherever calcium goes there also goes nitrogen. And nitrogen is the basis of amino acid formation, protein chemistry and DNA replication and expression. Once nitrogen enters the picture all sorts of proteins, enzymes and hormones are produced and very complex things are set in motion involving trace elements.

Unfortunately, soluble nitrogen fertilisers only stimulate this latter portion of the sequence without addressing the priorities of sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium. Such fertilisers stimulate growth, but they are like methamphetamine. They grow weak crops that depend on growing in weedy conditions where they fall prey to pests and diseases. 

All parts of a plant’s protein chemistry require amino acid nitrogen. Nitrogen straddles the divide between the chemically indifferent silicon and the calcium large amounts of amino acids go into the formation of chlorophyll where energy is gathered. After all, gathering and sequestering energy is essential to life. Without photosynthesis plants would never grow. This is where magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and a wide range of micronutrients follow nitrogen in the biochemical sequence.

 

5 Magnesium: Since photosynthesis requires magnesium, it is fifth in the biochemical sequence, ahead of all the more minor trace elements.

Of course, photosynthesis is not simply a matter of chlorophyll catching energy. The energy has to be transferred from the chlorophyll to the silicon into producing sugars out of carbon dioxide and water, which requires phosphorous for energy transfer. Otherwise the chlorophyll burns up, and the leaves turn a wine red colour.

However, as long as there is enough phosphorous, carbon is pried loose from carbon dioxide so it can combine with water to make sugar and release oxygen.

 

6  Phosphorous: Of course, photosynthesis is not simply a matter of chlorophyll catching energy. The energy has to be transferred into producing sugars out of carbon dioxide and water, which requires phosphorous for energy transfer. Otherwise the chlorophyll burns up, and the leaves turn a wine red colour.

 

7  Carbon: As long as there is enough phosphorous, carbon is engaged as carbon dioxide and the energy transferred from chlorophyll via phosphorous to combines carbon dioxide with water, making sugar and releasing oxygen.

 

8 Potassium: At this point the sugars pass into the plant’s sap where potassium, the electrolyte, guides them to wherever they most need to go.

 

Yes, Oversimplified

 

Understandably, this sequence is oversimplified. For example, sulphur is the classic catalyst in carbon (organic) chemistry. Without it, nothing-not even the boron-would give rise to life. Also, potassium has a very close relationship with silicon, so when silicon carries calcium and amino acids to the cell division sites in the plant, potassium plays the role of an electronic doorway that lets the calcium and amino acids enter the cells that are preparing to divide. If cold weather slows potassium down, or if it is in short supply, then calcium and amino acids cannot reach the cell nuclei, the DNA cannot divide, cell division fails and the fruit falls off the plant.  Sometimes entire fruit crops are lost to a couple degrees of frost when a light spray of kelp with potassium silicate would save the day.

 

Supplementation with Minerals and Rock Powders

 

Even though quantum agriculture is primarily about organization and biological activities, soil mineralization must be considered. How does one organise something if it isn’t there? Many soils need gypsum or elemental sulphur because they are sulphur deficient in both their soluble and total tests. Many soils also need silicon rock powders—also a source of boron. This is true if past nitrogen fertilisation has flushed whatever boron and silicon was there away. Boron and silicon deficiencies also occur following overgrazing or clean cultivation. Silicon availability may need to be fostered to get the soil biology up and running so it can release more silicon from the surfaces of soil particles. The soil’s silicon biology is easily depleted by nitrogen fertilization, overgrazing or clean cultivation.

Through lack of experience and understanding, many ‘organic’ farms use raw manures—the worst being chicken manure—as a nitrogen source. This soon depletes sulphur, boron and silicon. The remedy for this is likely to be compost made by adding 10% or so of high silicon rock powders along with a little gypsum to composts and composting fully with soil until it looks and smells like soil.

In addition to gypsum and high silica rock powders, lime can be used to provide calcium. Dolomite also provides magnesium if this is needed. Rock phosphorous provides silicon, calcium and phosphorus. There are also natural potassium sulphate ores. Rock powders tend to also provide a variety of trace elements. For high pH soils with large excesses of sodium and potassium the remedy in drier climates may be increasing the soil’s holding capacity with humates and zeolite to buffer pH and build more storage.

 

What’s the Aim?

 

Most importantly, the biochemical sequence shows us we need to start with sulphur to expose the surfaces of soil particles to biological activity so reserves can kick in. Other methods may not recognize sulphur’s key importance, but in quantum agriculture this should be clear. And where budgets are slim and long range soil fertility is desired boron, silicon and calcium follow sulphur in importance.

Unfortunately for nutrition, health and long term vitality of the soil’s biochemistry, soluble NPK fertilisers continue to be used for their ability to gloss over deficiencies of sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium. Large reserves of nitrogen, as well as phosphorous and potassium, are commonly present—even if inactive—at the surfaces of soil particles where the organization of life chemistry arises. Only when the biochemistry of sulphur, boron, silicon and calcium is thriving can the potential of these reserves become available.

This all goes back to Liebig’s ‘law of the minimum’ which says plants can only perform as well as their most deficient nutrients.

 

 



[1] Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, Creeger-Gardner translation, pp 44-47.

[2] Agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, Creeger-Gardner translation, page 31.

 

RAIN, RAIN, RAIN

“A living organism has the astonishing gift of concentrating a ‘stream of order’ on itself, thus escaping the decay into atomic chaos.” –Erwin Schrödinger

            “It is the anomalies in nature that reveal the principles of life.” –Goethe

 

Rain, Rain, Rain; Enriching the Atmosphere By Hugh Lovel

 

            My experience over the last 30 years shows it is possible to restore order to the atmosphere, a pre-requisite for rain. This could be an important part of returning farmers to self-sufficiency, and the methods— biodynamic sequential spraying, and/or radionic treatments with biodynamic reagents in combinations with color, sound and intents—are cheap and within the ability of most farmers to accomplish with relatively simple equipment. Only the know-how is lacking.

            Weather is always changing, though it follows a pattern that oscillates back and forth within limits. Whenever it gets too hot and/or too dry it self-corrects to become cooler or wetter or both. However, this oscillation has obscure trigger points. MIT mathematician Edward Lorentz made this discovery in the mid ‘50s, giving rise to Chaos Theory. Chaos is a fact, but theory seeks to explain how it gives rise to order. Water evaporates, chaotically into the atmosphere. What makes it concentrate in clouds so dense they drop rain in certain places and at certain times—but not others?

 

The Stewardship of Rain

 

Often there is plenty of moisture in the air but no rain. Particularly in the southeastern USA the humidity can be 95% along with 95℉ without a cloud in the sky. In such conditions I can’t seem to draw much vitality from the atmosphere because it has so little. It is significantly worse in urban areas such as Atlanta, Georgia where summer thundershowers move across from western Douglas County, break up, go around urban Fulton and DeKalb counties, and resume their rain pattern in eastern Rockdale County. The traffic and industrial fumes that repel moisture and fuel the urban haze only abate on the weekends where weather statistics show 20% greater chances of rain on the family barbecue than on the weekday commute. What are we doing?

Global weather is a complicated self-correcting system. There is debate about the causes of global warming, but one thing is certain—global temperatures have risen. Polar icecaps show accelerated melting, especially in the northern hemisphere, and many glaciers world-wide are disappearing. Most importantly the temperatures of equatorial oceans show gains of roughly half a degree Celsius over the last 50 or so years, and heat drives the world’s weather because evaporation from the equatorial oceans puts the moisture into the atmosphere that fuels storms. 

Roughly 89.5 billion acres of the earth’s surface is covered by water, and an acre-inch of water is 193,460 gallons. This means if evaporation was constant at merely an inch a year, rather than an inch or so a month, this would amount to 17.3 quadrillion gallons of water per year. That is 17.3 million billion gallons of water. Even a slight rise in the temperature of equatorial oceans means millions upon millions more gallons of water rise into the atmosphere. No one is sure exactly how much, but it all has to fall somewhere. Wherever moderate rainfall becomes scarcer and scarcer because ground cover is lost or pollution increases, floods become more common a few hundred miles away. Droughts in Chad, Sudan and Somalia correspond with floods in Mozambique and Tanzania. Droughts in Siberia are related to floods in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Alternatively, droughts in the Indus and Ganges watersheds produce floods along the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. Drought in North America is accompanied by floods from the UK to Russia. If we reversed the conditions that lead to drought—such as bare soil and pollution—we would restore order to the atmosphere and return to normal rainfall while preventing floods. This would be an act of environmental responsibility.

 

Background

 

            As earth and sky interact, we cannot revitalize the atmosphere without revitalizing the soil—in which case we should consider how wrongly most soils are fertilized. According to Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary a fertilizer is any substance that when applied to the soil makes it more fertile. However, the Fertilizer Institute and the industries behind them have secured the passage of laws requiring fertilizers to be soluble. Though the industry’s agenda is transparent, good sense says we don’t want our nutrients to be soluble, we want them to be insoluble but available—which is what occurs when the nutrients are stored and retained by the life of the soil. Then, by the teeming symbiosis characteristic of healthy soil, sufficient nutrients for robust crop production will be steadily available and the soil will be truly fertile.

Under present laws lime and other rock dusts must be advertised as soil amendments rather than fertilizers. Balanced, well-humified compost, which is even more crucial to building soil fertility, also is classified as an amendment rather than a fertilizer, as most of its nutrients are insoluble though available. On the other hand the massive use of soluble nitrogen ‘fertilizers’ such as anhydrous ammonia, urea or nitrates is like intoxicating oneself on a diet of amphetamines and ignoring healthy, balanced nutrition. Then everything goes like the clappers—until at some point it doesn’t go very well at all. Resting strong soils may return them to productivity, but eventually the collapse will be fatal if irresponsible soil practices don’t change. Obviously building soil biology and eliminating reliance on poisons would help the atmosphere immeasurably. There is a science to this. It can be done, but given the inertia of the present system it won’t be done soon. It may take massive losses in the agricultural sector for these changes to occur. In the interim what can we—who want to protect ourselves and moderate the damage—do?

 

Sequential Spraying

 

            In the late 80s Hugh Courtney of the Josephine Porter Institute in Woolwine, VAwas experimenting with applying the entire array of biodynamic preparations in close conjunction with each other. At a biodynamic conference on my farm we followed a sequence of evening barrel compound (BC), morning horsetail decoction (BD 508), evening horn manure (BD 500) and morning horn silica (BD 501), —thus applying all the preps Rudolf Steiner introduced in his Agriculture Course over a two day period. Courtney called it an energy balancing procedure, which he tested on his farm in Woolwine, Virginia and introduced at workshops in various parts of the country.

            Hugh Courtney also suggested following up the prep sequence with milk and honey. Having a land flowing with milk and honeyis a Biblical idea that implies a countryside rich in nourishment for the whole human being, both physically and spiritually. Since milk is related to calcium and the soil, the milk potency should be sprayed in the evening on the soil. As for honey, it is related to the silica activities of the daytime and should be sprayed in the air in the morning.

 

Further Experiments

 

            During the late 80s, 90s and early 00s there were repeated summer droughts in the American Southeast, but wherever this sequence was employed at least technical precipitation if not outright rain followed within 72 hours. Hugh Courtney explained this as the ability of the BD preps to attract whatever was needed, and his experiments indicated that best success with making rain was likely if the sequence began in a water constellation and was completed just prior to full moon when watery forces were strongest.

            Early on in the development of this procedure I started using radionics as an application of the axiom of fluid dynamics—often called the butterfly effect—that a microscopic change at a point can effect large scale changes in the medium. With an aerial map of my farm as my witness, I used my double-dial Hieronymus variable capacitance instrument with vials of the various preps as reagents along with double-dial rates that I obtained by cold scanning. I alternated applications while I fixed supper with applications when I fixed breakfast, dowsing for the duration of each application and using a timer in the circuit that would shut off the instrument while I was out at work on the farm or elsewhere. For the most part I was successful in getting timely rainfall even when the rest of Georgia was experiencing drought. On challenging occasions I learned to use color beamed into the instrument’s witness well,  along with herbal and mineral reagents, and I even used pictures and played recordings of rain—and whale songs, such exuberance!—along with my radionic programs. I became so confident of getting rain when I needed it that I gave my irrigation equipment away.

            I also learned to use Malcolm Rae type equipment with cards for the biodynamic preparation patterns along with an interrupter in the circuit that turned the instrument on and off hundreds of times a minute to create the effect of myriad butterflys flapping their infinitessimal corrections rather than creating a single one off event. In 2005 I purchased a Power Radionic program for my computer from a dealer in HSCTI products in Woodstock, Georgia, ( http://www.hscti.net/index.html ) and with that I ran radionic programs on my computer—which opened up even further options.

            In November, 2011 my wife, Shabari, and I flew in from Australia for the Weston A. Price convention in Dallas, TX and were shocked to see the devastation of the previous 10 months of drought. We organised a series of workshops in the Austin area focusing on sequential spraying and within the week most of the participants were rewarded by rain. But we know how much enthusiasm and diligence it takes to keep something like this going, and how easy it can be to lose confidence in the beginning. The tricks of the trade are myriad, and we share many of these on our RAIN CD, available from our website at www.quantumagriculture.com . We expect to be at the ACRES Convention in December.

             

                       

            Hugh Lovel and his wife, Shabari Bird Lovel live in Australia though they spend their northern winter months in Blairsville, Georgia where they hold a six day advanced course in Quantum Agriculture in early February. Shabari can be contacted at shabaribird@gmail.com and Hugh at hugh.lovel9@bigpond.com .

 

*****

 

Sidebar One:

 

Sequential Spraying—adapted from Issue #6 of “Applied Biodynamics” (Winter 1993).

 

In advance of each stirring draw 3 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket. If the water is chlorinated, leave overnight or stir for 30 minutes to outgas as much of the chlorine as possible. The water ideally should be warm, i.e. in the vicinity of 65 – 72℉. It may be warmed with sunlight, wood or gas, though electricity is not so ideal.

1st Evening: Barrel Compound (BC)—The first afternoon, add a one acre unit of barrel compound (⅓ cup) to three gallons of water and stir as below for 20 minutes. This preparation should soak into the soil in large droplets.

Stirring: With arm or stirring stick, stir round and round to create a strong vortex. The water will become organized into laminar layers so that the cooler, denser layers move to the middle and sink while the warmer layers seek the edges and rise. The appearance is one of a spinning funnel and the water is organized. At this point reverse the direction of stirring. The water will churn and froth in chaos until a new vortex organizes. Once the new vortex is mature the direction is reversed again, and again, back and forth, 20 minutes each for BC and 508 and 1 hour each for 500 and 501. Every time a new vortex is established a new generation of organization is created. Organization is the basis of life, as living organisms are organized. By creating generation after generation of order, an evolution of order results. This charges up the remedy with life force while imparting the intentions and vibrations of the stirrer to the water. Then what one thinks, one grows.

Spraying: This spray should soak into the soil, much as does the dew, and should be sprinkled in the late afternoon in large droplets. Each drop radiates up to 6 feet, so there is no need for uniform coverage. Since life force flows from lower to higher concentration, spraying in this fashion will draw life force from the surrounding cosmos to the location sprayed. A pail and a wallpaper brush or whiskbroom is sufficient for applying this remedy.

1st Morning: Horsetail Decoction (508)—Prior to stirring, make a decoction, which is a brew simmered for 20 minutes, from 8 ounces of dried horsetail herb in ¾ gallon of water. In the early morning, dilute the pre-made decoction to 3 gallons with warm water and stir as above for 20 minutes. Apply this preparation to evaporate upward.

1st Evening: Horn Manure (500)—Add a one acre unit (¼ cup) of horn manure to three gallons of warm water and stir for 1 hour. Spray on the soil in large droplets.

2nd Morning: Horn Silica (501)— Add a one acre unit of horn silica (1 gram) to three gallons of water and stir as before for an hour. In summer, spray this remedy as a mist so it radiates upward into the lower atmosphere as a fine mist over the leaf canopy, perhaps chest or head high in the early morning. It may settle before evaporating, which is good. In winter, when warmth and light have receded into the earth, this should be misted directly onto the soil.

3rd Evening: Milk—In the evening, dilute a pint of milk in 3 gallons of warm water and stir for 20 minutes. This preparation should soak into the soil in large droplets.

3rd Morning: Honey—In the early morning, dilute an ounce of honey in 3 gallons of water and stir for 20 minutes. Apply as a fine mist that evaporates upward.

4th Evening: Repeat Sequence from beginning starting with barrel compost.

 

Biodynamic preparations can be obtained at a modest cost from The Josephine Porter Institute (JPI), P. O. Box 133, Woolwine, Virginia 24185-0133. Tel: (276)930 – 2463 (Mon-Fri 8am-5pm). www.jpibiodynamics.org/

 

*****

 

Sidebar Two:

 

El Niño/La Niña

 

            The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest driver of evaporation and weather. Scientists have long studied something called the Southern Oscillation or the irregular but periodic shift of tropical warmth between the western Pacific and eastern Pacific Oceans.

            With an El Niño the eastern Pacific Ocean becomes noticeably warmer off the coast of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, generally around Christmas. The resulting evaporation of moisture rises into the upper atmosphere, accelerated by the Andes Mountains. This charges up the upper atmosphere with moisture which tends to shift precipitation toward the polar latitudes. This generally means droughts for large parts of the world. However, this can only go on so long before evaporation brings in cold currents in the lower ocean to replenish what evaporated. This cools off the El Niño cycle and shifts the balance of warmth back toward the western Pacific.

            La Niña, on the other hand, is a condition of elevated warmth in the western Pacific where there is no wall of high mountains. This sends moisture up into the lower atmosphere driving monsoons.

            Until the age of Chaos Theory the trend in science was to study things by reducing them to extreme simplicity. Scientists struggling to use a systems approach that included as many variables as possible were relegated to the fringes and sometimes ridiculed. However, with weather—as with agriculture—single factor analysis is the apex of absurdity. Fortunately the age of computing has provided the tools for modeling complex systems involving many variables.

            Taken as a whole, our stable global weather cycles have been going on since the dawn of history, fed and driven by warmth and other organizational factors—though recent global warming seems to have raised our weather intensity a bit. From a longer perspective, however, the world has alternated between long glacial periods and brief inter-glacials, and the tipping points are obscure. There seem to have been periods, occasionally, where the poles melted and ocean levels were considerably higher. Presently we seem on the cusp of change, but whether that will be to a warmer cycle or an ice age is uncertain.

            Chaos theory scientists acknowledge the obscurity of organizational factors by giving them such names as the “strange attractor” and the “butterfly effect”. Modeling organizational factors has been a challenge, especially for scientists who previously believed everything simply degenerated into chaos. How to describe the rise of order out of chaos?

            At least we can study warmth. Obviously the earth is warmest around the equator and coolest near the poles. This means the atmosphere heats up and expands near the equator and shrinks at the poles, which is what drives weather. Around the equator the portion of the earth’s atmosphere where weather occurs—known as the troposphere—is roughly 10 miles deep, while near the poles it is only about 5 miles deep. This means that air warms and rises around the equator, and as it cools it slides off on a downhill path known as a thermocline towards the poles where it funnels down one or the other polar vortex driving winter storms. The stronger the evaporation around the equator the more strongly this drives winter storms—and the occurrence of more powerful winter storms is one of the signs of global warming.

            The oceans do something similar with the Gulf Stream and the Japan Current sliding down thermoclines toward Norway and Alaska. However, the melting of the northern polar icecap may shut down the Gulf Stream’s thermocline, which has weather scientists wondering whether that means a new ice age for northern Europe and Siberia. Could global warming be the trigger for an ice age? Alas, there are many unknowns, but most notably, the oscillation of surface temperatures between the eastern and western Pacific has a pronounced effect on evaporation and thus on rainfall, with the tilt of the earth’s axis as a major factor in causing oscillations. The fact that Pacific warming trends are strongest around Christmas when the sun is furthest south earns this cycle the title of the Southern Oscillation.

            As stated previously, the periodic effect of the Southern Oscillation is irregular, and the key to its better management would be identifying and understanding such organizational factors as the strange attractor and the butterfly effect. Familiarity with the biodynamic preparations as organizational factors used in agriculture is a logical starting point for such research.

 

*****

 

Sidebar Three:

 

From Issue #6 of “Applied Biodynamics” (Winter 1993). –By Hugh Courtney

     First of all, the sequential spraying technique was developed by myself, almost accidentally, in the early summer of 1988 when it appeared that we were about to face a third year of blistering drought. Frustrated by that possibility, I reasoned that surely there had to be something in biodynamic agriculture that could relieve or at least ameliorate the damage to our pastures, hayfields and gardens, after all, had not Steiner himself in the Agriculture course, (see Lecture #5, especially page 89), suggested that the preparations could help the plant attract to itself from its environment what was needed for its best growth? I thought surely, if one knew precisely what preparations to use, then relief should be available somehow. That is if one assumes that biodynamics really is valid and truly works. In my case, however, I did not have the wisdom to know the precise preparation to use.

    At this point in my work with the preparations, I was convinced that it would be fairly difficult to cause harm with them, even if one used them in a situation that did not seem appropriate.
The worst thing in such a case would be that their effects could be reduced or negligible. So, I chose to use all nine of them. The six compost preparations were applied in the form of Barrel Compost (Thun recipe) along with BD #500, BD #501, and BD #508. I reasoned that I should commence in the evening with Barrel Compost, since the generally accepted biodynamic practice is to begin with the compost preparations. I followed the next morning with BD #508, and since I had been very much impressed with the work of Lilly Kolisko, and since I already had some on hand, I chose to use the fermented version of BD #508 as detailed in her work, Agriculture of Tomorrow. In the evening of the second day I applied the BD #500. On the morning of the third day, I sprayed the BD #501(c) which is a crystal silica material found in a matrix of rectorite, a clay-like substance. I had been experimenting with this form of #501 and had been very pleased with the results to this point, so it was an obvious choice for me.
    Since I was treating hayfields, and was very interested in the water element anyway, I chose to apply the sequence in a leaf period, which turned out to be just before the full moon,  on the 26th, 27th and 28th of June 1988. Sometime within the following night, we received a nice, lengthy , soaking rain which totaled around .9 of an inch.

 

           

 

 

 

A Dairyman’s Compost

 

A Dairyman’s Recipe for Making Stable, Quality Compost

 

By Hugh Lovel

Hugh Dairy Tasmania_0 Hugh on dairy farm consultation Tasmania

The initial mix of materials should be about 30 to 1 carbon to nitrogen, so manures and fresh, green materials will need a fair bit of other material that is low in nitrogen. Mixing in wood waste is a common practice. This can mean a 200 to 1 ratio for something like sawdust all the way to a 60 to one ratio for shredded leaves, twigs and small branches. Straw, which may be especially valuable for its silica content, may run something like 20 or 25 to one carbon to nitrogen.

Soil, which is an absolutely essential part of the mix for the formation of stable clay/humus complexes, needs to be at least 10% of the initial mix. Fine, siliceous rock powder (quarry fines, depending on fineness) can be substituted for up to half of the soil if the rest of the soil contains roughly 40 % clay or more. When clay is not available and has to be imported it may be more efficient to use a super-clay like Zeolite and cut the rate in half. Where Bentonite would have a TEC of 30 or so and Montmorillionites could be 60 or 80, Zeolite would have a TEC of 200 as a result of its honeycomb structure and extremely high surface area.  

To ensure healthy, balanced and thorough humification processes a complete set of organic process patterns should be added, either homoeopathically via a water borne application of Biodynamic Soil Activator#* or in a higher homeopathic dilution such as patterns incorporated into other products such as AEM [activated effective microbes], or as a radionic application (if such is available). This is important, and any doubt about the value of this step can be investigated by comparing compost made using these patterns with compost made without them. In many respects the processes that occur are more important than the materials.

Also, pH should be adjusted insofar as possible to 7.0 to minimize nitrification (too much acidity) or volatilization as ammonia (too much alkalinity). Small amounts of builder’s lime (hydrated lime) at no more than 2.5 kg/ton of the mix, can be especially good if the mix is acidic at the start. If phosphorous deficiency is an issue, up to 50 kg/ton of soft rock phosphate can be added in the place of some of the soil. If sulphur deficiency is an issue gypsum can be used at a similar rate. If the compost is too alkaline, elemental sulphur can be added up to 2 kg/ton of initial mix. Because elemental sulphur takes a while to oxidize and lower the pH, be careful to add only enough for a final pH of 7.0. Also a highly beneficial additive is sea minerals at a rate of about a litre per ton of raw mix.

The compost yard should be well drained with a soil surface rather than concrete, and windrows or piles should be covered when not being turned. Where there is run-off there should be a dense, vegetative border, such as a vigorous grass, vetiver, sugar cane, cat-tail reeds, or other verge grasses to filter out nutrients and tie them up in growth which can be harvested and utilized as compost material for the future. This will prevent losses which might otherwise create environmental problems.

Compost turners are rapid and efficient for making quick compost (humification in 16 weeks), but they also are good for the initial mixing and the high heat, rapid digestion phase of static piles. Once this phase is finished and at 50% moisture the windrows or piles can be covered and left to mature with no further turning.

Other machinery such as excavators, loaders, PTO driven manure spreaders, gravel screening equipment, and probably other devices—even a crew with pitchforks—anything that can do a good job of mixing and getting moisture levels right would be suitable on a small scale where compost turners aren’t cost efficient.

Some believe that only fungal organisms build the complex carbon structures found in humus, and thus they say humification can only occur in static piles where the fungal mycelia are undisturbed for long periods. However, it has been found that Actinomycetes, which thrive in turned piles and create the desirable clean smell of healthy compost, are also humus builders even though they may not build much large molecule humus. What we need to keep in mind is that humic acids range from around 2,000 molecular weight units to more than 10,000 with the smaller molecules being more readily available for plant growth.

Turned windrows should be re-turned whenever moisture levels go below 50%, carbon dioxide levels go above 15% or temperature goes above 65C. If water is an issue, this is a good use for effluent water. Initially this means turning just about every day for the first two weeks, but as the moisture, aeration and temperature stabilize the windrow or pile slows down. This is where humification and the tying up of loose nutrients in and on large carbon molecules occurs. Screening out of coarse materials may be needed at the final stages, but when the compost is fine like crumbly soil, the original forms are virtually all gone and it smells fresh and feels greasy when rubbed between finger and thumb, it is ready to use.

Ideally, before spreading, any trace elements shown to be deficient by soil tests should be blended in before spreading.

microNutrients soil micronutrients

Except when being turned, all piles should be covered. Heavy black plastic, as is used for covering a silage pit, is quite good, though not especially durable. Canvas or other more durable materials that shed rain as well as retaining moisture may be used, though plastic is good for static piles that may remain undisturbed for up to a year before spreading.

Compost testing should show nitrate or ammonium levels below 1000 ppm maximum for well-humified compost. If industrial animal confinement manures are used the final compost should be tested for heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, mercury, etc.) to see these do not build up on pastures with long-term use. For example, meat chicken feed is usually laced with a trace of arsenic for faster growth of the birds, but repeated applications of compost made with this input could result in arsenic toxicity. If chemicals or organic synthesis are suspected, a 0.1% solution of hydrogen peroxide [derived from diluting concentrated industrial hydrogen peroxide] may be used to stimulate microbial breakdown of toxins in the composting process.

 

*****

These guidelines apply to every dairy farm whether or not they are presently making compost. Sooner or later ALL dairy farms should be recycling their waste stream. If they don’t there will come a time when this is mandated by law for environmental reasons. I would suggest it is better to get into composting ahead of the heavy hand of the law–besides it can mean big savings in fertiliser.

 

The Biochemical Sequence

 

The Biochemical Sequence™

By Hugh Lovel

Beyond sulphur, the minerals plants need from soils have a certain hierarchy of importance. One thing must work before anything that depends on it can. The earlier deficiencies occur in this sequence the more everything else is affected. For example, silicon provides the capillary action that allows plants to draw water and nutrients from the soil. All biological transport vessels—to say nothing of cell walls and connective tissues—are rich in silicon. Silicon is most stable when it forms four chemical bonds. However, boron, which loves to react with silicon, can only form three bonds. This leaves silicon unsatisfied and seeking a fourth electron partnership. It only takes a small amount of boron to make silicon thirsty for water and electrolytes—which means boron is the key to sap pressure. Without it silicon cannot take up water and nutrients from the soil.

Of course, both boron and silicon are essential for plants to take up other nutrients such as calcium and amino acids. Without adequate boron and silicon, the protein chemistry and enzyme activity of the plant—particularly chlorophyll and photosynthesis—will suffer.

Furthermore, phosphorous is essential for all energy transfers in both soil and plants, from soaking up energy via chlorophyll, to microbes breaking down soil carbon for energy. Because phosphorus transfers energy, it energizes the complex processes in soil and plant chemistry. It is essential for utilizing iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum and traces of lesser significance. Even though energy first enters via photosynthesis, phosphorous and the various trace elements play a huge role in the soil foodweb in providing nourishment for crops from root emergence onward.

Lastly, potassium, the electrolyte, is responsible for all the electronic communication and movement processes going on in the plant starting with nutrient flow and the opening and closing of doorways in cell walls.

Understandably NPK fertilisation, which breaks down organic matter and disrupts the soil foodweb, works in the short term because it solubilizes reserves, but in the long term it peters out and loses effectiveness as reserves are depleted. This ignores the biochemical sequence as well as the relationship of micronutrients with sulphur and phosphorous. The truth is NPK fertilisers destroy soil biology and ignore the biochemical sequence, as N, P and K are not of primary importance.

More of the Story

Although the Biochemical Sequence can help to determine the key  deficiencies when soils do not perform, in living soils everything happens in an integrated way. Above ground phosphorous follows magnesium, but in the soil foodweb phosphorous is the key to energy availability. Soil microbes need phosphorous to release energy from the carbohydrates crop seeds give off as they sprout. Thus most planting formulas include phosphorous and its co-factor trace elements to get seeds and their symbiotes off to a good start.

However, if the soil reserves of phosphorous and its co-factors are depleted, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi will struggle instead of providing access to nutrient reserves.

 

 

 

Soil Biology

It shouldn’t need emphasis, but nitrogen fixation depends on soil biology. It requires abundant energy as well as the availability of calcium and certain trace elements. The abundance of energy is determined by the efficiency of photosynthesis, which depends on sap pressure and amino acid rather than salt nitrogen uptake from the soil. Sap pressure depends on microbial symbiosis to access boron and silicon at crop roots. Probably the most important microbes in this regard are the Actinomycetes, which are the source of many antibiotics and are responsible for the clean smell of healthy soil. By forming a fine fuzz growing outward from young roots, they build as well as provide access to the nutrients in clay/humus colloids. Often they live as endophytes within crop tissues and may be found in their seeds. Because they work at the beginning of the biochemical sequence to break down clay/humus structures and release boron and silicon, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi, provide optimum plant nutrition. In return this ensures plentiful root exudation in the active root zone and an excellent habitat for nitrogen fixing microbes and other microbial symbiotes, which again provides optimum plant nutrition. This activity can be seen as soil adhesion around plant roots and a delicate, dense, finely branched root development. This never occurs with heavy applications of soluble NPK fertilisers as they create salty conditions that inhibit both Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi.

For complete article:

http://www.quantumagriculture.com/articles/true-excellence-growing-food

 

Biochemical Sequence of Nutrition in Plants

Plant Biochemical begin with:

1. Boron, which activates

2. Silicon, which carries all other nutrients

starting with

3. Calcium, which binds

4. Nitrogen to form amino acids, DNA and

cell division. Amino acids form proteins

such as chlorophyll and tag trace

elements, especially

5. Magnesium, which transfers energy via

6. Phosphorus to

7. Carbon to form sugars, which go where

8. Potassium carries them.

This is the basis of plant growth.

 

 

 

High Brix in Vegetables

 

High Brix in Veggies Getting brix high in veggies is usually a challenge due to low silicon and high nitrates. This can be where biodynamics comes to the rescue with oak bark and equisetum. Add these to EM and you reverse nitrification in the soil and improve photosynthesis.  We tend to think we have to feed veggie crops abundantly to get good yield. So we mix in compost and proteinaceous materials and they are distributed throughout the root zone. What happens if the amino acids oxidize? The plant takes up nitrate. It can’t avoid it, but it has nitrate reductase enzyme in the leaves to convert the nitrates to amino acids again. So everything is okay, right? Not exactly. First, nitrate has a salt index of 100, so it is practically a magnet for water. In the plant’s protoplasm it waters down chlorophyll to where there is only about a billion chlorophyll molecules per chloroplast instead of maxing out around 1.5 billion. So it impairs photosynthesis and the plant expands its cells and leaves stretching the silica in its cell walls and connective tissues thin. Second, it takes a lot of energy to resurrect nitrate into the amino phase–somewhere in the vicinity of 10 units of sugar per unit of nitrate. So the sugars are used up in the leaf before they go anywhere. The result is the plant does not develop nitrogen fixation in the soil around its roots because there’s not enough root exudation to support it. The whole cycle is hard to break out of as long as the proteinaceous material in the soil keeps breaking down and the plant keeps taking up nitrate. Something has to happen to arrest nitrification in the soil and concentrate the soil’s digestive activity in the root zone of the plant. The oak bark does this, and I always used my radionic instrument and the oak bark and horsetail cards at 30c in my EM brews. EM brews scavenge nitrate in the soil and their anti-oxidant effects make silica more soluble. The long term solution is to hold back on mixing nitrogenous material into the soil. Apply them at the surface and let the soil animal life cycle them down into the soil. The little critters will tend to excrete them around plant roots. Also, you can brew compost teas rich in nitrogen fixers by using a bit of soy flour as a feed in a compost tea–maybe 1 pound per hundred gallons. I’d also ensure a trace of molybdenum was working–generally I put this in my field broadcaster at 30c, but you could put a pinch of sodium molybdate on the Prue plate and set it at 423 for 30C and have that pattern in your EM too. Be very careful with moly because if you get too much it robs copper of its ability to transfer electrons from tri-phosphate to di-phosphate and then phosphorous doesn’t work and all sorts of other problems result. Moly is used as an alloy in mining tools because it won’t let the steel spark, you know. There must be something analogous going on with it’s ability to open up nitrogen gas and and get it to react with hydrogen.  carrot farm Carrot Farm

True Excellence in Growing Food

 

True Excellence in Growing Food

By Hugh Lovel

Obtaining true excellence relates to the way nitrogen works within each farm. This can be complex and sophisticated or crude and rude. Nitrogen is the essence of protein chemistry, which is what gives us the character and flavour of what we grow. Each farm has its unique protein signature, especially when it generates all its own nitrogen inputs. The wine industry calls this terroir as it comes from the earth. It is the key to protoplasmic density and nutrition. However, few farms today are consciously run with this in mind, and few people think about maximizing sophisticated nitrogen and minimizing the crude and rude stuff. Nevertheless the benefits implicit in robust nitrogen self-sufficiency—production cost, market share, profitability, nutritional excellence and social evolution—are enormous.

 

Vibrant Personality

 

Kicking things off may require inputs from off the farm, but these should be thought of as medicine rather than fertiliser. Growers already addicted to nitrogen fertilisers need to adopt this line of thinking so they wean themselves from buying nitrogen. After all, who wants to keep paying the bill? The key to quality is getting the soil biology really cooking and keeping it cooking with the most minimal outside inputs. There are roughly 1.5 tons of nitrogen over every square foot of soil, and it makes no sense to ignore this abundance.

The chemistry of plants parallels the chemistry of our bodies. Both are carbon based life forms. While plants harvest energy and build carbon chemistry, animals digest and transform this harvest. In the process both depend on the nitrogen in DNA and RNA for memory and sensitivity. Maximum in-place nitrogen fixation requires abundant energy, which plants supply. Animals, particularly protozoa, digest nitrogen fixers and supply amino acids so chlorophyll and haemoglobin can build chloroplasts and red blood cells. This complex plant/animal symbiosis suffers whenever it is short-circuited.

 Our amino acids are supplied by digestion—which is hugely dependent on symbiotic microbes living in a synergistic relationship with us. Vibrant health depends on generating blood in our own bone marrow, while blood transfusions are purely a stop-gap measure. Similarly, nitrogen in plants is provided at the cellular level by endophytes, which live in between plant cells, as well as symbiotes. For example, we may talk about plants fixing nitrogen, but the actual fixation and digestion comes from endophytes and symbiotes that plants share their energy with. If we treat the farm—no matter how large or small—as its own entity this accumulation of energy means life force and farm vitality.

 

How Plants Grow

 

Chemical agriculture tries to feed the plant directly, while the soil is there simply to hold the plant up. This amounts to hydroponics on a weekly or monthly schedule instead of a daily or hourly timetable and it ignores the importance of the soil foodweb.

At first glance the chemical method seems simple and easy, but it is guaranteed to achieve less than optimum quality even when it delivers quantity. Soluble inputs use up humus and nutrient reserves while they take the soil foodweb on a rollercoaster ride between excess and shortage. Chemical fertilisers amount to the residual waste of the microbial network that releases minerals, fixes nitrogen and stores insoluble but available nutrients in humus. The result is soil depletion when we meant to encourage an optimum response. Our rule of thumb should be to feed the soil foodweb so it feeds the plant. This far surpasses anything we can do either chemically or mechanically, and it is wasteful and unjustifiable not to feed and maintain this complex biological system.

The principle components of protoplasm are hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and sulphur while minerals such as silicon, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and traces make up only a few per cent. Carbon—which stores energy—enters into plants from the atmosphere while nitrogen—which provides awareness and coherence—enters from the soil. This carbon/nitrogen duality means plants depend on a dynamic interplay between what goes on above with what goes on below. Humus provides a reservoir that acts as a biological flywheel that stores momentum.  The more we build it, the better the soil foodweb nourishes the plant, and the more ably the plant grows and feeds carbohydrates to the soil foodweb.

 

 

 

Soil Biology and Vitality

 

Nitrogen, which is inert in the atmosphere, is basically restless and elusive. It is most content when sharing its beauty, cleverness and sensitivity with itself. Nitrogen fixing microbes require abundant energy to seduce it away from this narcissism and engage it with hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and sulphur to form proteins and mineral links. But unless nitrogen is in use, or stored in clay/humus complexes, it goes to waste by volatilizing or leaching. Waste nitrogen suppresses nitrogen fixation, and growers who think they must use nitrogen will find  using it requires more use.

Feeding crude nitrogen to the soil foodweb along with humic acids or clay/humus complexes is the safest way to tie it up as amino acids and minimize its effect on crop complexity, flavour and vitality. From there high production growers should watch closely, leaf testing every three or four weeks, to phase these nitrogen inputs out. The goal is to encourage thriving fixation and protozoal digestion so there is always an abundance of freshly digested amino acids to build the farm’s terroir. Since this is a complex and delicate process, we need to know how to enhance it.

 

Boundaries

 

Life builds up on boundaries and surfaces, both in the plant and in the soil. The greater the habitat, the greater the diversity—which ramps up the synergy where ten plus ten becomes a hundred or more. Sulphur containing amino acids play a key role in this boundary process even though they are not especially plentiful. Sulphur also has an intimate relationship with the transition metals essential for enzymes and hormones, which makes it the premier catalyst of life chemistry. As the ignition key to growth sulphur deficiency holds back all other biological processes. This led Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925), a biochemist way ahead of his time, to group sulphur with hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen as essential for life.

 

Biochemical Sequence

 

Beyond sulphur, the minerals plants need from soils have a certain hierarchy of importance. One thing must work before anything that depends on it can. The earlier deficiencies occur in this sequence the more everything else is affected. For example, silicon provides the capillary action that allows plants to draw water and nutrients from the soil. All biological transport vessels—to say nothing of cell walls and connective tissues—are rich in silicon. Silicon is most stable when it forms four chemical bonds. However, boron, which loves to react with silicon, can only form three bonds. This leaves silicon unsatisfied and seeking a fourth electron partnership. It only takes a small amount of boron to make silicon thirsty for water and electrolytes—which means boron is the key to sap pressure. Without it silicon cannot take up water and nutrients from the soil.

Of course, both boron and silicon are essential for plants to take up other nutrients such as calcium and amino acids. Without adequate boron and silicon, the protein chemistry and enzyme activity of the plant—particularly chlorophyll and photosynthesis—will suffer.

Furthermore, phosphorous is essential for all energy transfers in both soil and plants, from soaking up energy via chlorophyll, to microbes breaking down soil carbon for energy. Because phosphorus transfers energy, it energizes the complex processes in soil and plant chemistry. It is essential for utilizing iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum and traces of lesser significance. Even though energy first enters via photosynthesis, phosphorous and the various trace elements play a huge role in the soil foodweb in providing nourishment for crops from root emergence onward.

Lastly, potassium, the electrolyte, is responsible for all the electronic communication and movement processes going on in the plant starting with nutrient flow and the opening and closing of doorways in cell walls.

Understandably NPK fertilisation, which breaks down organic matter and disrupts the soil foodweb, works in the short term because it solubilizes reserves, but in the long term it peters out and loses effectiveness as reserves are depleted. This ignores the biochemical sequence as well as the relationship of micronutrients with sulphur and phosphorous. The truth is NPK fertilisers destroy soil biology and ignore the biochemical sequence, as N, P and K are not of primary importance.

 

Soil Biology

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It shouldn’t need emphasis, but nitrogen fixation depends on soil biology. It requires abundant energy as well as the availability of calcium and certain trace elements. The abundance of energy is determined by the efficiency of photosynthesis, which  depends on sap pressure and amino acid rather than salt nitrogen uptake from the soil. Sap pressure depends on microbial symbiosis to access boron and silicon at crop roots. Probably the most important microbes in this regard are the Actinomycetes, which are the source of many antibiotics and are responsible for the clean smell of healthy soil. By forming a fine fuzz growing outward from young roots, they build as well as provide access to the nutrients in clay/humus colloids. Often they live as endophytes within crop tissues and may be found in their seeds. Because they work at the beginning of the biochemical sequence to break down clay/humus structures and release boron and silicon, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi, provide optimum plant nutrition. In return this ensures plentiful root exudation in the active root zone and an excellent habitat for nitrogen fixing microbes and other microbial symbiotes, which again provides optimum plant nutrition. This activity can be seen as soil adhesion around plant roots and a delicate, dense, finely branched root development. This never occurs with heavy applications of soluble NPK fertilisers as they create salty conditions that inhibit both Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi.

 

More of the Story

 

Although the Biochemical Sequence can help to determine the key deficiencies when soils do not perform, in living soils everything happens in an integrated way. Above ground phosphorous follows magnesium, but in the soil foodweb phosphorous is the key to energy availability. Soil microbes need phosphorous to release energy from the carbohydrates crop seeds give off as they sprout. Thus most planting formulas include phosphorous and its co-factor trace elements to get seeds and their symbiotes off to a good start.

However, if the soil reserves of phosphorous and its co-factors are depleted, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi will struggle instead of providing access to nutrient reserves.

 

Compost

 

Lest we forget, the rule of thumb is to feed the soil foodweb and let it feed the plant. This is best done with humified compost, although the term ‘humified’ deserves explanation.

Many people imagine that composting is a process of breaking down organic materials until somehow they stabilize. This is over-simplified and poorly informed. If breakdown of organic materials was all that occurred the result would be carbon dioxide, methane, ammonia and residual mineral salts and oxides. Cellulose, for example, is a long chain polymer of glucose, a simple sugar. If all it did was break it down the resulting glucose would be used up. However, beneficial fungi and Actinomycetes build up large humic acid molecules much like bees store honey in the comb. All sorts of amino acids and minerals are tied up in humus formation, and the clay/humus complexes that result are so stable that bacteria cannot break them down. Protozoa and higher animals may release their nutrients, but in a healthy soil foodweb the mycorrhizae and Actinomycetes that stored them have primary access. This provides insoluble but available nutrition, as they are so stable they may last for decades or even centuries. Most soil tests do not reveal what’s there in humus rich soils without a total aqua regia digest.

The fungi and Actinomycetes that build humic complexes grow particularly well on clay surfaces, so making humified compost requires some sort of clay or soil dispersed throughout the materials being composted. The resulting humified compost makes a perfect medium to restore key—often missing—micro-nutrients and rebuild the soil foodweb. Even at six hundred pounds per acre, such compost can be spiked with five pounds of borax or solubor per ton, ten pounds per ton of copper, zinc and manganese sulphates, one pound of cobalt sulphate and a gallon of sea minerals to feed the foodweb of a senescent soil and restore it to robust interaction with crops. Incidentally, sea minerals are the dense, almost oily pot liquor left over after the evaporative extraction of sodium chloride from sea water. This contains every element in sea water and can round out the picture with traces like selenium, molybdenum, fluorine and ORMEs (Orbitally Rearranged Monoatomic Elements). Compost of this sort also makes a good microbial feedstock to combine with applications of gypsum, rock phosphate, lime, basalt or granite dusts. Without feeding these inputs to the soil biology via compost, soluble inputs at five times this dosage may miss the mark and wash away.

 

The Keys to Success

 

Syntropy is a process where order arises out of chaos and energy accumulates at boundaries. Chaos theory shows that infinitesimal changes at the borders of chaos can effect large scale changes in a medium. The richer soils are in surface area and internal order the more strongly they draw a syntropic energy stream to themselves.  The boundaries inherent in the surfaces and patterns of soil particles are where microbial life arises. As islands of order amidst an ocean of chaos, living organisms depend on syntropy to grow and multiply. Carbon particles are particularly rich in internal order, and carbon based life forms provide a dynamic dimension to this order, as life begets more life.

Synergy is where two or more organisms working together generate a greater joint product than their products taken separately and added together. Synergy shows us that the greater the diversity and interaction between living organisms the more we can expect ten plus ten to equal a hundred or a thousand. When we take syntropy and synergy seriously the self-sufficiency of kissing nitrogen inputs good-bye is achievable—even while we harvest and sell eight or ten per cent of our total annual biomass production.

Food of true excellence and sophistication supports the development of human potential so we produce art, music and poetry of incredible beauty and poignancy and perform seeming miracles. Clairvoyance, telepathy, healing at a distance or accessing the akashic record need not be rare if we nourish our children so they have the physical capacity to develop their abilities more fully than we, with our dietary handicaps, have managed. As a by-product I believe we will reclaim the Sahara Desert, but first we must reclaim the deserts in both our souls and our bodies.

In nature there are many master plants and animals, and by isolating these and growing them as mono-crops modern agriculture has done a few things. By themselves grains, fruits, vegetables, fibres, even bees, cows, and earthworms are impressive, but we really don’t know what is possible until we integrate them into a concert of life. If we work like members of a vast symphony orchestra to achieve true excellence in food, the progress we make may amaze us.

 

How We Get Our Nitrogen

 

At birth we each have a unique nitrogen signature stamped upon the assembly of our proteins and the replication of our DNA. We digest proteins into amino acids and re-assemble them according to our individual DNA patterns. Our protein chemistry has our singular identity stamped upon it. Everyone is a bit different, and our immune systems maintain this personal integrity.

The same is true of a farm or even a suburban garden. It develops its own nitrogen character. Its nitrogen fixing microbes take in nitrogen from the atmosphere and build proteins according to that location’s unique stamp. All the animals at that location eat, digest and transform this into their unique organisations. The soil microbes and plants that recycle these animals’ digestive products get an even more enhanced nitrogen organization. As the terroir builds, its plants and animals, and ultimately the people that eat them, take the enhancement of nitrogen round after round higher. When we bring in artificial nitrogen fertilisers we water this down significantly.

Even manures, humates and other biological fertilisers brought in from off the farm or garden have to be integrated into its identity. Instead of getting nitrogen from elsewhere, we want to produce crops within each farm or garden’s nitrogen cycle. This makes the most out of biological enhancement. On any given property the more we increase the density and variety of plants and animals and build self-sufficiency, the more we ensure its depth of character. If we keep this in mind, we will achieve true excellence.

Eden is far too shrouded in our past to see from present vantages. Nor can we return. But, having experienced the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and savoured its bitter lessons, we stand on the threshold of creating future Edens.

 

 

 

The Importance of Winter

 

The Importance of Winter ©

By Hugh Lovel

Most of us have covered up a patch of sod in late autumn, only to find it ready to take off growing again in spring. However, in summer if we cover the same patch of sod up, it is dead and decaying in less than a month. What goes on in winter that is so different? Many farmers plant cereals in autumn and give little other thought to things again until spring. Yet something goes on in winter that must be of especial importance to agriculture. How can we grasp the importance of winter and use it to improve our farming?

Brix

Let’s examine some of our assumptions. A refractometer measures the diffraction of light as it passes through plant juice. The solids dissolved in this juice increase the angle of diffraction, and the percent of dissolved solids is measured in brix. Photosynthetic products like sugars tend to predominate in plant sap, but there are also enzymes, hormones and complex carbohydrates as well as mineral chelates, amino acids taken up from the soil.  Basically high brix means dense amino acid uptake, high sugar and complex plant chemistry—with one exception. Under dry conditions salty fertilizer fed crops can run out of water and become salty, high brix, low energy, ‘easy meat’ plants that insects or diseases can easily consume. In this dry scenario high brix means low sugar, low energy, low complexity and a plant with low life force. But, ordinarily, high brix means efficient, high energy, high complexity crops that pests and diseases have a hard time digesting.

On the other hand, low brix warns something needs to be done. If you do the right thing brix will improve—sometimes dramatically. However, since a refractometer does not say what to do, overreliance on it can lead to unrealistic expectations about fixing things after they are broken. Often a crop runs out of puff after the summer solstice, as sap flow tapers back from its peak and vigour seems to lag. What if trying to fix things once they are broken falls short and even expensive inputs such as kelp and foliar chelates such as boron, silica and other traces fail to lift crops out of the doldrums?

There is potential here to fall into the blame game where consultants think the grower ‘didn’t do everything as recommended’, while the grower, looking at unrealistic recommendations, thinks ‘how the bleep am I supposed to get all this done? Both flirt with the too hard story, while neither has penetrated deeply enough into nature’s cycles so the midsummer blahs are easier to fix if they occur. For insight into what happens in winter to set the stage for high brix, let’s look at what happens in summer to yield high brix.

Though we must think about it for it to be obvious, in the sod that survives over winter despite being covered, we see the warmth and light forces active in the summer atmosphere. In winter these forces of warmth and light are drawn down into the soil. If they do not build up strongly in the soil over winter, they cannot stream back sufficiently in summer. Then crops will be too weak and watery and thus susceptible to insects and diseases. A better understanding of how to build up vitality in the soil over winter would give us high brix in every crop without expensive, time-consuming rescue efforts. Strange to say, winter is ideal for building life into the soil.

Soil Biochemistry

Biochemical Sequence 3_0

In the uptake of nutrients from the soil food web, sulphur is the catalyst for carbon chemistry, boron gives us sap pressure and silicon builds the capillary action that transports plant sap. Only then can calcium, magnesium and amino acids be delivered to cell division sites for chlorophyll manufacture. As chlorophyll catches light, phosphorous transfers energy into sugar production—after which a mix of sugars and more complex products follow potassium through the silica pathways to provide energy or its storage wherever required in the plant.

This means the role of silica is enormous. The capillary action provided by silicon explains why the most photo-efficient plants are silica rich C4 grasses—they have the most efficient transport. Abundant photosynthesis depends on how fast the reactions occur, and C4 plants are most efficient at moving carbon dioxide and water to photosynthetic sites while speedily getting sugar back out of the way. This is why with grasses like sugar cane, maize or sorghum brix readings may need to be taken from the base of the leaf or the stem rather than from the leaf panel, as these plants rapidly move sugars away from where they are made

In looking at this picture, we want to be aware that nitrates cannot be excluded from plant water uptake and nitrate is the antagonist of silica. While there will always be some nitrate uptake from the soil’s oxidation of amino acids and ammonia, excess nitrate correlates with low brix. Nitrates not only make the soil salty, but their affinity for water assures they dilute chlorophyll, photosynthesis and plant vitality. Of course, plants can and do convert nitrates to amino acids, but this takes time and energy and if nitrate uptake is too abundant or the plant’s conversion is too slow its protoplasm is watered down, its silica transport may be scalded and the result is a low brix plant that may be difficult to boost. Thus it is important to promote high vitality build-up in soils over winter so that nitrates are converted to amino acids before being taken up by crops, and if one uses fertilisers—including organic ones—that promote nitrification this is doubly important.

Brix testing near the end of the crop cycle is no substitute for preparing over the previous winter to achieve high brix throughout the cycle, crop after crop. For many growers taking the appropriate steps in winter might be a welcome change from crops losing their oomph after the summer solstice when the days start getting shorter and sap doesn’t flow quite so strongly any more. This raises the question of what is so important about having strong sap flow?

Life Force

To fully get our heads around what warmth, light and sap flow mean, we need to think of what lies behind high brix—life energy. As we know, sugars amount to energy stored in carbon compounds. Even more energy is tied up in amino acids, DNA and complex proteins, enzymes and hormones. This biochemistry represents stored life energy.

The key characteristic of life energy is it runs up and life energy which is free and flowing, such as warmth and light, accumulates where stored life already is rich. Thus life energy suffuses the substance of a plant even when it is not locked into the substance itself. Warmth, light and sap vigour are not the substance of the plant, nor would they have such an intimate association with the plant were it not alive, and yet they work closely in tandem with the siliceous substances in plants.

The problem with chemical fertilisers is they are not suffused with life energy and thus impart no increase of life. Quite the opposite, they dilute what life energy the plant already has, leading to reduced complexity and possibly loss of immunity. A holdover belief from the early days of chemical agriculture asserts that plants only take up nitrogen as nitrate, but this is no more accurate than saying humans only absorb nitrogen as nitrate. We take up nitrates all right—along with amino acids. We even sometimes take up complex proteins that were not fully digested into their component amino acids, which is what ‘leaky gut’ syndrome is about.

Investigation shows that plants readily take up amino acid nitrogen—unless nitrates get in the way. In fact, plants are healthiest getting most of their nitrogen as amino acids from the soil food web around their roots. The microbes that fix nitrogen require abundant energy from root exudates to manufacture amino acids and support robust growth.

Advocates of chemical nitrogen say it is efficient because plants don’t have to supply the energy for nitrogen fixation. This may seem economical even though it takes ten units of methane to make one unit of ammonia, and still more to convert ammonia into other forms such as urea. But this not only is less energy efficient than biological nitrogen fixation, when artificial nitrogen is applied as urea, half volatilizes as NO2 gas while the rest oxidizes to nitrate and the plants taking this up have to convert nitrate to amino acids. Often converting nitrates takes more energy than soil microbes would have used to fix amino acid nitrogen in the first place. The clincher is that nitrate is the waste product of microbial nitrogen fixation, and nitrogen fixing microbes go dormant or die in high nitrate conditions. Thus artificial nitrogen fertilisation shuts down biological nitrogen fixation, ensuring that plants become dependent on getting their nitrogen as nitrates. Since methane is a non-renewable resource this could hardly be desirable even if nitrates grew healthy crops—which they do not.

In a low nitrate soil, microbes living around plant roots depend on strong sap flow upward in the plant by day so the plant gives off energy rich root exudates as the sun goes back down. With plenty of energy to fix nitrogen the soil foodweb can give the plant ample amino acids in the next day’s sap uptake. With strong sap flow, this in turn assures richer photosynthesis and more energy given off as root exudates the following evening and so forth. This means the less plants take up nitrate and the more they feed on amino acids, the more efficiently they photosynthesise and share their life energy with their microbial symbiotes in the soil and the more complex and vigorous they tend to be.

The Hieronymus Experiment

A beautiful illustration of the way life energy interacts with plants is the experiment of T. Galen Hieronymus (1895–1988) Conducting Chlorophyll Energy Over Wires with sprouting seeds in lightless boxes. This experiment eventually led to inventing what he called a ‘Cosmic Pipe’ the forerunner of today’s field broadcasters. It is a simple experiment which can be replicated both summer and winter almost anywhere.

As a summer project Galen built a wooden platform about six feet off the ground on the south side of his house. On this platform he placed seven copper plates varying in size from 2” x 4” and 4” x 8” to 8” x 10”, one of which was copper wire screen. He connected these with an insulated copper wire to aluminium foil under the lids of seven 2” x 2” x 4” wooden boxes on a light tight shelf below ground inside his basement. Aluminium foil was also placed inside the bottoms of these boxes and grounded with a wire to a metal water pipe that ran underground near the basement wall. An eighth box was used as a control with no foil sheets or wires connected to anything.

A half inch of fine, sandy soil was placed in the boxes and oat seeds selected for uniformity were placed on the sandy soil equidistant in two rows of five seeds each. A 5/8” layer of soil was then sifted on top of the seeds which were watered and the covers placed on each box. Thereafter the boxes were inspected daily by flashlight and watered.

All the seeds sprouted about the same time, but there was no chlorophyll in the ten plants in the control box, whereas all the plants in the boxes connected to the outside plates had good chlorophyll. Notably, the plants connected to large outside plates appeared to have been subjected to excessive heat. All of the plants were kept in the dark all of the time except when examined by flashlight, and yet an organizing, organic force that built the plants’ complexity to the point of turning them green flowed between the elevated plates in the sun and the grounded plants in darkness. Clearly a solar energy effect occurred, although it is also clear there is a flaw in the assumption that sun light drives photosynthesis. Something else is involved that contributes to the vitality and organization of a plant besides light.

The Big Picture

The universe is synchronous and integral—it is a big picture made up of both substance and energy. For example, magnetism is a result of spin, with is a dynamic all particles have because they are vortexial. But even at the subatomic level they don’t spin in isolation. Their spins all affect each other. If you try to imagine examining a compass needle to find out why it points north no matter where it is, the only thing that makes sense is the earth in its entirety has a magnetic field and compass needles align themselves with this field—which shifts a slight bit all the time.

It is also known that the Sun and planets all have magnetic fields of various strengths and orientations, all of which influence the solar system’s field. Moreover our galaxy has a magnetic field that our solar system interacts with. Indeed the universe has one, and each magnetic field influences all the others.

The gravitational fields of the Sun and its planets interact, each influencing the others and vice versa. Since Newton (1643-1727) and Herschel (1738-1822) it’s been understood that one body affects all the others. Herschel calculated for the probable position of something disturbing the motion of Saturn and found Uranus. Neptune was found the same way. Today quite a number of planetary bodies are found in this fashion around stars beyond the Sun. Astronomers accept that our sun is spiralling toward some ‘great attractor’ in the star rich region of Scorpio/Sagittarius, although since the universe is expanding we are not likely to get there.

The Moon rather obviously interacts with ocean currents, tides and weather patterns, and the Sun emits a stream of charged particles called the solar wind, as well as events known as solar storms or flares. The subtle effects of such things as sun spots are often beyond our detection with scientific instruments, but with biological organisms being far more sensitive it is not surprising to find related effects in crop production and stock market prices.

Thus it is scientific ignorance when agricultural pundits say the forces at work between Sun and earth and beyond to the edges of the universe—particularly in regard to the Moon and planets—have nothing to do with what happens in agriculture.

Rudolf Steiner’s Insights

Sometimes it is tough being on the cutting edge as the know-it-alls can be generous with scorn and immune to meticulous experiment. Such a cutting edge scientist was Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). With the best of educations in maths, chemistry and biology, he was an original thinker in a breathtaking variety of disciplines. He not only realized there was a nutritional connection to the chemistry and physics of thought and motivation, but he also saw there was something profoundly important in how apples get up in trees before ripening and falling. Despite gravity, they get up there; so Steiner went looking for the force of levity, as is seen in living organisms. He called this the ether, and he associated it with the outermost boundary of the universe.

In the winter of 1999-2000 astronomers found overwhelming evidence of levity in Hubble observations showing the universe is expanding fastest at its edges, but an understanding of levity comparable to Steiner’s still hasn’t gained traction amongst most physicists because they tend to studiously ignore the realm of life. Of course old teachings—like Newton’s treatment of gravity as a single rather than a polar force—tend to die hard. Indeed gravity is the idea most resistant to change in physics because it is thought of as the first force. If gravity needs re-examination as a polar rather than a single force, this will require re-examining everything else in physics.

Nevertheless, by studying Goethe’s (1749-1832) scientific works, Steiner learned that organization, which is the basis of what he called ether or life force, flows from lower concentration to higher concentration. Life increases. It is born, grows and matures in cycles, only dispersing in dying—and even then usually reproducing at its peak of vitality so that it evolves. Life ever trends toward enhancement, or in other words, life runs up instead of running down. Life builds in complexity and is organizational or syntropic rather than running down and being disorganizational or entropic.

Ever the scientist, Steiner wanted a better understanding of levity and life force and how life force surges from the earth in summer only to recede back inward in winter. Using the classic view of the elements in the order of increasing density as fire, air, water and earth, he looked for the organizational forces or ethers associated with each element, knowing that ether must flow toward greater concentration in order to be organizational. Starting with fire, the associated ether, or life force, could be described as warmth ether. Where air is denser than fire, the life force that permeates air is light ether. In water life force is even more concentrated as the chemical or tone ether. Finally, in the carbon based organisms of the earth, life force is embodied as life ether.

Lime and Silica

Though it wasn’t widely understood, with his investigations in analytical chemistry Steiner realized calcium and silicon lie at opposite poles in the chemistry of living organisms. Of course, since we only encounter calcium and silicon as their oxides, lime and silica, or their derivatives, Steiner preferred to call these opposites the lime/silica polarity, with clay as the mediator between their extremes.

Lime is heavy, opaque, sticky and strongly reactive with all sorts of things—particularly sulphur, nitrogen, phosphorous and protein. Steiner characterized lime as a greedy, grasping fellow. Indeed, it is responsible for nitrogen fixation and growth and is abundant in cell nuclei, muscles and bones where lime radiates its influences outward like the force of gravity. Limestone is a sedimentary rock formed when calcium hydroxide reacts in water with carbon dioxide and settles into the ocean deeps.

On the other hand, silica is transparent and light, interacting without necessarily reacting with things—especially water. Steiner characterized it as a generous aristocrat. He found silica has a lot to do with warmth, light and capillary action as well as hair, skin, hooves or horns. The force of levity works inward into things from the extreme periphery through silica, buoying things up. Silica forms the bedrock that floats atop the earth’s mantle holding up the continents. It raises up high mountains and predominates amongst the finest particles in the atmosphere.

In summer the warmth and light working via silica flow outward from the soil towards the sun, lifting lime, amino acids and minerals not only into growth but also into fruiting and reproduction. Flowers have sugary nectar on the female/silica side and protein rich pollen on the male/lime side. Since warmth and light work from the cosmic periphery via silica toward the sun, as the summer reaches its longest day these ‘cosmic’ forces are nearing their peak in the growth of plants on the side of the earth facing the sun. Thereafter, if the earth has not built up enough warmth and light over the winter, sap vigour may suffer and the silica in the plant will falter in sustaining the uplift of nutrients from the soil in the latter part of summer as warmth and light recede from the atmosphere, drawing back into the earth.

Also in autumn the condensing, concentrating ‘earthly’ forces of tone and life—channelled back from the Sun via Mercury, Venus and the Moon to soak into the earth—gain the upper hand as warmth and light recede. This gravitational side of nature works on the summer’s vegetation by digesting and absorbing it back into the earth as the earthly forces of tone and life work downward via lime. As the earth absorbs these fallen substances along with the tone and life ethers working through them it becomes more alive. It organizes woody materials, manures, amino acids and minerals into the formation of stable organic matter in the soil. Even the silica substances in cellulose, bark and skins are digested. Humus is formed, water and other substances tend to crystallize. With the approach of winter the earthly forces, along with the substances they work upon, build up in the earth more and more richly, reaching their maximum in mid winter.

As the life forces in the soil become stronger, they work like a magnet to draw in more and more life forces—both earthly tone and life and cosmic warmth and light—into the soil as life force flows from lower to higher concentration. This is the ideal time to boost the warmth and light forces in the soil so that come the following summer they stream back sufficiently that crops will be strong and sap flow vigorous. This should give us a better understanding of how to ensure we have low nitrate, high amino, high brix crops without expensive, time-consuming rescue measures.

 

 

 

 

Agriculture Of Tomorrow

 

To investigate this, Steiner enlisted Lily Kolisko (1889-1976) and her husband Eugen Kolisko (1893-1939), a pair of German physicians, to conduct extensive studies of crystallization and other phenomena having to do with organizational forces and their influences on substances, both in summer and winter and above and below the surface to a depth of 16 meters. Early on they shed light on one of the baffling riddles of chemistry. Every chemistry student finds that on some occasions crystallization produces large, light-weight crystals, and on other occasions crystals are small but much denser.

At her laboratory in Stuttgart Lily set out dishes of supersaturated solutions of various salts to crystallize at the lab window, at the soil surface and at one meter depths up 16 meters below ground in a 1.5 meter square shaft at various hours of the day and night, phases of the moon and months of the year over a period of several years, weighing and photographing the results and exhaustively documenting them. For the most part she used salts associated with the Sun, the Moon and various planets.[1] Though there was considerable variation between results with different salts, it was clear the forces of crystallization were greatest at Stuttgart in the depths of winter in February. Her experimental documentation was so extensive she published only a small portion in her book, Agriculture Of Tomorrow. Nevertheless for researching this question—which every chemist encounters—she should have won a Nobel prize.

This says nothing of her extensive studies of homeopathic potencies where forces rather than substances come into play. Alas the world of science was not ready for this work and cynics made no effort to honestly duplicate her studies. Even at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland the Natural Sciences Section of The Anthroposophical Society ignored her work, but for those interested in further study, Agriculture Of Tomorrowcan be accessed online at:http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/01aglibwelcome.html )

A general study of her research with an honest and open mind reveals the forces at work in agriculture, from the local earth environment to the edges of the universe—involving, above all, the Sun, Moon and planets. Kolisko challenges many assumptions and paints a new picture of what actually happens in agriculture—and her research points the way to the crucial importance of what happens in winter.

We may have thought that in winter the earth goes to sleep, but winter is the season when the plant life above the earth falls down and is digested. In this process the earth itself becomes inwardly sensitive and alive. In autumn and winter both the silica warmth and light and the calcium tone and life forces recede into the earth. There in the soil they interpenetrate. The forces of warmth and light are caught up by lime while the forces of tone and life are caught up by silica. In spring the earth dozes off to sleep and dies off again as plant growth expresses the activity that took place within the earth while it was sensitive and alive. What warmth and light can do within the earth over winter can be seen in the abundant upwelling of sugary sap in Canadian maples in the spring. The amount of sugar produced in the soil over a long, dark winter speaks volumes about what warmth and light do while within the earth. With our summer crops, rising into the atmosphere, agriculture works with the dreaming of the earth which has gone to sleep. Even winter crops like wheat and barley live right at the soil surface all winter, spreading out a network of fine, sensitive roots within the earth while it is brimming with life. Then as the earth dies off again these cereals have a tremendous spurt of growth in spring, making fat heads of grain.

 

 

 

 

 

How The Ethers Work

 

Because life force flows from lower to higher concentration, warmth and light always flow toward the Sun, as the Sun is far more densely organized, at least in terms of warmth and light, than anything else nearby.

In winter, and especially in the higher latitudes (whether north or south), the sun spends a good deal more of the day below the horizon than it does above. Because the warmth and light are flowing toward the Sun, the outward flow in winter is weak and the inward flow is strong. Since these levitational forces coming from the outer extremes of the universe spiral into the solar vortex, they pick up the influences of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars along the way, soaking into the earth on its dark side before escaping again on the sunny side. From whichever side is in winter these levitational forces soak in strongly but escape weakly. Then when summer comes again they flow forth strongly but soak in weakly.

The situation is somewhat different with tone and life. Tone, which organizes water, and life, which organizes carbon, are a reflection of what goes on between the earth and the Sun, as given to the earth by the Moon from the night-time sky. Where the Sun is the focus of the forces involved with silica, the Moon is the focus of the forces involved with lime.

The Moon mirrors the Sun, whose reflection is strongest at full Moon. In this reflection we find the influences of Mercury and Venus, as well as those of the Moon itself. These are the earthly, gravitational influences from between the Sun and earth. They too flow most strongly into the earth during winter, as then they are no longer caught up and carried back upward by warmth and light streaming out of the earth. Moreover, since they are dense in their organization they act strongly to draw organization to the earth’s oceans and biosphere. The richer they become in any given area the more strongly they draw, and when boosted, as is customary with the biodynamic horn manure preparation, they can build up quite strongly over winter.

The gravitational stream is digestive (Mercury), supportive (Venus) and nutritive (Moon) in contrast to the levitational stream’s blossoming (Mars), fruiting (Jupiter) and ripening (Saturn). The danger is when this gravitational stream becomes so strong that, without sufficient balance by levitational forces, the digestive and nutritive processes overwhelm the fruiting and ripening processes in late summer when warmth and light run low. Then there can be trouble at the end of a crop cycle with insects and diseases before harvest, and the way to correct for this is to balance the boost given to the earthly forces by applying horn manure by boosting the cosmic forces with an application of horn silica.

This picture of Steiner and Kolisko’s takes into account the life energy streaming into the solar system as well as what is reflected back to the earth from the Sun via the Moon. How these two streams affect agriculture, from the furthest periphery through the earth, shows us the need for balance between the warmth and light forces that work upward via silica in summer carrying tone and life with them, and the tone and life forces that work into the earth via lime while warmth and light recede into the earth as well. When in balance the cosmic and earthly streams support each other—but when they are out of balance crops can either be undernourished and burn up from insufficient earthly forces or they can be too lush to ripen without problems due to insufficient cosmic forces. What we really want is to strengthen both streams in balance, along with enough of the substances associated with silica and lime for the growing of crops.

Imparting Forces

Understanding what life forces are and where they come from helps when balancing and enriching both streams of life forces. Chaos is a dynamic state of the universe where things are highly disordered. Order, which we should also think of as dynamic, is the opposite of chaos. Order arises out of chaos. Mathematics gave birth to what is called chaos theory back in 1961 with the discovery by Edward Lorentz (1917-2008) of the Butterfly Effect. In essence Lorentz found weather cycles could maintain themselves on the borders of chaos while both running up and running down. A brief introduction to chaos theory can be found at:http://www.schuelers.com/chaos/chaos1.htm

Order, which is the basis of organization, arises at boundaries. Any boundary with an inside and an outside has a pattern capable of organizing and accumulating energy, as Benoit Mandelbrot’s (1924- ) discovery of fractal geometry shows. Defining boundaries can give rise to infinite complexity. Thus if we want to impart such patterns to our farms or our environment to impart life forces we have to find a means of transferring patterns.

In organic chemistry, carbon provides the framework for a seemingly infinite variety of patterns, and water makes a good medium for transfer as its memory for patterns and their propagation lies at the basis of chemistry. Also, Hieronymus demonstrated pattern transfer using copper wire and other metals such as aluminium foil in his experiments, and this became the basis of his radionic analyser patent as well as his ‘Cosmic Pipe’ design.

Organisational patterns can be easy to transfer since by nature they propagate as they build. Moreover, patterns only have complexity without any appreciable mass—even though they may organize large amounts of substances. Steiner used the term ‘smallest entities’ in referring to pattern energy. Paracelsus compared the pattern of a remedy to the spark that sets a house on fire.[2] In homeopathy patterns are usually transferred using water or lactose pillules. With radionics the transfer is done by way of a circuit using metal wires, some type of resistance and input/output coils or plates with reagent patterns at the input and a witness as the recipient at the output. With radionics there is the bonus that since the patterns have no mass, they can be transferred according to quantum rules over any distance faster than light without loss.

Patterns For Agriculture

With these options for transfer and more, the question is what patterns to use. While various colours, minerals, herbs, gemstones and geometrical designs can be useful, that question is answered for the most part by Steiner and Kolisko’s work. Steiner introduced earthly horn manure and cosmic horn silica preparations (made using cows’ horns with clay to cap the open ends of the horns) as remedies in his agriculture course. To grasp a cow horn’s resonant power, hold an empty horn up to your ear and imagine that resonant tone working on the contents while buried in the soil for six months or so. These preparations or their homeopathic or radionic patterns can be used to enhance the silica and lime streams of life force discussed previously.

Steiner also introduced several herbal preparations; one for each planet, ensuring whatever was needed could be supplied in terms of boosting the individual planetary forces.[3] Unfortunately in light of the cult flavour that set in after Steiner’s death it is understandable but inappropriate that some dismiss burying cow horns as pseudo science. This shows lack of understanding—and perhaps in some cases arrogance on the part of know-it-alls.

Make no mistake, we cannot meet all our challenges in agriculture purely with substances. We need an understanding of life forces as well. We will never turn our farms around to where they run up instead of running down if we don’t impart life. To do this we must operate our farms (or gardens) as living organisms with boundaries. These can be the property boundaries, which are themselves patterns within which organizational energies can build up. Without boundaries life forces leak away, flowing to someplace else where they can collect.

Application

Which method we use to get life energy to build up in our soil matters less than whether we impart life forces in an appropriate, balanced way. Timing and balance are key. The original method, introduced by Steiner, of stirring the preparations and sprinkling them out over the land is a beautiful adaptation of homeopathy. It works well on a small scale, and the main cost is labour. Of course, if there are enough participants it also works for large acreages.

Back in 1924 in Germany, Steiner envisioned that families could pool their energies on Sundays and apply the remedies festively. Stirring and spraying preparations is just the sort of thing that children, with their sensitivity to life forces, could delight in and derive enormous benefit from. Alas, that might have been true in Germany in 1924, but it no longer is true in most of western society. Probably in parts of India, China, Africa or elsewhere in the third world it may still be true, and where people can put their hand to the task very little other investment is required to apply these remedies by stirring and spraying three or four times annually over a family plot of land.

However, for large scale operations without enough available labor a variety of methods have become popular. These include stirring machinery, homeopathy, flow forms, vortex brewers, irrigation, spray rigs, radionics and field broadcasting. Despite prejudices and rivalries, all methods are effective since fundamentally it is patterns that give rise to organization, and organization is the basis of life. Regardless of method, transferring organizational patterns works within the realm of the living since the patterns are highly organized and they propagate themselves. It even works on cattle stations to put these remedies in watering troughs and irrigation channels to get them out onto the land at appropriate times of the year. As for the most important time of the year, this tends to be the most ignored time of the year—winter.

 

[1] In keeping with the traditions of alchemists such as Paracelsus (1493-1541), Kolisko used salts of gold, mercury, copper, silver, iron, tin and lead to examine seasonal relationships over a period of several years with the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

[2] “The remedy should operate in the body like a fire, and its effect on the disease should be as violent as that of fire on a pile of wood. This mystery of fire should also apply to what you call dosage. How would it be possible to weigh the amount of fire needed to consume a pile of wood or a house? No, fire cannot be weighed! However, you know that one little spark is heavy enough to set a forest on fire, a little spark that has no weight at all.” —Paracelsus