Let’s talk about carbon

If we’re going to attract the life forces that agriculture feeds to human society as a whole to keep it alive, then we have to collect carbon.

Let’s talk about carbon. Carbon is associated with the earth element, and of course we’ve got water, air and fire as well. Sometimes carbon is called the Philosopher’s Stone. The hardest substance on earth is diamond, made from carbon. It’s also the framework for all living organisms, and it’s the magnet for hydrogen. So anytime we’re talking about conserving water then we need to talk about carbon because water will evaporate into the atmosphere – it will drain away and leave the landscape – unless there’s carbon there. Carbon attracts rainfall out of the sky. Carbon holds onto the water in the land, and carbon is what the chemistry of water works upon. So when we’re looking at what accumulates life-energy, it’s carbon.

When Wilhelm Reich did his work with orgone accumulators, he found carbon was the basis of orgone accumulation. Metal was the way of conducting it, but to attract it you had to have carbon. Carbon is the earth element, it’s the anchor for whatever we’re going to do in terms of building life into the landscape. And of course agriculture is what we’re doing to give life to our society. As far as the sociologists are concerned they know very well that we live in an agrarian society today, the days of the hunter-gatherers and whatnot are just not what’s mainstream anymore. Agriculture has given us the division of labor and the abundance, the savings of being able to specialize. So with the advent of agriculture, we had the rise of civilizations. Now here we are.

If we’re going to attract the life forces that agriculture feeds to human society as a whole to keep it alive, then we have to collect carbon. If we’re not collecting carbon with our agriculture, if we’re somehow or another dispersing the carbon, burning it up, exhausting it, robbing our soils of it or whatever then our agriculture is going to crash. Now carbon is the gold of our environment. What about the idea of the Philosopher’s Stone turning something to gold, turning base metal into gold? Carbon is what does that in terms of what’s the most valuable to us in our society – and that’s life. Carbon is what conserves life, draws in life, it accumulates life. When we’re talking about making agriculture free, we’re talking about building up carbon in our soils, accumulating carbon and being able to have a surplus of carbon so that we can harvest it from our farms and give it to people in our markets, in our restaurants and our dinner tables so that everyone has sufficient life in order to be healthy and happy. So it’s carbon that’s the wealth of our society.

The question is how do we accumulate carbon? Photosynthesis accumulates carbon from the carbon dioxide which is the free carbon in the atmosphere. It draws in carbon dioxide and turns that into sugar which is the basis, the framework of all of our carbohydrates. It of course also combines with nitrogen to make proteins. Oxygen organizes carbon in carbon dioxide and puts it out there everywhere for free. Photosynthesis unites water and carbon dioxide to make sugar, and it releases oxygen then to go off and organize other things.

Anytime we want to accumulate carbon what we have to do is to encourage photosynthesis. Whether it’s algae on the surface in the desert or algae on the surface of the ocean or it might be plankton in the ocean, they’re big carbon accumulators. But whatever it is, we accumulate carbon through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis – the capture of fire, you might say – and the building of a carbon framework, allows us to accumulate carbon in the landscape. Right now today on the planet earth we’ve got more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any other time that we know of. We’re in a period of great wealth if we want to accumulate carbon because it’s everywhere, it’s free.

Hugh answers Ibo Zimmermann, Deputy Director Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences Namibia University of Science and Technology

Dear Ibo,

How biodynamic does a farm have to be to be biodynamic? Here is what Rudolf Steiner had to say about farms:

A farm is true to its essential nature, in the best sense of the word, if it is conceived as a kind of individual entity in itself — a self-contained individuality. Every farm should approximate to this condition. This ideal cannot be absolutely attained, but it should be observed as far as possible. Whatever you need for agricultural production, you should try to posses it within the farm itself (including in the “farm,” needless to say, the due amount of cattle). Properly speaking, any manures or the like which you bring into the farm from outside should be regarded rather as a remedy for a sick farm. That is the ideal. A thoroughly healthy farm should be able to produce within itself all that it needs. (Agriculture, Lecture II)


What I’ve found is the most important part of a farm is its boundaries. That’s like our skin is our most important organ, without which our inner organization would neither arise nor maintain itself. You could plant casuarina trees along the boundaries and horsetail like hair in the ditches and dykes, and that would really help the farm to be self-sufficient, but how are you going to delineate the boundaries of experiment plots so they are comparable to rice paddies on biodynamic farms? My smallest rice terrace was somewhere around 7 to 8 square metres and my largest would have been more like 50 square metres. The dykes were in grass, clover, dandelions, plantain, and other ‘weeds’ that got mowed occasionally (maybe once a month) with a lawnmower. You could have used a whipper snipper. All my local frogs, from the huge bull frogs to tiny tree frogs reproduced in the rice terraces, which were teeming with life. My old farm cat developed a taste for the young bull frogs and couldn’t wait to catch them at the boundaries. She stalked them through the rice. She would emerge slathered down in mud and algae with a frog in her jaws. Her tongue bath and toilet afterward must have been a lot of work, but somehow she reckoned it was worth it–there was a really strong life going on in those terraces and the frogs must have tasted really delicious. Being from South Louisiana I never ate frogs legs raw. I always dipped my frog legs in an egg batter and dredged them in corn flour and seasoning to fry them. I never tried the frog legs from my rice terraces because I didn’t have enough rice swamp to have a night-time frog gigging party with headlamps and tridents like we had in Louisiana. But with a few acres of rice instead of a mere 120 square metres we could have had parties–a great place to grow frogs and crayfish.


I paint this picture above to illustrate how difficult it might be to plant one or two experiment blocks of biodynamic rice in a larger context of test plots including control plots where nothing is added or taken away. If you stir up a complex made from all the biodynamic preparations and apply this to the biodynamic plot or plots how can you keep the effect from this tone-like resonance from affecting nearby plots? And where will you get your biodynamic ecology of algae, azola, tadpoles, birds and all sorts of other aquatic and flying species and still keep them away from the other plots including the controls? I’m not saying give up and forget it. And I’m not saying you can just ignore the spill-over effects from one block to the next. You’re going to have some spill over and you’re going to have some challenges in establishing a biodynamic ecology from the soil food web up. You’re going to have to consider that biodynamic farms generally show almost triple the conventional concentrations of fungi, bacteria and protozoa, to say nothing of ants, earthworms and other higher animals–and the same with ‘weeds’ or companion plants like legumes in the rice. No. You’re going to have to do the experiments and see how much of an ecology can be imparted to the biodynamic plots and how much this can be kept separate form the other experiment plots. And the final conclusions of the experiment will need to acknowledge the limitations and challenges of the experimental methods and show how these were dealt with. Go for it, but don’t expect it to be easy.


To help get a fuller picture of what biodynamic farming is about I’ve attached a copy of Steiner’s agriculture lectures, Georg Adams translation. It is the earlier translation (1938) and in some respects is more poetic than the Creeger/Gardener translation which dates to the 1990s. You can also go to Rudolf Steiner audio and download an audio version of the Agriculture Course that you can listen to while driving or whatever.  http://www.rudolfsteineraudio.com/agriculture/agriculture.html

The researcher doing the rice might delve into these resources as well. Biodynamics may have resisted conventional research by virtue of its complexity. It is a comprehensive system of agriculture and it works best as a comprehensive system. Anything less will fail to show biodynamics in the light it deserves. A lot of biodynamic concepts, such as the importance of silica, can be very useful in conventional agriculture as well. For example, the USDA did research that compared the use of potassium silicate (an industrial product) with various fungicides. Even though potassium silicate is not a fungicide (it doesn’t kill fungi on contact) it prevented fungal diseases in wheat, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes better than any of the fungicides tested. Somehow the USDA refrained from blanket publicity of this fact, I suppose out of consideration for the welfare of makers of commercial fungicides.


Best wishes,

Hugh Lovel

Youtube of Hugh teaching Biodynamic Association of Namibia


Hugh Lovel New Book  

Quantum Agriculture:   Biodynamics and Beyond  



Hemp Cultivation: Secrets of the Soil

Ideally crops would be grown in mixed covers with as little soil disturbance as possible while feeding, balancing and enriching the soil’s ecology with mulches, humified compost, raw humates and soil drenches to harvest warmth, light, water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen from the atmosphere.

Corn Breeding: Another Perspective

I found Walter Goldstein’s article on corn breeding (in BIODYNAMICS 232) at Michael Fields Institute to be a model of vision, dedication and precision. This is a field of endeavor that for much too long has gone in the direction of removing seed saving from farmers’ hands, making them dependent on things entirely beyond their control. I have the utmost respect for Walter, and this is yet another instance that justifies my estimation.
I say this because I don’t want folks to think I’m critical in presenting a different perspective on corn breeding. Walter is breeding corns for large farmers, while what I’m breeding is for small CSA market gardeners. Not only are our aims quite different, but so are the resources at our disposal. Of course, as a market gardener with cows, chickens and sometimes pigs, I am working with corn not only for market but for feed. My sweet corn, popcorn and cornmeal corns primarily are for humans, but the seconds as well as some of the stalks go to the animals, providing a significant portion of their diet. Moreover, the stalks are a major food source for earthworms, and I grow corn as a soil improvement crop. More on that later.
Because my location is in the mountains of North Georgia, I enjoy a longer, warmer season than at Michael Fields. But I also have the shortest season in Georgia, spanning a mere five frost-free months. The coldest temperature I’ve recorded here is -22 degrees F, which means I have a rather intermediate situation. Given these conditions, I can develop varieties with a wide range of characteristics that can be used by CSA and market gardeners throughout the continent as a genetic base from which to select strains uniquely suited to their individual farms. In short, I breed for diversity. Hugh Lovel corn breeding program I ought to mention a few things about my growing practices. Here in Georgia we have warm temperatures and plenty of moisture so our soils digest rapidly and require a lot of replenishment. In my market garden I use a forty inch wide spading machine to produce beds while leaving a thirty-five inch wide path between them that the tractor rides on. These walking/driving strips are kept in permanent grass and clover cover. By mowing them in the growing season I provide a lot of earthworm fodder while the corn or other vegetables are young. The clippings get digested in place as long as earthworm populations are high. So the earthworms have a balanced diet I interplant soybeans down the middles between the corn rows. Since I plant the large seeded Vinton 81S which make a great edible green soybean that sells for high prices, where the beans flourish I can pick a money crop. The beans never compete with the corn and if anything enhance its growth while suppressing weeds. And since I’m keeping my earthworm populations high in summer with the lawnmower clippings, when I mow and spade in my corn stalks there are plenty of earthworms to ensure their digestion. This allows me to plant my fall/winter spinach/garlic crop behind my early sweet corns without any compost, just tillage.
The application of biodynamic preparations makes a huge difference in how my corn grows. I’m planting with a Cole “no-till” planters using the smallest corn plates I’ve got on everything except the popcorn. However, the corns I’m working with, even the flint cornmeals, are small seeded so I get an average distribution in the row of about six or seven corn plants in two feet of row. For conventional methods that may be too much, though it is what my equipment does. I compensate somewhat by wider row spacing and my plant population per acre is probably in the same range as Walter’s.
I’ve been getting very good results without using any fertilizers, because with the preparation 500 I’ve got a good soil food web, and with the 501 I take a quantum leap in photosynthesis. This is standard biodynamic practice, but I add to it with the use of horn clay. Horn clay stimulates transport within the stem – and corn has a killer stalk. The abundant sugars created in the leaf go to the roots and are exuded into the soil feeding the mycorhyzae, azotobacters, and so forth.
Brace roots exude sugars
These in turn provide the plants with the best possible nutrition. This is especially true for nitrogen. If I put my nitrogen on as compost, some of this oxidizes into nitrates or reduces into ammonia before the corn soaks it up, rendering the corn somewhat salty and watery, though not as much so as with chemical fertilizer. Salts and water in the corn protoplasm makes field corn hard to dry down and encourages insect damage. However, if the corn as it grows feeds sugars to the microorganisms that fix nitrogen, the corn gets its nitrogen as amino acids which it turns directly into protein. Just as the corn matures it is getting abundant amino acids. Then I get corn of the highest quality while getting high yields. Reincorporating my crop residues allows earthworms to do the composting without me hauling anything to or from my barnyard.
As a market gardener with limited land and relatively unpredictable help, my resources, especially labor, are thin, as they are with many market gardeners. If things are to get done they must involve inspiration, or – for lack of a better word – fun. For me it is not great fun to conduct the sorts of patient, methodical assessment of individual plants as at Michael Fields, even though I greatly admire Walter’s work. Nevertheless, nature points out the successful individuals in any given corn population, and I watch for these. When evaluating a promising line of breeding, flavor is my best assessment. As chemical analysis goes, flavor is a very integrated and sophisticated method. My orange flint, which has fourteen years of breeding history, makes the best tasting cornmeal of any I know. A lab analysis would be interesting, but its rich, nutty flavor alone lets you know it is high protein.
Corn breeding is particularly interesting. On any given ear the genetic contribution from the mother plant is the same for every kernel. It is this genetic simplicity that allowed Barbara McClintock to win a Nobel Prize in 1987 for proving corn mutated every generation. For open-pollinated corn this means saving a minimum of two hundred ears to ensure a stable, reliable breed. Currently I only fulfill this requirement with my orange flint cornmeal, which I’ve bred for fourteen years. All my other corns are breeding experiments that I don’t guarantee as stable. However, I’m growing two kinds of sweet corn, one early and one late; three flint cornmeals, one multicolored hominy dent, and three popcorns. I’m particularly interested in developing a popcorn that is as robust as an ordinary tall flint while still having the small ultra-dense kernels that pop well.
I think, however, that a lot more attention should be paid to Barbara McClintock’s discovery that corn mutates with every generation. To be sure, it doesn’t turn into tomatoes. It stays pretty much the same kind of corn over the generations, but it does mutate. Every time. This is another case where what Dr. Steiner said in 1924 has proven true:
We usually think of the seed, from which the embryo develops, as having an extremely complicated molecular structure, and we set great store in being able to understand it in all its complexity. We imagine molecules as having certain definite structures, simpler in the simple ones and getting ever more complicated until we come to the incredibly complicated structure of a protein molecule. We stand there in wonder and astonishment in front of what we imagine to be the complex structure of the seed’s protein. We’re sure it has to be terribly complicated, because, after all, a new organism has to grow out of it. We assume that a whole new complicated organism is already inherent in the plant embryo in the seed, and that therefore this microscopic or submicroscopic substance must also be incredibly complicated in its structure. To a certain extent this is true at first. When earthly protein is being built up, the molecular structure is indeed raised to the highest degree of complexity. But a new organism could never, never develop out of this complicated structure. That is not how a new organism comes about. (1)
Steiner goes on to describe how the new plant arises out of the influences of the whole surrounding universe, and the parent plant only endows it with a tendency, “…through its affinity for a particular cosmic setting, to bring the seed into relationship with the forces from the proper directions, so that what emerges from a dandelion is a dandelion and not a barberry.” This is something Luther Burbank surely must have known and used to advantage many times in bringing new varieties into being.
What I’m trying to do is breed good starting material for market gardeners who save their own seed. Maybe I can save them ten or fifteen years by supplying a good genetically diverse sweet corn, popcorn or cornmeal corn that responds well to the biodynamic preparations (including horn clay) and has such diverse characteristics that market gardeners from Mexico to Canada can then develop their own breeds uniquely adapted to their locales.
Keeping in mind that each new generation arises out of the influences of the whole surrounding universe, and that the forces of the periphery influence the genetics more so than the other way around, I hope market gardeners will look to saving their own seed – not just to save money but to develop breeds adapted to their local conditions. When one thinks of all the heirloom varieties that are being lost right and left one has to wonder where they came from in the first place. It makes sense that they came from folks saving their own seeds on a small scale and conserving beneficial mutations when they arose.

(1) Rudolf Steiner, Agriculture: Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture, trans. Gardner and Creeger (Kimberton: Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, 1993), 34-35.

Originally published in BIODYNAMICS 233, January/February, 2001


Weather Moderation: Drawing Rain Using Biodynamic Preparations

Biodynamic Preparations and Drought

Hugh Lovel

How certain notions arise and become entrenched is a bit of a mystery, especially when they are wrong. Yet they do get started and entrenched. One of these is the belief that when things dry up and little moisture is available we cannot put out biodynamic preparations—as if these were delicate microbial cultures that must have moist conditions to establish and thrive. This is so far from true it seems impossible that it ever got started. Yet it did.

Essential Oils in Plants using Biodynamic Preparations

Dear Hugh and Shabari,

Trust you enjoyed your trip to SA and will return with more of your wisdom. I heard talk that we could receive the recording but this did not happen??

Please could you help me understand the biology or process of oil production in plants. Rosemary or Rose petals for instance…. I am interested in Essential oil production and need to understand the inner processes so as to know which one and when to apply our field sprays to maximise this production ; I would guess 501 one or two days before and harvesting… I assume that oil is highest before flowering, the flower sign before full moon or just after… and time of the day according to the ‘rulership’ planet of the plant taken from Culpepper. Would a single spray of one of the compost preparations be of benefit and if so ‘when’ and why?.

In truth, I do not actually know how to work out this influence of the ruling planet. Does it mean when the planet is in opposition to the Moon? or a trine involving that planet… ? Which is more powerful?

I understand that Nettle as a companion plant increases the oil content. Why? what is it about Nettle that does this? I have also been told that Yarrow does the same. ?

Any information on this subject would be greatly appreciated, or a reference/book etc.

Kind regards,

Avice Hindmarch.

Dear Avice,

Thanks for asking the right questions. Though I don’t know what your levels of essential oil production already are, I feel sure you can raise them if you put a little more effort and a lot more use of biodynamic preparations into it. Let’s look at correspondences between the various preparations and the processes involved.

500 — lime, digestive (transformative), earthly, gravitational processes
501 — silica, formative, cosmic, levitational processes
Horn Clay — intensifies both cosmic and earthly processes by working with that truly cosmic element, boron, to improve sap uptake and root exudation (Sap must go up in order to sink back down, and root exudation is what feeds nitrogen fixation)

502 — yarrow flowers in stag bladder, strongly intensifies boundaries (organization arises at boundaries), sulphate of potash, Venus, concentration and excretion of spent nitrogen as uric acid.
503 — chamomile flowers in cow intestine, intensifies protozoal digestion around plant roots that supplies amino acids and mineral complexes to plants, lime complex and amino acids, Mercury, provides the nutrient stream for cell division.
504 — Stinging nettle leaf and stem, charges or intensifies plant sap with organization (nettles are 36% protein and rich in every mineral, especially magnesium and iron) Sun, intensifies circulation and enriches the blood process. Jack of all trades, helps everything, central to organization.
505 — Oak bark in cow skull, densifies structural processes and reduces the tendency of amino acids to lose their organization and nitrify or become dead nitrogen. Works with both silica and calcium as bone cells are silica framework filled by calcium. Moon, works on both the skin and bones and provides dense, structural strength. Use in conjunction with horsetail for wet conditions where moon forces are strong but disorganized.
506 — Dandelioin flowers in cow mesentery, enhances fruit development working with the embrionic fruit’s potassium gateways in its silica cell walls to facilitate the uptake of amino acids and minerals responsible for cell division in early fruit development. Jupiter. Responsible for size and fullness of fruit.
507 — Valerian flower juice, works with phosphorous metabolism and oxidative processes occurring in flowering, as with lungs and haemoglobin in blood oxidizing carbon in muscles. Mars. Enhances flowering process in plants.
508 — Horsetail decoction, works to strengthen silica forces in cell walls, surfaces and transport vessels. Saturn. Enhances photosynthesis, integrity and immunity.

Perhaps this will help guide you in the use of preparations in various weather and soil conditions and at various stages in plant development. For example, stinging nettle can more than double essential oil production by its Sun-like rich, jack of all trades, capacity to organize things. But if you are having a wet, overcast spell of weather you will also need oak bark (Moon) and horsetail (Saturn). Since essential oils are like an excretion from plant cells, yarrow (Venus) will specifically target this process at the cell walls (boundaries) where it occurs.

Best wishes,
Hugh Lovel

Azolla as a nitrogen fixer and source

It isn’t too clear what this ​Azotic Technologies ​mob is on about, but it looks like a microbial product not a DNA insertion or GMO tech. One of the annoying features of most of these sorts of things is the marketers like to keep the details of what they are selling very clost to their chest. Let me tell you a story.

Twelve years ago I used to spend a couple afternoons a week with a microbiologist by the name of Kyle Merritt who worked for Nutri-Tech. We would go to the pub and have a coffee together and brainstorm about nitrogen fixing microbes. As we were both aware, the varieties and numbers of species of nitrogen fixers is quite enormous and by no means limited to the Rhizobia that form nodules on legume roots.​ There are also the Azotobacters, of which large numbers of different species have been cataloged in river deltas, and Azospirilla which have been found in most Brazilian soils and elsewhere–again with large species diversity. There is the blue green algae, Anabaefa azota​, famous for fixing nitrogen in the fronds of the aquatic weed Azolla, and several species of Azolla as well as large numbers of nitrogen fixing blue green algae that live in the ocean as well as phosphate rich ‘fresh’ water. Then there is the gram negative anaerobe, Acetobacter diazotrophicus​, that fixes nitrogen in the stems of sugar cane and coffee and other plants.​ And also certain species of Clostridia are anaerobic nitrogen fixers. The list goes on and on and may involve even the Archaea, the most primative microbes on earth which eat rocks. Archaea, which are extremely tiny, are thought to be predecessors of the mitrochondria which handle energy within the cells of Eukaryotes, which are all modern organisms with chromosomes. Since somewhere around 10% of the earth’s microbial life has been studied so far, I wouldn’t be too surprised about much of anything. But the point of this story is Kyle left Nutri-Tech and working with a new company developed his own nitrogen fixing microbial product called Twin-N. Twin-N has been tested by the USDA and other research facilities and is capable of infecting a wide range of crops from wheat to bananas and including rice and sugar cane. One of Kyle’s problems with this very effective product was sometimes it didn’t work. First, the plants had to have adequate supplies of lime complex elements from calcium to molybdenum as well as adequate phosphorous and silica uptake. And N fixation takes a lot of energy so the crop’s photosynthesis had to be efficient as well, which meant this didn’t work in a high nitrate environment. And it seems that the nitrogen fixing microbes did not just sacrifice themselves and donate their precious amino acids to the crop plants. Protozoa living within the plants as endophytes, had to consume the nitrogen fixers, digest them and excrete free amino acids. And in some cases as with ginger and tumeric nematodes and other tiny somewhat parasitic animals were responsible for digesting the nitrogen fixers. In the case of Acetobacter the microbe itself may have brought about its dissolution and release of amino acids due to excessive acid production, but that may not have been the main way the amino acids were made available to crops. There was a lot we didn’t know. Yet, in many cases Twin-N was a very effective means of obtaining N for crops as long as nitrogen fertiliser applications were kept low (and usually coupled with soluble humates). You can google Twin-N, which might not be licensed in the UK, I don’t know. Azotic Tech says they are coating seeds with Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus​, where ​Twin-N used more than one different type of N-fixers.

I just thought you ought to be aware there may be various approaches to nitrogen fixation and from my experience with using biodynamics to create the right environment for nitrogen fixation you may not have to buy anything special to get it to supply all the N your crops require. These microbes are found in environments all over the earth. Radionic application of biodynamic preparations, soil mineral balancing and good management of diverse vegetative covers may be all you need and you need these things anyway to get the N-fixing products to work. This doesn’t mean to avoid the products. If they can be any help, go for it. Just don’t get too many stars in your eyes.
Hugh Lovel 13/06/2017 Wiangaree, NSW, Australia

Farm Advisory Service


Quantum Agriculture Farm Advisory Service—A Holistic Approach

Our farm advisory visits and phone/email consultations provide the most comprehensive overview available of  the physics, chemistry and life of your soils along with down-to-earth experience with farming. Learn how to farm both the atmosphere, which provides 95 percent of plant material (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen) and the soil, which provides the other 5%. For the best interactions between the soil and sky to occur, the soil needs to be finely balanced in regards to sulphur, silicon, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and many more minor co-factors. Following our soil testing specs, our labs analyse not only the usual soluble array, but also they test the soil totals using an extremely acidic reagent. This saves money because the grower finds out whether he is actually deficient in something, or whether he only lacks the biology needed to release it.


Consulting For All Crop Types—It’s All About LIFE

All plants and animals share the same basic chemistry of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and sulphur. Nevertheless, the variations on this theme are enormous.

Increasing Yield and Quality—Consumer Loyalty, Higher Profits

Whenever a plant takes up amino acid nitrogen rather than nitrogen salts, it becomes a weak, watery and thirsty plant. But when it takes up biological nitrogen this changes. Then it becomes more efficient, makes more sugar and feeds nitrogen fixation better. Before long this translates into higher and more reliable yields—to say nothing of better quality.

Field Observation and Farm Visits—Revealing and Informative
Seeing is knowing as compared to knowing about or supposing. This is the most important of our services because growers need to know what is good about what they are doing and what is. Without a farm visit, how will you know? We try to as many visits as possible in an area so that the transportation expense can be shared by a group of farmers. (Visits are $1000 per 8 hour day)

Comprehensive Soil and Plant Testing—Saves Money

Silicon is the means for transport in plants and nothing else works without it. Using this system of soluble plus total testing, developed in co-operation with Environmental Analysis Labs in Australia and Texas Plant and Soil Labs in the US, saves money whenever we find the minerals are there and all we need is biology to gain mobility.

Precision Recommendations—Balance Is Everything [almost]

Based on both soluble and total testing along with our graphing and experienced interpretations, our recommendations are just right, never too much. The commonest errors in farming involve too much—too much cultivation, too much fertilizer, too much pesticides and too much debt. It is so easy to think that if a little is good, more is better. Finding the perfect balance is elusive and is why we offer our services. (Our reports cost $100 for the 1st soil test and $50/per additional test, in addition to lab fees.)

Phone and Skype Consultations—Our Time Is Valuable

which may include soil test interpretations and answers to questions regarding your challenges: $125 per hour with prior appointment.

Pattern Energy Is Key To The Future—Biodynamics Is Science

Quantum physics grew out of the realization that matter arises due to wave functions which perfectly meet themselves. These vortices recur, concentrating charge in self-organizing, self-reinforcing resonance and thus are stable. Basically this means that everything in the universe is vibration, either free and experienced in waves such as light, or bound in vortices in self-reinforcing, self-similar spirals. Both are influenced by quantum non-local pattern energy, which can be broadcast using a stationary, self-driven equivalent of a crystal radio set. Called a Field Broadcaster and built by Hugh Lovel using his copyright design, one of these units can cover 6000 or more acres.

The great secret of legumes is they carry oxygen to their root tips

Dear Greg,


Thanks. That was an interesting article. The scientific world, though fascinated with microscopy, is slowing catching up. It could get better at connecting the dots, but it keeps identifying lots of dots anyway. Many things are clear from the overview that seem like momentous discoveries down in the tsunami of complexity.


The idea that we might get plants other than legumes to form nitrogen fixing nodules is bogus, though.


The great secret of legumes is they carry oxygen to their root tips, releasing oxalic acid that solublizes the lime complex. Calcium may be primary, but all the other cations, at least to molybdenum are activated as well. In 1971 I studied soil microbiology and found out about azotrophs. Later when I was farming I used the Tulane and Georgia Tech libraries to find out more. At the time over 800 species of Azotobacter were identified in the Nile Delta and over 600 in the Mississippi Delta. Azotobacters are responsible for nitrogen fixation around plant roots without nodulation. They require the alkaline complex in the soil to already be readily available while they specialize in energy utilization. They especially like high-carb root exudation, so they are found in and around C4 plants like maize or sugar cane where photosynthesis is tops. They don’t need nodules if the lime complex is in flux. Nodules are their prison. Many are also phosphorous solubilizers, which ensures they can metabolize carbs excreted at growing root tips. It takes most azotrophs 10 sugars for every amino acid  they produce, and this mob wastes not. Why would they limit themselves to nodules when their freedom allows them to do much more. Legumes are so famous for nitrogen fixation simply because they lift the availability of the lime complex so much. They leave activated lime behind for the next crop, so you see a good follow-on nitrogen response. But ideally we would just plant suitable legumes along with crops like sugar, maize and sorghum. Without wasting time rotating crops we would keep the lime complex in flux at the same time as growing a corn or sugar crop. Having done this I found that after a while the soybeans in my maize stopped nodulating because the azotrophs at large in the soil did a better job.

So much for getting cane and corn to nodulate when it’s less efficient.

Under the microscope, nature is fascinating. Its complexity is boggling. Wherever there’s a function there’s a piece of the puzzle. Yet, the overview is more enlightening if you want to know what is going on.


Best wishes,

Hugh Lovel

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.




            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.



            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.