Etheric Force flows from lower concentration to higher concentration

Etheric Force flows from lower concentration to higher concentration

Steiner’s agriculture course is rather difficult to read because even though
he sketches the broadest outlines-such as categorizing lunar forces as
compared to Saturn forces, or earthly forces as compared to cosmic
forces–he does not explain things in detail in ways that we with our
current cultural frame of reference find easy to grasp.

It may seem like the moon forces are working downward, as that is partly
their effect. However, seeds planted just prior to full moon come up quicker
and those planted just prior to new moon come up noticeably slower but have
more root development. Just how is it the moon forces work?

In general, etheric force flows from lower concentration to higher
concentration. This means they flow into the solar system as warmth from
beyond Saturn, through Jupiter, Mars, etc. gradually condensing into light
as they converge on the sun and are reflected back via Mercury, Venus and
the Moon. The process (ethers are dynamic, and thus are processes) involved
with Mercury is digestion, which is a chemical process and thus involve
tone. With Venus we see the process involving the kidneys and bladder and
this also is a tone process. The Moon itself involves growth and
reproduction, which again is a watery process involving tone. I would have
to say that we don’t really encounter the densest ether-the life ether-until
we come to the carbon based life activity we see in the soil food web and
the carbon based life forms its supports here on earth. And yet, there is a
further refinement and concentration of ether in metal, which we see as
aluminium in the clay (clay is aluminium silicate) or in the
iron/nickel/etc. magnetic core of the earth or in the gold innermost core of
the earth, and this draws etheric force into the soil from the warmth and
light and also the tone into the soil and ultimately into the interior of
the earth. This means that the richly condensed processes we see in the
inner planets of Mercury, Venus and the Moon are a back-wash or reflection
of the stream that flows through the earth as warmth and light on its way
toward the sun.

Let’s consider for a moment what it means for a process to be dynamic. The
word dynamic implies change, fluctuation or oscillation. Think of this as
cyclical. Living organisms indisputably run up. They grow. But they also run
down. If they did not they would grow on and on to endless infinity and
beyond, and a single living organism would consume the entire universe and
more besides. So far as we are aware this does not happen. Instead life and
living organisms pulse, they breathe, they expand and contract, reach and
withdraw, grow, mature and senesce. Life arises as the tiniest spark and
runs up like a forest afire, but then it also runs down and rejoins the
ocean of chaos from which it arose.

The sun is by far the most immense, densest, most concentrated being in our
near vicinity. All the etheric flow lines converge on the sun. But the sun
itself is alive in the fullest sense insofar as it both runs up and it runs
down. Warmth and light are insubstantial as warmth is purely a wave form, an
excitation in the ether, and light-though it is associated with particles
known as photons-also has no measurable mass, or at least its mass is
infinitesimal. These ethers converge on the sun and condense in the first
place into hydrogen and from there go on to form more and more substantial
elements from helium, lithium, beryllium, boron, carbon and beyond. These
physical particles-hydrogen is the basis of tone and carbon the basis of
life-are given off by the sun as bound ether in the stream of ionic
particles coming to us from the sun and passing through the vortices of
Mercury, Venus and the Moon. Although the Moon sweeps these up and lays them
down upon the earth, it is moisture that carries them into the earth and
gives them over into the growth processes of living organisms. This is the
downward etheric process, but do not forget the etheric processes of warmth
and light that stream in from beyond Saturn are flowing upward from the
earth toward the sun, and it is only what the sun has condensed and given
off again on the return flow via Mercury, Venus and the Moon that we see as
‘fertiliser’ that works downward into the earth.

However, when the Moon is full, warmth and light-also a part of the Sun’s
reflection-are at their fullest, and this means that the tone and life
forces the moon has deposited are brought back upward into the growth of
plants (by warmth and light) more strongly than at any other time of the

Originally the question was ‘When to Fertilise?’. Well, I suppose this is a
value judgment that depends on what sort of result you are looking for. It
might be more to the point to ask ‘How to Fertilise?’.
Anyway, enough for now.

Best wishes,

Hugh Lovel

Growing Ginger: Building the Soil Foodweb

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Growing Ginger

Building the Soil Foodweb

Hugh Lovel


Ginger roots normally contain endophytes, which are microbes living in between the plant’s cells. This means there is no problem finding the right microbial cultures that are symbiotic with ginger. The piece of ginger root you plant brings in many desirable species with it. This is also true for garlic, potatoes and tumeric and even seeds like peanuts, pumpkins and maize. These endophytes are often yeasts and lactobacilli, but they may also include actinomycetes and nitrogen fixing species. Ginger is particularly good for hosting these last two. Virtually all of these endophytic microbes depend on the photosynthesis of the plant itself to provide their energy in the form of their carbon rich plant sap.

This means that the surplus sugars produced by the plant and exuded around its roots are the food these beneficial microbes, and ginger, which originated as a rainforest undergrowth plant, is very efficient at photosynthesis. In order to make the most of this feature of ginger, I have found it best to space my ginger root cuttings 15 to 20 centimetres (6 to 8 inches) apart in the row with three rows running parallel down a metre wide (40 inch wide), heavily mulched bed. I lay off shallow drills, press my root cuttings in, lightly cover with soil and lay on a thick layer of mulch—too easy. At that spacing I get enough root exudate overlap that the soil biology rivals the population density of an outdoors music festival and there is dense branching along the feeder roots. This close spacing also develops a canopy that—along with the mulch—excludes weeds and provides habitat for many digestive species living under the mulch.

The Way It Works

The whole arrangement is powered by the fact plants photosynthesize and share a portion of their energy as complex carbohydrates seasoned by proteins, hormones and enzymes given off along the roots. This provides plenty of energy for the mycorrhizae and actinomycetes that solubilize silicon and release calcium, and for the bacteria that solubilize phosphorous and fix nitrogen.

Of course, these fungi and bacteria do not sacrifice themselves and release their nutrients directly to the plant. Protozoa and other tiny soil animals eat and digest the silicon and nitrogen rich micro-organisms, releasing their nutrients as amino acids and mineral complexes. Mulching encourages this by providing habitat for the animals that feed around the roots where water and nutrient uptake occur. Because this is an on-going process around active roots,  such plants luxuriate in sucking up their nutrients as freshly digested amino acids and mineral complexes before they decay into such things as nitrates and salts.


Happily, when plants take up nitrogen as amino acids instead of nitrates their assembly of complex proteins is direct and efficient, and is not watered down by having to process nitrates. Then photosynthesis is more efficient, which makes root exudation richer, which makes microbial activity more robust, which makes silica uptake, calcium release, nitrogen fixation and phosphorous solubilisation more abundant, which ramps up the digestive activity around the roots and feeds the plant a richer and richer stream of nutrition in a round robin the limit of which is unexplored. It is doubtful that any form of chemical fertilization can result in higher production, let alone attain the quality of this natural system. Between the plant giving sugars to soil microbes, and the soil food web feeding back complex minerals and amino acids, the plant is giving honey to the soil and the soil giving back milk to the plant.

I particularly like ginger because it gives a high proportion of the carbon it catches to the soil. It doesn’t waste its time growing massive tops, and it enjoys crowding—which results in an unusually high degree of root exudate overlap.

In the pictures that follow I mulched with my lawnmower clippings, which I used as thin applications, along with sugar cane mulch, round bales of grass hay or shredded tree bark. Since it was dry at planting, I irrigated along with occasional doses of liquid humic acid in a watering solution as a mycorrhizal booster. And I applied all the biodynamic preparations including horn manure, horn silica horn clay and cow pat pit (aka barrel compost). Not only did I stir and spray these; I also applied them 24/7/365 using a field broadcaster. After all, I was working with a nearly dead soil that had a long ways to go.

What Ginger Can Do

This first picture shows some of my original planting material from a biodynamic farm (Aracaria Farm) in Mullumbimby, NSW. It had unusually rich, fuzzy, actinomycetes growing out of its roots and extending through the soil. These microbes are particularly good at eating into the clay (aluminium silicate) in the soil to release silica, which is what makes their hairs such good transport vessels. They also have the virtue of unlocking calcium and other nutrients held on the colloidal clay/humus complexes in the soil, releasing a storehouse of minerals while growing a hairy forest teeming with bacteria and protozoa.

To my way of thinking, planting ginger seems like the simplest and best way of culturing the very microbes I want to see thriving abundantly in my soil—and I simply let the most vigorous strains for that soil and locality predominate.

Recipes and Pictures

Most of the pictures that follow show my crop at harvest—grown under mulch with occasional irrigation, biodynamic preparations and a few applications of humates along with a bit of kelp and fish on a soil that simply wasn’t cooking prior to this planting. See how dense the clusters of ginger corms are. The short distance between nodes indicates a rich silica content, which relates to both herbal potency and good keeping qualities. This is ginger of rare nip that makes quite a potent tea when boiled, or good, hot curries and stir fries.

I invested in a small deli slicer and pickled quite a bit as sushi ginger using a rice vinegar/apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pickling spice and red shiso leaf recipe. At the rate I’ve tucked into it I wish I had put up three times as much—spicy, ginger hot and delicious. The rest of the crop has kept for four months in my garage without refrigeration. At the time of writing I am replanting in a new bed.

While the ginger was excellent, the big deal is what it did for the soil. I like to farm to improve my soils rather than depleting it, and ginger surely can do this.

I followed the ginger harvest with maize, which isn’t suited for winter. Yet the maize got off to a bang of a start, survived light frosts and is making a modest crop–which can only happen when corn roots are colonized by the best biology from root emergence onward.

All garden work in this series of pictures was done with hand tools on odd weekends. The ginger harvest and subsequent cultivation of the bed was done with a pitchfork rather than a shovel—that’s how workable this soil became.



The ginger, dug and laid out View from the other end






A couple close ups showing the ginger clump density, a result of superb silica uptake



The soil afterward  Ginger roots with dense branching







A couple close ups showing the ginger clump density, a result of superb silica uptake





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

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 



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.


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.                                                                                           


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 and Resource Consulting Services   (yes the url is this is not an error!).


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 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.

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.


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 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, 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.  



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.


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.


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.




            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.


Why I Use Radionics

Why I Use Radionics

By Hugh Lovel


In one breath, I am a biodynamic grower who uses radionics precisely because it works with life instead of death. 

Many erroneous ideas about radionics are bandied about, almost like confetti at a celebration, and clarity is long overdue. One of these ideas, common amongst detractors who condemn radionics without investigation, is that radionics works with electricity. This is like saying that music works with electricity because you can listen to it using an electrical device. Saying that radionics works with electricity is misleading and hysterical, and it is time to set the record straight.


What Is Radionics?


The term radionics comes from the realization that everything, without exception, gives off its own characteristic radiating pattern or wave form, and a radionic instrument can be anything which channels such patterns. My favourite radionic instrument is a piece of paper with an iris pattern printed on it, and the most popular radionic devices in use today are the Sri Sanjeevini cards that are simple sets of sector marks within a circular, nine lobed lotus pattern. Sanjeevini cards usually are printed on paper and are used daily by hundreds of thousands of people in India and throughout the world. Anyone who is interested can find these cards at:





      Projection Wheel                                           


I was introduced to radionics by T. Galen Hieronymus and his wife, Sarah, who lived within 65 miles of me in Georgia. Galen was one of the early radionic pioneers and held the only U.S. Patent ever issued for radionic gear.

Galen’s patent examiner insisted that he name the mysterious energy that made his invention work. Although Galen had proven neither electricity nor optics were involved, he saw that the organisational energy he was working with had much in common with both electricity and optics. So, in the patent examiner’s office he threw caution to the winds, called it ‘eloptic’ energy and won his patent. “Biggest misnomer there ever was.” is what told me.


Life and Death


When thinking about life I distinguish between lively health and vitality and barely scraping along on the threshold of oblivion. What I mean is the difference between syntropy and entropy. Entropy is a process of dispersal, dissolution and death; a process where energy becomes increasingly unavailable. Syntropy is a process of building order, complexity and organisation; a process of increasingly building stores of available energy. Life is syntropic as it defies entropy, and the more strongly it does this the more alive it is. Death runs down while life runs up. 

Many in our culture believe that only entropy exists—yet, strangely enough, many of these same people believe in evolution. If there was only entropy an embryo would never become a child or a mature adult. Clouds would not gather moisture into themselves and concentrate it strongly enough to give us rain. Forests would never grow, and what we know as fertile soil would never have developed. In the words of Nobel Prize winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887—1961) “Living organisms have the remarkable ability to concentrate a stream of order on themselves.” 

One of our problems in recognizing the nature of life is its dynamic quality. Life is a process rather than the mass and volume of substance involved. It seems life must be measured by qualitative means, rather than weight or volume. Would any farmer deny that some soils and some farms are more alive than others even though they may be of similar size and other physical measures? Likewise some foods are far richer in vitality, flavour, balance and wholesomeness than others, even though they may measure the same in minerals, carbohydrates or proteins—just look at sugar and honey, raw milk and boiled milk or fresh fruits and processed foods.


Patterns and Boundaries


As paper radionic devices illustrate, radionics is about patterns. Patterns define boundaries and this gives rise to order. Order provides organization, which is what makes living organisms alive. Think of organization as a process that arises at boundaries and is the basis of life. Where death energy disperses, such as we see with electricity—life energy builds from lower to higher concentration. Then when a point is reached in the process where an organism dies and its boundaries and syntropic processes fail, it becomes entropic and disintegrates.

The power of boundaries is so phenomenal it tends to escape our notice, as we need to grasp the idea before we can see the phenomenon. Mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot hardly had any idea what would develop when he started defining boundaries with the simple formula Z = Z2 + C. What he discovered was an astonishing profusion of organic forms that revealed layer after layer of complexity and gave rise to a branch of mathematics known today as fractals. The Mandelbrot Set—which arises from the equation above—is a classic case of beautiful, organic mathematics. Below is a link to download a Mandelbrot Set generator that can be entertaining to play with.






Overview of the Mandelbrot Set (Z = Z2 + C) prior to magnification.


The Edge Effect


Permaculturists often describe the boundary phenomenon as the edge effect, and the idea is to strive, insofar as possible, to maximize this edge effect in landscape design. This enriches the pattern density of an area and enlivens it. A palpable increase in the vitality of a landscape is observable as the edge effect is increased, even though we must remember that vitality is measured qualitatively rather than quantitatively. 

The human organism is a huge collection of boundaries and patterns from the outer boundaries of skin, hair and nails to the double helix spirals of our DNA to the resonant wave patterns of our sub-atomic particles. 

It took me a long time, heaps of observations of nature and several readings of Steiner’s Agriculture Course to understand life processes and how they arise out of chaos into organization, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who struggles with this idea. In our culture today we’ve been taught that life is some kind of absolute that cannot be evaluated—something is either alive or it isn’t. From this point of view a person on life support is considered fully alive—until he isn’t. Of course, we CAN tell when the life essence has fully departed as the corpse left behind disintegrates. But how can we ignore the difference between a tree in its prime and growing well and a tree that is hollow, rotten and riddled with termites? How can we pretend that each embody the same degree of aliveness?




It might give rise to ill-feeling to compare the vitality of our farm with our neighbours’. In the first place we’d do better comparing our paddocks to the roadside, since the roadside is more likely to be doing whatever the natural potential of the land is, if left unfarmed. The paddocks we work with may be flogged almost to oblivion and just barely scraping by with a fraction of the diversity of the roadsides. Showing how our own paddocks are less flogged than someone else’s is hardly an answer to raising the game of the neighbourhood to nature’s level and beyond. And we should be thinking about achieving the beyond part, because the more alive something is the more strongly it draws a stream of organization out of the cosmos. All too often our fence rows and roadsides are drawing life from the cosmos and supporting our paddocks. If we only farmed restoratively our paddocks would be drawing life out of the cosmos and feeding the roadsides.   

When we compare applications of the BD preparations by stirring and spraying with radionic patterning we tend to miss the point. The two are different approaches although they achieve similar results insofar as both can build life into the environment. I have to say, I love the easy application of patterns via radionics. This is a Godsend. I would never have gained a hundredth as much experience with what the biodynamic preparations can do without radionic treatments being so cheap and easy. To the consternation of critics, radionics encourages frequent and precise use of the biodynamic preparations, and growers stand to learn a lot. Unless the BD preps are used they do nothing and nothing is learned. 

On the other hand, stirring and spraying BD preps tends to provide people— myself included—with a more empathic and meditative modality that invites everyone to pour their souls into what they spray on their paddocks. I’m sure this is important because nature responds to feelings rather than reason. When we stir and spray with deep, heartfelt gratitude, nature responds wonderfully. I am so sure of this that I recommend radionic patterning with deep gratitude as well—but this isn’t quite the same as pouring your heart into the rhythm and tonality of stirring clockwise and anticlockwise for an hour and then spraying. Comparing the meditative stirring method, which takes more time and resources, with radionics, which is a great teaching tool, is like comparing peanuts with watermelons. I like both. Why would I only have one when I could have both? I intend to keep on stirring and spraying even if only to treat my seed potatoes or to spray around my field broadcaster.



      Biodynamic Pattern Cards from Australian Herbs


 The type of radionic card shown above was originally introduced by Malcolm Rae (1913 –1979), an early radionic pioneer. The design is more than symbolic as the rings provide boundaries, which give rise to organization and life. The “sector marks” within the circles provide resistance which concentrates life energy according to each pattern. Since life energy flows into wherever it is concentrated, it flows through the marks on the cards. These Malcolm Rae type cards are excellent for use with the paper projection wheel.

 Of course, more sophisticated radionic instruments offer some advantages over paper radionics. I prefer the card type instrument, which was also pioneered by Malcolm Rae. Below is a picture of the Japanese made ‘Iyachiko’ instrument (still no electricity) which features energy accumulators with both card readers and plates. The plates come in handy for materials if there are no corresponding cards, and the 0 to 999 potentiometers provide a complete range of homeopathic potencies. The sacred geometric proportions feel natural and organic, and the instrument has storage inside its lid for pattern cards and other bits as well as protecting against dust or damage. A lead from the instrument can transfer the patterns into spray tanks, irrigation systems and liquid inputs such as compost teas or activated EM brews, while the well can be used for maps or other specimen targets. Most importantly— since the essence of control is to use the exact amount of force necessary and no more or no less—the Iyachiko includes a timer and can automatically shut itself off instead of requiring the operator to shut off the instrument when pattern transfer is accomplished. 

335Hugh Lovel design Radionic Instrument




There was a time when I could hardly imagine how a radionic instrument could work with life energy. I simply had no concept. Over the years experience has convinced me, and as a chef and chemist I’ve found flavour and aroma are the best indicators of vital, nutritious produce. It’s that old complexity thing again.

I realize some want laboratory evidence, and there is a test, called paper disc chromatography, that Rudolf Steiner proposed for showing how much life and vitality a specimen contains. Harvey Lisle, who passed away this last year, introduced me to paper disc chromatography, and I have my own laboratory for making these chromos showing the entire chemistry of a soil or food specimen between the opposite poles of lime and silica. I have found that using radionics to apply biodynamic preparation patterns produces some of the finest chromatograms I have seen, and I intend in future articles to show a variety of these pictures so readers can form their own opinions.

In the final analysis, why do I like radionics? It is easy, accurate, effective, swift and sure. Using a map I can pattern my whole property with whichever biodynamic preparation or preparations I need at the moment, and I can put the preparation patterns for current conditions into foliar or fertigation applications. For example, radionics allows me to compensate for too much rain by applying the Oak Bark preparation (BD 505) in tandem with the Horsetail preparation (BD 508) whenever things go from excessively dry to excessively wet all of a sudden. And I really like it that I don’t have to set foot in soggy paddocks and I can apply the patterns I want at any time of the day or night. I can also use radionics to moderate such problems as weeds, or animal infestations, and it seems extremely useful in plant breeding as well. Dealing with animal ailments is simplicity itself, and I can use virtually any homeopathic in the repertory. Even better, when I can’t afford to apply physical amendments with something expensive like molybdenum or kelp I can reduce the physical application to one part in a thousandth and use radionics to get good response. 

Actually I only know a fraction of the things I can do with radionics, and because it is so easy to use I find myself applying my biodynamic preparations in far more instances than were ever possible stirring the raw preps. In the process I have learned to intimately appreciate what each one does and when best to apply it.


Peter Escher

Back when I started farming, my first biodynamic mentor was Peter Escher,

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer’s partner in setting up his laboratories at Threefold Farm in Spring Valley, New York. Pfeiffer was Rudolf Steiner’s right-hand man in his agricultural work, and was devoted to carrying out Steiner’s wish that we apply the benefits of our biodynamic preparations to the widest possible areas of the entire earth. Clearly Peter had also devoted his life to this task, and I was deeply touched by his hope that somehow something of Steiner’s gift to humanity would succeed in bearing fruit for the greater good. 

By the time I met him in 1977, Peter was a very old man with an immense sense of urgency about him. As I got to know him, this urgency came across to me as a palpable sense of relief that from time to time I got his teachings in one or two goes. Sometimes I think I am incredibly stupid—but on the occasions when I worked with Peter there was a mystique about the old man that inspired me. I was really keen to grasp what he told me with all my heart, knowing that Peter himself was a gift and an answer to my solemnest prayers.


Life Runs Up/Death Runs Down


Rudolf Steiner gave the insights of his Agriculture Course and his indications for making remedies to re-enliven the earth out of an understanding of syntropy and how it makes things increasingly more and more alive. This task of re-enlivening the earth is what biodynamic preparations are meant to do. The more they are used, the more they make our land and our crops thrive. Steiner hoped to reverse the situation where selfish, deluded, insecure people are wringing the life out of the world. His agriculture course was his final, desperate effort to introduce a new impulse toward syntropy. Otherwise he foresaw that soon the earth would no longer be able to support life.. 

Both Pfeiffer and Escher saw that our most important task was to apply the benefits of the biodynamic preparations to the widest possible areas of the entire earth for its healing. The philosophy will catch up later after we reverse the trend toward selfishness and death. The urgency of this mission implies we must apply the preps as quickly as possible in whatever form we can—and Steiner encouraged innovation. Steiner believed that improved nutrition was the fundamental factor that would overcome the main inner hindrances of personal ambition, illusions and petty jealousies.

In one of our discussions, Peter Escher pointed out to me that it was the demons who first recognised Christ for what and who he was. He noted that those opposed to human progress are always at the forefront of stifling and stymieing any impulses to the good. He pointed out that the biodynamic movement was never immune to this. 

When Pfeiffer got his laboratories working he manufactured and distributed two biodynamic preparation products—Dr. Pfeiffer’s Quick Composting Compound and Dr. Pfeiffer’s Field Spray. This was met with furious condemnation by those who held that no one could or should use Steiner’s agricultural remedies who was not devoted to Anthroposophy with a capital “A”. Had Pfeiffer bowed to this pressure, Steiner’s task of applying the preparations to the widest possible areas would have been stymied.

Not at all strangely, though Peter and I talked about many things that can only be described as spiritual, we never had any conversations about Anthroposophy. However, with my love of language I looked this term up in my Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. I don’t know who writes diectionaries, but there is deep wisdom in the definitions of words. Webster’s gave two definitions of anthroposophy: 1. The study of human wisdom; and 2. A cult based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner. While I don’t know when I was not engaged in anthroposophy of the first sort, the second definition would not have applied to Rudolf Steiner himself. 


Boiling It Down


I reckon what it comes down to is the world has always had two kinds of people on board. One set believes in taking whatever they can for themselves at the expense of others and the world, thus aggrandizing and enriching themselves while forcing others into insignificance and poverty. Their ideal of perfection is to force everyone besides themselves to conform to the lowest common denominators and pitting everyone against each other whilst they make off with the loot. Of course, they think they are special exceptions. This world view results in the earth running down to exhaustion and death. 

The other set of people believe in freely enriching the world around them and encouraging others to develop their gifts, whatever they may be. Thus their ideal of perfection is to promote diversity and cooperation, which by its dynamic nature enhances the world and humanity while creating abundance. Quite naturally this sort believes everyone is special. This world view would result in the world running up to greater and greater enhancement. 

It is no wonder that the first group has an easy time of exploiting the other. The first group automatically takes, the second gives. It is a match made in heaven— except domination by the takers over the givers results in a world of serial rape, pillage and oppression that runs down until it dies. Considering that our culture is dominated by the taker mentality, it is little wonder that the belief in entropy is so entrenched while it’s opposite, syntropy, is ridiculed. 


Can Do/Can’t Do


Many are those who prefer to enforce what cannot be done rather than nurturing what can be done. In the glossary of A Biodynamic Farm (ACRES, USA, 1994) I define good, evil and freedom in the hope of bringing clarity to some of these issues. Good is an adjective used to describe something or someone who brings about an increase in freedom and ability. On the other hand, Evil is a cause of limitation or harm. Freedom is the choice to, or not to, or the choice not to choose. Freedom cannot be either/or; it must be both/and; and it also includes the ability to choose not to make a choice. As long as one must either have freedom from or freedom to, one is under compulsion. One is even under compulsion if one is forced to make a choice. 

I don’t know of anyone using radionics as a biodynamic method who insists that radionic patterning is the only way or that biodynamics can be used. However, there are many like those who condemned Ehrenfried Pfeiffer and Peter Escher, that seemingly wish to limit biodynamics to an elite few who adhere to the methodology of stirring and spraying—even if this is only horn manure and horn silica once a year— while pretending they are truly doing what Rudolf Steiner recommended. If they could, they would hold biodynamics back to these limits as government and commercial policy—which shows which side of the divide they are on.  ≈    




Ehrenfried Pfeiffer






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.



“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.




            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, ( ) 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 . 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 and Hugh at .




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).




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.






Field Broadcasters

Field Broadcasting 25 Years On

By Hugh Lovel




T. Galen Hieronymus introduced his first ‘Cosmic Pipes’ in the mid-1980s and shortly thereafter Jerry Friedenstein introduced what he called ‘Towers of Power’. These were early versions of passive, self-driven field devices using pattern energy to set up induction fields that enhanced biological processes. The Hieronymus design in particular worked like a crystal radio set, driven by the charge differential between the soil and the atmosphere.


Initially the concept was to increase soil vitality with beneficial patterns of energy. This could feed plants better nutrition from the soil and improve agricultural results. Hieronymus’s early experiments indicated energy patterns could be conveyed through copper wires and imparted at a receipt point represented by any sort of ‘witness’. This witness could be a serum specimen, a photograph, a map or even a name of a distinct person or place. This wasn’t a new concept, as Hieronymus patented his ‘eloptic’ analyser based on these discoveries back in 1949.


Getting Started

Long ago I learned faith provides the courage to seek, and what you seek you find. In 1985 a neighbour loaned me a copy of ACRES, USA, prodding me to look into Galen’s ‘cosmic pipe’. I then subscribed to ACRES and found time to visit Galen and his wife Sarah at their Oasis slightly over an hour away in Lakemont, GA. With my background in quantum physics everything made sense, as my university professors had argued that quantum rules, such as non-locality, entanglement and coherence, applied at every level of the universe. This was just what I had been looking for.


As a market gardener I grew many different kinds of crops, so Galen gave me one of his Cosmic Pipes to experiment with. At first I didn’t know what I was doing and set it up against the bank below my chicken coop. Galen and his wife Sarah visited, and he suggested the top plate had to be at least 8 feet away from anything related to the ground to have enough head room to work, so I moved it out across the driveway into a patch I was planting in corn where a Bray 2 test showed 278 lbs/acre phosphorous despite previous signs of phosphorous deficiency. I’d thought to remedy that by placing valerian flower juice (BD 507), a noted phosphorous remedy, in the reagent well. For sure, the corn grew robustly with no signs of phosphorous deficiency, and initially I thought this was good.


Also I’d sowed carrots with a few radishes mixed in to mark the rows, and I was disappointed when the radishes bloomed at four weeks and simply crispend and died in six—no radishes and no seed. That seemed a little strange, but after two months scattered carrots started to bloom, and they too crispend and died—no carrots, no seed. Very strange. Soon the corn started to tassel, but three weeks afterwards only a few stalks had developed ears and presented silks. Even these made no corn. My tomatoes had bloomed and burned up, and my peppers seemed to be going the same way. I was extremely puzzled, and I asked myself, what was going on?


With a start, I realized the valerian flower juice [BD 507] in the reagent well had thrown everything out of balance. The phosphorous process is a burning process that culminates in flowering, and due to the Cosmic Pipe it had overwhelmed all the other biological processes.



Obviously Galen’s technology worked, but the message was to be careful with the reagent patterns. By broadcasting nothing but the BD 507 I had thrown things seriously out of balance and over-stimulated the phosphorous process all by itself. Over the years the issue of balance has turned out to be the most damaging beginner’s error. As a solution, using my Hieronymus Analyser, I made a reagent that included all of the biodynamic preparations (numbered 500-508) as well as a microbial culture and a fossil humate fertilizer with a 5-3-3-2-2 analysis, and the results easily were the best I had experienced in farming. However, that was 1988 and I still had a lot to learn.


The next year, for the first time, my old washed-out, eroded soils put in a genuinely good performance. In October I visited Harvey Lisle, a biodynamic pioneer who lived in Ohio, and we made paper disc chromatograms from my soils and produce crops. Urea showed up quite clearly in every chromatogram except my compost. I had never used urea. To sort this out, I talked to Leland Taylor of Agronics in New Mexico who manufactured the humate fertiliser with 5% nitrogen, and he said it was no secret, his fossil humate, Rico Verde™, was boosted with urea. However, he explained, when applied to a garden or field soil, the microbial activity nourished by the humates would convert the urea to amino acids within a day or two. I’m sure that was correct.


But, obviously that did not apply to field broadcasting which put out the pattern without the bulk microbial food. The only place I had enough microbial activity to keep the urea converted was in my compost piles. No wonder I smelled a whiff of urea every time I fried one of my ‘yard’ eggs. As a biodynamic farmer I was very sensitive to the difference between ‘funny’ nitrogen, such as urea, and functional amino acid nitrogen, and thus I substituted Agronics’ raw humate, Clodbuster™, for the Rico Verde™ in my reagents, whereupon the hint of urea disappeared. The eggs were the best ever, the chickens were broody for the first time, and the farm seemed happy. This was a bit more than two years on into experimenting with the Hieronymus Cosmic Pipe.




Over the following seven years my potato crops continually improved. However, over the last six of those years I lost my tomato crop to decomposition just prior to ripening—a week earlier each year. First it was the beginning of October, then it marched back across September to where at the last I lost my tomatoes at the end of August. Mysteriously some kind of imbalance was building up.


Market gardening is very sensitive to the influences of the surrounding cosmos which constantly shift this way and that. You always win some and lose some. This, however, was a consistent trend. Eventually I realized the flaw in Galen’s concept was his Cosmic Pipe design built up the mineral, biological, digestive and nutritive forces in the soil, but it entirely neglected the atmospheric processes of photosynthesis, blossoming, fruiting and ripening. Potatoes are a crop very close to the soil, while tomatoes are a crop of the atmosphere. By constantly building up the forces in the soil while neglecting the atmosphere, things soon got to where my tomatoes never ripened but were digested while my potatoes thrived—proof once again that the technology worked, but also proof it had to be applied in a balanced way.


At this point I made a complete re-design with two wells, two circuits and two broadcast coils—one set for the soil and another, mirror image of the first, for the atmosphere. In the bottom well I used homeopathic potencies of all the lime polarity biodynamic preparations, and in the top well all the silica polarity ones. And, because of having to face such wisecracks as, “Cosmic Pipe, eh? What do you smoke in it?” I called my new copyright design a Field Broadcaster since what it did was broadcast a patterned induction field to the land. On my farm the following year I was hauling full loads of beautiful vine ripe tomatoes to my markets. At this point I decided to manufacture and sell units.


Lessons in Manufacturing


From the start, Hieronymus’s worst design flaw was condensation of moisture inside the pipe. Unless the pipe was sealed, daytime expansion of the air inside meant cool, moist air came back in at night, and moisture would collect in the bottom and gradually fill up the tube. This affected the broadcast and the results were not desirable. My new design made this a lot harder to happen. While manufacturing flaws can occur, if the assembly is air tight and the well jars are seated with silicone caulk, this cannot occur.


While I published the basic design, both in ACRES, USA and ACRES Australia, there’s only so much information one can give when it comes to manufacturing technique. I wanted individual farmers to experiment. However, publishing plans was not meant to fuel commercial production. Lloyd Charles, an Australian biodynamic farmer that I collaborated with to produce my broadcasters in Australia, reckoned it probably takes making 20 broadcasters to get on top of manufacturing technique so a reliable product is produced, and I quite agree. Even then, given a 5 year warranty on defects and customer feedback, manufacturing flaws turn up.


Quality control—thoroughness, skill, dedication and testing—are a product of learning experiences born out of making mistakes. I’ve seen a lot of homemade field broadcasters with a variety of deficiencies, and filling up with water is the leading cause of malfunction. One farmer in a high rainfall area of New Zealand had a friend make him a broadcaster rather than order one from overseas. It filled up with what I believe was high sodium water, because over a period of several years his soil sodium levels climbed and climbed to where they were 4% of his CEC and more than double his potassium levels. This seriously affected his production and frustrated all attempts at correction. From any ordinary point of view it made little sense


Also, livestock—particularly cows or horses—like to rub up against the broadcaster and soon will snap it off.  This has turned out to be the second most common problem, is not covered under warranty, and it can happen to any broadcaster lacking a secure corral. Accidents with equipment come under this heading too.

Broadcastyer corral (1)







Field Broadcaster in a corral on an Australian Cattle Station




Indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers and poisons around the broadcaster or in its near vicinity is another major concern. Twice I’ve seen entire banana plantations turn noticeably yellow when glyphosate was applied around the base of their broadcasters.


Most alarming of all, one day while I was out a fellow called and left a message that he had built one of my ‘cosmic pipes’ and put Black Flag™ in it—was that going to take care of his insects? Unfortunately he didn’t leave a number, and this was back when we didn’t have smart phones that remembered callers’ numbers. A commercial insecticide such as Black Flag™ surely would have ‘taken care’ of his insects—and also his dog, cat, kids, wife, etc. and himself. What’s left of him may be six feet under and pushing up daisies. I guess he wasn’t thinking of the sixth commandment, Thou shalt not kill; but it’s amazing how widespread the Cain mentality is. In the Biblical story, when Cain felt he had a problem with his brother, Abel, his solution was murder. If a farmer doesn’t like a weed or an insect, the usual solution is just kill it. Euphemistically this is called control, but personally, I think it is an extremely dangerous approach.




On the Positive Side




On the other hand one broadcaster owner called me up, and with no pause for pleasantries said, “I haven’t slept a wink in over a week.”


I responded, “What are you talking about?”


He blurted, “Even the dog and the cat are jumping out of their skins. What do I do?”


My response was, “Okay. What have you done?”


“I had a bag of Azomite™, and ever since I spread it around my Field Broadcaster I haven’t gotten a wink of sleep.”


He sounded very distraught—almost in tears—and I was beginning to understand. I asked, “The whole bag? How close to the broadcaster?”


“Yeah, the whole bag, maybe in an eight foot radius.”


“I see. Well look, you’d have been fine if you’d used a handful or two over that area, but Azomite™ is a super high energy mineral, and the whole bag was a massive overdose. You need to scrape up as much as you can and spread it out like a normal field application.”


This illustrates that whatever is going on in the immediate vicinity of the field broadcaster becomes part of the patterns that are broadcast. The corollary is that balanced improvement of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the broadcaster will have a favourable effect all over the property—just don’t overdo it. We recommend to people that they spray a complex of biodynamic preparations around the broadcaster when they install it. In America I usually recommend the Pfeiffer Field and Garden Spray from the Josephine Porter Institute. In Australia I like to recommend the Soil Activator preparation available from Biodynamic Agriculture Australia (02 6655 0566). As for what to plant around the broadcaster, my favourite is a stinging nettle patch around the base.


Quantum Homeopathy

Via dowsing, Harvey Lisle was the first to discover that burying vials of various biodynamic preparations in their physical form a couple inches deep along the east side of his Hieronymus Cosmic Pipe would project these remedies into the broadcast. However, when he left these raw preparations there for prolonged periods some undesirable effects occurred. This was the first clue that field broadcasting worked better with homeopathic preparation patterns than with the raw materials. The physical substances were overwhelming if not diluted so that their subtle patterns came to the fore.


While there are a lot of amazing success stories out there about putting physical materials or preparations in the wells or next to the broadcast coils for a few days and then removing them, the key to lasting success is removing them again.


For example, a dairy farmer in southeast Queensland had over 80% of his farm flooded for a couple weeks. When the water receded the pastures were water logged and anaerobic. In a conference call with other field broadcaster owners it was suggested he bury a vial of hydrogen peroxide alongside his broadcaster for a few days, and he did. Almost immediately the pastures bounced back and started growing, where across the highway his neighbour’s pastures remained sodden and bedraggled for more than a month. After a few days this dairy farmer removed the vial, as advised, and things went well; but try to imagine what would happen if hydrogen peroxide was part of the broadcast 24/7/365. It wouldn’t take long before serious imbalances showed up.


I’ve done this sort of thing with solubor, and by the third day every animal on the farm, including the rabbits and myself, had very, very loose stools. With copper sulphate the effects were so noticeable in three weeks that everyone on the farm was complaining of going numb in any part of their bodies that had received any sort of a recent electric shock, even a low grade one.


On the other hand, 30c potencies of various raw substances left in the wells for months and months never showed any physical symptoms—although tissue tests showed the boron, copper, calcium, molybdenum or whatever soon showed up in the plants.


Subtle Energies


The general category most pattern energy modalities fall into—like colour therapy, homeopathy, field broadcasters and radionic devices—is called ‘subtle’ energy because these low level quantum effects usually aren’t immediately physical like hammers, levers and gears. It takes paying attention to details, as well as the overall picture and the progression of events, to realize what the effects are. Dowsing can be used to detect extremely subtle effects, which is how Harvey Lisle noticed that any substance placed in the soil adjacent to his Cosmic Pipe immediately affected the entire induction field of the broadcast.


A grazer in the Inland Empire north of Spokane, Washington recently told us he noticed the effects of his broadcaster immediately because he had Lyme disease and the treatment caused something called a Herxheimer Reaction from sudden, massive elimination of dead cells. His doctor had prescribed that he take molybdenum supplementation for this, and the reagent package for his broadcaster had 30c sodium molybdate in both top and bottom wells. Whenever he was on his property with the field broadcaster his Herxheimer reaction was greatly reduced.


Another milestone was laid down in the early days by Mark Moeller, a radionic agricultural consultant who worked with Hieronymus. Mark was the first to insist that that broadcasts must be limited to individual properties, as we have neither the moral nor legal right to affect others’ properties without their informed consent.


My hat’s off to Mark, but as far as I’m aware I was the first to realize that because of quantum entanglement we could use aerial maps of the broadcaster owner’s property with the boundaries marked, along with a written intent that defined the area of the broadcast. The result of this was an even, resonant containment and build-up of the energetic patterns within the broadcast area, and a large improvement in results.


These sorts of lessons arise from trained observation of natural processes by folks skilled in the detection of imbalances and apt in finding corrective measures that increase and enhance beneficial effects. In short, field broadcasters are best placed, maintained and programmed by people with an in-depth familiarity with agriculture and a profound understanding of nature. To this end my wife, Shabari, and I are training and certifying Quantum Agriculture graduates who are equipped to install and service field broadcasters as an aspect of a comprehensive agricultural consultancy aimed at achieving consistent quality results.


The Coattails of Change

Needless to say we feel considerable responsibility to warn against fraud. A new technology like this acts as a magnet for fast talking scam artists who rely on gullibility and ignorance. Field broadcasting fits this bill because few people are well grounded in quantum theory or how nature works in thriving, self-sufficient ecosystems. This makes it a risk to deal with anyone without a proven track record behind them. There have been copies including out-and-out rip-offs of my designs for commercial purposes along with re-printings of my articles, customer testimonials, photos and frequently asked questions straight from my website. This is more than enough reason for us to train certified Quantum Agriculture representatives.


Back in the early days I wanted everyone to understand the concepts and have access to the design to experiment with. This has led to efforts by others to patent my design and/or to sell poorly manufactured units. While I think I should have expected this, the part that worries me most is giving a new technology a bad name. I don’t like seeing poorly made products sold in my name.


While beginners will make their own field broadcasters based on my published (copyright) design and—with little or no experience with reagent patterns—achieve wondrous success, these folks are more or less flying blind in a dense fog. Good luck you brave souls, pay close attention and wondrous things will happen—but they won’t all be good. Mistakes are the key to learning, so take care to minimize risk, have courage, and who knows what can be learned. Keep in touch, keep good records, ask questions and please, share results. That way we all will learn. The application of subtle energies in agriculture is a game changer on par with the development of the steam and internal combustion engines, and it heralds a new age in agriculture.


On the other hand people who go straight into manufacturing and selling hardware using my design for profit should contact me to work out a licensing agreement. I have had people blatantly rip me off and advertise that they are selling “Hugh Lovel Broadcasters” while I had no oversight in their manufacture and received nary a cent for either the use of my name and reputation or my copyright.

In Summary

My inadvertent beginner’s mistake of broadcasting the pattern of urea, which resulted in things growing well even though it poisoned the environment with low grade nitrogen salts, illustrates how essential a profound understanding of nature is for the success of field broadcasting. Nitrogen salts impair natural nitrogen fixation, which is what we really want if our farms or gardens are to produce abundant, quality results with little or no outside inputs while building soil to the benefit of mankind and the greater ecology. Sure, broadcasting the resonant pattern of urea created physical urea throughout the farm. Superficially it looked good, but nitrogen salts, including urea, are the antagonist of silica which is the basis of transport and organic integrity. The long range effects are pests, diseases and less than optimal nutrition. On the other hand, amino acid nitrogen, particularly the three sulphur containing amino acids found in cell walls, connective tissues and transport vessels are synergistic with silica, and it is this amino acid nitrogen that works with silica to give plants immunity to pests and diseases along with nutritional density.  


Unsurprisingly, silica is usually ignored in chemical agriculture where things look good on the surface, but at a subtler level are profoundly askew. The result is loss of protoplasmic density, cosmetic blemishes, disease and pest problems and a failure to raise the soil foodweb and the overall farm ecology to the level of robust self-sufficiency.


From the start, the problem with chemical agriculture has been excitement with what superficially looked great but at the core was rotten. Though agricultural science of the recent past is strewn with bad examples, we need to achieve the highest level of scientific integrity in agriculture. As Liebig pointed out, agriculture stands above all other professions. For all of the wonders of urbanization, sociologists continue to point out that civilization is utterly dependent on agriculture. This means it is a matter of greatest importance that we hold agriculture to the highest standard of integrity, as this will be reflected in our culture.


This was true when Justus von Liebig penned his mea culpa in 1873, “Indeed, Herein Lies the Crux of My Life”, and, it is every bit as true today. I believe it would be appropriate to redeem the great chemist and father of chemical agriculture’s reputation. We must adhere to a high standard, and the application of subtle energy patterns in agriculture may well help us accomplish that.



The worship of false doctrines must be destroyed I’ve long thought it sufficient in science to teach the truth and to spread it. However, the glorification of falsehood must be annihilated to establish a firm foundation for truth, and I’ve recently realized my error in agriculture was not pursuing this further. As my final wish, I pass on the mission to cleanse my teachings of the accumulated lies others have used to obscure them, lo these many years.

In truth, agriculture is both contemplative and spiritual Unfortunately almost no one realizes the truebeauty 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.

The Bondage of Error At one time, the view permeated my every fibre that plants obtained theirnourishment in soluble form. This view was false and was the source of my errant behaviour, but the human mind is a curious thing and it sees nothing beyond its field of vision.


–Justus von Liebig, Indeed, Herein Lies the Crux of My Life


Hugh Lovel, author of the book A Biodynamic Farm and frequent contributor to ACRES, USA and ACRES Australia is a multi-disciplinary scientist dedicated to abundant production of food of the highest quality while regenerating soil fertility and environmental health. He farmed for 30 years in Georgia before migrating to Australia as an agronomist, lecturer and consultant to growers from horticulture to grazing. He believes the best results come from empowering farmers to be well-informed and self-reliant, and he recommends only what is needed for best outcomes while saving growers money.  Mixing detailed explanations with practical examples, Hugh helps growers sort out problems of all types by learning to identify their causes rather than merely treating symptoms. Using what he calls the Biochemical Sequence and Comprehensive Testing, he points out how to interpret soils, crops, weeds and lab results to grasp the key importance of sulphur, boron and silicon, which all too often go ignored.


Shabari Bird Lovel, Hugh’s partner and former neighbour of 30 years, teaches  self-improvement as well as food preparation, fermentation and preservation. She has a passionate interest in agricultural ferments. Her late husband, Christopher Bird, co-authored Secret Life of Plants and Secrets of the Soil.

Shabari works actively with Hugh to update the “Reagents” for their Field Broadcaster clients around the world.