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Food quality

The whole is more
than the sum of its


In biodynamic research, additional to nutrient and active ingredients, formative and vital forces are studied with so called holistic or complementary methods.

Shape, smell and taste of wheat in the the DOK farming systems trial

In this project it was tried to develop simple methods for assessing the specifically biologic quality profile of wheat, based on experiences in sensory perception.

Mixed samples of the field replications of biodynamic (D2), bio-organic (O2), conventional with farmyard manure (K2) of the long-term field trial (DOK trial) in Therwil, 10 km south of Basel, were analysed.
Mash tasting of the 1999 harvest: mixed samples of 300 g of bruised grain, milled in a home flour mill of the field repeats of D2, O2 and K2 were each boiled up with 1.5 l water and 6 g salt. The mash was offered a panel of 19 participants at FiBL for tasting. The participants received each treatment as double sample (= 6 bowls). The tasks were 1.) to evaluate aroma and taste of the samples (data not shown), 2.) to relate the two identical samples and 3.) to range the samples according to their popularity. In the evaluation it was first tested in separate analyses of variance (with likelihood iteration) if parameters such as age, sex, how much I do like mash influenced the rank. Afterwards, based on a two-factorial ANOVA, a model for the influence of taster and farming method on the rank was established. The comparison of the means of the rank positions was accomplished with the rank position adjusted for the taster influence. In a second run, “unqualified” tasters who had related none of the the three identical sample pairs correctly were excluded.

Results and discussion:
In the mash tasting, 12 tasters identified at least one pair and two tasters even related all three pairs correctly. Taster describing single parameters (see methods) did not significantly influence the rank positions of the samples and thus there was no need to include them in the ANOVA as covariables. The two-factorial ANOVA showed a highly significant influence of the farming method on the rank (P=0.0001, α= 0.05) and a highly significant interaction between taster and method (P=0.0073).

The presented, successively developed and purely sensory observation methods were clearly able to differentiate wheat quality in the DOK trial dependent on the applied method. Especially the method D2 clearly displayed a ripening dominated profile.

ARNCKEN, C.; WEIBEL, F.P. UND MÄDER, P. (2007): Gestalt, Geruch und Geschmack von Weizen im DOK-Anbauvergleichsversuch. 9. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau, Stuttgart-Hohenheim, Deutschland, 20.-23.03.2007; p. 449-452. Fulltext

Influence of biodynamic preparations on soil and grape

Wein A viticultural long-term trial (1996-2003) on a practising farm in California compares in one vineyard the treatments with biodynamic preparations and an untreated control in 4 replicates each. All applied cultivation measures do not differ between treatments. Analyses were made on the impact on soil and the grape quality.

During the first six years of the trial, no differences in soil quality were found.

The analysis of other attributes such as yield per vine, grape per vine, grape and berry weight did not show any differences. Statistically significant differences (p<0.05) were found in the ratios of yield to pruning weight. The biodynamic treatment displayed an ideal vine balance for producing high-quality winegapes. By contrast, the control vines were slightly overcropped.

In one of the trial years (2003) the biodynamic winegrapes displayed a significantly higher Brix (p<0.05) and higher contents of phenol and anthocyanins (p<0.01). These differences, however, were small and of doubtful practical significance.

REEVE, J.R.; CARPENTER-BOGGS, L.; REGANOLD, J.P.; YORK, A.L.; McGOURTY, G.; McCLOSKEY, L.P. (2005): Soil and winegrape quality in biodynamically and organically managed vineyards. American Journal of Enology and Viticulture 56, 367-376

Apples - organic and biodynamic

Comparison of crop yield and vital quality

At the National Educational and Research Centre for pomiculture and viniculture at Weinsberg (Germany), a cultivation trial with different fertilisation methods, underseed and soil tillage was run from 1991-96. Analysed parameters were plant health, quality and yield. In this project, apples from the cultivar Elstar taken from three treatments were analysed with picture forming methods regarding their vital quality.

Analysed treatments
Cultivar Elstar on rootstock M9 from three treatments:
1 = mechanical tillage without fertilisation. The spontaneously occurring vegetation grew from July on and was mulched after apple harvest. First tree row tillage in the following spring shortly after blossom-time.
5 = mechanical tillage with compost fertilisation. The tree row is kept without herbal vegetation during the whole year.
10 = mechanical tillage, fertilisation with prepared compost. Application of biodynamic spray preparations. The tree row is kept without herbal vegetation during the whole year.
Nine encoded apple samples were analysed with the following methods: copper chloride crystallisation according to PFEIFFER, rising picture method according to WALA, circular picture method according to PFEIFFER.

apple yield
Treatments apple: average of crop yield 92-96 (kg/tree, cultivar Elstar on M9)    
Source: Balzer-Graf et al. 1998
Comparing the treatments 1, 5 and 10, a higher yield on biodynamically managed plots becomes noticeable (see figure).

Using picture forming methods, the nine encoded apple samples could correctly be grouped according to cultivation method and be qualitatively differentiated.

The vital quality of fruits from the three treatments were characterised in the following way:

Treatment 1 = unfertilisied
quite characteristic for apple, fruity-differentiated, vital, slightly overripe – sclerotic, lightly dammed.

Treatment 5 = compost:
quite characteristic for apple, fruity-differentiated, vital, slightly vegetative – metabolic active, easily accessible for catabolic processes.

Treatment 10 = prepared compost and spray preparations:
characteristic for apple, clearly fruity-differentiated, vital to very vital, well riped, harmonically balanced.

BALZER-GRAF, U., HOPPE, H., STRAUB, M. (1998): Äpfel – organisch und biologisch-dynamisch. Erntemenge und Vitalqualität im Vergleich. Lebendige Erde 49, H. 5, S. 387-397


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