Explanatory models for the effects of preparations
When searching for explanations for exceptional results or incidences, we often ask: On which mechanism of action is this based? However, we are not aware that this is a completely inappropriate and even misdirceted question. The term mechanism clearly shows that we think of the inanimate (mechanical-physical) world and its specifical principles. The processes in soil biology, plant growth and yield, however, clearly are life processes of many different organisms; they are not merely mechanically interlocking like the gear wheels of a gearing. Therefore, our perception and conceivability, which are used to the inanimated world, can not supply adequate explanations for biological phenomenons. We should rather ask: On which organism of effect is this based? But such a term is not at our disposal. This expresses to a lesser extend a linguistic problem but rather a deficiency in thinking and conceivability. We should be aware of this background when searching for explanations for effects of preparations.
To date, there were basically two different ways to try to explain effects of preparations: causal, which means: from which causes can the observed effects of preparations be deduced? And final, which means: which is the aim of the perparations' effects? What do the preparations „want“? Without claiming completeness or aiming to give a final assessment, I would like to explain two possible explanatory models corresponding to the causal and the final approach, respectively.
Hypothesis of radiation effects:
The assumption that preparations have radiation effects is directly based on Steiner's statements in the Agricultural Course. During the response of questions after the fifth lecture, he spoke of the radiation power of the compost preparations in a manure pile (Steiner, 1924). Ingo Hagel used this statement to conduct an experiment with preparations shrink-wraped in test tubes. Pots with a soil-sand-mixture and the test tube at the bottom were then used to test the seed viability. During the experiment, neither the seeds nor the substrate were in direct contact with the preparation substance. Hagel (1988) reported after such experiments an influence of preparations on the viability of seeds and thus concluded that the hypothesis of radiation effects was confirmed. However, to date corresponding results could not definitely be confirmed, not even by Ingo Hagel himself.
Hypothesis of system regualtion
This hypotheses is based on the assumption that preparations are aiming to balance extreme growth conditions and are thus enabeling plants to grow at rather harmonious conditions. Therefore, depending on the situation, it can happen that the effects of the preparations can lead in different directions. This hypothesis is based on experimental results for yields in different years (see on another page). In a series of experiments yields were either increased or decreased depending on yield levels. At medium yield levels, preparations did not show any effect. Furthermore, it was striking that preparations did not show a clear dose-response relationship. This means that generally neither the frequency nor the amount of the applied preparation influenced the effects. Schaumann (1978) already emphazised the regulatory effects of preparations which stimulate the productive and assortative forces of nature. He compared the preparations' effectiveness with homeopathic remedies.
This consideration offers a completely new perspective both for the research on preparations and for the application of preparations in agricultural practice: preparations as a kind of remedies to improve the development of soil fertility, plant growth and the whole farm. Moreover, the model of system regulation can give explanations for the (seemingly) contradicting results (both increasing and decreasing yields).
Long-term trials still are of utmost importance for the experimental investigation of such effects of preparations. It is a pity that such trials are ceased in many countries because of mainly financial considerations. Thus, established investigations on the development of soil fertility are abandoned.
Hagel, I. (1988). Die biologisch-dynamischen Kompostpräparate 502-506 in Verbindung mit einem Treibkraft- und Selbstzersetzungstest. Lebendige Erde 1/88, 16-23
Schaumann, W. (1987). Vom Wirken mit Stoffen. Lebendige Erde, Heft 1, 3 u. 5, 2-7, 130-132, 251-256
Steiner, R. (1924). Agriculture: A course of eight lectures; 3rd edition; 35 Park Rd., London NW1; Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association 1974
Source of the text
Raupp, J. (2009). Bodenfruchtbarkeit - Auswirkungen der biologisch-dynamischen Wirtschaftsweise auf Bodenparameter in Langzeitversuchen. .... (at press)