What is biodynamics?
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological and ethical way of farming used in all kinds of agriculture. It involves managing a farm utilizing the principles of a living organism. Applying biodynamics in the day-to-day operation of a farm, or in our case a vineyard, involves creating a farming system that is minimally dependent on outside materials to meet the needs of the land. Outside materials can include chemicals, pesticides and other harmful sprays. The biodiversity of the farm is organized so that the waste of one part becomes the energy for another. This results in an increase in the farm’s capacity for self-renewal and helps it become more sustainable (Demeter Association, Inc.).
The process of becoming biodynamically certified takes approximately 3 years. Biodynamic certification can be done through the Demeter Association, which holds strict farm and processing standards in order to achieve certification.
How are we using biodynamic practices at Bernau Estate?
Each fall, female cow horns are stuffed with the manure from cattle native to the growing area and are buried for at least 6 months. During this time, the manure in the horns transform into a nutrient-rich preparation that is attuned to the land. In the spring, once the horns are unearthed, the preparation is enlivened with water and sprayed over the vineyard. Each horn produces enough preparation to cover 1 acre of land with multiple sprays throughout the growing season. Biodynamic Preparation 500 has shown to accelerate and improve the soil structure, microbiological activity, while enhancing a sense of place.
Viticulturist Clay Wesson, who is currently leading our biodynamic practices, used new plantings at our Bernau Estate as an opportunity to trial several different applications of biochar and biodynamic compost. Biochar is a plant-based charcoal used as a soil amendment and is known to offer a number of benefits for soil health. Many of these benefits are related to the extremely porous nature of biochar, including retention of both water and water-soluble nutrients, while aiding in the creation of habitat for many beneficial soil microorganisms.
We are currently striving to make the vineyard at our new Bernau Estate 100% biodynamic.
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