The benefits of biodynamic farming for small farmsJuly 12, 2018
Eco-friendly farming methods have seen a boom in popularity over the years for both small and large farms, with smaller farms preferring these methods over more conventional ones.
These methods include no-till and biodynamic farming, with biodynamic meaning being very similar to natural farming but including esoteric and spiritual aspects. It is a highly eco-friendly way of farming, but for small farms, there are other unique benefits, as outlined below.
Natural disease and pest control
One of the major benefits of biodynamic farming is that you will eliminate the need to use chemicals for disease and pest control. You will be able to eliminate both weeds and harmful insects naturally, by planting plants that are natural enemies of insect pests. This is known as biological control agents
Using crop rotation is another popular method against crop disease, as it prevents the pests from becoming used to the type of plant that is being cultivated, as well as promotes balanced, healthy soil to protect against pests. By using natural disease and pest control, you will also decrease the amount of chemicals there are in the run-off of your crop fields, reducing the chance of contamination of the soil for your future crops.
It builds healthy soil
One of the most important aspects of farming, whether you are on a small farm or a large commercial farm, is the health of the soil. With conventional farming methods, chemicals are used to fertilise the soil but with biodynamic agriculture, mulch and compost are used instead.
This leads to healthier soil, which also leads to a healthier farm and crops. Natural cultivation practices are essential to creating healthy soil, and these methods include no-till farming. Earthworms are used to provide oxygen to your soil and compost and mulch is used as fertilisers. This will encourage the growth of good, healthy bacteria in the soil, which is vital for creating soil that can thrive on its own and crops that are healthier to eat.
The input costs are lower
As a small farm owner, you know how expensive it can be to have to run equipment on a daily basis for tilling, ploughing and spraying chemicals. However, with biodynamic farming, you do not have to spray chemicals or use machinery to till your land.
This helps you save a huge amount of your input costs, which you can put towards other more important ventures on your farm, such as farming livestock or introducing new crops to your rotation. Biodynamic agriculture allows you to eliminate the expensive costs of fertiliser and equipment, which is especially useful for small farm owners with a tight budget who cannot afford to maintain expensive equipment.
Your crops become more drought resistant
One major benefit of using organic and biodynamic farming methods is that the goal is to plant crops that are suited to your climate. This means that your crops will become more drought resistant, which is ideal for more arid areas and can also reduce crop damage from unsuitable weather.
Drought resistant crops are popular among biodynamic farmers because it allows the farmers to use drip irrigation methods as well as timed irrigation methods. Having crops that do not need to be watered as much will not only save water but will also allow you to save on irrigation equipment costs. Planting crops that are suited to your climate is one of the major tenets of biodynamic farming, making it highly desirable in drier climates, such as the Karoo and other Northern Cape areas.
It combats soil erosion
Soil erosion is an issue that many farms face, especially smaller farms that might have less space for surface-water runoff and for root growth. By using biodynamic methods like no-till farming, you are actively preventing soil erosion from happening.
Organic farming creates healthy topsoil. This prevents runoff from the crops causing erosion and it helps to maintain soil moisture and alleviate compacted soil, which is one of the contributing factors of soil erosion. Soil erosion is a serious blight for many farms, which is why you should look into adopting biodynamic agriculture or at least organic farming practices which can help to improve your soil health and reduce erosion.
It supports animal welfare
As a small farm owner, you most likely have an abundance of animal and insect life on your farm. This can include anything from the fish in the ponds on your land to the livestock you farm. Biodynamic methods encourage and support animal welfare by causing less harm to the environment.
Organic farming methods encourage you to use natural pest and disease repelling methods, such as inviting in insects that are predators to pests or using ducks to eat snails off of wine grapes. Animals that live on organic farms are exposed to clean, chemical-free grazing that helps them naturally healthy and resistant to illnesses associated with conventional farming methods. Supporting animal welfare is beneficial to both the environment and to your farm’s health.