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Soil quality and profitability of biodynamic and conventional farming systems: A review

  • John P. Reganold (a1)

Biodynamic and organic farming are similar in that both are ecologically oriented and do not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The main difference is that biodynamic farmers add eight specific amendments, called preparations, to their soils, crops, and composts. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in biodynamic farming practices and systems because they show potential for mitigating some detrimental effects of chemical-dependent conventional agriculture. Only a few studies examining biodynamic methods or comparing biodynamic farming with other farming systems have been published in the refereed scientific literature, especially in English. This paper summarizes data from previous studies, both published and unpublished (theses), that have compared biodynamic and conventional farming systems with respect to soil quality or profitability. These studies have shown that the biodynamic farming systems generally have better soil quality, lower crop yields, and equal or higher net returns per hectare than their conventional counterparts. Two studies that included organic management treatments with and without the preparations showed that the preparations improved biological soil properties and increased crop root growth. However, more research is needed to determine whether the preparations affect soil physical, chemical, and biological properties and crop growth and, if so, their mode of action.

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American Journal of Alternative Agriculture
  • ISSN: 0889-1893
  • EISSN: 1478-5498
  • URL: /core/journals/american-journal-of-alternative-agriculture
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