Unit 12 Biodynamic Preparations

Unit Overview -In this unit the learners will be introduced to the purpose of the biodynamic preparations in agriculture and how to make and use the different preparations.


1.1 Describe the role and benefits of the field sprays preparations for agriculture

Horn Manure (500)


The Horn Manure, produced from cow manure, placed in a cow's horn and buried in the ground over winter, is understood to work on soil and roots.


  • 'charges the soil with all the life forces it needs' p64 Biodynamic Gardening
  • It helps the structure of the soil
  • It improves the way that the soil absorbs and retains moisture.  This understood to be possible because it stimulates microbes and helps with the formation of humus.
  • It helps to regulate acidity in the soil
  • It stimulates the growth of roots
  • It speeds up the germination of seeds
  • It can help to break up compacted soil


'Horn manure is used to stimulate soil vitality and encourage plants to connect with the specific conditions of their growing site' BDA


500 also 'encourages deeper rooting systems, increased earthworm activity and better retention of soil moisture' BDA


Horn Silica (501)


Horn Silica is made from rock crystal (Quartz) which is crushed, mixed with water, placed in a cow's horn and buried for the duration of the summer months.


  • Works on the plant during the growth phase.
  • Can lead to excessive leaf growth
  • Can help prevent disease in plants
  • Gives plants a closer connection to the cosmos
  • Helps the vertical growth of plants
  • Important for the nutritional aspects of plant growth


'Horn Silica is used during the growing season to enhance the qualities of growth and maturation.' BDA


'It helps to stabilise and balance plant metabolism and also increases nutritional value' BDA


It is first applied when plants are growing strongly in thier vegetative phase and then later when the crop begins to ripen' BDA



1.2 Describe the role and benefits of the compost preparations for agriculture


Yarrow (502)

  • Develops 'a sense of awareness in the compost that is transmitted to the crops when it is spread on the soil' (p64 Biodynamic Gardening.)  Is connected with sulphur and potassium.

Camomile (503)

  • Enhances the 'earthly digestive system' p64 BG. Is connected to the metabolism of calcium

Nettle (504)

  • Helps condition the compost. Encourages the breakdown of organic matter into humus

Oak Bark (505)

  • Aids balance in the compost heap and 'promotes slow steady reliable growth' p64 BG

Dandelion (506)

  • Helps plants tune in to what is happening underground

Valerian (507)

  • Helps the compost heap gain the correct temperature and helps the compost retain its core ingredients.


2.1  Demonstrate the ability to make and store the biodynamic preparations


Building a biodynamic compost heap at Valehead Farm



Preparation box at Eyam Edge Farm made from wood.  Preparations stored in jars with loose fitting lids.  Peat packed around the jars.


Working through the processes of grinding rock crystal into powder through various stages.  This is part of making the 501 Horn Silica Preparation.



3.2 Demonstrate the ability to prepare and apply the compost preparations on your holding


Preparation and application of the field spray preparations


Horn Manure (500)


'Horn manure is applied in the afternoon or early evening to coincide with the in-breathing cycle of the day.  It can be used several times in the year.  It can be applied to all areas in February and March and in October and November.' BDA




Use rainwater, warmed up and then stirred. The stirring should induce a vortex in the vessel and then the direction of stirring should be reversed in order to create chaos in the vessel.  Stirring should take one hour




Droplet size should be medium and the spraying should cover the ground.



Horn Silica (501)


Applied in the early morning as close to sunrise as possible when the dew is still on the ground.  Ideally a potentially sunny day should be chosen.  Plants can be damaged if the spraying takes place too late in the day.


Stirring and Spraying


Very small amounts are used.  Use a unit of 501 in 3 gallons of water. Spray across one acre.  Stirring is the same as for 500.  Spray as a fine mist with very fine droplet size over the plants.  Do not use if 500 has not been applied previously.



Preparation and application of the compost applications on your holding


There was no composting system in place at Eyam Edge because the site was a blank canvas and needed to be developed.  I built three large compost bays which are now in operation and we are shorty to add a fourth to cope with the amount of materials that we are producing on the farm, for example straw from animal bedding.  Each compost bay is approximately 6x4 feet.



The preparations are taken from storage and a level teaspoon of each of the following is placed in an indentation in a ball of completed compost: Yarrow, Camomile, Nettle, Oak Bark, Dandelion. The ball is then closed around the preparation.



A stick is used to poke 5 holes in the top of the heap. The holes should be around 18 inches deep.  The compost preparation balls are placed in the holes so the balls are in close contact with the compost.  The holes are closed.



The whole heap is then sprayed with the Valerian preparation.  To make up the Valerian preparation add 5ml of the Valerian to 1 gallon of rainwater.  Warm the mixture and stir for 5 minutes before applying.


Preparations can be applied each time the heap is turned.  With my system we turn the compost into the bay to the right. In the photograph below the second heap is shown having been turned. Compost preparations can be added again each time the heap is turned.



4. Be able to involve RMT students in preparation making and applying


Reflect on the involvement of RMT students in preparation making and applying


From time to time discussions take place about the theory and practice of biodynamic preparations. These matters are also part of staff training sessions during the year.








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Created by Jim Hildyard