New publication on biodynamics

Happy New Year to our blog readers!

Now that we have our blog safely moved to this new format, we all resolve to post more frequently. (It’s actually Bert’s day to post, but given that his computer is probably frozen – literally – in Michigan, I’ll step in.)

Today I got a link to my most recent publication in HortTechnology on the science behind biodynamic preparations. I’ve written about this topic before, but recognize the importance of peer-reviewed information for researchers, extension educators, and Master Gardener volunteers. Not to mention all the gardeners who rely on us to provide good science for gardens and landscapes. So here it is. I’m planning to continue submitting review articles to HortTechnology on other topics of interest. It looks like permaculture might be the next one up.

So enjoy this article – pass it on to others who are curious about biodynamics, and if you are a Master Gardener be sure to take it to your MG coordinator and ask that it becomes a resource for your program.


Published by

Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

9 thoughts on “New publication on biodynamics”

  1. Thanks for this! I get a lot of questions about these kinds of practices, so the clarification and commentary with the scientific literature review is very valuable for me. It seems as though in many circles ‘biodynamic’ has become a fancier way of saying ‘organic’ and most people don’t consider them to be different. I would be curious to know how many ‘biodynamic’ farms actually use the practices outlined? Now I’m looking forward to that permaculture article!

    1. Thank you, Jam! Just so you know – to be certified as biodynamic farms *must* use the biodynamic preparations. In terms of the other practices, some of them may be optional.

  2. I recently had an interesting discussion on biodynamic practices with a very talented vintner, who I had thought was too science based to buy in to it… but it ends up that it is about marketing and increased pricing strategies for the wine, not really about the benefits of burying dung filled cowhorns under the full moon…. Of course here in Northern California you can also get wine that “has the hand of Dionysus” on every grape since the grower hosts a naked solstice Bacchanalia…. I wonder if the average customer would pay extra for “Certified Biodynamic Cacti” like they will for Cabernet?

      1. I guess it might attract the part of the Burning Man Crowd that likes having multiple piercings… unfortunately they are not very big spenders being mostly starving artist types…. We will have to see what permits that requires? Being Berkeley it must at least take three city hearings and twenty permits, so maybe not worth it, though it would be an amusing night!

  3. I was really interested by your formulation of the “education without alienation” dilemna we Master Gardeners and extension educators face: “the popularity of nonscience-based practices has created hostility between the scientific community and many proponents of biodynamic gardening. Alda (2007) agrees, stating we’re in a culture that increasingly holds science as just another belief.”
    I think an even bigger driving force behind this distrust and hostillity is our failure to acknowledge the flaws and biases of those so called science based practices which seem so self serving to the cozy, systemic economic relationships of “conventional science-based” agriculture, business, government, and large segments of academia. It seems its always the science that has the big money interests behind it that get the most benevolent attention and prolific equivocations like “it depends” or that the significant differences found in a study critical of big agribusness practices are usually of “unknown/unexplained significance”, and/or “need more study”.

    1. I tend to agree, Chris. It is difficult to get paradigm shifts in science, but they will happen. I think the public believes it should happen faster. On top of that, it’s increasingly difficult to fund any type of research that’s not based on the genetic/molecular/cellular levels. Those of us who work at the organism level are hobbled by lack of funding, and by the fact that our experimental time is measured in years rather than months.

  4. I’m really looking forward to your take on permaculture also. I’m glad you reminded us about the need for empathy and to positively engage these fellow gardening enthusiasts by emphasizing our common ground in “science-based alternative” practices and areas of research and withholding any sort of critical judgement/commentary on everything spiritual and metaphysical.
    I was wondering too if you might consider doing an a review of the science behind the soil amendment practices I’ve seen and heard more and more about which is variously called “mineralization”. Some stress sulpher, others silica, calcium or just general volcanic dust. Here are a couple of sites as examples:

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