Thanks to Steiner, farms have been "redesigned" in a holistic fashion: no longer self-contained entities, but systems based on wide-reaching relationships, with the soil seen as a source of life, together with the earth and the cosmos.
The birth of biodynamic agriculture
One year before his death, he formulated the principles that underpin biodynamic agriculture. The year was 1924 and a group of important Anthroposophist landowners in eastern Germany had asked Steiner how they could revitalize their fields. They were concerned about the early signs of weakening in the soil, caused by modern approaches to farming, and in particular, by the increasing use of chemical fertilizers. Steiner decided to give them a series of lectures, the central theme being the need for healthy soil and the preservation and enhancement in fertility, the better to improve the quality of the output, food to feed humankind. These lectures were published in the volume entitled "Scientific and spiritual impulses for the progress of agriculture".
The biodynamic method considers each substance as a combination of matter and life force. As Steiner explained in his sixth lecture, given in June 1924:
[…] We must not merely look at the plant or animal or human world […] Life always proceeds from the entire Universe — not only out of what the Earth provides. […] Nature is a great totality; forces are working from everywhere. […] What does science do nowadays? It takes a little plate and lays a preparation on it, carefully separates it off and peers into it, shutting off on every side whatever might be working into it. We call it a “microscope.” It is the very opposite of what we should do to gain a relationship to the wide spaces. No longer content to shut ourselves off in a room, we shut ourselves off in this microscope tube from all the glory of the world. Nothing must now remain but what we focus in our field of vision. […] We, however, must find our way out again into the macrocosm. Then we shall once more begin to understand Nature - and other things too.
Legacy and the present day
Adopted around the world starting in 1924 by farmers of all sizes and types, biodynamic agriculture takes its inspiration from the idea that a farm is a real organism living in a closed cycle, but is also part of the larger living cosmic organism, and is subject to its influence. For each farming activity, such as sowing, transplanting, and pruning, great importance is given to the cycles of the moon and planets, and farmers use a special calendar.