The ever increasing trends of herbicide and pesticide use in modern agriculture has not only killed unwanted pathogens but has also destroyed beneficial soil organisms to the point that the soils are unable to support plant growth. This has resulted in the increased use of chemical fertilisers to compensate for these deficiencies. It has been shown that soils subjected to compaction, treated with water soluble fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides have very little bacteria, no fungi and poor oxygen levels.
Biodynamics is based on strengthening the soils character through the addition of specially developed preparations to increase soil profile whilst connecting this to the earth's natural rhythms. Each preparation in conjunction with these natural forces stimulates and enhances biological activity to achieve optimum life in the soil.These preparations were first described by Rudolf Steiner in a series lectures in 1924, after requests from farmers of the day, who were experiencing an increasing degeneration of their soil and lack of fertility.
The recognition of some of these vital forces in the soil is now readily understood thanks to Dr Elaine Ingham's pioneering work on the Soil Food Web. Dr Elaine Ingham, a Soil Microbiologist from Oregon, USA has carried out extensive research into the complex relationships between the community of organisms living in our soils and the health of the plants and crops grown. The aim of Biodynamics is to keep this life in the soil. This is achieved by attracting specific bacteria and fungi that absorb trace elements and nutrients from the soil. These organisms increase the soil's structure, availablity of nutrients, and oxygen and water holding capacity.
A vineyard should show the characteristics that stem from the unique elements that make up the "terroir" of the individual site. The wine should be an expression of those elements and the management practices used.
That is why we at Cowaramup Wines, decided in 2001 to employ Biodynamic practices in our vineyard at Ellensbrook to produce wines for the "Clown Fish" label, that express the true individuality of this site and region. We have a long-term commitment to these practices and can confirm that this is "a much nicer way to farm".