The Big Dry

Harvest Article – Summer 2015

Biodynamic farmer Ian Henderson describes how the Milmore Downs team have shepherded their farm through the worst drought in its history.

Milmore Downs is a 302-hectare mixed livestock and cropping farm that has been Demeter-certified since 1983. It is also one of the longest-certified BioGro organic properties in New Zealand (BioGro no. 019).
It’s in an area that has seen some of the worst of the recent drought, and may yet see more of the same

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Seed Baths

Harvest Article – Spring 2021. Graeme Roberts explains how to soak seeds in biodynamic preparations for increased plant health.

Article excerpt reprinted with permission from Elementals Journal #135.

Most seed used by conventional (chemical) farmers is usually treated to protect the seed from pests and fungal attack. These coatings are generally toxic to the microorganisms in the soil.

Sattler and Wistinghausen, in their book Bio-Dynamic Farming Practice, discuss seed baths in some detail, along with grain selection and germination trials.

They note that Martha Kuenzel and Franz Lippert have done numerous seed bath trials over many years and developed a seed treatment that strengthens the vitality and resistance of plants. Their experiments investigated the benefits to different plants whose seeds were treated by pre-soaking with particular biodynamic preparations.

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preparation 500

Earthly Greens Takaka Workshop

Here’s a quick summary from Tony Hudson on his recent workshop in East Takaka, Golden Bay

We all had a great time and we nearly did the whole property of 20acres! The fermented poo came out really well. So pleased about this.

Tony Hudson
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If at first you don’t succeed…

Harvest Article – Summer 2016

Angus Thomson of Urlar Wines tells how he finally made the leap from organic to biodynamic growing.

My journey to organics had a seed sown about 20 years ago.

My wife and I were farming the family farm in Scotland. We had a friend who owned an organic brewery, and he asked if we would consider growing organic barley for him.

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500 STIR and SPRAY

There’s no denying it, we’re well and truly into Autumn now. The Autumn Equinox has passed and the days are shorter and cooler.

Our focus now moves to building compost and enlivening our soil.

National 500 Stir – April the 22nd

Next Friday the 22nd of April is Earth Day and is the start of the moon’s descending phase, which is a perfect time to stir and spray biodynamic prep 500.

Preparation 500 is a living substance which helps build soil structure, stimulates microbial activity and the formation of humus, greatly improving the absorption and retention of water in the soil.

Used as part of a regular practice, it regulates acidity, stimulates the growth of root systems to greater depths, increases the germination rate of seeds and helps to dissolve hard pans.

Stirring or dynamising the preparation for a full hour is a wonderful activity for a group or family, but can also be achieved by one person.

For more reading on preparation 500, check this post out from Autumn 2020 which includes comments on this time of the year from Rachel Pomeroy, Su Hoskin and Rand Carter.

Members can purchase the preparations via Biodynamics New Zealand. If you’re not already, BECOME A MEMBER here.

preparation 500

Canterbury Horn Burial

The Canterbury Regional Group invites you to their Autumn Horn Manure Preparation Making

Join Marinus La Rooij and the Canterbury Regional Group for the yearly horn burial and discussion on preparation 500

Saturday the 23rd of April at Black Estate Winery (192 Reeces Rd, Omihi, North Canterbury)

Start time: 1.00pm – Discussion & filling and burying of the horns, followed by shared afternoon tea.

Directions: The venue is at Black Estate, 192 Reeces Road. Turn off  SH/1 at the Omihi Hall/Glenmark Rugby Club. Travel 1.92km till you see the drive on the right. Bear left at the Grey letterbox and before the Black Estate Winery sign.

If wet, for a ride, or for more information contact Marinus: (03) 331 7677, (021) 141 2667

Autumn Equinox National Stir

Join in as NZ growers unite for Autumn Equinox celebrations, this Friday evening, 19th March as it is the perfect time to stir and apply preparation 500 and bring balancing energy to the soils and world. We asked three Biodynamic educators, Rachel Pomeroy, Su Hoskin and Rand Carter for a brief commentary on what is occurring this Autumn Equinox, and what we can do biodynamically, to help the positive forces of our gardens, farms and our spirits grow.

In Aotearoa, we find ourselves called return our intentions to papatuanuku, earth and the cosmos above and in turn breath much needed balance and grounding into our wairua, spirit. To perhaps sit this Friday, as we stir in aroha and gratitude, and celebration of seasons change into Autumn and the descent into the time of earth forces and energy.

As Rand Carter in the Northern Hemisphere writes “In order to fashionably welcome Spring, on March 19, we will spray BD #500. On March 20, we will all spray BD #501. The Merry Prepstirs desire is to promote the visual process of the biodynamic sequential spray from simply ‘your personal farm/garden’ into a global sequential spray. Imagine the boundaries of this spray day to reach from coast to coast and from continent to continent.

Su: Autumn Equinox is perfect timing for spreading the biodynamic field preparation horn manure or Preparation 500.

The descending Moon will be in the earth sign of Capricorn from Thursday 19th March until just before 5.00pm Saturday 21st March. Utilise the drawing down phase of the afternoon to stir and apply for optimal timing at the change of seasons.

Strange as it may seem, the soil life actually awakens in the fall, to receive the dying plant matter and replenish from the growing season.

The Earth inhales during this time in a rhythmic process, so compost, liquid manures and barrel compost are also of great benefit if applied now to the land.


Rachel Pomeroy, educator and astronomer writes, “At the Autumn Equinox, Tama Nui Te Ra farewells Hine Raumati and moves hastily towards Hine Takurua, in whose home he will linger for the next several months.  But notice how the brilliant winter full moons of the next months all keep company with Hine Raumati, she’s not abandoned.

Although the warmth and light have left the land and the luxuriant growth of plants will slow or cease, below the ground, the life of soil and roots is very active.  To support Te Marama in below ground activity, increasing the Mauri of the soil, add compost and mulch around fruit trees and vines, use CPP and liquid manure around the roots of the winter vegetables and apply the horn manure preparation to all the land.”

Rachel Pomeroy’s photo of the eastern horizon from Atea a Rangi, Napier taken Thursday March 19th


Rand: Though many people spray “after 3pm” this is not the beginning of the cosmic in-breathing time except on specific days and only during specific seasons. For example, in summer, the soil is almost certainly NOT yet cooling nor contracting at 3pm, but in winter, the soil almost certainly will begin to cool by that time of day.We want to spray out 500 when the soil is contracting, which means when the air pressure is switching from negative (expansive) pressure to positive (contracting) pressure. If we spray something out strictly at 3pm, most of it will evaporate. These conditions are extremely local. If you have an overcast day, you can’t rely on a recipe. If you have an unseasonably warm front moving in during the evening, a 500 spray will not be drawn into the soil as it should. Likewise, a cold front moving in at dawn will not help 501 move up and out over a garden. It is far more important to be sensitive to local conditions.

When soil cools, it contracts. When air heats, it expands.

To put it as simply as possible: is the soil cooling off? You can spray 500. Is the soil warming up? You can spray 501. A good general rule is this: are shadows starting to fall across the farm? You can spray 500. Conversely, is light starting to hit the soil? You can spray 501, or about the time the dew begins to dry. This will all be different depending on your altitude or whether you have hills surrounding you (or even trees). Discard dogma. Your local conditions are paramount.


Rand: BD #500 prep contains immense ethereal and astral forces. If you are fortunate to have BD500XP then you have a 20 minute stir, otherwise the standard 1-hour stir.

Su: Horn manure preparation 500 is a manure concentrate. Available for purchase from the BDNZ.
Fresh cow manure buried in cow horns in fertile soil for Autumn and Winter, is transformed into a potent conditioner for soil and plants. Applied in Spring and Autumn. It is a living substance which helps build soil structure, stimulates microbial activity and the formation of humus, greatly improving the absorption and retention of water in the soil.

Used as part of a regular practice, it regulates acidity, stimulates the growth of root systems to greater depths, increases the germination rate of seeds and helps to dissolve hard pans.

Stirring or dynamising the preparation for a full hour is a wonderful activity for a group or family, but can also be achieved by one person.

Rand: BD #501 is Horn Silica or Horn Feldspar (for you with sand in your shoes) requires a 1-hour stir. It is best is to spray it into the air on a windless day from sunrise (not before) to mid-morning – before 8AM with a temperature not above 72. (Stewart Lundy’s & Troy Teets comments on shadows (see above) rings true).


Su: The dynamic interaction between the prep and the water can be done in clean separate small buckets or in a larger container such as a wine barrel, copper tub or plastic drum. Individual buckets can be stirred using your hand or a stick or wooden spoon. A larger vessel will require more effort and therefore a suspended pole is recommended on a tripod over the barrel or attached to a frame / roof beam of an outdoor building.


Su: Water quality is of the essence, rain water, spring water or bore If possible, warmed to blood temperature. This will activate the biology to a greater degree than cold water.

Rand: Enzo Nastati says there “are basically three kinds of water. The water that descends, the water that rises, and the water that flows. What kind will you use for the 500? Spring water. Well water if it is not too deep. When a well is more than 100 meters deep that water is full of darkness.” If you must use municipal water, let it aerate for a day to off-gas the long-lasting disinfectant called Chloramine (chlorine & ammonia).

Su: Barrel compost can be added for the last twenty minutes of the stir. This will then become the carrier for the compost preparations.
It’s a good idea to time yourself, you’ll be surprised how quickly an hour passes during this meditative and stimulating activity.


Su: Use 50g of the horn manure preparation to about 30L water per ha.
Stir from the outside of the container inward and clockwise until all the liquid is surging in one direction and then break the flow to create ‘chaos’ by reversing the stirring action anti clockwise. Opening the surface area of the water allows aeration and other energetic forces to enter. Repeat for whole hour. The water will become silky and ‘elastic’ as the preparation is incorporated into the liquid.

Have more knowledge to add about Autumn equinox? Leave a comment and your experiences or send us an email and we’ll update this article.

Share with us your stir by tagging us on Instagram @biodynamicsnewzealand or Facebook and we’ll share your photos.

Preparations can be purchased from the Biodynamic Association. Simply purchase a membership (digital or full) and head to the online Shop.