Compare & Contrast: Sustainability / Organics / Biodynamics

Preserving Command Ship Earth

Post # 4 of 4

The possibility that human societies will be able to perpetuate sustainability is in question – in light of environmental degradation, climate change, population growth, over-consumption, and societies’ pursuit of indefinite economic growth in a closed system.  On the bright side it is comforting to know that the new millennium has spurred an upsurge in three movements: Sustainable, Organic and Biodynamic agriculture.  Increasingly food and wine connoisseurs are sourcing products from one or more of these disciplines. In response, the Grapevine Gypsy posted three separate articles on each of these topics as they relate to the area of winemaking and the vineyards (viniculture and viticulture), respectively.  The articles deconstruct each practice in length and precise detail. Here is a quick look at each.

  • Sustainability (posted 3/20/2016) – While there are domestic programs in several states and an international sustainability alliance, California was selected as the role model in this post as their Sustainable Winegrowing Program is all-inclusive, statewide and cohesive with-in the wine industry.  The “3 E’s of Sustainability”, referred to as Environmentally Sound, Socially Equitable, and Economically Feasible­, encompass every aspect of the vineyard, winery, surrounding habitat and ecosystem, the employees, the community and future generations


  • Organics (posted 4/16/2016) – The USDA describes organic agriculture as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical best practices that support the recycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, conserve biodiversity, specify use of organic materials and dictate organic livestock handling practices.  These regulations are compiled in the USDA’s massive handbook titled National Organic Practices (NOP) and are summarized in the post


  • Biodynamics (posted 6/19/2016) – In 1924 a group of European farmers concerned with declining food and soil quality approached Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925) for a solution. Steiner an Austrian author, educator and philosopher, is renowned as the father of Anthroposophy – a philosophy of spiritual science that views the relationship between human beings, energy and the cosmos.   Steiner gave a series of eight lectures with the objective of healing the earth through agriculture. This resulted in the practice of Biodynamics and can be defined as working with energies that create and maintain life.  For grape growing and producing wine, this translates to a view of the winery as a single integrated organism bringing all facets of the establishment into harmony and balance:   the soil, grapevines, vineyard animals and all human operators.  This is accomplished through environmentally sound agricultural practices as defined in the Demeter Biodynamic® Farm Standard which includes the integration of nine specific herbal and mineral preparations. Most biodynamic farms, however not all, use astrological calendars that detail the influence of all celestial bodies to coordinate the timing of all farm activities such as planting, cultivating and harvesting.  As one might expect, Biodynamics has raised much curiosity and has its share of sceptics.  The post provides links to recent scientific research on the subject

As you’ve noticed each specialty is unique however, there are some overlaps.  The table below compares and contrasts each discipline.




California SWP





Annual Certification ʘ ʘ ʘ
Requires Third Party Audit ʘ ʘ ʘ
Ecosystem Management ʘ ʘ ʘ
Soil Conservation ʘ ʘ ʘ
Integrated Pest Management ʘ ʘ ʘ
Water Quality ʘ ʘ ʘ
Organic Pesticide, Fungicide, Fertilizers & Growth Hormones ʘ ʘ ʘ
Ban on GMO’s ʘ ʘ
Eliminates Addition of Sulphur Dioxide in Winemaking   ʘ ʘ
Farm Animal Welfare ʘ ʘ ʘ
Energy Conservation ʘ
Air Quality ʘ
Water Conservation ʘ
Social Responsibility ʘ
Community Relations ʘ ʘ
Sustainable Business Practices ʘ
Solid Waste Management ʘ ʘ
Incorporates Four Elements of Matter (Earth/Water/Air/Fire) ʘ
Coordinates Work with Cosmic Rhythm of Sun, Moon, Planets and Constellations  


Specific Herbal & Mineral Preparations for Compost Bin, Soil and Foliage



18 thoughts on “Compare & Contrast: Sustainability / Organics / Biodynamics

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