According to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, the official definition of biodynamic agriculture is “a spiritual, ethical, and ecological approach to farming, gardens, food production, and nutrition.” The vineyard – along with the animals, plants, trees and soil – is seen as an organism that contributes to others. Rather than treating the land and vines with herbicides and fertilizers, they use animals to fertilize it, per VinePair.
Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner started this agricultural movement in the early 1920s. He believed that farming in harmony with nature should be done according to the lunar calendar. This method later became known as the biodynamic calendar. All agricultural practices, from pruning to harvesting, are divided into four types of days: root days, flower days, fruit days and leaf days. Fruit days are for harvesting, leaf days for watering, and root days for pruning. On flower days, the vineyard is left alone.
So what is cow horn? It may seem strange to pack a cow’s horn with manure, bury it in the ground, then dig it up and spread it around the vineyard, but there’s a crazy way to do it. This land preparation (also known as 500P) is done to structure the soil, strengthen photosynthesis and improve ripening, according to Biodynamie Services. Then, before being sprayed, it is stirred for an hour to reach its full potential, simulating the rotation of the Earth. Prep 500 is just one of the compost and field preparations done on specific days according to the schedule.