Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but which includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925).
Initially developed in the 1920s, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives. Biodynamics has much in common with other organic approaches – it emphasizes the use of manures and composts and excludes the use of artificial chemicals on soil and plants, however, it goes further in a few respects. Most importantly, biodynamic farmers see their farm as an enclosed, self-sustaining organism, so emphasis is on creating soil fertility and preserving health from within. Methods unique to the biodynamic approach include its treatment of animals, crops, and soil as a single system; an emphasis from its beginnings on local production and distribution systems; its use of traditional and development of new local breeds and varieties; and the use of an astrological sowing and planting calendar and compost and field preparations meant to harness healing life forces which are said to positively affect fertility on the farm.
As of February 2016, biodynamic techniques were used on 164,323 hectares in 64 countries with Germany accounting for 44% of the global total. Biodynamic methods of cultivating grapevines have been taken up by several notable vineyards. There are certification agencies for biodynamic products, most of which are members of the international biodynamics standards group Demeter International.