Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner: The Agriculture Course of 1924 and Biodynamic Agriculture

by DerdriuMarriner

Biodynamic agriculture acknowledges unexpected, unusual influences. Some of the forces are out of this world! Practitioners still honor Rudolf Steiner as biodynamism's inventor.

Artists, cultivators, and philosophers associate biodynamics with Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner (February 27, 1861 – March 30, 1925). The three professions converge because the application of biodynamics to daily life involves all three disciplines even though it specifically concerns farm animals and crops. Biodynamic practices do exactly what they imply by adhering to:
• Biological dynamics, through knowledge of life-giving, life-organizing, and life-sustaining principles;
• Dynamic biology, through practice of the above-mentioned deep truths.

Artistry gets involved in informational lectures -- such as those pioneered by Dr. Steiner in 1924 -- and in structural plans for on-site buildings and fences.

Astronomy, biology, and geology guide the growing of edibles and raising of livestock.

Successful farming recognizes terrestrial and universal forces.

Rudolf Steiner's childhood home

Donji Kraljevec (formerly Murakirály), Međimurje County, northern Croatia
Donji Kraljevec (formerly Murakirály), Međimurje County, northern Croatia


Rudolf Steiner was born in a still-standing house in the Austro-Hungarian village of Murakirály, now the Croatian village of Donji Kraljevec. He was the child of Southern Austrian Railway employee Johannes Steiner (June 23, 1829 – 1910), who married housemaid Franziska Blie (May 8, 1834 – 1918) despite their disapproving employers within the Spanish-Austro-Hungarian noble House of Hoyos. He was the educational product of:

  • Home-schooling;
  • Local schools;
  • Technology Institute of Vienna;
  • University of Rostock.

His literary, philosophical, and scientific super-achievements were responsible for his:

  • Editing Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s (August 28, 1749 – March 22, 1832) philosophical and scientific writings;
  • Leading the German language-speaking branch of Annie Besant’s (October 1, 1847 – September 20, 1933) Theosophical Society;
  • Organizing the Anthroposophical Society.  


Timber-and-concrete structure, First Goetheanum, serving as world center for anthroposophical movement, was one of 17 buildings designed and supervised by Rudolf Steiner between 1908 and 1925.

Dornach, Solothurn canton, northwestern Switzerland
Dornach, Solothurn canton, northwestern Switzerland


Specialists in back-stories to biodynamics agree on enduring legacies from the last 12 years in Dr. Steiner’s life. They begin with 1913, the founding date of Die Anthroposophische Gesellschaft (“The Anthroposophical Society”). They find in the society’s organization (and reorganization in 1923) the structure necessary to realize Dr. Steiner’s triple intentions:

  • Recognition of Europe -- not Theosophism’s Adyar in south Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India -- as geo-spiritual headquarters;
  • Rejection of Theosophism’s presentation of Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 – February 17, 1986) as Christ reincarnated;
  • Resolution to experience directly the spiritual world through inner development and Western paths.

They focus upon the culmination of the society’s pursuit of inner development in Dr. Steiner’s practical lecture series of 1924.


Schloss Kobierzyce (Kobierzyce Palace): site of Rudolf Steiner's pioneering lectures on biodynamic agriculture in June 1924

Kobierzyce (German: Koberwitz), Wrocław County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in southwestern Poland
Kobierzyce (German: Koberwitz), Wrocław County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in southwestern Poland


The lectures of June 7 - 16, 1924 accommodate participants from:

  • Austria: 9;
  • France: 2;
  • Germany: 61;
  • Poland: 30;
  • Sweden: 2;
  • Switzerland: 7.

Their hosting by Count Karl (1869 – 1928), Countess Johanna (1879 - 1966), and sons Wolfgang (1899 - ?) and Alexander (1905 - ?) at Keyserlingk landholdings in Koberwitz, Silesia, Germany -- now Kobierzyce, Lower Silesia, Poland -- account for their preservation. They address:

  • Animal foot-and-mouth diseases and sterility;
  • New, short-lived barley, lucerne, oats, rye, and wheat strains;
  • Plant diseases.

They appeal to cultivators and scientists even though declared professions involve:

  • Agriculture: 38;
  • Art: 2;
  • Education: 3;
  • Engineering: 2;
  • Medicine: 4;
  • Ministry: 9;
  • Science: 3.

They are available as Agriculture: A Course of Eight Lectures.


Goetheanum surroundings: Glass House, timber building with Norwegian slate roof completed in 1914, is oldest extant building designed by Rudolf Steiner.

From research lab set up in Glass House basement in 1919, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (Feb. 19, 1899-Nov. 30, 1961) and Guenther Wachsmuth (Oct. 4, 1893-March 2, 1963) made compost prep500, which, mixed by Rudolf Steiner in summer 1924, marked biodynamics' birth.
Dornach, Solothurn canton, northwestern Switzerland
Dornach, Solothurn canton, northwestern Switzerland


Lecture 1 advances the effects of:

  • Lime -- when encouraged by moisture levels  -- upon plant growth and reproduction;
  • Silica -- when facilitated by seasonal warmth  -- upon plant edibility and nutritiousness.

Lecture 2 advises the inclusion of:

  • Clay to ease upward flows through soils;
  • Lime to ensure downward flows through soils;
  • On-site manure to liven mineral-filled soils with dark, fresh, nutrient-rich, organic-derived humus;
  • Silica-rich sand to promote root growth.

Lecture 3 advocates the above- and below-ground presences of:

  • Carbon to assure structure;
  • Hydrogen to guarantee decomposition and recomposition;
  • Oxygen to promote life;
  • Sulfur to serve moisture.

It attributes to bean-, legume-, and pea-family members critical roles in the adequate movement of nitrogen through organisms and soils.


Cow horns used in making biodynamic compost preparations 500 and 501:

Successful mixing of prep500 by Rudolf Steiner in summer 1924 signaled the birth of biodynamics, transitioning from theory to application.
cow horns
cow horns


Lecture 4 counsels over-wintering underground a compost-filled cow horn 2.46 – 4.92 feet (3/4 – 1-1/2 meters) for:

  • Immersing into a half-bucket of warm springtime water;
  • Stirring edges ½ hour one direction, ½ the opposite;
  • Syringe-spraying manure-treated, plowed fields.

It describes likewise summering underground a quartz powder-filled cow horn for:

  • Digging up in autumn;
  • Immersing a pea- or pinhead-sized amount in a water-filled bucket ½ hour one direction, ½ the opposite;
  • Spraying vegetables.

Lecture 5 enriches composts and manures by over-wintering:

  • Chamomile head-filled cattle intestines in humus-rich, snow-covered, sun-lit soils;
  • Dandelion head-filled bovine mesentery;
  • Oak bark-filled domestic animal skull in rain-/snow-pooled soils;
  • Stinging nettle-filled peat 1 year;
  • Yarrow inflorescence-filled deer bladder.

It indiscriminately prescribes warm water-diluted valerian blossom extract.


closeup of blossoming valerian (Valeriana officinalis):

Valerian blossom extract is prevalent in Rudolf Steiner's biodynamic prescriptions.
Natural Bridge & Rockshelter, Wisconsin State Natural Area #105, Sauk County, south central Wisconsin
Natural Bridge & Rockshelter, Wisconsin State Natural Area #105, Sauk County, south central Wisconsin


Lecture 6 identifies for pest-controlling within 4 years burning and scattering the ashes of:

  • Field mice when Venus is in Scorpio;
  • Sugar-beet nematodes when the Sun is in Taurus;
  • Weeds.  

Lecture 7 indicates the reserving -- for monitoring pests and quality-controlling above- and below-ground interactions -- on farms of:

  • Coniferous forests for birds;
  • Shrubs (especially hazelnut) for mammals;
  • Wet meadows for mushrooms and toadstools;
  • Woodlands for insects.

Lecture 8 recommends:

  • Carrots and flaxseed for healthy calves;
  • Clovers and pulses for increased milk production.

It also suggests cultivated beets and turnips as boiled or steamed fodder for fattening farm animals. It warns agriculturists and consumers that:

  • Potatoes must be eaten in moderation;
  • Tomatoes treat liver diseases, not cancers.


Biodynamics differentiates solar system's influences on Earth's plants: moon and near-Earth planets (Mercury, Venus) support and modify sun's influences as they affect aboveground activities of flora.

Planets further from the sun -- Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn -- affect belowground activities of Earth's flora.
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)



Dr. Steiner’s agriculture course is available in book and on-line formats. Its English-language version offers readers the author’s:

  • Action plan for Count Keyserlingk’s Agricultural Experimental Circle;
  • Blackboard drawings elucidating above-ground destinations of less distant universal forces from Mercury, Moon, and Venus and below-ground locations of more distant universal forces from Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn;
  • Informational sketches customized to each of the 8 lectures;
  • Interactions with participants through 4 discussions.

The lectures preserve for posterity the enthusiasm and the expertise of Dr. Steiner, the inventor of biodynamic agriculture. Ninety years later, the relevance of the lectures receives constant and enduring verification in the number of certified practitioners worldwide and in the proliferation of certifying bodies through Demeter International. 



e.V.Brandschneise 164295 Darmstadt



Email: info(at)

Fax: +49 6155 846911 

Phone:+49 6155 84690 




Rudolf Steiner: portrait in 1923, the year before his pioneering agriculture lectures, delivered in summer 1924 at Schloss Kobierzyce (Kobierzyce Palace) in southwestern Poland > Zeittafel zu Leben und Werk von Rudolf Steiner  > Dritte Entwicklungsphase der Anthroposophie (1917—1923) > Zeittafel zu Leben und Werk von Rudolf Steiner > Dritte Entwicklungsphase der Anthroposophie (1917—1923)



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Biodynamic agriculture's lunar and sidereal rhythms: in monthly lunar trajectory, waxing moon (lune descendante) is ideal for activities such as planting, pruning, transplanting, and repotting.

red = fruit; yellow (fire/warmth element) = flower (air/light element); blue = leaf (water element); brown = root (earth element)
created with inkscape
created with inkscape

Sources Consulted


"Demeter-International -- A Worldwide Network." Retrieved September 6, 2014. 

  • Available at:

Freeman, A.; and Waterman, C. (Eds.). 1958. Rudolf Steiner: Recollections by Some of his
Pupils. London, England: The Golden Blade.

"History." Demeter Association, Inc.: About. Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Kiiker, Elle. 20 April 2014. "Adele Klara Johanna* Marie Gräfin Keyserlingk (von Skene)." Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Kiiker, Elle. 20 April 2014. "Adalbert* Robert Alexander Graf Keyserlingk." Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Kiiker, Elle. 20 April 2014. "Karl* Wilhelm Wolfgang Graf Keyserlingk." Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Kiiker, Elle. 20 April 2014. "Wolfgang* Robert Karl Augen Gf. Keyserlingk." Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Lachman, G. 2007. Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to His Life and Work. New York, NY: Jeremy
P. Tarcher / Penguin.

Paull, John. 2011. "Attending the First Organic Agriculture Course: Rudolf Steiner's Agriculture Course at Koberwitz, 1924." European Journal of Social Science 21(1):64-70.

Paull, John. 2012. "The Glass House: Crucible of Biodynamic Agriculture." Elementals: Journal of Bio-Dynamics Tasmania 108(Summer):18-23. Retrieved September 6, 2014. 

  • Available at:

Pfeiffer, E. 1958. Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening: Soil Fertility Renewal and Preservation. Translated by F. Heckel. New York, NY: Anthroposophic Press.

Rudolph, Katherine. 2011. "About Marie Steiner." Exploring the World in Colour and Speech. Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Rudolph, Katherine. 2011. "About Rudolf Steiner." Exploring the World in Colour and Speech. Retrieved September 6, 2014.

  • Available at:

Schilthuis, W. 2003. Biodynamic Agriculture. Edinburgh, Scotland: Floris Books.

Steiner, Rudolf. 1924. The Agriculture Course. Prefaced by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, M.D. Translated by George Adams. Rudolf Steiner Archive.

  • Available at:

Steiner, Rudolf. 2000. Mein Lebensgang: Eine nicht vollendete Autobiographie, mit einem Nachwort, herausgegeben von Marie Steiner 1925. Dornach Switzerland: Rudolf Steiner Verlag.

  • Available via Internet Archive at:

Steiner, Rudolf. 1993. Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture: A Course of Lectures Held at Koberwitz, Silesia, June 7 to June 16, 1924. Translated from the German by Catherine E. Creeger and Malcolm Gardner. Edited by Malcolm Gardner. Kimberton, PA: Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening Association, Inc.

Steiner, Rudolf. What is Biodynamics? A Way to Heal and Revitalize the Earth. Edited by Marcia Merryman. Introduced by Hugh J. Courtney. Great Barrington, MA: SteinerBooks.

von Keyserlingk, A.G. (Ed.). 1999. The Birth of a New Agriculture. London, England: Temple Lodge.

Wilson, C. 1985. Rudolf Steiner: The Man and His Vision. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: The Aquarian Press.

"Zeittafel zu Leben und Werk von Rudolf Steine (1861 - 1925)." Anthroposophie Forum > Rudolf Steiner > Leben. Wolfgang Peter. Web.

  • Available via Forum für Anthroposophie, Waldorfpädagogik und Goetheanistische Naturwissenschaft at:



Pioneer biodynamicist Rudolf Steiner emphasized the interplays of near and distant elements in "the household of Nature" and credited the warmth of the earth's atmosphere with effective use of silicious forces emanating from Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars.

Lady Life in The Planet Garden, with circle under planets representing the sun
Lady Life in The Planet Garden, with circle under planets representing the sun
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Agriculture Course: The Birth of the Biodynamic Method (Classic Translation) by Rudolf Steiner; translated by George Adams

With these talks, Rudolf Steiner created and launched biodynamic farming.
biodynamics-themed books

You Are Here: purple t-shirt ~ Available via AllPosters

You Are Here
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What Is Biodynamics?: A Way to Heal and Revitalize the Earth by Rudolf Steiner and Hugh J. Courtney

Seven of Rudolf Steiner's lecture with intro by Hugh Courtney, apprentice of biodynamicist Josephine Porter and creator of Josephine Porter Institute in Woolwine, VA, where he makes and sells 3 compost preps and 3 others.
biodynamics-themed books

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 09/08/2014, DerdriuMarriner
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