Consultant for biodynamic agriculture

Marcello Lo Sterzo was born in Rome on 13th April 1963, and has lived there ever since.

After studying at the agricultural college "G.Garibaldi" in Rome, he went on to studying Forestry at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, where he graduated in spring 1992. The following Autumn he then passed his State exam, qualifying to practise as free-lance agricultural consultant. He is a member of the Order of Agronomists and Forestry Doctors of Rome and its Province (enrolment number 1323 - March 1995). 

During his university studies he got to know about biodynamic agriculture and was at one and the same time fascinated with, but also rather sceptical about it. In time he then overcame his initial scepticism and came to a full appreciation of the actual validity of biodynamic agriculture by attending courses and conferences organized by the Italian Association for Biodynamic Agriculture, and by visiting farms which were already using the biodynamic method of cultivation. 

He has been working as an inspector for Demeter Italia since 1993, supervising Demeter member farms, and, since 1995 he has also been cooperating with CODEX srl, supervising farms to check up on application of EEC Regulation 2092/91. Since 1995 he has started working as a free-lance biodynamic consultant, as an ever increasing number of farms were wanting to switch over to the biodynamic method of agriculture and needed assistance in applying the method. Due to the peculiarity of his work, he has to travel throughout Italy, from regions as far apart as Emilia Romagna and Sicily. 

Amongst the various farms he acts as a consultant for, the agricultural co-operative of Allumiere deserves to be mentioned, which has been switching over to the biodynamic method of cultivation since 1998, with all its 6.500 hectares of land, about 3.500 of which are made up of woods, another 1.400 of sowable land, and another 1.600 of arboreal pastureland. There are about 1.400 cows of the Maremma on this territory, as well as 500 Maremman Horses and donkeys. Since October 1993 he has also been Regional Secretary for the Lazio section of the Italian Biodynamic Association. 

He was one of the funding members of the Association "Pro Silva Italia" on June 10th 1996.

We have been hearing more and more in the news recently about research in the field of biotechnology and genetic manipulation, and about the endeavour to create transgenic animals. Such kind of research is portrayed as being human kindÕs new avenue for the solution of all kinds of problems, not only those pertaining agriculture and zootechny, and is generally carried out by multinationals which anticipate gaining new profit from it. 

Such profit generally ends up into the pockets of a very few shareholders, whilst the farmer is the gull putting in the hard work. It is unfortunate that many people still ignore the fact that the biodynamic movement has been working for over 70 years for a heathy agricultural growth, which can reconcile profit and productivity in an excellent way. Since its very beginning back in the year 4000 b.C. and throughout the following civilizations the farm was self-sufficient in that it did not have to go and buy manure and antiparasitic tools from outside. 

The soil would be treated according to a deep wisdom which saw the soil itself as something "sacred", something to be respected. As a consequence of that, each farm would have its own animals (cattle, horses, swine, sheep, etc.) whose dung would make up the compost which would then be used to manure the fields. Furthermore crop rotation would be used, so as to prevent soil impoverishment. Soil tilling would be superficial, and the ground would never be ploughed up. 

With the coming of chemical agriculture this millenary order was destroyed. This happened because it was believed that, by using chemical fertilizers and antiparasitic tools, farms could specialize on single-crop systems. The disastrous results of such choices are now under everyone's eyes. In June 1924, following a series of conferences given by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner at Count Kaiserling's farm near Koberwitz, in the then Silesia, nowadays Poland, the biodynamic method of agriculture was born, that is, at a time when chemical agriculture did not yet exist. What gave credibility to this method were the actual results gained on the fields when applying it. 

Biodynamic agriculture aims at recovering the closed cycle, according to the principle by which an organism would work best when all its organs are in harmony. An example of that is the human body which can funcion thanks to the cooperation of its various organs (lungs, kidneys, heart, liver, etc.). When one of these organs breaks down, this will affect all the rest of them. A biodynamic farmÕs organs are hedges, wood, animals, compost, crop rotation etc., with the farmer being the conductor, whose task it is, to wisely coordinate mutual interaction amongst the various organs, so as to restore and conserve the humic, colloidal soil structure, which makes up the soil's true fertility. 

Everything comes from the soil, from grass through to vegetables, cereals and trees, and therefore, the more "alive" a soil is, the healthier will those animals and people be, who live off the produce yielded by such soil. In order to understand this, let us take any herb-manual and let us first of all read about the properties of each known plant, even of those commonly known as weeds. One will then recognize that it is through eating that we actually cure ourselves. It is obvious, though, that when plants have been chemically treated, they will have lost their therapeutic properties. 

The biodynamic method of cultivation is commonly believed to be something of a hobby, but this is not true. One only needs to think of Australia, where this method of cultivation is used on over 1.600.000 hectares of land (and as many are in the process of switching over to biodynamics), and biodynamic agriculture is officially recognized by the Australian government. In Italy we also have significant examples of biodynamic farms, such as "Cascine Orsine", with about 600 hectares of land, and with 250 Friesland cows, whose milk is then used to produce the now well-known Scaldasole yogurt; we then have "Azienda Nuove Casenovole", with about 1.000 hectares of land, producing cereals, oil, and biodynamic meat; another example is "Agrilatina", with its 180 hectares intensive horticulture, and with also one of the worldÕs largest single-body greenhouses, measuring about 20 hectares. 

Considering these data we are made to ask ourselves why it is that, although this method is so good, it is nevertheless so little known. The answer is very simple: by applying the biodynamic method of cultivation the farmer embarks on a path which will, thanks to a good agronomic practise, progressively lead him to achieving self-sufficiency, and therefore, to being able to enormously reduce his dependance from outside sources, for example, as far as fertilizers and antiparasitic tools is concerned, , and, consequently, to reducing costs. Out of such agricultural method the farmers, consumers and the environment will be the ones to profit. 

These are also the reasons why this method tends to spread out by a sort of word of mouth; as a matter of fact, since the Italian Association for Biodynamic Agriculture has no involvement wahtsoever with any multinational company, it will not have the huge amount of money it takes to run effective advertising campaigns, either. We therefore need to stress out that the biodynamic method of cultivation fully harmonizes with environment conservation because, unlike chemical agriculture, it does not have negative effects on the environment such as:

- environment pollution (agriculture is at present the very first source of environment pollution);
- damage to human health, the farmer being the first one to succumb to such damage when using antiparasitic tools, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers which are all highly toxic substances, according to research carried out by the Forl“ Local Health Authority, which gave evidence of the fact that it is amongst farmers that the highest rate of cancer-related deaths was found;
- desertification, including landslides, which occur more and more often, and which are caused by wind and water erosion due to the fact that the soil, having lost its humic and colloidal structure, is no longer able to oppose it;
- destruction of the agro-ecological system, in particular a strong reduction in birdlife and fauna;
- high production costs;
- high environmental costs for both, the State and society, such as pollution of water-tables, which causes water to become no longer fit for drinking, and of sees, as well as lakes; the remedy to all this usually consisting of palliative measures which do nothing to solve the problem, since they do not tackle its very cause; Biodynamic agriculture, on the contrary, is based on the application of such simple principles as the following:
- human development of all people living and working at the farm;
- knowledge of life (in its various forms and mechanisms);
- correct use of high quality biodynamic preparations;
- biodynamic mixed green-manuring;
- correct soil tilling;
- biodynamic compost;

Through biodynamic agriculture we can, therefore, obtain the following:

- nutritious plants which have recovered their therapeutic properties (it is by eating that we cure ourselves);
- restoration of the agro-ecological system, which implies the return of all those species of animals, birds, insects, fungi, plants, etc.,
- which had disappeared because of soil poisoning;
- recovery of soil's humic and colloidal structure, which makes the soil able to oppose wind and water erosion;
- health enhancement for both farmers, and consumers;
- zero environmental costs (deriving from soil and earth pollution);
- high quality food production;
- productivity increase;
- lower production costs.