History of Demeter BD

Following is a timeline of important events relating to bio-dynamics, both in Australia and internationally.

These events have been compiled from information found on the Demeter International, BDRI, BD Marketing and BD Growing websites (see further information).


Rudolf Steiner held a series of eight lectures titled ‘Spiritual Foundations for the Renewal of Agriculture’.

These lectures addressed the need to reverse the loss of vitality in crops that had occurred since the introduction of chemical fertilisers. The lectures are now known as the ‘Agricultural Course’.

Some of Steiner’s co-workers were entrusted with the task of developing the details of the practical applications of his theories – Lily Kolisko and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer were foremost.

The first group of farmers and scientists inspired by Steiner named the resulting agricultural practices the ‘Bio-Dynamic Method’.

1924 to 1930

Lily Kolisko verified that minute trace elements could produce both positive and negative effects on plants and animals.

Ehrenfried Pfeiffer dedicated his time to refining the production of BD preparations, and establishing the quantities and rates of application. Pfeiffer documented the effects of ‘biocatalysts’ (trace elements, enzymes, growth hormones, etc.) and partly attributed the effectiveness of the BD preparations to their biocatalyst activity.


Alex Podolinsky, pioneer of the Australian Demeter BD Method, was born in Germany.


The name Demeter was chosen, as a reference to the Greek goddess of grain and fertility, and the Demeter Symbol was trademarked in Germany.

The first standards for Demeter quality control were formulated.

In Mexico, Rodolfo and Walter Peters started the first bio-dynamic coffee plantation which is still farmed bio-dynamically today.


Chromatography, a way of visualising the quality of food, was developed in Germany by Lily Kolisko and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer.

The first official trials, in Berlin, demonstrated the effectiveness of the bio-dynamic preparations.


Approximately 1 000 BD farms exist world-wide.


In Germany the “Demeter-Wirtschaftsverbund” was founded.

Bio-dynamic agriculture is also practiced in Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, Norway and the U.K.


In Switzerland, Alex Podolinsky was tutored in bio-dynamics by some of Rudolf Steiner’s original students.


In New Zealand the ‘Bio-Dynamic Association’ was founded.


The ‘Experimental Circle for Bio-Dynamic Farming Methods’ (formerly ‘The Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers’) is established and restructured.

The first introductory course takes place.


In Darmstadt, Germany, the ‘Institute for Bio-Dynamic Research’ was founded.

Early 1950s

In Australia, Alex Podolinsky took up Steiner’s challenge to make the BD method available to ‘all farmers’.

Alex applied and refined the method on his own farm. He also worked closely with professional farmers from numerous organisations.

Alex succeeded in distilling Steiner’s teachings down to a more practical level, now known as the Australian Demeter Bio-Dynamic Method.


Scientific research work began in partnership with German Universities and other worldwide organisations.


Alex Podolinsky founded the Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association of Australia (BDAAA).


The Bio-Dynamic Research Institute (BDRI) was created to further research the practical development of the Australian Demeter BD Method.


Maria Thun revealed to the world her comprehensive work on cosmic influences on plants. She developed ‘The Star Calendar’, a sowing calendar that has since been published yearly in a growing number of languages.


Alex Podolinsky suggested that BD farmers could use a machine to stir preparations – one that retained the essential characteristics of hand-stirring. This was backed up by carefully controlled experiments which showed that a properly designed machine could stir just as effectively as hand stirring.

This major breakthrough enabled the BD method to spread widely – it could now be used more efficiently by farmers in ‘broad-acre’ settings. The original stirrer design (by Kevin Twigg) with minor modifications is still used worldwide today.

Late 1960s

Alex Podolinsky discovered a method of incorporating the six BD compost preparations with 500 to make ‘prepared 500’. This negated the European rule that BD compost must be spread before 500 could be sprayed (which was not possible on broad-acre farms).


The Demeter trademark was registered in Australia by the BDRI.

Alex Podolinsky pioneered certification of BD produce for the Australian and overseas markets to assure quality for the consumer.


A long-term trial comparing bio-dynamic and conventional farming began in northern Germany, looking specifically at the build-up of the humus layer.

Early 1980s

Alex Podolinsky founded the BD Marketing Company to provide cost-effective distribution of BD produce to consumers in Australia.

Mid 1980s

The Australian ABC TV screened a documentary on Alex Podolinsky and BD agriculture, helping to convert numerous farmers to BD methods over the following years.


Demeter was the first organic body to produce standards for food processing.

The first doctorate on a bio-dynamic theme ‘The Rhythms of the Moon’ was written by Dr. Hartmut Spiess, a scientist at the Institute for Bio-Dynamic Research.


Nineteen independent Demeter organisations – with representatives from Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America – came together to form Demeter International.


Demeter introduced a new logo, on the 75th anniversary of bio-dynamics.

The German Market Forum worked on a marketing strategy for a variety of Demeter goods under one logo.

The Demeter Processing Standards were ratified world-wide and more than 3 500 Demeter products were available in shops.

Demeter became the biggest provider of organic goods world-wide.


Over two million acres of Australian land is being farmed by BDAAA members.


Rudolf Steiner was born 150 years ago – the event was celebrated all over the world.


The International Bio-Dynamic Council (IBDC) was founded.


The bio-dynamic movement celebrated its 90th anniversary.