Interview with Carlo Noro on TERRA E VITA

Biodynamic preparations support the vitality of agricultural land

Interview with Carlo Noro on TERRA E VITA by Carlotta Iarrapino

In biodynamic agriculture the vigor of the soil is increased with the use of biodynamic preparations. We talked about it with Carlo Noro, farmer and trainer specialized in the production of biodynamic preparations. In preparation 500 there are 1,600 strains of bacteria and 300 colonies of fungi

Soil contamination affects the quality of agriculture, generating a loss of productivity of between 15% and 20%, according to the latest FAO report available on the  Global Assessment of Soil Pollution . Pollution, then, knows no boundaries: contaminants are widespread in all terrestrial ecosystems. For this reason, soil pollution has been recognized internationally as a serious threat that affects its ability to provide ecosystem services, including the production of safe and sufficient food, compromising global food security. The well-being of the soil is at the center of the work of Biodynamic farmers who use  biodynamic preparations  to make their land vital and fertile. We talked about it with  Carlo Noro , one of the greatest exponents of Italian biodynamics who, with his farm in Labico in the province of Rome, produces biodynamic preparations which are purchased by many farmers throughout the peninsula. Born in ’51, first a graphic designer, then a banker, he has been a biodynamic farmer and trainer for 40 years and, with the Association for Biodynamic Agriculture, he is preparing a training plan to increase and improve the use of biodynamic preparations on farms.

More practice is needed

Biodynamics, despite being formulated 100 years ago – in 2024 it will be a century since Rudolf Steiner held the series of conferences on biodynamic agriculture in Koberwitz – remains unknown to most people. How does he explain it?

«There are certainly economic interests behind it, but I believe that the fault is also ours, us biodynamics. In the early 1990s, when I was still working in a credit institution, I met the Australian biodynamicist  Alex Podolinsky , a practical man with a wealth of experience. When he arrived in Europe one of the first things he noticed was that biodynamicists tended to do a lot of philosophy and little practice. Anthroposophy is the basis of biodynamics but if philosophical theory becomes predominant the result is to alienate farmers who instead need practical results and operational techniques. Then, if they want, given the excellent results of biodynamic practice, they will be able to approach anthroposophy thanks to an individual choice.”

How did your experience in biodynamics come about?

«In the early 80s of the last century I was one of the founders of the Lazio section of the Association for biodynamic agriculture. My father had a farm and the call of the land and the love for nature were always present in me. Through the section I met Podolinsky who I followed for a few years on his travels to Italian biodynamic farms. In the end I made the decision to resign from the bank and in 1997 I founded the  Carlo Noro biodynamic agricultural company . I am self-taught, I am not an agronomist, I am not a biologist, I trained as a graphic designer, but I have carefully studied Steiner’s texts and have experimented with the biodynamic agricultural method for 40 years. My company, certified organic and biodynamic (Demeter), has produced vegetables, fruit and processed products for several years but I have now dedicated myself almost exclusively to the production of biodynamic preparations and wine, on land we have in Ciociaria. This year I set up  70 thousand horns of preparation 500  ( cornoletame ) to satisfy the demand of the Italian market alone”.

An impressive biodiversity

Can you explain better what you mean when you say you have experimented?

«The soil I had purchased had been treated with chemicals for over 15 years and was rich in heavy metals. I started producing my own preparations and spraying the fields with doses even higher than those recommended by the Demeter specifications. And I observed and found improving changes. A few years ago I wanted to do an analysis of my  preparation 500  and my soil at the microbiology laboratory in Padua. In 1500, 1,600 strains of bacteria and 300 colonies of fungi were found  An impressive biodiversity which then, with the dynamization done in a workmanlike manner, also increases. And in my soil, analyzes have shown that the humic and colloidal structure reaches a depth of 1 and a half metres. With a structure like this there are no problems when the water bombs arrive.”

500 is therefore a very precious substance for agriculture, is this why you decided to dedicate yourself to biodynamic preparations?

«If the preparation works, biodynamics works. The biodynamic preparation 500, as I was saying, is a humic substance with dynamic activity thanks to the bacteria that activate microbial processes. The 500 is therefore prebiotic and probiotic together and, for this to be the case, it must be produced exclusively with biodynamic bovine manure. Specific expertise is required to produce preparations. They can be made directly by farms, but it is still professional work. It’s not just filling an antler and burying it, or drying and transforming medicinal herbs for heap preparations, which are essential for making biodynamic compost. For the latter, for example, you need to know not only what to collect but also when and how to collect. There is a bacterial reaction ratio in the preparations that we inoculate in the manure piles that makes the difference in having a truly effective and quality fertilizer. I therefore decided to specialize in biodynamic preparations, copying the Australian system where there is a supply chain in which specialized professionals, the so-called fitters, dedicate themselves to preparations which are then sold to farms. And in Australia biodynamics is widespread and there are even dedicated degree courses.”

An association for training

Biodynamic training in Italy, however, is not widespread, apart from the courses organized by the Association for Biodynamic Agriculture. You founded an association to train farmers, can you tell us about it?

«In collaboration with the Biodynamic Association we have prepared a professional training plan specifically for the diffusion of Biodynamic preparations and for their correct use by agricultural companies. Furthermore, together with the oenologist biologist  Michele Lorenzetti , I founded the Associazione Culturale Professione Biodinamica , a school that aims to teach biodynamics to professional farmers, and not only. The approach we give to our courses is very practical. Generally we start from the questions that the participants ask us and, if they have come to us, it is because they need to solve their agricultural problems. We hold courses on professional biodynamic viticulture, olive growing and biodynamic horticulture. From 2013 to today we have trained more than 1300 people and provided approximately 1600 hours of training”.

Why should a farm become biodynamic?

«The agricultural lands of the entire planet are polluted and the damage is growing exponentially. We must ask ourselves where we will end up if we continue to act irresponsibly, poisoning soil, air and water. Preparations properly sprayed in the fields are able to regenerate polluted soil.”

Soil regeneration

So biodynamics would be like reclaimers?

“Yes. The preparations are used to bring the microbiology back into the geology of the soil. Then when the soil is full of this microbiological activity and in balance, it will no longer be necessary to use them. Biodynamics says “let’s regenerate the earth to regenerate all of nature”.

A high social value, therefore…

«Of course, but not only. Biodynamics prevents diseases, it is not created to cure them. Pathogens or a virosis, when there is a viable soil and in microbiological balance, do not spread, they remain confined. The biodynamic farmer does not have to treat the symptoms, but must carefully investigate and observe all the manifestations that occur in the fields, or in the greenhouses, to understand what causes have led to that disease. This approach also has economic implications, with the reduction of both the costs due to the treatments and those, which we never consider, due to the contrast of the side effects of the treatments themselves. And finally, as my teacher Podolinsky said, “quality always sells”. And biodynamic companies have the results, produce quality and market their products without problems.”

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