Yields of biodynamic agriculture of Immanuel Voegele (1897-1959): Experimental Circle data of Pilgramshain
John Paull 1 *
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1 University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, AUSTRALIA* Corresponding Author


A century ago the New Age philosopher Dr Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) called for the development of a differentiated. agriculture, one focussed on biology rather than chemistry. At his Agriculture Course at Koberwitz (now Kobierzyce), in the summer of 1924, Steiner founded the Experimental Circle of Anthroposophical Farmers and Gardeners. The Experimental Circle members each signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Their task was to test Steiner’s ideas, establish what worked, and to publish the results. That injunction was arguably satisfied by the publication of Ehrenfried Pfeiffer’s book ‘Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening’ in 1938. The results reported in the present paper are Experimental Circle results that were subject to the secrecy provisions of the NDA at that time (1936), and are now finally revealed. Immanuel Voegele (1897-1959) recorded yields for five crops under Biodynamic (BD) management in the years 1931-1933, comparing these results to yields in the pre-BD years 1920-1926. He reported yield increases for potatoes to 55%, rye up to 48%, oats to 31%, wheat to 14%, and barley to 9%. Voegele was well credentialed and grounded to report on Biodynamics. He had studied agriculture at Stuttgart, he attended the Agricultural Course of Rudolf Steiner at Koberwitz, and he was an inaugural member of the Experimental Circle. Voegele had served as a farm manager at the Koberwitz estate of Count Carl Keyserlingk (1869-1928) (until 1925). He subsequently worked at the Biodynamic farm of Ernst Stegemann (1882-1943) at Marienstein. The present paper reports longitudinal yield results for five crops at Voegele’s farm at Pilgramshain, Silesia, Germany, before and after the conversion to BD. These early BD yield data were shared amongst ‘the faithful’ at the time, and only now publicly. From the high point of his reported successes with BD, life and prospects for Voegele would rapidly deteriorate. The Nazi regime was hostile to Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophy, and Anthroposophic ventures (of which Biodynamics was one). All books by Rudolf Steiner were banned by the Nazis in 1935 (including the Agriculture Course). Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and slaughtered millions of Polish civilians, before eventually in 1945 the Russian Army routed the Nazi army. The Russians marched on ‘Fortress Breslau’ and on to Berlin, sparking a mass westward exodus of Germans, including Immanuel Voegele. Territory, including Pilgramshain, was relinquished to Poland at the Potsdam Conference of 1945. Immanuel Voegele’s legacy of reported successes with Biodynamics at a time when secrecy prevailed is now shared.


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Article Type: Research Article

EUR J SUSTAIN DEV RES, Volume 8, Issue 1, 2024, Article No: em0248


Publication date: 16 Jan 2024

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