The sustainability of biodynamic horticultural production: the case of Po valley

G. Ferrazzi, S. Bormolini, G. Agnelli, V. Ventura
More and more attention is paid to environmental, economic and social sustainability of the agricultural activity as it is proved at European level by the new setting of CAP toward 2020. It is therefore interesting to understand which production practices better react to these characteristics. Biodynamic appears to respond well in terms of environmental sustainability: can the same be affirmed in terms of economic sustainability? In this paper Italian biodynamic sector has been analyzed focusing on horticultural production: its economic sustainability has been verified especially for small farms that are facing increasing problems in terms of profitability. The Italian Demeter database was used to identify biodynamic farms that have been georeferenced at a national level and then only the ones specialized in vegetable production have been selected for Italy. In order to assess its economic sustainability the production costs for three farms located in the area of the High Po valley that are converting from organic to biodynamic have been examined, focusing on five items: lettuce (Lactuca sativa), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), zucchini (Cucurbita pepo), eggplant (Solanum melongena), cucumber (Cucumis sativus). Then these costs have been compared to the ones associated with organic and traditional methods. Their prices have been also compared in order to achieve an economic assessment of the different production methods. Finally a SWOT analysis regarding the adoption of the biodynamic method has been performed. This paper proves that the biodynamic method is economically sustainable in the horticultural production based on higher retail prices that NDASH for some products NDASH compensate higher costs, in comparison to the organic and traditional methods. Another factor that strengthens the use of the biodynamic method is a favorable European legislation.
Ferrazzi, G., Bormolini, S., Agnelli, G. and Ventura, V. (2016). The sustainability of biodynamic horticultural production: the case of Po valley. Acta Hortic. 1142, 171-178
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1142.27
biodynamic agriculture, economic profitability, productive methods, farm strategies, supply chains

Acta Horticulturae