Chromatography -- Testing for Quality & Vitality
When Steiner noted that the icy crystals that form in winter on the panes of windows are different in a flower shop from those appearing on the windows of a butcher shop, he suggested to Pfeiffer and to another of his early followers, Lily Kolisko, that they experiment in the lab with the formation of crystals as a means of demonstrating what he called his ‘formative forces’ in nature.
To satisfy Steiner’s desire to demonstrate what lies ‘beyond the veil of matter,’ Pfeiffer developed a system known as chromatography in which various solutions of mineral salts, imbibed by rounds of paper, were made to reveal the differing patterns left by forces at work in soil and plant life.
With a similar method, knows as ‘capillary dynamolysis’, Koisko went further, validating not only Steiner’s but Paraclesus’s dictum that each planet is linked to a metal on which it has a special effect, varying with the motions of that planet. With her method Kolisko was able to explain such mysteries as why highly refined metal objects such as ball bearings can turn out badly if manufactured at an inappropriate
planetary phase. The same subtle forces she found to be at work in the living cells of plants, affecting both their growth from seed and the quality of fruit and vegetable, and even such odd facts as that lumber, to be lasting, must be cut in the appropriate moon phase. (The many painstaking experiments to validate the actual effect of stars, sun, planets and moon on germination of seeds and the growth of plants were carried out over a period of thirty years by Lily Kolisko.)
Technique to Reveal Quality & Vitality
Chromatography is a technique for separating the components in a complex mixture. The mixture flows though a medium and the individual substances that make up the mixture are deposited at different distances from the point of inflow.
In contemporary chemistry the resulting image is incidental and largely ignored. The emphasis there is on analysis of the types and amounts of the components.
In biodynamics the technique was originally named capillary dynamolysis and is used to create a picture of the substance that can be interpreted directly. Approached in this way it can reveal something of the inner nature of a substance - its vitality and dynamics. Pfieffer tells us that,
“Since 1953 this method has been used for the purpose of determining differences in the formation of humus in soils, as well as in compost differences which cannot be determined by chemical analysis. There are soils which have almost identical values of available mineral substances; their biological efficiency, however, as well as the yield and quality of the crops grown on such soils, differs widely.
Quite a few years ago, we published the analyses of two soils which were nearly identical. The one field produced maximum yields, the other far below average, medium yields. The difference between the two lay in the soil structure and the humus condition. In a similar way, composts containing the same mineral substance, the same NPK, the same pH, even the same amount of organic substance, may have a widely varying effect on soil structure, humus formation, humus condition, yield, germinating quality of the seeds,
and protein quality.”
Below are a number of chromatograms made following the procedure and recommendations of E.E. Pfeiffer described in "Chromatography Applied to Quality Testing" 1984, Bio-Dynamic Literature, Wyoming, USA. These are chromatograms taken from the reseach of Dr. K. Perumal at the Shri A.M.M. Murugappa Chettiar Research Centre in Chennai.
The Recommended Procedure
Essentially, a circular filter paper (Whatman #1) with a cylindrical paper wick sitting in a 0.5% solution of silver nitrate is allowed to absorb the solution, which spreads by capillary action, to a certain diameter. The wick is removed and the paper is dried. Meanwhile, the substance to be tested is mixed with a 0.1 to 1% solution of sodium hydroxide and let stand for a period of time. The prepared filter paper is then allowed to absorb this solution and the substance spreads over the paper. When it has spread
to a certain distance, the wick is removed and the paper dried. The paper is then exposed to indirect sunlight to let the image develop.
Dr. Perumal's Evaluation of the above Chromatograms
The manure applied soil possessed a natural, stable humus and friable structure that contributed to soil health. Attention is drawn to the medium brown edge zone of the chromatogram with light brown spots. The middle zone protruded with spike into the outer zone. The pattern of radiating forms from the middle zone was harmonious. The inner zone was light brown in colour and has a width of 3.3 cm which indicated its quantity of available mineral (Figure 3. B). The figure 3 C and Table 10 showed quality difference
of the post harvested soil where an increased amount of availability of organic carbon and proliferation of micro flora such as bacteria and fungi are apparent in each three zones.
The qualitative analysis of biodynamically grown carrot was undertaken in order to separate the different fractions in 0.1% alkali- water solutions (sodium hydroxide), which were subjected to Whatman No.1 filter paper analysis. The paper chromatographic analysis of carrot revealed a very clear difference in colour, pattern and shape of the spikes in each zone, which is propositional to the quality of carrot between biodynamic management and the conventional practices (Table 11, Figure 2 A ). In the chromatograms
of carrots there were three zones inner, middle and the outer reflect the presence of mineral, starch and proteins respectively. The chromatograms of biodynamically grown carrot showed a prominent inner zone (3.5 cm diameter) than that of the inner zone of commercial carrot (2 cm), which clearly indicated qualitative and quantitative differences in the availability of minerals. According to Pfeiffer (1984) the width of zones corresponds to the amount of characteristic substances available in the test sample.
The spikes protruding from the middle zone towards the outer zone are caused by proteins. Another important feature in this chromatogram is the small, round bell shaped spot which is light olive in colour that appeared on each spike at the outer zone. This bell shape appeared only in biodynamically grown carrot (Figure 2B).
Pfeiffer's Criteria for Evaluation of Chromatograms
In his book Chromatography Applied to Quality Testing Pfeiffer gives the following pointers for interpreting the chromatography images:
1. Number, width and color of the different zones, as well as their regular or irregular formation and shading. Distinguish between 3 main zones:
a)outer and middle
mainly due to the organic material tested
which indicates the presence or lack of
The width of the zones corresponds to the amounts of characteristic substances
2. Ring formations between the middle and outer zone and at the edge of the outer zone.
3. Color of the zones:
a) a light to medium brown, evenly distributed, points to a good colloidal humus formation
b) dark brown enclosures point to acid humus
c) violet radiations point to increasing mineralization and reduced organic
d) in the case of plant extracts, vitamin preparations and foodstuffs, other colors are observed.
4. Radiation, number, color and shape of pike-like
a) the violet radiations of the inner zone again indicate the breaking-down tendency toward mineralization.
b) the various phases of fermentation (first, decomposition; second, humus formation; third, mineralization and greatly advanced decomposition) are clearly indicated in the chromatograms of soils and compost.