If, as I mentioned in my post of June 20, “If Biodynamic farming stops mildew and other diseases, sign me up!” Steiner said unequivocally that using a tea from the Common Horsetail plant (Equisetum arvense) would rid vineyards of mildew, then why does Biodynamics allow the use of Sulfur to control Powdery Mildew? In fact, I don’t know any Biodynamic grape grower that doesn’t use Sulfur. ARE THERE ANY OF YOU OUT THERE?????
The California grape industry mainly uses sulfur dust to control Powdery Mildew. Application rates run from 10 to 20 pounds per acre and the number of applications might range from six to twelve or more. Rain washes the sulfur off and you must immediately re-sulfur. Sulfur is an element that I used to think came from the ground. In a sense it does, because it mostly comes from oil. Sulfur is a byproduct of oil refining, and the best crude oil is called Light Sweet Crude because it has the lowest sulfur content at less than 0.5%. When crude oil exceeds 5% sulfur it is called Sour Crude and is less valuable.
As I understand it, tanker trucks take the molten sulfur that has been separated during the refining process and dump the liquid into evaporation ponds. After the liquid has evaporated the dried sulfur is recovered and processed into many products including dusting sulfur.
Sulfur is both quarried and underground mined in Michigan, Ohio, Sicily, Poland and Chile. The demand is much greater than mined sulfur can supply.
I use Sulfur DF made by/for Wilbur-Ellis, it is 80% Sulfur and 20% “other ingredients,” whatever those are. The EPA Registration # is 51036-352-2935. There is a 24 hour re-entry limit and the applicator is required to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants, chemical-resistant gloves and shoes plus socks and protective eyewear.
So here’s the question: Is the sulfur from mines just as “natural” as the sulfur that comes from the refining of oil (the petro-chemical evil doers)? Before you answer, you should think about Nitrogen. The plant doesn’t know any difference between the Nitrogen that comes from an “organic” source such as plants or animals and the Nitrogen that comes from a “chemical” factory.
If you say elemental Sulfur is elemental Sulfur regardless of where it comes from, then why isn’t Nitrogen treated the same way?
If you say the mined Sulfur is natural and the oil processed Sulfur is not, then shouldn’t Biodynamic (and organic) farmers refuse to use the petroleum processed Sulfur?