How to make a simple business case for biodynamic farming practices

By Tobias Webb

I spend a lot of time talking to people about sustainability, as that’s my job. Aside from this blog I work with my colleagues at Innovation Forum on how bigger companies can approach sustainable business practices and make them part of how they work every day.

I was chatting with someone today about how we can frame sustainable agriculture to make it attractive sounding to larger organisations. So I came up with the below on how we might describe practices like biodynamic agriculture in wine, on that basis.

So here’s my one-liner (ish!) on what those who practice the approach, can say to those who think it’s just hippy mumbo-jumbo:

“Input costs are rising, once-externalised environmental costs are no longer free, and so good biodynamic practices lower input costs, impact costs (pollution, pesticides) and provide both economic and climate change resilience, improving soil health and longevity. Biodynamics provides us with resilience also in that the approach delivers robust healthy long-lasting food which is safe to eat, perhaps with lower, but more consistent yields”.

(Thanks to Monty Waldin, who knows far more about biodynamics, and wine, than I do, for penning some of this)

The challenge of course, is that biodynamics struggles at scale with labour costs, given the artisanal nature of the work. But larger and larger vineyards are making it work. They, of course, have the margins that others do not, as Andrea Felluga points out in this recent interview. The question then, is does a rigorous set of approaches, such as biodynamics, work in terms of economics, at scale, in other area of agriculture. I hope to find out.

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About the author

Tobias Webb

Toby Webb is co-founder of Sustainable Wine. He is also founder of Innovation Forum, a leading platform for change in sustainable supply chains. He has spent 20+ years working in business and sustainability and has spent ten years teaching the subject at various London universities. He advises a number of companies large and small on sustainability. Businesses he has worked with include Patagonia, Interface, Bayer, SOK Group, Boots/Walgreens, Metro, Unilever, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser, Sainsbury’s, and many others. He co-authored the UK’s national CSR strategy for David Cameron from 2006-10. He has been organising events, advising, teaching writing, blogging and podcasting on sustainable business since 2001. His (non-wine) blog is at