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masanobu fukuoka

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 15055
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
For those of you that are fans of masanobu fukuoka, then I can tell you now that you are sad that you did not attend the washington state permaculture convergence this last weekend. 

Larry Korn was there and presented.  Larry is responsible for the recent reprinting of "one straw revolution" as well as playing a huge role in the first printing.  Larry also worked under fukuoka for several years.  Not only could you attend his presentation, but he was there the whole time visiting with everybody.  I even had a few good chats with him. 

Before you get so weepy that you cannot read any more ...  Larry says he has actually popped out here in the past and taken a peek.  And he says he would like to start participating a bit more.  I kinda got the feeling that he is not quite sure where to begin. 

And this is where you come in!

This is your chance to ask questions.  Post some questions for Larry, to help him find his forum feet! 

So!  What would you like to know about Larry?  Or about Fukuoka?




sign up for my daily-ish email / rocket mass heater 4-DVD set / permaculture playing cards
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Hello and welcome Larry....

Q1:  When is a reprinting of The Natural Way of Farming: The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy going to be done?  I would like a copy of this Fukuoka book too.

Q2:  Is the purpose of 'seed balls' because Mr. Fukuoka has chickens foraging, and no fencing system?  Or is there some other reason/benefits?

Q3:  What is the your belief on soil compaction from man and animals in natural (small numbers) walking on it?  Everywhere I READ do not walk on growing beds/areas, but in nature I SEE a different story.  Do you or Mr. Fukuoka have some ideas on this?

Thank you for your insight.

~Jami
                              


Joined: Sep 21, 2009
Posts: 7
Q: How did Fukuoka manage financially to take his run down family farm and transform it while experimenting in natural farming? What factors of Japan then might contrast with the US now to pose greater obstacles? What benefits does the US now have over Japan then?

Jami:
The Natural Way of Farming is available for research use from the soil and health library.
http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/01aglibwelcome.html

Fukuoka claimed that protection from foragers was only one aspect of the benefits of seed balls. The book to my memory did not go on in great detail explaining it, in fact it explains nothing in great detail. Fukuoka purposely and intentionally trampled on his young crops to encourage root development. I believe if my memory serves me right in the book he talks about trampling the grains growing beneath his rice when harvesting the rice.
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
Thank you GCLECKS for the link and information.....

Not to drift to far from this subject, but I have been searching for a long time for how-to information (from days gone by) on machinery made by hand to use with sun, wind, water and animals.  I read in history books about aqueducts, windmills and water wheels with no specific DIY info.  This link you sent me carries wisdom from a un-modern perspective, but I haven't found any such how-to for machinery yet.  Do you know of any such 'old world' gadget building info?

Thanks,

~Jami
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
If you're interested in old-fashioned methods of machining, David Gingery is held in extremely high regard by DIYers.  His books cover the process of bootstrapping from charcoal and a scrapyard to a complete working machine shop.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Hi, all,
I'm still getting out the kinks so I can reply to your questions and insights about natural farming and Masanobu Fukuoka.  The Washington State Permaculture Convergence last weekend was really fun and enlightening.  It was good to see so many friends and meet new ones.
Larry Korn


onestrawrevolution.com
There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write poetry or compose a song -- Masanobu Fukuoka
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
All Right!  That last post worked out well, so here are some answers which were written above.

The Natural Way of Farming will probably not be republished.  You'll have to find it in a used bookstore, in a friend's library or on line.

When people ask you to PLEASE DO NOT WALK IN THE BEDS they are almost always referring to beds in zone 1 which have been turned over.  These are the plowed or rototilled beds, or ones which have been double dug or otherwise been infused with compost and lots of oxygen.  Walking on unplowed ground does not pose a problem.  The soil "plows" itself by the action of penetrating roots, earthworms, microorganisms, water, trees falling over and so forth.  The new grain crops in Fukuoka's rice and barley fields are trampled by human feet during the harvest of the previous crop but they don't seem to even notice.  In the orchard it is good if one can avoid stepping directly on a ripe cucumber or daikon radish, but otherwise no damage is caused.  Running heavy equipment over and over on the fields...well, that creates problems.
~Larry
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
ldkorn wrote:
The Natural Way of Farming will probably not be republished.  You'll have to find it in a used bookstore, in a friend's library or on line.


A free .pdf reproduction of The Natural Way of Farming can be requested from this Australian library:

http://www.soilandhealth.org/copyform.aspx?bookcode=010164

That same library also offered The One Straw Revolution, until it came back into print here (20% off as of posting!):

http://www.nybooks.com/shop/product?usca_p=t&product_id=9133
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
Larry, did Fukuoka-san practice a martial art? Much of his teachings parallel that of martial arts, such as Aikido.


"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it." - Helen Keller
--
Jeremiah Bailey
Central Indiana
Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1779
    
  10
I have the books now - great!

Thanks for the info on soil-compaction and walking in the beds, that makes sense.

And I read about the seed balls in the second book, which brings a couple of things together in my understanding.

Thank you,

Jami
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Love your name, Jeremiah,  No, as far as I know Sensei did not formally practice a martial art, although he sometimes handled farm tools in a way that suggested that he may have at some time in his life.  Besides "natural farming" and "do-nothing agriculture" he also refered to his way as "mu agruculture."  Litterally, mu means "nothing," or "empty mind."  It is the Zen "original mind" and refers to the egoless state the farmer ideally has when he works in the fields.  Since the "no-self" concept of mu is central to all of the Japanese arts, including aikido, I am not surprised that you found a similarity.

Usually people ask if Sensei's farming is Taoist, or Buddhist because it cuts right to the core of Asian spirituality.  Fukuoka denied any connection to anything but nature itself.  Dispite the similarities he did not want people to pidgeon-hole his philosophy filing it neatly into a catagory created by the human intellect.  True nature can only be experienced directly without the distorting and limiting lens of the intellect.  You know, the intellect...that unceasing inner dialogue that tries to understand everything it comes in contact with or imagines that it will.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Have his efforts in Africa or California borne much fruit?

Did he feel that some people had mastered his way well enough to continue on the path he blazed, or did he worry that most of it would have to be re-discovered?
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Good question, Polyparadigm,
When Fukuoka-sensei first came to the United States in 1979 he hoped students of natural farming would imply follow his example and use similar techniques he developed in Japan.  That was the first time he had traveled outside of Japan and was also the first time he had ever traveled on an airplane.  His idea was to save time so each of us wouldn't have to spend our lifetimes discovering the same things it had taken him 25 or 30 years to discover.

When he saw how different conditions were here in North America he changed his tune.  The Mediterannean climate was totally different and the damage caused by excessive logging and grazing was so extreme that he decided that everyone would have to create their own distinctive way of farming.  The techniques must be based on the fundamental principles, however.  He also was alarmed at how quickly we had to turn things around.  "Regreen the earth" became his mantra and that meant planting more trees.  Without fully understanding the principles of permaculture, his solutions closely resembled the plan Mollison and Holgrem set out 30 years ago.
    So much of his technique involves rehabilitation.  So much of the landscape has been trashed.  Yes, he was bitter but he never lost hope.

Brenda Groth
volunteer

Joined: Feb 01, 2009
Posts: 4433
Location: North Central Michigan
    
    8
sounds like my kind of gardener..

I truly beleive that each person has to learn to deal with their own piece of property on their own, although reading books and learning from people does save a lot of time and mistakes..often..things react so differently on a different climate or different piece of land.

Although we are in a similar northern boundary of the United states, being with Canada, our Michigan climate reacts so much differntly than the Washington state climate to farming as the effects of the ocean and the great lakes do have some similarities, they also are very different.

What works for you will definately not work for us in many situations, esp when our temps drop much lower for much longer periods of time and we have long periods of drought in the summers. Our soil is different consistancy.

I imagine the differences from Japan are huge, but they will be huge from any place to place.

We still can take experiences from other people and try to learn from them the best we can applying them to our diffferences


Brenda

Bloom where you are planted.
http://restfultrailsfoodforestgarden.blogspot.com/
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
I agree completely, Brenda.  Fukuoka's rice and barley growing, and even his way of growing vegetables like wild plants works perfectly well in Japan but may not work where you are.  Where he is farming there is a relatively mild climate with reliable summer rain.  His technique arose by following the principles of natural farming where he lives.  We need to closely observe and experience our situation and create a way of producing food which is appropriate to where we live.

"We see the same moon whether we are in Japan, Africa or Europe.  It is the same world...the same nature.  We are a part of it, not separate." (Fukuoka)

The essence of natural farming is not the specific technique, but our ability to fit in with nature as a rightful partner, not as a conquerer.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Hello Larry (I hope you're still active here)

I would like to practice the method of growing vegetables among white clover as a ground cover but am a bit uncertain as to the details of this. I am picturing a raised bed with a carpet of white clover and vegetables planted amongst the clover. Is that correct?

My main concern is the spacing between a given vegetable and the nearest clover...Is there a rule of thumb to work with? An existing list? Or can the clover cozy right next to any given veggie?

Thanks


http://www.greenshireecofarms.com
Zone 5a in Central Ontario, Canada
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Thanks to paul for making this thread, and to Larry for his willingness for Q&A. 

It's true we're dealing with different issues than Fukuoka.  This is a large country with many climates, and there are an amazing variety of problems to solve and ways to solve them. 

I have a feeling that temperate climates will need to incorporate animal disturbances to make his methods work here.  Pig or chicken grazing could take the place of say, flooding clover to weaken it before planting grain in it, maybe.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Hi Travis and Marinajade,  Thanks for your interest.  It's really a trial and observation thing.  You didn't say exactly where you are.  White clover loves water.  In the maritime Northwest it can grow quite strongly.  Many people plant the vegetables then set the clover back about two feet from the plants, then mulch with straw.  Most of the larger veggies, like peppers, squash, eggplant, tomatoes and so forth have roots that go much deeper than the shallow rooted but mat-like clover so they don't compete once the veggies are established.

Fukuoka had geese running around in his rice fields to eat insects, weeds and deposit poop all over until a highway was constructed between his home and the fields.  Then he occasionally supplemented the sheet mulch of white clover, weeds and straw with chicken manure he got from neighbors.  His wife, Ayako, also had a traditional vegetable garden outside the back door of the house where she deposited kitchen scraps.

Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Thanks for the reply Idkorn

I'm in central ontario canada, in zone 5 B. My land about 2 km from a lake so the ground water is pretty high, and the land is mostly flat or gently sloping. On the west side the soil is loamy sand with small amounts of clay, and on the east side teh soil is pretty much sand with a bit of loam, hitting gravel at around 3-4 feet underground. There is clover and alfalfa all over the place here.

We have two pot-bellied pigs that I plan to use to establish zone two gardens , and we've been kicking around the idea of getting chickens or ducks to do what you describe. I've heard that geese are too defensive and a pain in the ass so I think I'll stay away from them.
                                          


Joined: Aug 11, 2009
Posts: 27
Location: Seattle, WA
Hey Larry, I noticed you haven't mentioned you're teaching a PDC in the Puget Sound area in February.  How much of Fukuoka is going to be part of that course?  Your talks about Fukuoka are always so inspiring!


Don't do it to make a statement, do it to make a difference!

Permaculture Design and more!  http://www.terraflorafarm.com
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
I usually talk quite a bit about Fukuoka at the permaculture courses I teach.  It's not only for the intrinsic value of Fukuoka's example, but also because he adds so much in the areas of critical observation and spirituality that is sometimes lacking in the general PDC course of study.  Also, at a two-week residential course there is plenty of time for personal discussions at meals and during non-class times.  Actually, those are the discussions I enjoy the most.  I learn a lot at these courses too!
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Thanks for your reply, Travis.  I'll never forget my first encounter with "guard" geese.  I was in Kentucky.  My friend dropped me off near the house and said he would park the truck and be right back.  Then 6 or 7 really loud and mean geese appeared.  I have never been so terrified in my entire life.  My friend reappeared a few minutes later to find me stranded standing on a table in the woodshed with the geese squawking and biting at my feet.  So, yes, ducks and chickens may be a better choice.

Check with the extension service or neighbors on the breeds that best can do the job.  That's great that white clover grows well there.  Encourage it, plant the veggies into a thick mulch of straw or whatever and keep the clover away from them until they get a good start.  You shouldn't have any trouble after that, and the soil will improve for your efforts.
jeremiah bailey


Joined: May 05, 2009
Posts: 343
Observe and try. That made me remember that a section of my yard gets standing water in it for several weeks just after the spring thaw and several more times shortly there after every spring. I might have to try growing some rice there this spring.

Last year I grew a mix of buckwheat and cowpea in an untilled sod of anonymous grass with red and white clovers (T. pratense, and repens), and various weeds. It turned out beyond my expections with minimal work other than planting and harvesting. I hand harvested the seeds of the cowpea and buckwheat. Then mowed it and left it in place as mulch. I plan on repeating the process again this year in that spot with just the cowpeas and sod. Next fall I plan to sow cereal rye for rotation after the cowpeas just before harvest.

larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Sounds like you did well.  Buckwheat is one of the easiest crops to grow.  It is not demanding of anything (likes good drainage so you got lucky), accumulates nutrients from the lower levels of the soil, adds loads of organic matter and produces fine food.  It also comes up readily as a volunteer if you let the seeds ripen and then mow, but doesn't become a pest.

You might also try to get some brassica family plants out there...thats the mustards, radishes, and many of common garden vegetables.  For soil improvement I'm mainly referring to mustard and radishes.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Larry,

Awhile back I was reading through the fukuoka website and I remember finding his take on collecting soil or at least leaf matter from teh forest and using it to enrich gardens. Unfortunately I can't find the article again if it even exists.

Would you be able to explain Fukuoka's method of harvesting fertility from the forest? I think it had to do with digging holes along the edges of woods that were lowest in elevation but maybe I'm way off and am crossing this memory with another one.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
You know, I don't remember that one, at least we never did it while I was at his farm.  It doesn't seem like such a bad idea as long as one isn't robbing Peter (the forest) to pay Paul (the human tended garden).  Mainly he felt that as long as he had a mixed ground cover including herbs and legumes, like clover, and he made sure that everything stayed on the site creating a natural sheet compost he wouldn't have to worry about fertility.  The crops are removed, of course, but the other plants and chickens and wild animals running wild was enough once the soil had been rehabilitated so that nature could take over.

Going to the forest to gather mulch sounds like work to me.  Perhaps useful while bringing the soil back to life, but unnecessary thereafter.
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
There is a California native variety of buckwheat that tolerates heavy clay soil, which must be much different than what you describe. Novella Carpenter mentions this variety becoming a pest to her, but I put some in to my landlord's front yard. It won't be any worse than the pellitory-of-the-wall that they allow to smother everything under 2' tall every November, and then wither to bare soil every May.

The Natural Way of Farming talks a bit about re-habilitating damaged or abandoned land, including harvesting feral and wild trees for methods that resemble hugelkultur (though of course, not by that name).
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
The buckwheat I was referring to is the European variety which is mainly grown in agricultural fields as a food crop.  (Soba noodles, Kasha and so forth).  It is also fantastic as a crop to improve soil especially when used as a cover or fallow crop.

There are lots of beautiful native buckwheats (Eriogonum).  Most are from California, the Channel Islands, Arizona, Mexico and the Rockies.  Some get 6 or 7 feet high, arborescence for example, but most are small clumpers or trailers.  Bees and other insects love the flowers.  Buckwheat honey is really good!  You can find many Eriogonum varieties in local retail nurseries or native plants nurseries.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
ldkorn wrote:
You know, I don't remember that one, at least we never did it while I was at his farm.  It doesn't seem like such a bad idea as long as one isn't robbing Peter (the forest) to pay Paul (the human tended garden). 

Going to the forest to gather mulch sounds like work to me.  Perhaps useful while bringing the soil back to life, but unnecessary thereafter.


It sounds like work to me too but I'm starting from scratch with my gardens. I will be trying a few different methods to see what works including using Amelia Hazelips method (minus the initial tilling), making sheet mulch beds with manure, and making beds with chipped branchwood and a base layer of forest soil to innoculate the chips. I figure that at least the forest soil will be staying on the land.
larry korn
Author


Joined: May 17, 2009
Posts: 118
Location: Ashland, Oregon
    
  25
Sounds good to me.  Innoculating your beds with soil from nearby is a good idea.  Just don't go out there with a front loader and skim the forest floor.
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
No need to worry about that. It'll be me with a shovel and wheelbarrow. I try to stay away from mechanization as much as possible when it comes to farming.
Paul Cereghino
volunteer

Joined: Jan 11, 2010
Posts: 847
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
    
  14
What a lovely opportunity!  I was wondering what we had lost when Fukuoka-san died, and still have a picture of him by my desk -- I am very sentimental, as one-straw revolution was a pivotal book for me.

In natural way of farming, there are several pages showing successions of species alternating winter and summer.  It was suggested that these follow a natural cycle of replacement.  Much of fukuoka's writing seems to show insight into cycles of replacement, as one species dies back, and another is lurking in the seed bank, or as a seedling to enjoy a opportunity to recruit.  I would enjoy any insight into what Fukuoka-san found important when looking for clues about how to replace one group of species with another using broadcast seeding, or if and how he adjusted his seeding based on observations of his system, or treated a stand of vegetation in anticipation of what he seeded... mainly in his orchard vegetable gardens, rather then the rice systems.


Paul Cereghino- Stewardship Institute
Maritime Temperate Coniferous Rainforest - Mild Wet Winter, Dry Summer
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
Hello again Larry,

I don't know if you can help me out but I am wondering if you could give me some advice.

I have a friend who farms near me, who has all but given up on one of his fields, which has perennial rye in it currently. My friend tills a lot and has turned this field into a hard pan lifeless nightmare. The field is in bottom lands so there is a lot of moisture in teh soil, and a high water table. It has the gentlest of slopes and about 1/5th of the lower portion is extremely waterlogged, with horsetail spreading rampantly due to the tilling damage. Throughout the field are many thistle, and clover which reach about 5 feet in height.

My friend has read the One Straw Revolution many years ago but obviously wasn't sold on the ideas in it.

He is desperate regarding this field and I think I may be able to turn him on to Fukuoka's method. Would you be able to suggest what I should tell him in terms of how to go about rehabing the field? He keeps saying that he's just going to till it again but I'm trying to convince him to try not tilling it. He's in zone 5 B in Canada

I have my own notions of what to tell him but they are probably quite infantile compared to what you and Fukuoka would suggest.

Any help would be appreciated.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
      travis asks how fukoaka spaced the different crops he planted in the same bit of land.

  I read in a google article that the reason fukoaka went natural was htat he observed some wild rice growing among other plans and decided to copy nature. Coapying nature meant sowing seeds in autumn later summer, plants drop their seeds in summer,and meant  sowing them all together oats barley rice and clover broadcasting them as you would one crop and then letting them decide how to live .
    Thats what sep holzer does too, isn't it? Not all seeds grow  at the same time of year they do so when the weather is right for them to germinate, sprout, the right moment to give a best chance to that type of plant. He may have changed later i have not read much about him but that was the first bit. thats how you seed all seeds at once and sep does it in a different climate and nature does oto so the thing would be to try it then you wouodld know what happens.
  Was not that the beging of fukoakas career as a natural farmer instead of the soil scientist and plants pathologist he had until then been? Did he change later? agri rose macaskie.
                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
Advice for Travis' Friend I expect should be to plant some of the really deep strong tap rooted plants that can make their way down through the hardpan below tiller depth.  Then instead of harvesting those roots, mow down the crop and let them rot in/on the ground to provide organic matter.  This might take a few years.

Otherwise, I would Probably be turning that field to a food forest to take advantage of the different conditions on that ground seeing as it's been a problem field in a tilled culture.

Then again, if he knows that tilling is the problem and he still wants to try tilling it again, there may be no changing his mind from the outside.


TCLynx
[url]http://www.tclynx.com/[/url]
[img]http://www.permies.com/permaculture-images/2692_740/Avitar.jpg[/img]
Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
rose macaskie wrote:
      travis asks how fukoaka spaced the different crops he planted in the same bit of land.


Rose, with the exception of the quote above, I'm not understanding what your post has to do with the rehabilitation of an old field. Maybe I'm just daft.

Travis Philp
volunteer

Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
TCLynx wrote:
Advice for Travis' Friend I expect should be to plant some of the really deep strong tap rooted plants that can make their way down through the hardpan below tiller depth.  Then instead of harvesting those roots, mow down the crop and let them rot in/on the ground to provide organic matter.  This might take a few years.

Otherwise, I would Probably be turning that field to a food forest to take advantage of the different conditions on that ground seeing as it's been a problem field in a tilled culture.

Then again, if he knows that tilling is the problem and he still wants to try tilling it again, there may be no changing his mind from the outside.


I once mentioned that maybe he should broadcast plant some turnip or mustard into parts of a separate field for this purpose but he scoffed at the idea. He's all about getting a crop harvested asap. And even though he's read Fukuokas book, I still don't think he makes the connection between his tilling and the compacting of the soil. Either that or he doesn't see any other way to go about prepping the field. I feel like a Jedi who's seen his friend go over to the dark side...
                              


Joined: May 03, 2009
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
Travis wrote:
I once mentioned that maybe he should broadcast plant some turnip or mustard into parts of a separate field for this purpose but he scoffed at the idea. He's all about getting a crop harvested asap. And even though he's read Fukuokas book, I still don't think he makes the connection between his tilling and the compacting of the soil. Either that or he doesn't see any other way to go about prepping the field. I feel like a Jedi who's seen his friend go over to the dark side...


There are some radish that might do his site good too.

However, I fear you are right that your friend is strongly affected by the dark side.

The insanity of our traditional plow based agriculture, expecting a different outcome from the same repeated actions, sigh.  Some people have the idea that machine and chemical mono crop agriculture is the only way to make money and few see the light before it is too late.

I'm curious.  This field has obviously been doing poorly for more than one season right?  How long has it been giving him problems and what has he tried, what is the crop?  Is he willing to just leave it fallow for a few seasons and mow down the weeds to improve the soil?  The weeds that tend to grow are probably the answer to fixing the problem if he lets them.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134

  just going through the reasons that we need Fukoakas advice and wondering how far it is really necessary to go whether doing less than he did nwould also serve to betyter thigns. Ploughing may be bad but it is not on its own what ruins land.tothose who ruin land  plough and fail to put in organic matter using compost and manure and take all vegetable matter off the land, and lleave it bare for long periods, do lots of things for years to complletely  impoverish soils or salt up the earth or create  complete erosion of the soil. Fukoaka does not only not plough, he leaves the straw of his crops on the land and as he got three or two grain crops a year that was a lot of straw and he dbarely used  use herbicides and pesticides.
on no plouhging.
      According to one article people measuring the two systems found the "organics" had better soil than the "no till" lot because the organics lot put so much effort into building up soils that they found more ways of doing it. So no till is not the only system that works.

    My book with a preface by Hugh Hammond Bennett talks of planting some sort of green fertiliser immediatley after p`loughing if there is to be any space between ploughing and sowing the next crop, with some weed seed you have collected if thats all you have got, that might be another way of reducing the evils of ploughing.
      The people who found organics farming better than no till  did not talk about the effects on beneficial fungi of no till, as opposed to the effets on fungi of tilled organics farms, as far as i remember,  only that the organics lot  had more organic matter in the soil and beneficial fungi have a big part to play in bettering soils..
      What does fukoaka say about beneficial fungi?

      Ploughing maybe is bad because it kills or slows down beneficial fungi, it is also bad on a slope it allows rain erosion. How bad is it on flat land and does that depend on how often you plough?

    Big concentrations of fertiliser can  kill fungi too, chemical fertilisers kill the life in the soil according to experts, and they are very expensive. I suppose it is their over use not their use that kills life in the soil, maybe putting them on in big doses instead of a bit often is what kills life in the soil.

  Lost chief has a forum discussing  a video called  "a farm fo the future" and the young woman who made the video, Rebeccca Hoskins  says that bird seagulls used to follow the tractor as it ploughed, to eat the insects turned up,  I remember that and she says that  the bids no longer follow tractors any more. The life in the soil is not there any more. We have been ploughing for centuries it can't be ploughing that has made the difference, woiuld the difference be  a lack of organic matter, now it is no longer necessary as a source of nitrogen farmers stop putting in any organic matter. iIsuppose it was  the organic matter that was what insects fed on or is the lack of insects in the soil due to doses's of fertiisers so strong they burnt the insect life, or is it that pesticides, originally conceived as being usefull to reduce plagues and now used as a precautionary measure, are the guilty ones.

    The chemical companies give as amounts to use on a feild  amounts that tend to the high side on their packets, according to a documentary i saw, and then you have people who tend to use more of a good thing rather than less and you get lots and lots of chemical fertiliser put on to soils so much that they kill the life in the soil.

    The reasons that i can think of  for lack of organic matter in the soil are
Taking off all the plant matter on your land, selling the straw and hay that used to return to the land, the straw used as bedding and then put on the manure heap and eventually returned ot the land and the hay eaten and passed and so returned ot the land, meant that there was more organic matter on the land than there is now. Being able to simply use chemical fertilisers stops farmers from paying atention to organica matter and the seperation of the live stock from the farms that produce the hay means that nitrogen from manure filled with organic matter is not so availiable as it was before. Hay is passed on a different farm and not returned to the land it grow on. 
  That farmers who no longer need plant matter for nitrogen no longer ever plant green fertilizers that used to be a part of rotation crop farming which included  a year of beans or peas that give you a pea or bean crop and allow you to enrich soils by  ploughing in to the soil the leaves and stalks of the plants. All this is maybe enough to spoil soils. just returning to the old rathere then thinking of plans that provide such an awfull lot of organic matter as fukoaka methods do might be enough to stop the present levels of soil destruction. Maybe things have got so bad they would have to do more at first. Fukuooakas methods  must make a short cut to bettering soi,l he think of how to produce such an awful lot of organic matter.

    Fungi need dead plant matter in the soil they break it down and eat it. SO do insects mites and microrganisms. Fungi hypha fill the soil with micro air pockets and plants like oxygen in the soil and their hypha holds lots of water they humidify soil, paul stamets.. and carry it, evening out dry and wet patches.

  Organic matter is usefull to help the soil absorb water and retain it, it reduces irrigation needs and makes sure the plants have enough water, dont suffer from periods of a certain shortage or lessens the probability that they will to really grow big with fat grains. Farmers used to have to put in organic matter or they had no  nitrogen, THey didnot put in as much as fukoaka i imagine but they put in more than they do now they get their nitrogen from  chemically produced nitrogen. If only farmers would just do a bit better it might be enough.
all the straw taken to other places. Having the live stock on some far away farm so they don't return the hay to the soil in their dejections all this spoils soils.
  Just  less chemical fertilser more organic matter and more sensible attitude to slopes would help an awfull lot. Maybe i am wrong.,the aproach ahs to be more thorough than just a lessening of harmfull activities.
    No plough and complete organic permaculture systems may be the best way to the complete and quick complete recovery  of degraded land  but  many systems are quite strong and maybe you only have to modify your destructive behavior to better things enormously.

  I have a book on old fashioned meadows with a big variety of plants on them that says that you should not manure them, too rich soils put paid to  the variety of plants that grow in the meadow, maybe it gives the grass to big an advantage so you don't always want really good soils.

    I am glad idkorn says that fukoaka says the mediterranean soils have been ruined, i thought i remembered having read that somewhere, it means i am not the only one who says it .
      This is not to talk of how fukoaka would better your friends land, it is just to say to reactionaries that they dont have to be complete permaculturists just to stop being so terribly destructive.

idkorn can tell you how fukoaka woild better your freinds spooilt land, He had a special restore soils seed mix if i remember right, that he thinks we could bomb countries with to better their soils make love not war being his game.rose macaskie
Travis Philp
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Joined: Dec 28, 2009
Posts: 951
Location: ZONE 5a Lindsay Ontario Canada
    
    8
TCLynx wrote:
There are some radish that might do his site good too.


Ah right! I forgot about daikons and such...it's been about 4 years since I've read One Straw Revolution but you'd think I'd remember daikons still.

TCLynx wrote:

However, I fear you are right that your friend is strongly affected by the dark side.

The insanity of our traditional plow based agriculture, expecting a different outcome from the same repeated actions, sigh.  Some people have the idea that machine and chemical mono crop agriculture is the only way to make money and few see the light before it is too late.


In response to him saying that he'd simply try disking the soil again I proposed the idea of at least growing a green manure of buckwheat (off the top of my head at the time) before tilling the field. He kinda 'meh'd' at the idea and seemed to brush it off.

TCLynx wrote:
I'm curious.  This field has obviously been doing poorly for more than one season right?  How long has it been giving him problems and what has he tried, what is the crop? 


I'm not sure how long its been but he's had the land for about 8 years or so and I've talked to a person who used to farm there and she said that field used to be very productive for vegetables, with lots of compost put in over several years. So I guess that my friend would have gotten at least a few years of fertile growing conditions before things went sour. I'll venture to say its been a problem field for 3-5 years.

As for the crops grown on it, I only know that he's been growing rye in the field for the last 2 or three years and I think that last year at least, the crop 'got away' from him and he just tilled it in. I think before that he said he grew buckwheat but I'm not sure if he harvested it or tilled it into the ground.

TCLynx wrote:
Is he willing to just leave it fallow for a few seasons and mow down the weeds to improve the soil?  The weeds that tend to grow are probably the answer to fixing the problem if he lets them.


I think leaving it fallow would be about the last thing he'd want to do, which isn't to say he wouldn't. You're right about the weeds being the remedy to the symptoms but as I said in an earlier post, I don't think he'd like the idea of leaving the land fallow. He's got too much unproductive fallow land already. The dominance of thistle, wild carrot, clover, and horsetail in the field tell reinforce my opinion that the land is compacted, has lost structure and is suffocating, and is lacking in probably all major nutrients (npk).


 
 
subject: masanobu fukuoka
 
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