Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On Natural Farming: A Book Review

By Megan Rulli

One Straw Revolution:
An Introduction to Natural Farming
Masanobu Fukuoka

I recommend this book to anyone who believes in nature’s bounty.
One Straw Revolution is a modest installment which is aimed at challenging some of agriculture’s (organic and conventional alike) most fundamental assumptions. Fukuoka was an agricultural researcher in Japan for many years, but was unsatisfied with the laboratory setting as a starting point for applicable farming knowledge. He left and has dedicated over thirty years developing a technique of farming which requires the least amount of inputs – from farmers and the land alike. He contends that scientists, their research, and their resulting published conclusions, are limited by the scientific method which can only look at one variable at a time – in contrast, in the natural world there are infinite and unique factors which unite in the form of living crops. Fukuoka gracefully explores such natural truths as the interconnectivity and basic goal of fertility in life’s forms.
Beyond this point, Fukuoka advocates what he terms natural farming, or do-nothing farming. The remarkable simplicity of Fukuoka’s methods invokes that ancient human intuition to eat simply and in season, to look around at what is growing and incorporate it into your life. Within this text he delineates radically simple agricultural and food diet techniques, with an air of zen or other eastern philosophy that will describe details one moment and the next urge the reader to throw out the discoveries of the rational mind. Images of nothingness abound.
Without digging in deeply, I will recount here and end with his four principles of natural farming. The first is NO CULTIVATION, secondly NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST, third NO WEEDING BY TILLAGE OR HERBICIDES, and finally NO DEPENDENCE ON CHEMICALS. This book is simple and challenging, shallow and deep – read it, and let’s have some discourse.

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