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Natural farming increases yields over conventional

Friday, March 11, 2011 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: natural farming, crop yields, health news

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(NaturalNews) Farmers across Hawaii are turning to "natural farming," a technique developed by South Korean farmer Han Kyu Cho that eschews the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides in favor of efficient use of on-site materials. Best of all, Cho's method leads to better crop yields, healthier land and healthier people.

In natural farming, crops are fertilized with on-site "trash" like eggshells and fish bones, with easy-to-acquire materials like steamed rice and brown sugar, and with mineral and protein solutions.

"What others consider rubbish, we use," Cho said. "Natural farming uses local resources, but you have to give what the plants need, when they need it and in the right amounts."

One of Cho's students in Hawaii is farmer Samson Delos Reyes, who now has a thriving farm on land once classified as unsuitable for agriculture. His Vietnamese kalo stalks have grown taller than he is, and his basil plants are thick with growth. His fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide purchases have dropped to zero, and his water use has decreased by 30 percent. His plants are stronger - they now have to work for their water, sending roots farther away - and his soil thrives with beneficial organisms.

"This is my first time having earthworms on my farm," Delos Reyes said. "They're cultivating the soil for me."

Michael DuPonte has applied the same principles to animal agriculture, with a 125-pig farm that uses natural ventilation, sunlight, and a mixture of sawdust, woodchips and local soil organisms to break down manure and stave off disease. The pigs are fed from agricultural waste products. Unlike most pig farms, DuPonte's produces no waste, runoff or smell.

"It's been in production for 20 months, and I haven't cleaned the piggery yet," DuPonte said. "It looks the same as the day I opened it. No smell, no flies."

Cho's natural farming is particularly appealing in a place like Hawaii, according to University of Hawaii agricultural specialist Ted Radovich.

"Any system that makes some inroads into decreasing our reliance on external inputs and improving the profitability of our local farms is important to consider," he said.

David Wong, one of Delos Reyes' commercial partners, agrees with that sentiment.

"You use less water, you use less inputs and you end up with a healthier plant which produces more nutritious food, of a higher quality," Wong said "Here's a system that is not freight-dependent, and it changes the economics of how agriculture could be done in Hawaii."

Sources for this story include: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/hawaiinew...

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