Japanese philosopher and farmer greened deserts without pesticides or fertilizer

Thursday, April 28, 2011 by: M.Thornley
Tags: philosopher, farming, health news

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(NaturalNews) Fukuoka Masanobu, 1913-2008, a remarkable philosopher/farmer, rejected the use of technology and developed a method of 'natural farming' in which no tilling, weeding, or plowing is done, or fertilizers or pesticides used.

His seminal book, ``One Straw Revolution`` published in 1975, shares his insights and philosophy gained from 60 years in natural farming. Visiting the USA in 1979 and seeing land that had become desert, he realized his methods could return growth to land reduced to desert by conventional farming methods. He warned that large scale farming and cattle-raising caused desertification, or the loss of productive farm land.

Fukuoka stated, ``I absolutely reject science and technology. My view is based on the rejection of Western philosophy, which supports today's science and technology.`` Fukuoka farming methods are based on Eastern philosophy and religion rather than on 'scientific' agriculture. His ``do-nothing`` farming techniques demonstrate that science was unnecessary.

He believed humans were part of nature. In another book, ``The Road Back to Nature`` Fukuoka expounded on the importance of diet which he considers paramount. ``Dietary abnormality results in abnormality of the body and mind...A sound body comes from healthy food. A sound idea comes from a healthy body.``

Fukuoka's own acres, unplowed in more than thirty years, produced crops equal to or surpassing those of his neighbors who used labor-intensive, chemical-dependent methods.

Fukuoka grew rice and barley in the same field alternately, sowing seeds on untilled ground. To prevent birds eating the seed, Fukuoka inserted his seeds into clay pellets. Encapsulated in protective clay, neither birds nor insects stole the seeds, nor did the seed dry out. Touched with dew during day and night temperature variations, the seeds rooted.

Farms that use Fukuoka`s approach may seem `disorderly` as there will not be plants growing in orderly rows. The natural farmer scatters a mixture of seeds. Plants sprout where it best suits them. No weeding is done, nor tilling, nor is fertilizer or pesticide used. Fukuoka encourages his vegetable seedlings by cutting back the plants around them as a natural mulch. Produce, he maintains, can be grown wherever there is a vigorous growth of weeds.

Fukuoka utilized diversity and plant succession, sowing rice among his winter grain and casting grain seed among maturing rice plants. Clover and straw grew among the roots of his crops, which kept weeds out and enriched the soil. He planted vegetables among the trees and weeds in his orchard, growing burdock, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, mustard, and many more plus herbs. He noted that, in using `improved, high-yield techniques` crops could fail due to infestation or disease. But various kinds of herbs and other food crops grown together would confer protection from insects and disease, resulting in reduced labor for the farmer as well as increased production.

Fukuoka urged humans to reexamine their relationship to nature. He advocated allotting each family with 1.25 acres of arable land for natural farming which would permit each farmer to support his family while allowing time for leisure and social activities. This, he thought, would be `the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.`

About the author

M. Thornley enjoys walking, writing and pursuing a raw vegan diet and lifestyle.

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