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1650Re: [fukuoka_farming] building soil fertility without chemical fertililizers

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  • Robert Monie
    Jan 1, 2003
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      Hi Jamie and All,

      Happy New Year! Thanks for the tip on the Cornell
      discussion.� Their M.O.I.S.T. group grew directly out
      of their MULCH group.

      Maybe it isn't so strange that Roland Bunch says he
      isn't an organic farmer.� We often make the same
      statement about ourselves.� Don't we go to great pains
      to say that we (Fukuoka style agriculturalists) do not
      double dig or make compost in some bin�away from the
      plants�and then�haul the compost back to the plants
      and dig it under the top soil?�We are no-till farmers,
      not traditional organic growers.� We don't use the
      bone meal, blood, bat guano fertlizer or foliar sprays
      to the extent that they do in a regular, seasonal
      repetitive pattern to keep up the soil's fertility. We
      try to increase the mulch layer's fertility by
      returning plant matter to it. Ours (and maybe Bunch's)
      really is a distinctly different approach, though both
      are "organic" in the generic sense.

      Bunch may also�be�referring to the mountains of
      paper work that seem now necessary for farmers in some
      countries to be officially certified "organic."�He may
      want to avoid the hassle by not calling himself
      organic.��Here in Louisiana (and�the nearby state
      of�Mississippi) there are some fine, productive
      independent farmers who grow organically (no
      pesticides, no artificial fertlizer) but just will not
      fill out all the forms that the�official agencies want
      to qualify as "organic."

      Leland brought up a good point when he said
      that�MOIST, ECHO and other mulch/green
      manure�researchers have not been working�in the Middle
      East.� A large part of the Middle East is dry, rocky,
      or outright desert--a long way from the tropics. Other
      organizations such as NATIVE SEARCH (concerned mainly
      with native American seeds) would probably be better
      sources for dryland farming.� In the popular mind,
      "desert" is synonomous with "nothing growing," and
      "tropic" is synonymous with "too much stuff growing;
      let's pull out the machete�and cut it down."�I wonder
      if some of these biased characterizations�carry over
      into organizations that fund research.

      A corrective view of what deserts actually support in
      their often varied ecospheres is Ben Kotzen's ongoing
      study of the Negev Desert. On google.com search
      see "Negev Desert Botanical Garden" for a detailed
      presentation of Kotzen's work.
      Some other good infromation sources for arid
      farming specialists include the following:

      International Crops Research Institute for the
      Semi-Arid Tropics
      Patancheru P.O.
      Andhra Pradesh 502 324
      telex: 0152-203 or 0155-6366
      ICARDA (The International Center for Agricultural
      Research in the Dry Areas)
      <P>A.B. Damania
      <P>P.O. Box 5466
      <P>Aleppo, Syria
      <P>They work in "North Africa and West Asia with
      wheat, barley, chickpeas, lentils, pasture legumes,"
      and have a large gene bank of dry area crops.
      The Henry Doubleday Research "Drought Defeaters"
      Dr. Phil Harris
      Hdra, Ryton-On-Dunsmore
      <P>Coventry CV8 31G
      The Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research
      Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
      P.O. Box 1025
      Beer-Sheva 84110

      The Blaustein Institute studies "desert ecology;
      ...the application of ancient agricultural methods
      developed for desert farming;...sociology in desert
      communities; nomad settlement; and desert
      The Newletter (in French) of the West Afican regional
      center of the International Exchange Network of Rodale
      The purpose of this French language newsletter is to
      share discoveries made ...in dry lands agriculture
      with other groups in semi arid areas."
      Entre Nous
      B.P. A237
      ThiZs, Senegal

      Bob Monie, in non-arid South Louisiana. Water, water
      everywhere, and plenty to drink too. Happy New Year!

      <P>�<B><I>jamie <jamie@...></I></B> wrote:
      5px; BORDER-LEFT: #1010ff 2px solid"><TT>Hello
      Everyone, here's a link to a discussion that couldn't
      be more<BR>appropriate to this list entitled
      'Discussions about the possibility of<BR>building soil
      fertility without chemical fertililizers (inorganic
      NPK)'.<BR>It's from the Mulch-L list at Cornell
      subscribed to the discussion and will post anything of
      interest to the<BR>group that may come up in the
      future, or, if you prefer, you can
      subscribe<BR>yourselves at <A
      discussion is kicked off by the common 'I have found
      several experts who<BR>tell me that there is NO WAY to
      build soil fertility without a sack of NPK'<BR>and
      then goes through several who disagree and several who
      agree (including<BR>institutional Phd's). However, it
      is at the end that it gets interesting,<BR>especially
      after recent discussion on this list of Roland Bunch
      as his is<BR>the last posting on the page. After
      strongly backing the claim for organic<BR>techniques
      to build fertility he makes this strange claim "... I
      am NOT an<BR>organic farming advocate..." However,
      whatever he likes to call himself he<BR>makes some
      telling points drawn from his long
      experience.<BR><BR>But don't forget to check out the
      penultimate post for some very interesting<BR>and
      revealing conjectures as to mechanisms of soil self
      fertility!<BR><BR>Just to wish everyone a happy new
      year and to express my hope that this
      list<BR>continues to go from strength to strength and
      would just wish to personally<BR>thank Larry for his
      tremendous work in establishing the Fukuoka website
      and<BR>Emilia for sharing her considerable knowledge
      built up over almost
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