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8476Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: soil science part 3: microbes

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  • Anders Skarlind
    Dec 20, 2008
      Dieter, reply below...

      At 19:51 2008-12-19, you wrote:
      > >>PS: Anders, in Natural Farming, roots stay in the soil, they should
      > >>never be on the compost heap.
      > > Because you shouldn't do any weeding right?
      >
      >Wrong! The principal reason is to avoid soil disturbance. What's the
      >use of pulling roots from the ground (destroying billions of microbes,
      >fungi and the natural soil fertility in the process) then
      >heap-composting the roots (in the process of which a lot is lost into
      >the atmosphere) and then returning the meager remains back to the same
      >soil? That is crazy!

      Weeding should only be done to the extent it is
      necessary. This is up to the grower to decide. To
      compost the uprooted plants or doing something
      else with them is a secondary consideration.


      > >Do you live up to that yourself?
      >
      >Yes! Except for a few weeds with deep taproots that have the tendency
      >to keep on producing seeds, all roots (weeds, food crops, trees,
      >bushes, everything) stay in the garden soil. From the fields I don't
      >remove any roots at all. When weeds start to crowd out food crops, I
      >either cut them above the ground and spread the remains on the soil
      >surface or I trample them down and put on some mulch.

      There is some difference between our practices but not that big.


      > >And is it your opinion that this is always practicable on the way to NF?
      >
      >There is a learning curve that teaches you what is and what is not
      >possible under local conditions.
      >
      > >My opinion is that NF is an interesting concept.
      >
      >Perhaps that is why we don't understand each other. NF is a practice
      >and not a concept. This is not a mere game of words.

      I refer to my email "reply to Dieter and Raju".


      > >but in practice it has not turned out to be a directly workable
      > >route for me in my northern cold and fairly humid climate,
      > >with my fairly poorly drained clay soil.
      >
      >I have said it before and I will say it again, poor drainage in clay
      >soil is almost always a sign of low organic content. A soil with high
      >organic content can store huge amounts of water without getting
      >water-logged. You need to return OM to the soil, a lot of it, not
      >just a few microbes.

      Foremostly I refer to my email "reply to Dieter and Raju".

      Soil structure is important for drainage. However
      I have no reason to believe that I have that low
      OM. I think it is more a matter of having the
      right kind of microorganisms inhabitating the
      soil, forming aggregates. BD compost is an important aid with this.


      >Anders, I don't blame you if you think that Natural Farming is a fake
      >or just an idea without reality.

      I don't think so. I only say that
      1. there is not yet a successful implementation of it in Northern Europe, and
      2. some of the proponents of NF on this list have too narrow a view.

      > So many people have talked about it
      >and so few have ever really tried. Fukuoka deserves our greatest
      >respect for having demonstrated that it is possible and for having
      >made his methods known outside Japan.

      I agree completely. But this doesn't stop me fro
      criticising him (and perhaps his editor) for some things.

      > Unfortunately, his methods are
      >not very practical and his singular way of spreading the message has
      >led to some serious misinterpretations. But Natural Farming is not
      >Fukuoka. There are many others, notably in Japan, who follow their
      >own way of Natural Farming. Some are content to grow their own food,
      >others run what could be termed commercial market gardening
      >operations, most even grow the staple rice.

      Fine!


      > >Interesting that NF is so full of people who only want to think
      > >inside of a narrowly defined NF box. I can't help wonder if this has
      > >…
      > >You rarely fall trap to this, Dieter, but sometimes even you, it seems.
      >
      >What nonsense is this?

      OK, I should have restricted myself to say that
      this list is at times dominated by people with such features.

      > I would have thought that applies most of all
      >to BD. I have said time and again to forget all about Fukuoka (that
      >is also what he himself told us) and to find the way that works best
      >in your place. But you need to understand that NF does work, not any
      >fancy idea of it, but the reality of NF which is (stripped it to its
      >very basics) _to grow food without fertilizers_. And in fertilizers
      >here I include: synthetic fertilizers, manure, compost and even
      >external inputs such as mulch, rock dust or a million other soil
      >amendments.
      >
      >After the harvest, Kawaguchi will return the straw to the field, he
      >will also return the rice hulls and the rice bran (kome nuka: the
      >stuff that remains after the whole grains are processed into white
      >rice) from the plants that have grown on that field _only_. Nothing
      >more!

      Fine!

      > And yet he continues to get two harvests a year (rice and
      >wheat) year after year. There was a thread on a Japanese ML only
      >yesterday discussing the yields of Natural Farmers. According to this
      >discussion Natural Farmers in Japan have a yield of 6 to 8.2 Hyou (360
      >to 500 kg) of rice for one Tan (0.245 acre). I have no idea about
      >typical rice yields, but those figures seem far from bad, considering
      >that no external inputs and no plowing are required.

      Very good all of this.


      >The last time I received a load of manure from a neighboring cattle
      >farmer is already 6 years ago. Since then I had no external inputs.

      Fine!

      >I still use mulching materials from our own meadows and hillsides to
      >enrich the garden soil, but I think in a few years time I will be able
      >to stop that too. I used to make enormous amounts of compost;
      >windrows of almost 50 meters every year. Now I use most of it for
      >mulching. It is much more effective that way.

      I believe you know mulching very well, and NF
      fairly well (although you report problems using
      it in your location), but that you don't know
      heap composting too well. You don't describe your
      composting procedures so well, but I get the
      impression that you just ammass heaps with
      vegetable material. Typically, without the
      inclusion of soil and old compost, and preferably
      some manure, such heaps will get too airy and
      hot, and burn away lots of OM unneccesarily.

      Also note that I said that mulching should be
      done too, and the main part of organic waste
      material can go this way, but perhaps not all.
      But you keep ranting like I said that all should be heap composted...


      >Seeing is believing: the soil will continue to produce food year after
      >year without compost and without manure only through its
      >self-fertility.

      I rememeber you writing (last spring I think)
      that (somewhat simplified) NF is possible if your
      soil conditions are good. If they are so-so, use
      mulching to improve your soil first. If they are
      poor, use compost and incorporate it in the soil,
      then proceed to mulching, then to NF. This rings
      much more true to me than what you write now.

      > It has been difficult at times to get there but it is
      >worth it. Just put a plant or a seed into the soil and it will grow,
      >no more composting and certainly no bother with beastly big animals.

      Animals are primarily for producing meat and
      dairy, right? Then also for manure, for
      landscaping and lifestyle / traditional farmers'
      culture. And because you like animals perhaps. If
      not, then you can probably do without them. I
      have found I want to have animals. Perhaps not
      cows. Perhaps even goats. Who knows.


      > >>composting are widely known facts
      > >got any reference?
      >
      >You sure have a way of keeping me busy.

      How long time do you think it took for me to
      reply to this letter of yours, with all its misconceptions???

      > You still didn't comment on
      >the references I provided last time and you are already asking for
      >more.

      Sorry if I missed them.

      //Anders


      >Dieter Brand
      >Portugal
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