Re: [fukuoka_farming] Organic Matter versus Biochar
- Dear Dieter,
Nice to see your postings after a gap.
It looks to me that farmers may not be able to wait for a long number of years for their land to be fertile. This is the reason why common farmers reject natural farming and go for organic farming. But once they keep doing organic farming with compost or whatever and ultimately reach natural farming, it should be very good. I am sure, you will also agree with this..
The same goes with ponds also. Once the land has enough organic matter, it can store large amounts of water, but during the interim period ponds/swales may be good and phase them out, once the land is ready.
Is it possible to post some photos of your farm?
--- On Sat, 11/7/09, Dieter Brand <brand.dieter@...> wrote:
From: Dieter Brand <brand.dieter@...>
Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Organic Matter versus Biochar
To: "fukuoka_farming" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Saturday, November 7, 2009, 8:47 PM
As I said before, the best way of improving soil (and water-retention)
is by adding organic matter. The organic matter must be returned to
the soil as _a living substance_ and not as a partially burned or
pyrolized _biologically dead_ charcoal substance. If soil organisms
are fed by organic matter they will multiply without adding terra
preta or anything else.
In clay soil, Biochar (terra preta) has the tendency to reduce
water-retention. In places where the soil dries out completely during
the dry season, it can even make the soil water-repellent.
The following document sums up some of the problems with Biochar:
For a number of years I have been testing for how long annual plants
will survive without any water (no rain, no irrigation) at high
temperatures (around 40 C or 100 F). I found that, in clay soil with
high organic content, annual plants such as some varieties of beans
and tomatoes will survive for 3 or more months without adding a single
drop of water. Perennials such as asparagus will even survive for 6
or more months without any water. These soils have been improved for
up to 12 years by organic matter _only_ and without any external soil
The improved soil has very good water-retention and functions like a
water reservoir. Instead of building swales, ponds, etc., in part of
your land, you use your entire land to function as a water reservoir.
Putting in swales or artificial lakes with a bulldozer is very
destructive. And even if you go to the extra expense of coating your
lake, the water can still disappear through cracks forming in the dry
clay or evaporate at the surface.
Fukuoka’s type of Natural Farming does not consist in following
specific methods such as not plowing. He very clearly stated that we
must develop our own methods depending on local conditions and not
follow what he did. He did, however, urge us not to think about what
else we can do to our soil, but instead to concentrate on what we can
do without. To me, Biochar, like a whole range of other commercial
soil amendments, clearly falls into the category of DO-NOTs.
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