work energy comfort time
- I read an interesting thing in, I think it was The Natural Way to Farm, in which Masanobu Fukuoka was talking about farming with human energy input versus draft animal input versus input of calories of energy burnt by combustion engined equipment. I think he said that the most efficent way to grow rice was with just human input, in that a farmer, eating 2000 calories a day for 100 days, could raise x amount of calories of rice. He said that, when you bring a draft animal into the picture, after deducting the animals feed, your net goes down to ten percent of x. And when there motor was used and the calories to run it were deducted, your net would go down to 1% of x. There or elsewhere I recall his claim that the American tractor farmers were, in effect, driving themselves off their own land with their own equipment by not appreciating this. I thought this was a wonderful insight.
Years ago, when I was first getting interested in ironwork, I heard about an old blacksmith and called him and asked to visit and observe. I showed him a powered bandsaw I had, and he admired it and said, "I was going to get one of these,
but when I went to the store, I ended up coming back with this"---and he showed me an ordinary hand-powered hacksaw with a deluxe grip. I said, "isn't that pretty slow and tiring?" He said, "well, not really. Sawing by hand keeps me strong for other parts of the craft, and I can probably saw through a bar by hand just as fast as you can with your Porta-band." I couldn't believe it, so he proposed we do a test, and to my surprise, he cut through a 1/2" steel bar faster than I did! That was a very educational encounter!
Regarding the issue of rock dust/animal input/soil-building/time---there are so many issues and nuances, but for me Masanobu Fukuoka's insights into Reality-based agriculture have a lot to do with minimizing unnecessary human labor input to free up time for contemplation and spiritual life. The bacteria, fungi, insects, earthworms, etc. are already building the soil, and it is easy, especially when I have a lot of "cheap" petroleum-based energy to throw at a problem, to make errors that actually create net fertility loss. As an ego, let me confess that I always feel an urge to rush--hurry up and powder that rock, it is too slow in it's dissolution process, burn some petroleum and drive over and buy some bat guano/earthworm castings and get results NOW. I feel grateful that I have encountered Fukuoka and others who have shown me how I might stop being so wasteful and destructive as well as maybe even get a better net yield eventually. I still waste a tremendous amount, "because I can." To put theory into practice is where things get really interesting. When someone inspires me to do it, I like the process, even though it requires me to transcend myself.
Brian in California
- --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Alan Sloan <alan851603@...> wrote:
> I do think the global and philosophical issues around Human population
> have to be included in NF otherwise it (NF) becomes a side issue,
> because population pressure is not going to go away and must be addressed.
> One of the attractions of NF for me is the theoretical potential to support 10 billion people without pollution...
--- In email@example.com, "fukuoka108" <fukuoka108@...> wrote:
> Regarding the issue of rock dust/animal input/soil-building/time ...
> let me confess that I always feel an urge to rush--hurry up and powder that rock,
I accept everything you say, and the whole energy equation calculation is very important.
In my mind, I tend toward "the big picture" and working down. As with all of this discussion, some people will tend to the micro and others towards the macro according to the tendencies and abilities.
As I hear what you say I also remember the natural farming traditions of where I originally came from where families had to scrabble amongst rocks to find any soil at all to manually create fields to grow crops. I think of the High Andes (or Himalayas) where soil is so poor and thin and life so marginal, families cooking sheep's droppings in soups to give some flavor and nutrients, of India where children of the poor pick seeds out of animal droppings to find food ... and I think we need a broader approach than just fundamentalist or dilettante Fukuoka-ism.
Some will be hyper-sensitive and subjective, whilst others are detached and objective. I am not placing values on those difference. Each has their place in the natural order. All I am really against is over romanticisation ... and I am interested to find a tendency against the interference of unnatural manmade religions (emphasis on the male).
My attraction to natural farming, and indeed Japan or Iyo, is that I see in it a far greater hope of a highly sustainable and enjoyable future; part of which is down to the environment and climate, part of which is down to the people.
I cannot image it equalled, nor survival or transition to a sustainable future in Northern Europe, nor the middle of the USA. (Yes, I imagine south of France or California could be more possible, but I think Japan as more going for it ... which would need clarification).
Although Fukuoka-ism might be most easily practised in a small, unreal bubble of one's own 1/4 acre, and it lends itself to romanticism very easily and is often worn as a garb over other intentions, I see it as being more than just that.
In Japan, we face a far more rapid and immediate transformation of the countryside and agriculture which is why I am considering the social aspects as well. Population is one part of it. It is going to happen over the next 10 to 15 years at most due to the aging of the population and will more than likely lead to a different 'desertification' of rural areas which is already happening.
Although there are some signs of what I consider to be positive hope, mainly based around Okada type ideas (EM) and Kawaguchi's Akame Natural Farming School ... there is very little happening around Fukuoka. The river has died right down to a trickle.
The future is not going to be Fukuoka's vision of the world, nor Ahimsa. It is going to be very different and I think very difficult but we can still apply the principles in other ways. And we need to prepare ourselves for it and rapid changes that do not fit Fukuoka's mold.
Also from Iyo (the old name for Ehime) we have "Ehime AI-1" which was developed at the Research Institute of Technology. It is an environmental cleansing microbe material based on naturally existing microorganisms such as natto bacillus and lactic acid bacteria which is quite interesting.