Re: Natural Farming for a Living
- Hello everyone,
Its nice to see a good discussion.
I will repeat the quote from Socrates, that pretty much says "the only
thing I know is that I don't know much" - that certainly applies to me
and especially when it comes to nature/farming.
Having said that, I have come to agree with our friend Raju and others
that we need to totally cover the earth - that maybe the Australian
acacia or any other locally grown nitrogen fixing tree or plant can be
used - the ground needs to be totally covered especially in the
summer time with green trees/plants - even in the driest of dry places
this can be done - then we can farm or grow things to eat around that
cover. Total green ground cover will have enormous benefits to water
and soil life.
I also agree with Fukuoka - San that we cannot treat our farms
differently from what we treat areas that need to be reforested -
repeated seed ball dispersals until the ground recovers and is
Having said all this to a group of people that I greatly value their
opinions - I would like to inform the members of the group involved in
reforestation that I found a way to mechanically scarify seeds - I had
difficulty finding a machine through the net - what little is shown on
the net are bulky machines that FAO shows - that I don't know where to
buy and I am sure cost a small fortune.
I tried using a concrete mixing machine filled with stones and seeds,
in the hope that the seeds would be damaged by the falling stones in
the mixer - it didn't work. I also tried other ideas that failed.
What seems to work is an electric blender (about 25 euros), filled
partially with water and seeds - it works - a small percentage of the
seeds get damaged by the blades, but that's ok - the large majority of
the seeds get properly damaged to allow water to penetrate.
I hope this helps
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Gloria C. Baikauskas"
> Dieter, I read your posts and then thought again about the Man Who
> Farms Water. I can't think of his name at the moment. He is the man
> in Zimbabwe who was accused of stealing all the water because he
> could grow crops in the dry season, and also because his well never
> ran dry when everyone else had those problems.
> Brad Lancaster from Arizona went there and learned from him....then
> experimented with the ideas in Arizona....and then wrote a wonderful
> set of books he called, "Rainwater Harvesting."
> Are you familiar with any of this?
> Leaving chaff on the ground, etc. should stop water runoff when it is
> wet encouraging a build up of groundwater there. I just read an
> article in Scientific American's June issue on No Till Farming. It
> did mention the use of herbicides, etc, as you did. It was neither
> an organic, nor a natural farming type of article. It was instead
> showing why there is an increase in no till farming, even though the
> yields, and losses are not satisfactory in the beginning. It did
> mention that Europe was behind in this method....that few are using
> it in Europe.
> When I was well I did experiment myself with swales and such to see
> what would happen here in Texas where we often have drought. It was
> great to see that the trees and plants where I had dug the swales, or
> even just holes to collect water near them. not suffer from the
> drought. Those not so lucky were often devoured by grasshoppers
> which plague us in drought years.
> I suspect, if you investigate some of the Zimbabwan ideas you may
> change your mind. I think they are probably doable even on larger
> tracts of land with good planning. It has changed things in Africa
> where, when there is no strife, agriculture does not stop when it is
> dry because of this wonderful Zimbabwan man.
> Gloria, Texas
> --- In email@example.com, Dieter Brand <diebrand@>
> > Steve,
> > You are correct that "intellectually speaking" or in theory no-till
> could be useful in the arid regions of the World in that it is
> possible to improve the water retention properties of soil by
> avoiding soil disturbance and thus leaving the soil structure and the
> soil web (including roots, fungi, etc.) intact. That is also the
> motivation behind my experiments. In fact, in the irrigated part of
> the garden I have successfully used no-till, mulching and composting
> to reduce irrigation by about 80%. However, there is a limit beyond
> which it is difficult to stretch the available water resources.
> > This year, I experimented with deep mulching (2 inch plus of hey,
> straw, etc.) to test if an organic mulch can be as effective at
> avoiding evaporation and suppressing weeds as the dirt mulch normally
> created in dryland farming by ploughing. I used crops typically used
> for dryland farming such as beans, sunflowers, sorghum, etc. I was
> surprised that many plants still had not wilted even after 3 months
> without rain and without irrigation. However, the harvest produced
> is near zero. I think I will be able to obtain better results next
> year by: earlier sowing, different seeds and better soil. Still,
> whatever the results, the harvest will be too meager for commercial
> exploitation. And what is more, it is gardening rather than farming,
> since no farmer can use the organic matter from 10 acres to produce a
> deep mulch for one acre only.
> > Most no-till is _conventional_ no-till, meaning, herbicides such as
> Monsanto¢s Roundup are regularly used to kill the cover crop and/or
> weeds. This has nothing to do with Natural Farming. When it comes
> to _organic no-till_ farming, which is equivalent to Fukuoka's
> continuous wheat/clover/rice cropping, there are very few working
> > The principal requirement for _organic no-till_ is to establish a
> continuous cropping system of cash and cover crops. If there is any
> interruption in the crop rotation, e.g. during the dry season when it
> is too dry to grow a crop, the weeds will grow back and you have to
> start from zero. Considering that it will take at least 2 to 3 years
> to achieve sufficient weed suppression solely by cover crops and
> without ploughing, the prospects are hopeless in dry regions where
> you have a dry season every year.
> > In practical terms this means, farmers in my region, either plough
> under the weeds of the summer fallow in November to grow a winter
> annual such as wheat, or they grow green manure such as lupines
> during the cool season, which is ploughed under in May at the onset
> of the dry season to grow a warm season annual such as corn,
> sunflowers etc. in a dirt mulch. It is physically impossible to do
> this without ploughing.
> > What is more, in a _normal_ year we will have sufficient rain in
> November and April for seeds to germinate. However, often the
> regular rains fail. But even then, it is still possible to get the
> seeds to germinate with the soil humidity after ploughing since
> temperatures are not that high during these months. Without
> ploughing seeds will not germinate without sufficient rain, and even
> if they did they would not be able to compete with the existing weeds.
> > In years with sufficient November rains, I have successfully grown
> crops (small grains, faba beans, etc.) during the cool season without
> ploughing by broadcasting the seeds into scrubland and then
> cutting/shredding the shrubs so as to create a mulch on top of the
> seeds. However, this is not possible every year, since native shrubs
> will take 2 to 3 years to grow back and produce sufficient biomass.
> Also, the problem of the interrupted crop rotation during the dry
> season, as explained above, still persists.
> > I still have some ideas I want to try out and I intend to continue
> my experiments as long as I don't run out of savings and as long as
> my old bones will permit, but whatever the results, I don't believe
> farmers in this region will be able to use this for making a living.
> > Dieter
> > PS: Fukuoka did take a trip around the World to visit different
> farms and make some seedballs here and there. But farming is not a
> road show, it takes the sustained effort of many years to rebuild
> depleted agricultural soil. Fukuoka's writing did put a lot of ideas
> into people's head, but 60 years after he first developed his method,
> Natural Farming might as well not exist as a method for feeding
> people. This sad state of affairs is mainly due to the fact that
> people are more interested in cultivating their cherished ideas than
> to cultivate the soil and to put to the test what will and what will
> not work in practice.
> > Dieter
- -No, the chicken layer pellets are poultry feed for laying hens. It is grain based feed but if you want complete ingredients maybe check the label on the bag at your feed store. Steve G.
firstname.lastname@example.org, yarrow@... wrote:
> So are chicken layer pellets similar to Sluggo (iron phosphate
> pellets), which is sold as a nontoxic (to pets and wildlife) snail
> and slug remedy at about $5-10 (est.) a pound in the U.S.? What's in
> them? Do birds eat them, or do you need to hide them (as with Sluggo)?
> At 11:00 PM +0000 6/22/09, grannis04 wrote:
> ---Micheal, I don't know what a chicken later pellet would be but
> chicken layer pellets are fed to laying hens. This really works and
> is very inexpensive. A 50lbs. bag is about $12.00 here. Good luck,
> Steve G.
> > Steve, what is a chicken later pellet?
> > Michael
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]