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RE: [fukuoka_farming] an opinion

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  • souscayrous
    Thank you Martin for returning this slow dialogue to the work of Fukuoka. I find it necessary to read and re-read the books (One Straw Revolution and The
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 12, 2001
      Thank you Martin for returning this slow dialogue to the work of Fukuoka. I
      find it necessary to read and re-read the books (One Straw Revolution and
      The Natural Way of Farming) to draw me out of the western scientific
      Weltanschauung. Sometimes it is only hours after having put down the book,
      assured that this time I have properly appreciated the significance of
      Fukuoka's revelation of Natural Farming, that I find myself again wanting to
      add bits and pieces collected from disparate sources either via the internet
      or in other books. The following quote from One Straw Revolution
      crystallises the situation;

      There are always those who try to mix natural and scientific farming. But
      this way of thinking completely misses the point. The farmer that moves
      toward compromise can no longer criticise science at the fundamental level.
      Natural farming is gentle and easy and indicates a return to the source of
      farming. A single step away from the source can only lead one astray.

      P24 Other India Press Edition

      What is Natural Farming? I'm not sure I know. But I want to try and
      understand. That means a sustained attempt at breaking the limits to my
      perceptions learnt growing up in the West.
      It also means listening to other perceptions and interpretations. Martin not
      only recalls the actual words of Fukuoka but goes on to outline the
      developments he is making in his own situation, something that is manifestly
      necessary considering that Fukuoka is not only a Japanese farmer but is
      addressing himself to a Japanese farming audience.
      In English we have an expression about not picking up the fag ends of other
      peoples conversations - meaning be careful not to interpret a chance remark
      or the end of someone else's conversation, without knowing the intent of the
      speaker or the participants: reading the books of Fukuoka I sometimes feel
      that I am overhearing a distant conversation, and too often I feel that I am
      missing the full significance. However, I believe his words to be of
      uncommon importance and worth the effort to comprehend as fully as possible.

      Souscayrous - wondering whether to clear the old fields of all, some or none
      of their vegetation, to spread seedballs, Martin's little piles of soil
      containg the seeds...etc, to intend to irrigate, or not, to plant fruit tree
      seedlings or scatter their seeds, which cover crop, which nitrogen fixing
      trees, which shelterbelt trees ...etc etc etc...From a cold and wind blasted
      South of France.

      -----Original Message-----
      From: martinremmel@... [mailto:martinremmel@...]
      Sent: Sunday, November 11, 2001 5:40 AM
      To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [fukuoka_farming] an opinion

      Shortly after his wife died M. Fukuoka traveled to China and had talks
      with the ministry of forestry trying to convince them to try his
      method on a big scale there. After three weeks he returned to Japan
      without a definite Yes or No.

      M. Fukuoka has self-published his last book in English, if I'm not
      wrong. I have a copy of the text-version. Panaiotis Manikis has
      translated it to greek and self-published the color-version in Greece
      (Address on Greenbelt-Homepage, preferably write to him). He has
      organized big-scale seedings in deserts in Greece during the last 8
      years in private initiative. The last two years were very successful.
      He now has buildings to receive people all year and prepare pellets.
      After a recent TV show there was a strong resonance, many people
      wanting to start gardens and farms.
      Panaiotis told me 'there are seeds missing in the soil. All you have
      to do is sow seeds'. 'All I can teach you is how to make good

      It's easy to mix up M. Fukuoka's strategy with organic farming,
      permaculture etc. for the following reasons:

      M. Fukuoka himself was searching for an approach to put his ideas into
      practice. He had start somehow, so for many years he must have been
      using organic methods. What you read in his old books is organic
      farming methods. Now it's only sowing everything together.

      B. Mollison has based a lot of his system on M. Fukuoka's ideas,
      Thinking he can outsmart nature. M. Fukuoka had even drawn designs for

      S. Holzer does not seem to distinguish between B. Mollison's and M.
      Fukuoka's approaches. He recommends both (I was on his farm for a
      week.) I agree with the methodological criticism posted on this forum.
      and he doesn't doubt economy fundamentally. He's basically a landscape
      designer, but he hasn't created an edible forest.
      In the end it's not important, there's no need to deconstruct him.
      This is a forum on natural farming, desert revegetation, M. Fukuoka's
      interpretation of nature.

      Permaculture is not Natural Farming. Permaculture is science. Natural
      Farming denies science. You don't plan.


      Maybe the term fertility should be abandoned because calling a soil
      'fertile' implies, it has a certain property or an amount of
      This is misleading. I think, there is no such thing as fertility. It's
      a word we invented. Have you ever seen fertility? I have not.
      We can only see plants, funghi, animals, microorganisms (even this is
      subjective). And we have de-concentrated them. So we have to
      concentrate them and hand over control to nature to the biggest degree
      we dare.

      The clayball is only one tool for this. And clay is only one possible
      material. You can also make tiny heaps of soil mixed with seeds.
      Fukuoka is mainly using annuals for the ground cover.
      Instead of white clover he suggests berseem/egypt clover (Trifolium
      alexandrinum) mixed with alfalfa in small amounts and vegetables and
      grains and fruit trees and green manure trees and shade trees. You
      need everything.
      Methods can be different depending on whether you start in a place
      with almost no plant cover or with a diverse vegetation. So you can
      try using the living vegetation as a protective cover, for collecting
      dew, creating shade.

      YOU have to find out:
      - if it is possible just to sow units of mixtures of organisms and cut
      the existing vegetation or better to just expose the soil only in the
      points or lines where you sow.
      - if when leaving the cover of living plants, it is sensible to
      selectively cut or pull out certain perennial plants or certain vining
      - which plants can germinate in and grow right through an existing
      plant cover if sown directly without being encapsulated in clay etc.
      - which plants can be weakened how, e. g. instead of cutting rather
      folding or trampling gras.
      - which plants when sown into an existing vegetation, which is then
      suppressed mechanically for a period of time manages to penetrate this
      - what may hinder germination of the seeds you have sown by thorough,
      close observation.

      Start now on a 1-square-meter-field. If you have

      In "The revolution of God, Man an Nature" sums up his experiences. The
      chapter about creating a farm is only a few pages. It's enough.
      You have to mix everything and trust that the clover, alfalfa and
      green manure plant are the driving force for the evolution of the
      vegetative cover.

      He says:
      - when making fields dedicated to growing a certain crop, mix the
      crops with buckwheat in first summer, rape and mustard in first
      winter, adzuki and cowpea in second summer, hairy vetch in second
      winter. For suppressing weeds and bringing the soil to maturity.
      - mix crops with berseem and alfalfa.

      my experiment now is to combine all his methods derived from his
      observations and my experiments, trying to create the best possible
      germination conditions and being minimally invasive.

      I have started on a farm on La Palma, 28 degrees latitude.
      In a place where there is a 20cm-high plant cover now, much annual
      grass, I want to add seeds, so I'll have trees and vegetables. I won't
      cut the existing plants, because here the soil dries out very fast.
      Certain plants I remove (subjective).
      I will part the plant cover with a stick creating parallel lines of
      exposed soil/natural mulch layer every foot. I orient the lines so the
      grasses will throw a shade on the line. Parts of the line may have to
      be cleared from plants, mulch etc.
      Between the lines I'll bundle the plants with my hands and form a sort
      of low hedge.
      I place little heaps of the soil-seed-mixture on the lines every foot,
      so I'll end up with about 10 per square meter. Between the heaps I sow
      berseem. The soil-seed-mixture can be moistened, preferably with
      rainwater, before or after sowing. Making a customized spout for a
      watering can is helpful then. When plants will have germinated I will
      sow Buckwheat into the hedge and neatly bundle und flatten it so the
      blades of the grass converge. I will either weigh down the grass with
      split palm leaves, which have the proper width, or repeat trampling
      the plants for a few days. Wooden boards can be an aid. Maybe even
      tied to my feet.
      It sounds laborious, but it is actually quite fast.
      I have seen that Oxalis cannot be weakened this way immediately.
      If the Buckwheat doesn't manage to penetrate I will sow vetch.
      If the green manure plants seem to cover up the crops in the spots in
      a problematic way I can bundle or push them down a bit.
      If all fails I have not dried out the soil or destroyed the plant
      cover and can start over.

      Martin Remmel, Fi

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