The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming
New York Review Books, 1978
Masanobu Fukuoka proposes a method of farming timed to natural sequences of plants. Cover crops and food crops are sown in sequence such that weeds are kept down. Straw and plant waste is returned to the field after harvest, returning most of the nutrients to the soil. This is a no-till method that builds the soil up year after year with no amendments. The soil is increasingly healthy, which prevents plant disease. The diversity of the crops prevent crop pests from taking over. Not spraying also allows the beneficial insects to live and protect the crops. The plants themselves are more resistant to pests and diseases because they are growing in healthier soil, and are consequently healthier. The healthiness of the soil and the extensive use of straw and plant waste as mulch greatly decreases water use. In general, Fukuoka used a method of farming that had been developed over time by the indigenous farmers of his region, before Western agrichemical practices took over. This method of farming is as productive as Western agrichemical farming, but with healthier soil and stronger, more nutritious plants.
This method of no-till agriculture and crop rotation would work in any location, but would need to be adapted to local growing seasons and crops. He also espouses a philosophy of being in touch with the earth and its cycles. In some ways, his method of farming reminded me of the Bradley method of restoration, in that both of them look to the cycles of plant life and soil health and ecology to accomplish their goals. This book left me wishing I had some land — even a back yard would do — to practice his method and adapt it to PNW climate.
Mirrored from Nature Intrudes. Please comment over there.