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An approach to farming based on insight that nature is a harmonious whole and cannot be fragmented. Masanobu_Fukuoka
might be considered the one who gave a freshness to natural farming although the approach is really timeless. In his own words, it is a methodless method of doing nothing. It is NOT based on theories and conceptualizations of nature but real practical action with sensitivity to nature and all things in it by letting go of fragmentary approach of human intellect. To put it in other words, natural farming deals with human mind and it's relationship with nature primarily before getting into world of farming.
It involves the complete elimination of "clever techniques" developed by human intellect to gain better and faster harvests such as ploughing/tilling, application of fertilizers, chemicals to fight so called pests, since they all fragment nature and cause more problems than they solve in the long run (see vicious_cycle_of_unnecessary_farming_practices
). Natural farming involves assisting nature gently and sensitively so that the integrated forces of nature makes the land healthy and abundant in ways never attainable through fragmentary approaches of modern (or traditional) farming.
returning all crop residue back as mulch,
As you can see from four principles below, natural farming primary deals with what NOT to do since that is where the root of all problems lie.
The four principles of natural farming as stated in the Fukuoka's book One_Straw_Revolution
-- No cultivation or tilling the land (also see no_till
The earth cultivates itself naturally by means of the penetration of plant roots and the activity of microorganisms, small animals, and earthworms. The century old myth of tilling only caused more work to the farmer.
-- No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost :
The natural fertility of earth is maintained if nature is left to itself by yearly cycle of plant and animal life. It also involves returning all the crop residue back to the land as mulch
like it would happen in nature if left to itself.
-- No weeding by tilling or herbicides :
Weeds are useful (see usefulness_of_weeds
) and should only be cut back when they compete for sunlight with the main crop and otherwise, left as it is. The mulch spread over the ground will also prevent weeds from germinating and growing.
-- No use of chemicals (for so called pest control) :
There is no_such_thing_as_a_pest
and if healthy plants are grown in an healthy environment, the damage caused by so called pests is completely eliminated!
Natural farming, being primarily based on the human mind, also considers the dangers of commercial farming as commercialism fragment life. It leads to exploitive use of land for growing non-sensical crops. The farmer should never be worried about selling his crops with all the intricacies involved but simply approach farming for growing food for his own self, family and friends. The true human relationship and health is what he values most.
[There is much more to talk about natural farming... ]