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Fukuoka-Bonfils winter wheat method for chicken feed

 
paul wheaton
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This was posted earlier:

www.metafro.be/leisa/2000/164-13.pdf

Excellent stuff. 

My big question is:  what would be the variety of wheat of choice?

This clearly isn't gonna work well for mechanical harvesting.  It might even be a bit challenging for scythe style harvesting.  But it looks perfect for chickens to harvest themselves.


 
paul wheaton
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I tried to do a bit of math with the provided table ....

With a traditional system, one seed of wheat gives you an average of 375 grains of wheat. 

With this alternative syste, one seed of wheat gives you an average of 6250 grains of wheat.

I suppose it is wise for most operations to plant their wheat much closer together so that it grows straight and tall for the combine.

FYI:  there are about 15,000 grains of wheat in a pound. 



 
Susan Monroe
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"My big question is:  what would be the variety of wheat of choice?"

I think your choice would be determined by what varieties grow best in your climate, and what the final use would be.

Here is the list of Washington 2009 Preferred Winter Wheat Varieties:  http://www.washingtongrainalliance.com/images/E0177801/WtrPrfVar094Web.pdf

One site said that hard winter wheats are generally high in protein, averaging 13-15%, and the soft white wheats tend to be lower in protein, averaging 11-12%.  Since protein levels are important to egg production, a lower protein level might have to be compensated for elsewhere in the diet.

The third issue would be sourcing what you decide on.  The easiest winter wheat to find around here in bulk seems to be hard red winter wheat.  Since I suspect that the Bonfil method has not been widely studied, choice of varieties may require some experimentation, esp since I believe that wheat is mostly grown in WA on the east side of the Cascades.

If I understand the Bonfil method correctly, he only plants a maximum of four seeds per square meter/yard.  Would this involve pelletizing the seed so it wouldn't be eaten by birds and rodents, or would the plants be started in pots, and transplanted at the desired spacing?

The last paragraph of the article you linked mentioned that "A problem of the wheat-clover association is that the wheat grows too tall because of the richness in soil Nitrogen.  Sowing wide, permitting maximum sunshine and thus reducing the risk of lodging of the wheat, can counteract this."

If the wheat is being self-harvested by the chickens, lodging would not be much of a problem, and might even be a benefit.

Sue
 
                              
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Regarding varieties, the Harmonious Wheatsmith by Mark Moodie specifies the following characteristics:
"Varieties pre-dating 1826, long straw, strong vegetative vigour, broad area of side-shooting, high resistance to cold, very late maturity, pure winter type, floral initiation requiring at least 6-700^o T-Sum, large leaf area for better photosynthesis, absence of carbon starvation and highly developed roots to avoid drying of immature grain, 1 part above ground, 2 parts below.

Such varieties are; ble siegle (or Bled Siegle or Ralet); Autumn Victoria (victoria d'Automne); Prince Alber; Autmn Chiddam; Golden Top; Dattel; Sharrif Squarehead; Poulard d'Auvergne; The Giant Squareheaded Hybrid Wheat (tritical 1907); Schlanstedt Rye.
Trials have also begun with Dinkel; Champlein; Red Standard; Chidham Red and White Chaff (related to Chiddam?); Squarehead Master; Percival's blue cone; and Maris Wigeon.

Oats being tried include Radnorshire Sprig; land oat; ceirch du Bach; Cornish; Old Cornish and Hen Gardie.
 
                    
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I have the harmonious wheat smith booklet, and the author got his seed samples from the john inne's center.  I haven't had much luck finding those varieties from any commercial sources (shocking, I know).  I went to the John Inne's website, someone said you can request seeds for research?  Can just ANYone request seeds for research or do you need to be a "researcher" with credentials?  It looks very....scientific and professional.  I guess you never know unless you ask. 

My questions for Larry Korn about this are: 

Could different crops be grown in the same field in different seasons (something that mimics fukuoka's planting pattern)?  Those old varieties of wheat are said to be really vigorous, do you think they would out-compete anyone but themselves? 

I'm wondering if you could get a crop of say, interplanted barley, at the end of the summer, while the wheat seedlings stay put for their winter rest. 

It seems like a central part of the idea is to give the wheat seed a bunch of personal space to encourage a huge root system, would giving it neighbors of a different species encroach on that process? 

I think Bon-fils also said that making clay seed balls for his process would slow down the wheat germination too much.  What do you think about that? 
 
jeremiah bailey
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This idea makes me think that it'd be worth looking into having a chicken range that is inter-planted with wheat and other delicacies for the chickens. Envision a meadow for chickens.
 
larry korn
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Thanks for siting the article about the Bonfil method.  I hadn't read about it before.  I don't have that much experience in very cold climates but I can share my impression.  Then, with your input, we can keep up the discussion.

If he plants in late June and harvests in August, presumably he sows the next year's crop among the ripening grain.  With clover growing on the surface to enrich the soil and hold back weeds and the large root mass of the wheat it is hard to imagine that one could intercrop another grain or other crop in succession in the same field.  In The Natural Way of Farming Fukuoka goes into great detail about how he worked his rice/barley succession.  The barley was much easier.  The hard part was to figure out how to sow the rice and get it to overwinter and sprout successfully the following spring.  The barley did not need seed balls.  Eventually he realized that the rice, sown in the fall, did.  At first he had two different methods for the rice and barley.  After about ten years of trial and error it turned out that the seeding methods for both grains turned out to be almost the same...except for the need for the seed balls for the rice.  He scattered the seed into the clover and covered them with straw from the previous crop.

Bonfil's method seems intuitively sound.  There is no shortcut to trying it yourself and observing the outcome.  One thing Fukuoka emphasized is that modern agriculture sees what didn't work and tries to fix it.  Natural farming see what did work and goes in that direction.
 
larry korn
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Marina,  Where do you live in Northern California?  The Siskiyous near Mt. Shasta, Ft. Jones and Yreka?  Near Mt. Lassen?  McCloud?  or as far south as Oroville and Chico?
 
                    
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Thank you for the answer Larry!  I agree, there's nothing like giving it the ol' college try, so to speak.  We have a really nice lower field on the land that could be irrigated with a pond catchment system, and I'm determined to figure out a way to grow grain down there.  We have a perennial vetch to deal with first....or figure out some way of incorporating it....but it grows so thickly and quickly.  Hmph. 

I'm smack dab in the middle on a line drawn between Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. 
 
larry korn
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Perennial vetch?  There's a challenge...or an opportunity.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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marina phillips wrote:We have a really nice lower field on the land that could be irrigated with a pond catchment system, and I'm determined to figure out a way to grow grain down there.  We have a perennial vetch to deal with first....


How does it like wet feet?

If being flooded knocks it back, but doesn't kill it, that sounds like quite an opportunity to grow rice.
 
                    
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I've considered rice as a grain to try in some kind of yearly rotation. We have the most porous soil EVER (volcanic silt), but I guess Fukuoka didn't use permanently flooded fields, right?  Did he have to find specific (old) rice varieties to pull that off?  Tons of "wild" rice is grown on the plateau east of us. 
 
larry korn
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The parent rock in your area is so diverse that it is hard to say what the soil is like on that next valley next to you.  When you say volcanic silt I'm guessing it is what they call andacitic (spelling?) tuff which is blown right out the top of the volcano when it erupts, as opposed to basalt which oozes as lava.  Is it light brown?  Anyway, Fukuoka does hold water in his fields for about a week or so in the spring to slow the clover and give the rice a chance to get a jump on it.  Conditions are so different where you are that it is likely your rotation will be quite different from his.

A great soil-building crop in rotation is buckwheat.  It is easy to grow but needs a little water.  During the winter think mustard and radish family, with grasses and legumes in the mix.  Oh yes, you already have plenty of vetch.  Start with one grain crop then add a second if you think you can.  Water is the issue.  Winter grains are usually easier in Northern California, again, it's the water...and the heat, but mainly water.  You live in a very beautiful region!
 
Aljaz Plankl
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If I understand the Bonfil method correctly, he only plants a maximum of four seeds per square meter/yard.  Would this involve pelletizing the seed so it wouldn't be eaten by birds and rodents, or would the plants be started in pots, and transplanted at the desired spacing?


You don't want to transplant, not good for it. Direct sow, no need to worry. Put more seeds in one patch and thin for the best seedling.

I also need to experiment with local winter grains, if they will grow in this way (roots, vegetation...).

I assume there is no problem growing this way - even in mature meadow. Just use the semi wild technique. Cut the plants - sow - put back the mulch. Just need to find the right seed, that's all. I hope the one i have will be good for it.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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It's probably best to start with a small patch and see how that works before enlarging it.  Do some fine-tuning while it's still manageable. 

Kathleen
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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It might be possible to knock down the vetch using ailanthus cuttings while there's herbicide still in the foliage (maybe mid September?), and plant a winter grain a few weeks later, when the herbicide has dissipated and the soil is moist.
 
Zoran Petrov
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Some photosof Marc Bonfils method:










 
duane hennon
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how about rice?

here's a similar method

http://sri.ciifad.cornell.edu/aboutsri/methods/index.html
 
Brian Bales
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Are there any other online resources available for this method? One of my major projects this year is cereal crops and while I had a very different method in mind I think I might like to try this one instead. I've already sourced the wheat (I've got a pound of Sonora, reportedly the oldest variety grown on the west coast dating back to the 1700s) and I have the land picked out. I'm growing many types of grain to see what grows best in my area and what produces the most grain in my small plots (I have 6 beds at 6ft x 45ft). I would like to get the most possible out of these small spaces with minimal input of external resources so anything on growing cereals in a permaculture method is of interests (especially any work on new world grains like quinoa and amaranth). 
 
Zoran Petrov
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Bonfils method would be disaster if You don´t use pre-1829 (I think) wheat variety. The  reason is quite simple - those were not mixed with hybrids, very resistant to cold, and very vigouriuos so they compete with white clover.

This is not complete cookbook (as they jealously keep full manual) but it might help:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/23723659/Nat-Ag-Winter-Wheat-in-N-Europe-by-Marc-Bonfils
 
Brian Bales
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Has anyone here used this method in an orchard? I have some nice sunny open spots that might be perfect and I had planned on planting perennial clover there anyway. Only problem I see is I was planning on letting my geese, turkeys and 1/3 of my chickens have the run of the orchard. I somehow doubt they would be kind enough to leave tufts of wheat alone.
 
Aljaz Plankl
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zemljak, great photos! Thanks for sharing! I'm waiting for results in summer. Rye, wheat and spelt are already growing since summer 2010.
 
                            
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Hello everyone
My name is Jacek , and I live in Poland. Since 2 years me and my wife are starting a natural farm following teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka.
We would like to try Bonfils method for growing cereals.
I think I have read all the avaiable materials on the web on this (the main two are "The Harmonious Wheatsmith" and "Winter wheat and its phisiology according to Fukuoka- Bonfils method". I have read also some reports from people trying this method out - usually unsuccessfully. So your wheat Zemljak made BIG impression on me. Congratulatuon !!!
Last year I managed to establish nice white clover carpet on 1/2 acre field . So this year I will start my trials with barley, oats, spelt, buckwheat, wheat, millet and maybe rye.

Zemljak could you please give us some details on your wheat.
What variety was it ?
Where and when and how (one seed or couple of them at spot) was it sown?
I don't see new wheat plants among the ripen ones, so are they there ,or it was just one year crop?
Did you follow the method exactly or did you make some modifications?
Any major problems?
As well wheater you would have any seeds left for sharing( I cant find any proper wheat variety yet, even 100 would do )

thanks
Jacek
 
John Polk
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This is interesting.  I have grown many things through the years, but never a cereal/grain crop.  Since I plan on utilizing cover crops to a great extent, this appears as a win-win.  I have recently downloaded a (legal) copy of Fukuoka's "The Natural Way of Farming", and this looks like a good way to try his methods.  Looking forward to any input/feedback that this thread generates.
 
                      
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http://www.ancientcerealgrains.org/archive.html

A valuable source of rare, old grain seeds, inc. wheat.
 
Mathew Ritchie
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I recently saw an episode of landline that might help http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2010/s3287469.htm
 
Jordan Lowery
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don't forget to check this thread out.

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/9283_0/permaculture/finding-heritage-and-organic-cereals-
 
Zoran Petrov
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jackommm wrote:
Hello everyone
My name is Jacek , and I live in Poland. Since 2 years me and my wife are starting a natural farm following teachings of Masanobu Fukuoka.
We would like to try Bonfils method for growing cereals.
I think I have read all the avaiable materials on the web on this (the main two are "The Harmonious Wheatsmith" and "Winter wheat and its phisiology according to Fukuoka- Bonfils method". I have read also some reports from people trying this method out - usually unsuccessfully. So your wheat Zemljak made BIG impression on me. Congratulatuon !!!
Last year I managed to establish nice white clover carpet on 1/2 acre field . So this year I will start my trials with barley, oats, spelt, buckwheat, wheat, millet and maybe rye.

Zemljak could you please give us some details on your wheat.
What variety was it ?
Where and when and how (one seed or couple of them at spot) was it sown?
I don't see new wheat plants among the ripen ones, so are they there ,or it was just one year crop?
Did you follow the method exactly or did you make some modifications?
Any major problems?
As well wheater you would have any seeds left for sharing( I cant find any proper wheat variety yet, even 100 would do )

thanks
Jacek



Hi, sorry for late reply - Banatka is the name of wheat and I am sure You have it somewhere in Poland

regards
 
                            
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marc bonfils had great website overclover.com where all this was well explained but its hacked by radical islamists....
 
Zoran Petrov
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hvala wrote:
marc bonfils had great website overclover.com where all this was well explained but its hacked by radical islamists....


!?!? As far as I know Marc unfortunately died years ago. And to have a site in English - hardl to believe! It must be some of his followers...
 
                            
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i just remember visiting this site overclover.com few times but it was 1 or 2 years ago. it was all about this method of growing grain an clover together so i thought its run by marc bonfils, but probably it was of somebody else. how strange theres nothing about him on internet - can somebody help??
 
                            
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i just found his book, but its in french. doesnt have any particular name i think, just agricultural research. if somebody is interested and speaks french, i can send him....
 
Zoran Petrov
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hvala wrote:
i just found his book, but its in french. doesnt have any particular name i think, just agricultural research. if somebody is interested and speaks french, i can send him....


What is the name of the book and how many pages does it have? I am interested for the book of course. I can send You slome info in English and German.
 
                    
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Here at Brockwell Bake http://www.brockwell-bake.org.uk/ in South London we do have quite a bit of quite a few heritage wheats grain available on similar basis to John Innes Centre (Standard Material Transfer Agreement) but for some lines more than you will get from them - and in return for donation to cover costs. These should mostly be more suitable for Bonfils method trials than modern or post early 1800s (early cultivars) being more genetically diverse and in case of UK more "rustic", disease resistant than later lines.

At the moment still processing the over 90 lines grown out this year so can't be sure what can afford to let out so to speak yet. Will try to get list up online by mid October

yours
Andy Forbes
Sect. http://www.brockwell-bake.org.uk/
 
                            
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Thanks guys.
I checked Banatka wheat, and it used to be cultivated in Poland in the beginning of XX century, but now is out of market...still some hobbyists might grow it, but no trace of them yet.

For the time being I purchased spelt (Ostro) which I will experimentally  plant this autum ( not exactly Bonfils method).

Apart from spelt there are two more very old types of grain getting popular in Poland now. One is Triticum turgidum -prehistoric wheat. Although it's not very effective I might sow  it next season.

I am  looking forward to seeing your list Andy and getting some old wheat seeds for next season if it's possible. By the way you do Great Job !

Cheers
Jacek
 
                    
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jackommm wrote:Triticum turgidum


I wouldn't quite describe Triticum turgidum as prehistoric by any means, its related to durum being a tetraploid wheat, known in English as "rivet wheat" or  earlier is "pollard wheat", in French "Poulard", some people say origins are Mediterranean as with durum (possibly transferred from Sicily to Northern Europe by Vikings/Normans), and some are still more suited to Southern Europe climes, but definitely some are suited to Northern Europe and mountain (Alps) regions compared to durums. Generally very tall, very productive, very robust, high in protein (+15%) but low in gliadin hence not suitable for bread by themselves (though some modern French growers contradict this) but have uses for pasta. Added in bread flour grist around 20% some add significantly to flavour. I'll let you know more for Blue Cone Rivet after I bake tomorrow ...
 
                            
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wheat is interesting subject, although i almost never eat it (rye, buchwheat, oats, barley and millet are perfectly enough), but if you want to grow it i would recommand one rule - more older is variety - the better. in my opinion spelta is best option.
banatka is not from poland, its old serbian variety.
 
                    
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hvala wrote:in my opinion spelta


in my opinion unfortunately in Western European market the spelt which is being grown has been heavily crossed with "bread wheat" (tender wheat in the French i.e. the modern sub-species) so it is very little different in gluten content or gluten gliadin/glutenin balance other than being hulled rather than naked which gives an excuse for producers to charge silly inflated prices. I think there will be a case of the "Emperor has no clothes" in this market at least with the commonly grown variants at  present time in W. Europe.
 
Russ White
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Thread stated  growing wheat for chicken feed. Great idea, pictures were great. Hope this thread goes on. How big a  plot for small amount of chickens? How about adding sunflowers. Then growing some corn as well. All used as feed for chickens. Is anyone doing this? Even range chickens here in north need extra calories to get through winter. Heard of people buying different grains to mix own feed, but growing for the flock would be even better.
 
deano Martin
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I'm so glad to have found this forum. I started out some trial beds of spelt and rye, to grow using the BonFild method, this year, and have been trying to find others experimenting with it. Not realising that there had been little work done on the method, I am trying some variations, including interplanting with Beans (broad/Fava), and corn.
Is there anybody who has got as far as a second, or third crop, from the same beds/space?
Is there anybody trialling the method as part of a rtation with conventional vegetables?
Looking forward to your replies, and to exploring the rest of the forums, as time permits.
http://deanom.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/polyculture-update-mid-september/
I  keep a record of what I'm doing on my blog, but they are nowhere near as impressive as the others on this thread.
All of the best
Deano
 
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