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masanobu fukuoka  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Rose;

I recall (though I may be wrong) that Fukuoka says that his yields are equal to and some years better than nearby organically-managed-yet-tilled fields, and that his soil fertility levels increased, while theirs stayed about the same.

My opinion is that tilling/plowing may be alright for a one time shot but in the long term its actions of pulverizing soil into smaller and smaller particle sizes can be nothing but a detriment no matter how much organic matter is added. Maybe I'm wrong but everything I've come to know about this subject, and everything I've experienced tells me I am right in this instance.

 
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travis to talk about your freinds farm, i have just seen i have a comment of yours to reply to.
    I have spent a lot of time not following the pèice of wisdom i follow with, partly because i did not have much choice, the advice is there is no point in trying to spread these ideas through people who really aren't interested, it is better to extend through  those who do seem to be interested and move on to the less interested . Maybe you will learn a lot trying withhard cases.
    Sounds liike he has got some good weeds that would help.

  Did you see travis' forum on youtube videos, silly question as you are travis i had forgoten who posted it and just looked it up, after writing did you see e etc.  Useless, i refer to myself. your own forum about agro forestry video series, they have experts who tell farmers things, i think the riperian video might have a address that you could use to ask about plants suitable to wetlands wanted on another forum here. maybe if he does not listen to you you coudl get him to listen to one of these experts.
       I think the trick of the agro especialist is to ask what the farmers goals are and take things from there as a way of not putting their backs up.
i have just got one address out of these videos that might be usefull to your freind if he is not taking your advice, University of Missouri Centre for agro forestry, columbia , MO.65211-
the videos are your posting but its such a nuiscance writting up the address that i will go on as i have them noted. the telephone number is 402-435-5178   and the email UMCA@missouri.edu  agri rose macaskie.
 
rose macaskie
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  I can believe that fukoukas system makes thing much better than others, he is a no till who thinks hard about how to get enormouse quantities of vegetable matter for his soil.
  i was just thinking when i wrote the peice about the combination of different bad practices that ruin land and that maybe you only had to stop one or two of them to better things,bthat for the people who don't do anything that sound reallly strange it might be good to evaluate what is better than nothing.. I had forgotten, don't know about the figures of fukouka's stuff it is interestign to think htat his stuff was so functional .
.
  Maybe ploughing is really bad but in the old days we ploughed and things did not get as bad as they are now, do we plough more are our ploughs more damaging or is it not really the ploughing that matters.

  The dust bowl was produced when they ploughed land that had never been ploughed and the dust that blew around was fine and black. This is how i see it, after centuries or mileniums of not ploughing, native americans did not plough, a lot of humus had accumulated of the sort that is the last stage of humus a fine and very durable dust that has a lot of carbon  in it and is very good for plants . I think this because the dust storms of the dust bowl don't sound like usual ones like sand storms and the dust i see blown around here, so the reasons i have given for the ytype of dust storm that existed in th edust bowl seem good ones to me,. 
    As we want to lock up as much carbon as possible so it does not break down and get back into the air, we want any systen that keeps the carbon trees and plants have taken out of the air and this sort of humus does keep it and so it looks like we don't want ploughing till we have resolved our green house gas problems and so don't mind about carbon from farming as well as from cars and industry because cars and industry are no longer producign it,.  agri rose macasie.
 
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Travis, try convincing your friend to take a 1/4 acre or some other small section of the field and try your suggestions exclusively there. Meanwhile, he can keep on plowing and destroying the rest of his land to his heart's content. I doubt he can do it much more harm than has already been done. That small section should respond very well to some real TLC. It could provide the proof he needs. I understand his unwillingness to change. The unknown is scary. He needs to feed his family.  A wise man once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Hopefully you can convince him to do something different for his own good.

There are special varieties of radish cultivated for soil improvement called tillage radish. These have an exceptionally vigorous taproot that extends below the main root body of the radish. I'd think about mixing those with some other brassicas, some legumes, and some grasses. Possibly somehow incorporate Paul's post-hole method for penetrating the hardpan.
 
rose macaskie
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  I Suppose that though fukouka planted four crops rice, oats and ryn or was it barley and clover, in a way he only had two straw crops a year to use as mulch. The oats and rye that grew in winter and were harvested in spring, that would make a crop of mixed oats and rye or barley straw, and the rice that was begining to grow when they harvested the oats and barley, was it barley or rye?
Of course he had the clover at the foot of these crops, keeping the rice nice and damp, as organic matter for the soil too.
  What i meant to say about his spacing was that it must have been as you normally space rice or a cereal crop.
  Did not his, save land seed mix, have artemisa in it? agri rose macaskie.
 
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jeremiah bailey wrote:I doubt he can do it much more harm than has already been done.



Eh...I don't think land hits rock bottom, until you reach literal bedrock.

But if part of it isn't tilled, at least some of the windblown dust will be captured...
 
Travis Philp
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jeremiah bailey wrote:
Travis, try convincing your friend to take a 1/4 acre or some other small section of the field and try your suggestions exclusively there.
Possibly somehow incorporate Paul's post-hole method for penetrating the hardpan.



That was my backup plan if he didn't go for rehabbing the whole field. I think he would more than likely be ok with trying something on part of it.

I think though, that I need some kind of proven strategy which is ideally academically/scientifically documented. To him I'm probably just some young upstart with wild flakey ideas

I tried searching for the posthole method but I only found mention of it and not the actual method. How exactly is it done, and has it been proven anywhere? Is it as simple as just using a a posthole digger every few feet ?
 
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Fukuoka-san failed many times as he learned his warm summer rain climate and soils.  I would be careful proclaiming superiority over your friend with untested methods adopted from another climate, culture, and soil.  He seems to have born it all with conviction and humility.

I have never been very successful broadcasting seed into vegetation, even with wild seed.

Temperate organic tillage based agriculture, with careful management, can improve soils over time.

Why not find a local organic farmer with local field experience to recommend a sequence of cover crops, field crops, fallow and tillage to control the perennial weeds, and begin building soil health? 

In your climate I have heard of rape seed (Canola) being used for subsoil decompaction.


 
Travis Philp
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Paul Cereghino wrote:
I would be careful proclaiming superiority over your friend with untested methods adopted from another climate, culture, and soil.



I never meant to claim superiority over my friend. I simply want to offer him an alternative to his current method, which is not working for him and I asked Larry for his opinion because he knows Fukuoka's technique and also presumably knows how to adapt it to this climate.

Paul Cereghino wrote:
In your climate I have heard of rape seed (Canola) being used for subsoil decompaction. 



Thanks, I'll look into canola as a possibility.





 
Paul Cereghino
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Here are some notes from Charles Walters (1991) Weeds: control without poison. 

"Canada thistle...likes low iron, low calcium and a poor organic matter structure inthe soil.  When calcium is inadequate to govern trace mineral reelease, and the colloidial pH is improperly positioned, some metals are released in excess.  Canada thistle also means low phosphate or or complexed phasphate beacasue of low humus....

...All thistles exhaust their root reserves exactly at teh time they are the priettiest.  Mowing at that time is lethal..."

I wonder if you could transition by sowing something that will really start growing when the thistle flowers... them mowing the thistle, allowing the new crop to come through the thistle mulch...  Unfortunately I have found flowering thistle to form viable seed when cut and left to lie...

Timing of any future tillage to avoid destroying soil structure due to excess moisture might be key.  I wonder if a late season chisel plow might help with plow pan caused by tillage of wet ground in the past.

 
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I walk pass this large lot of land maybe a couple acres altogether; on it grows feral Oats that have naturalized in my city over a century and a half or so ago (Acting much like the grasses native to here).

  There is a 2 foot wide, couple hundred feet long strip of oats that are infront of the chainlink fence and year after year leaves from the Eucalyptus along the street divider with a half dozen or so other leaf sources gather during the still dry fall, go between the dead half standing stems of the grain that also gather year after year and they all slowly decomposes with new seed sprouting right after the first rains (though a few are still green after our 100f+ summers and produce twice). 

The massive lot which for as long as I have been able to remember I believe has never been cut all that organic material keeps in moisture which although not at the same level as the strip there is alot of benefits/differences when compared to the annually tilled lots.

You can tell that the organic material has dramatically risen to be 2" above the sidewalk (Its rather dramatic because it just shoots up rather then slowly sloping) and the oats stay greener longer than in places that have been tilled to lower the chance of fire hazard.

I'd like to adapt this natural method of growing; probably with a gluten free cool-summer tolerant grain (though I haven't found one yet) when I plan to move.
 
jeremiah bailey
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Tropicdude: You might want to try quinoa. It is not a grass type grain. It is however gluten free. The both the grain and the greens are edible. Although I have yet to try growing it, I've heard it grows well and is very high yielding. It is a cool season crop. My wife and I find it is a delicious substitute for both rice and oatmeal in a variety of dishes. It stands alone quite well as a cooked grain side dish or as a base for an entree.

Travis: If your friend could be persuaded by scientific data, there is much to be learned via google. Purdue's extension service is one of the most reputed but most university extensions are very good as well. I started by googling cover crops to get a general idea about a variety of covers, then googled each on independently. Look for covers that can be interplanted to make a diverse cover that does several functions at once. Heres a couple of links I found this way: [url=http://ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/Oilseed_Radish.pdf]ohioline.osu.edu/sag-fact/pdf/Oilseed_Radish.pdf and http://www.sarep.ucdavis.edu/NEWSLTR/v7n1/sa-11.htm Keep in mind that forage and tillage radishes are technically of the oilseed type as well, but better suited for breaking soil. The oil seed radish may appeal to your friend because it could be a cash crop as well. Same with many other cover crops.
 
Travis Philp
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Paul Cereghino wrote:
"Canada thistle...likes low iron, low calcium and a poor organic matter structure inthe soil.  When calcium is inadequate to govern trace mineral reelease, and the colloidial pH is improperly positioned, some metals are released in excess.  Canada thistle also means low phosphate or or complexed phasphate beacasue of low humus....

...All thistles exhaust their root reserves exactly at teh time they are the priettiest.  Mowing at that time is lethal..."

I wonder if you could transition by sowing something that will really start growing when the thistle flowers... them mowing the thistle, allowing the new crop to come through the thistle mulch...  Unfortunately I have found flowering thistle to form viable seed when cut and left to lie...

Timing of any future tillage to avoid destroying soil structure due to excess moisture might be key.  I wonder if a late season chisel plow might help with plow pan caused by tillage of wet ground in the past.




Ah, its nice to know I've been cutting down thistle at about the right time. In my gardens I hack it down at or before flowering time, and add the thistle to my worm bins or make compost tea to put back on the land in non-spikey form. I wonder if mowing the thistle at its budding time would result in no viable seed. It would still be close to its peak and you'd avoid the babies. If only it didn't have spikey leaves I'd be able to let it do its thing but its too big a health hazard.

Thistles around here don't start flowering until late summer if my memory is correct. So that would only leave about 1-2 months of growing season for anything seeded just before, or after it.

I'd love to have a keyline plow around and if I can remember to, I'll make an inquiry if they have any for rent in these parts but driving by the agricultural equipment dealers, I haven't seen one. Which isn't to say that there isn't. I should talk about keyline plows to my friend as I don't think he's aware of them. Thanks!
 
Travis Philp
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Thanks Jeremiah,

I'll check those links out and go further if need be.
 
jeremiah bailey
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I hadn't heard of keyline/chisel plows before. I looked them up and liked the idea. The video I saw was a keyline plowing an unmowed grass field, with a crimper attached to the back of it. Much better than moldboarding/disking, and a step in the right direction. That might be a more economical route to achieve similar results as the post hole idea. The post hole idea is geared more toward smaller plots, like lawns and gardens. Dig a post hole as deep as possible, mix the excavated dirt 1:1 with compost. Back fill with the mix and leave a mound which should dissipate on its own. Then toss some seed on top. Its only really just an idea that Paul mentioned in the lawn care forum, not really tested afaik. I'd think with the keyline plow, you could spread compost over the field, then come back with the key line plow to open a few slits. The compost would then have an opening to trickle down in when it rains and by earthworm action. I think this would do essentially the same action, but with less time involved.
 
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Wow!  I go away for a week and look at all the activity.  Where to begin.  First the dust bowl.  Farmers plowed and harvested wheat for about 40 or 50 years without adding any organic matter.  The crops grew fine since they were nourished by the organic matter that was naturally in the soil under the native prairie.  Not as om much as in Illinois or Nebraska because of lower rainfall, but still a lot.  The om, which among other things binds the soil together, became depleted.  Then there was a 10 year drought during which even the crops didn't grow well and there were no roots to hold the soil in place.  Result: Soil mineral particles, mainly silt and clay blew into the atmosphere during wind storms.  Awful!  Plowing, by adding huge infusions of oxygen literally burned out the life-giving organic matter.  Now we have turbocharged the process by plowing AND adding chemical fertilizer.

That's really interesting about mowing thistle when it is in bloom. 
 
Travis Philp
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Jeremiah,

I really like the oilseed radish idea, and I think its something my friend would consider. Thanks for that.

Hi Larry,

A lot happens here in a week I guess. Glad to have you back.
 
larry korn
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Hello again,  The keyline/chisel plow can be a handy tool for getting a soil building rotation going especially on land that has become hard or developed a hardpan for one reason or another.  The "plow" cuts slits in the earth rather than inverting the layers of the soil.  It allows air and water to find their way into the deeper layers of the ground.  Each year for two or three years lower the tines so it goes a little deeper.  Once the soil-building plants have taken hold you won't have to chisel plow anymore.  Be sure to include some deep-rooting accumulator plants in the mix (such as radish family members) along with some grasses and legumes.

The groundcover plants can be mowed and left on the surface or you could disc it into the top inch or two of the soil.  The discing would simply speed the decomposition without plowing and inverting layers and leaving the soil open to erosion.

Please check our permaculture design course in February in Western Washington!
 
                                          
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Hey Larry, in an attempt to get things back on track here let me ask you a question or two!

Firstly, what is all this "fukuoka x" stuff going on?  Fukuoka raised beds, Fukuoka Bonfils method, etc?  It's like Fukuoka is becoming a brand name somehow, and I'm not entirely sure that simply not tilling the soil makes it an "offical Fukuoka product".
How do you feel about that?  How would sensei Fukuoka-san feel about it?  Do these methods really parallel the Fukuokian method or are they merely borrowing his name?
 
jeremiah bailey
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Shamanmonkey, good point. I noticed in one of the threads, that the idea seemed kind of monocultured. That doesn't quite strike me as Fukuoka-esque. However, not having met Sensei, I'd reckon that he'd simply be glad that people are experimenting with sustainable agriculture. I think those labels merely pay homage to the inspiration for the ideas so labelled. 
 
larry korn
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There's really nothing we can do about a person who creates a raised bed loaded with prepared compost, puts in some starters and calls it "a Fukuoka vegetable bed."  His wife did have an organic vegetable garden near the kitchen which was tilled and had raised beds, but that's Zone 1 stuff...perfectly appropriate on a small scale and near the house, but hardly natural farming.

I try to be tolerant with people who use the Fukuoka moniker incorrectly.  It is almost always done from not knowing, not from deceit.  By the way, Fukuoka believed strongly that you can't pick and choose from among his techniques.  Like permaculture it all has to fit together.  If you use only a part of the system it is not natural farming.  It is interesting to read about his trials with the rice/barley rotation in the early years in The Natural Way of Farming.  The barley was much easier.  It was hard to figure out how to get the rice to successfully overwinter and sprout in the spring.  Finally, when he got the answer he saw how perfectly it fit with the barley growing.

I've gotten off the point.  No, most of these methods are not natural farming even if it involves no-tillage and is called "Fukuoka ...whatever".  It really doesn't bother me that much since these people are well-meaning.  Besides I don't really want to get worked up about something over which I have little control.
 
                    
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I see that the use of Fukuoka sort of equals "no-till" and/or "grown in a clover understory" and I agree it appears to be misplaced at times?  I for one don't really think the Bonfils method should be called the Fukuoka-Bonfils method, since Bonfils himself didn't know about Fukuoka when he started his experiments, and there are huge differences in the techniques.  But, whatever. 
 
larry korn
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You're completely right, Marina.  The real test of whether or not a method should or should not be called "Fukuoka" is the state of mind of the farmer.  The specific farming method Fukuoka worked out was the result of a long journey of following his heart and his principles.  The method itself reflects his local conditions.  The "Fukuoka method" is based on a spiritual path.  I just hate to nit-pick about technique.  It usually turns out to be a big waste of time.
 
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Larry, could you speak to fungal:bacterial ratios and crop selections that might fit fungally dominated soils? How can no-till adjust for such a soil when intended crops want lower F?

 
Paul Cereghino
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Here's my greatest unanswered question for Fukuoka-san:

In 'natural way of farming', there are several pages showing successions of species alternating winter and summer.  The text suggests a natural cycle of replacement.  Much of his writing seems to show insight into cycles of replacement, as one species dies back, another is emerging in the seed bank.  I would enjoy any insight anyone could offer into what Fukuoka-san might have found important in terms of patterns of species characteristics, and how adaptive strategies inform how we can replace one group of species with another using broadcast seeding, or how he may have adjusted his seeding based on observations of his system, or treated a stand of vegetation in anticipation of what he was seeding... mainly in his orchard vegetable gardens, rather then the rice systems.

I am thinking I need to spend a lot more time crawling around on my hands and knees peering amongst vegetation, identifying recruits.
 
larry korn
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This is a really good question.  Fukuoka walked his land for hours and hours everyday.  He came to know it as a part of himself.  Some things you just can't explain other than calling it intuition or something like that.  He did say, however, that his biggest breakthroughs in the orchard with the groundcover and the vegetable growing came when he came to understand the cycle of the weeds.  He didn't just go out there and scatter vegetable seeds...he knew when the seam was between the various weeds.

Also consider that many ground level plants reseeded themselves and were pretty much always around.  Some might call them invasive, but these were the hard working soil builders like mustard, radish, burdock, clover, bracken fern, buckwheat family weeds and many different types of herbs.  He didn't replace the ground plants as much as he simply mowed them once a year, in the summer, and let they lie there as mulch.  There were chickens running around, too, and a few goats.

Your orchard groundcover will be appropriate to where you live.
 
                    
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The weed seam!  Of course!  That is great to consider, thank you so much Larry. 

You know, I think that might be the most misunderstood aspect of Fukuoka.  To the casual observer his orchard looks like a random jumble of stuff growing all together (and it makes you think "COOL!  I want to do that!"), but he patiently learned intimate details about his specific place, and it's his careful response to these subtle nuances that made his system work so well.  That kind of site specific insight only comes if you're willing to spend decades walking the same piece of land for hours a day.  You can't get it by reading his books, or listening to his philosophy, or knowing exactly the method that he used at HIS place. 

I'm really glad you spent time with him and are so willing to talk to us about him and his life. 

(My partner was like "the guy that translated the book is on the message board?!?"  I was like "YEAH DUDE!!"  )
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Speaking of chickens, do you suppose they would open up the seed heads from the cut thistle and eat the seeds, if allowed in at the appropriate time?

I have read they are among the few methods capable of eliminating broom (chemical methods, for instance, don't work) because of how thoroughly they find & digest seeds. That might mean planting would best happen after the chickens are done, or long enough ahead of time that the desired plants could survive some pecking & scratching.

If I were trying it, I might cut some nearly-mature seed heads and toss them to the chickens for a while, to see if they're up to the job and to get them used to the idea.
 
larry korn
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First, I want to tell you how much I am enjoying this conversation.  Yes, careful and sensitive observation is at the heart of Fukuoka's natural farming.  The reason he had the students living in the orchard under semi-primitive conditions is so we would have a close understanding and connection with the land and with nature.  Some have said he was exploiting his workers by not paying us.  Ha!  We were being paid so well by his allowing us to live in his little orchard of eden.  Plus, he freely shared his knowledge with us.  Priceless.  It's one of the reasons that even now, more than 30 years later I freely share what I learned from him.

It also comes from the relationship students have with their teachers in Japan.  Not only with Fukuoka and his students but with Masters and disciples of all the Japanese arts.  The teaching is so valuable that any student would gladly say sweep the floor in a pottery studio for five years before being allowed to form clay for the first time.

Perhaps the most basic principle is that farmers, gardeners and people in general should see themselves as an integral part of a mysterious and wonderful nature that we can never fully understand, not as the "masters" of creation who can use nature strictly for the benefit of human beings.
 
jeremiah bailey
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Larry, in addition to the sensei/deshi relationships, was there much of a senpai/kōhai hierarchy?
 
larry korn
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I'm not sure what that is.  Tell me about it.
 
                    
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Perhaps the most basic principle is that farmers, gardeners and people in general should see themselves as an integral part of a mysterious and wonderful nature that we can never fully understand, not as the "masters" of creation who can use nature strictly for the benefit of human beings.



So well said.

I participated in a PDC in New Zealand, and the Kiwi lady (Robina Mcurdy) who lead the course organized a great exercise for getting to know each other.  She had about a 20' long line drawn with chalk on the floor with the numbers 1-10 evenly spaced along it.  She called out a topic, like "tree pruning," and we'd all place ourselves on the line according to where we thought our level of knowledge was, 1 being "I've never even heard that word" and 10 being "I could testify in a court of law as an expert on the topic." 

She then warned us that Americans have a tendency to bump themselves up on the line a bit, and Kiwis have the opposite tendency.  In that international group of people it was verrrry interesting to notice who ended up where on the line, and who out of the three people who ended up at "5," for instance, was truly the most experienced and knowledgeable about the topic.  It was hardly ever the American!  I think her observations rang true! 

Americans (including myself!) tend to want/claim to be almost immediately really good and knowledgeable at any given task or topic.  Contrasting that with the immense amount of respect shown to masters of crafts in Asian cultures, the respect for the amount of TIME it took for them to develop their skills, and be deserving of the title "sensei" - is very enlightening.  I doubt I'll make it over the pond to see that in action, so again, your experience and continued sharing of that experience is all the more important. 

When you were there, did you have an inkling of how important Fukuoka's ideas were?  Did you think his message would reach the number of people it has?  Your translation was obviously crucial in sharing his ideas and philosophy -- were you expecting people to generally embrace or reject it?  Or did you expect anything about western reactions? 
 
                                          
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Regarding Fukuoka and the forest, that is covered in One Straw Revolution I believe as one fo Fukuoka's early and late abandoned methods, along with other expeirments like digging on organic matter to improve soil quality.  I got the impression he was pretty much done with all that silliness by the time Larry would have arrived. 

I love that you brought up how the forest needs it's own biomass Larry, so many forget that fact.  It's a difficult line to straddle, improving our own land within our short life without violating the complex and fragile structures nature has constructed.
 
larry korn
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That's a very interesting story about your PDC in New Zealand.  Fukuoka-sensei often said that the one thing he knew for sure was how little he "knew."  For all the teaching he did he was an extremely humble man.  One lifetime is way too short.  Anyway, we can never truly know nature.

For your questions at the end.  I had already studied soil science and plant nutrition at Berkeley before I went to Fukuoka's farm.  At college there were lengthy discussions about how costly plowing is for the environment and for society.  Sadly, we don't know any other way was the answer to the question, "So why do we plow?"  When I saw Fukuoka's rice/barley fields that hadn't been plowed for more than 25 years and yet achieved the yields of conventional farmers I immediately understood its significance.  This was the example no one knew existed!  I dropped what I was doing and became committed to making his understanding and techniques available to the rest of the world.

The philosophy, although timeless, seemed fresh and compelling.  I knew people would would be challenged by it and embrace it.  There was never a question in my mind.  Thank goodness Wendell Berry took the book under his wing and made sure everything went smoothly for it.  The One-Straw Revolution has been translated into more than 20 languages...all from our English translation.  There is really no way to tell, but it is estimated that over a million copies have been sold world wide.

Westerners generally use an analytical way of seeing and understanding the world.  This posed challenges for us in doing the translation.  Rather than seeing the core approach, which is spiritual, many Westerners focus in on techniques.  The method has to be adapted to everyone's unique site characteristics, yet so many of the questions that were asked when he visited the United States revolved around such mundane issues as, "So how many pounds of clover did you say you used per quarter acre."  Questions like that gave Sensei a headache.  Since th message is essentially spiritual it is not surprising that the place in the world where natural farming caught on most vigorously is India.
 
larry korn
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Hey, Joe.  In The Natural Way of Farming Fukuoka did mention using some of the litter layer from the forest as mulch in the orchard.  A few things to consider...he could only bring down as much as he could carry by buckets or wheelbarrow.  He understood that the forest needed that mulch as well and didn't take much even when he did do it.  Also, he only did this for the first few years when he was getting his soil building team together.  That's the daikon, mustard, dandelions, clover, comphrey, burdock, buckwheat team.  Once those guys/gals went to work there was no longer a need to bring mulch down from the forest.  Besides it was a lot of work!
 
                    
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That's very interesting about Indians better understanding the spirituality of his message, and Americans wanting to know about pounds of seed per acre (?!).  Frustrating to myself, but understandable. 

I bet the Japanese respect for ancestors also has a big role in their general humility.  Standing on the shoulders of those who came before, while supporting the next generation as best we can. 

Thanks for answering my ignorant questions! 
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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larry korn wrote: he only did this for the first few years when he was getting his soil building team together.  That's the daikon, mustard, dandelions, clover, comphrey, burdock, buckwheat team.



Wow, I'm so predictably American. My first thought was to add that list to some sort of recipe book. It took awhile to grab that thought by the arm, wrangle it into a half-nelson, and shove it more into the direction of "how can I build a team like that?"

Common mallow (Malva neglecta, cheeseweed) seems to play a big role around here. Did you notice that, too, when you lived in Piedmont? Helen Atthowe conjectured that this species is a specialist at making N from recently-deceased plants available, and found that (like here) it mostly out-competes spreading legumes, so I wonder if it might be important for natural agricutlure where I live.

Is there anything you would recommend I pay particular attention to in Oakland, especially about the vegetation in wilderness areas?
 
jeremiah bailey
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Larry, sorry, I was kind of vague with that question. Besides teacher(sensei) and disciple(deshi), what were the relations between senior student(senpai) and junior student(kōhai). Did sensei rely any on the leadership of senior students? Was the farm population stable enough for that, or was it more come and go? Were there any interesting people that you met besides sensei?
 
larry korn
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Your list of weeds indicates that the field lacks structure and organic matter.  Plowing causes both of those.  I think he needs to go on a soil-building program using a combination of grasses and legumes along with some deep rooting plants such as daikon and dandelion as well as mustard and other radish family plants.  Instead of plowing it in, how about mowing and leaving the cuttings in place to mulch the next season's crop of soil builders or discing into the tow few inches of soil, then planting another round of soil builders.  It's so much easier to improve the soil by letting the plants do the work.
 
Travis Philp
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Were you referring to me in the post above Larry?
 
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