I have recently seen some mention of Korean Natural Farming on a market gardening resource I follow. I am interested in learning more about the system. I found a few Youtube videos by Chris Trump and others, and I found this subforum on permies, as well as a large number of very confusing websites that purport to be about various versions/flavors of Asian Natural Farming, whether it be Korean, JADAM, etc.
I will say that the idea of increasing soil biodiversity by inoculating it with useful native organisms harvested from natural environments is interesting, but I find some of the claims of the effectiveness of these methods to be hard to believe. I am curious about experimenting. I would also like to better understand these systems by reading some texts from the original sources vs reading materials developed by others.
I would love it if I could be directed to resources where I can read/buy/download a book about Korean Natural Farming by Cho Han Kyu. I have seen a book written by him mentioned, but i cannot FIND it. Likewise any material about JADAM or EM, etc written explaining the theory/philosophy behind the methods?
It is strange to me that I can find many places that will explain the recipes for the various preparations, but almost nothing about the rationale for WHY they are made in the way they are, and what they are supposed to do? I cannot travel to take expensive courses in Hawaii etc. I do have time to read.
While not 100% related - I'd also strongly recommend you give Bryant's Epic Soil a read-through - it's a gold-mine of soil knowledge, and my very recent discovery of it and these forums (entirely by accident) single-handedly has entirely up-ended my knowledge in all the best ways (and set me on a new course). If you are after some of the science and reasoning behind soil life and why it does what it does - I don't think you'd find better.
SARRA translation is not very well regarded in Korean Natural Farming groups. There are mistakes in there.
I prepared a long PP slide show with all the recipes and some extra things from the groups. I made some mistakes (as I've used SARRA translation first) but they are quickly fixed by the members of the community. The latest version can be downloaded from here
Most book stores will order in books for you, many public libraries will have those two books too.
I am confused about which two books? Both of those links seem to be for the SARRA book.
I am also a little uncertain about the SARRA book. Is it an English translation of Cho's own writing, or is it a consolidation of Korean Natural Farming techniques collected by SARRA? Given how many times it refers to Cho in the third person it seems to be the latter.
I guess what I am hoping for is more depth on the rationale, including the science behind the collection and propagation steps for all of these recipes/preparations.
I am very interested in the idea of collecting diverse suites of micro-organisms to inoculate my soil. The hesitation I have with these techniques is I don't understand how they are supposed to work. I am not particularly interested in perfoming rituals that I don't understand.
I am hoping that there is some literature about these techniques that goes more in depth into the microbiology of these techniques, particularly for the Indigenous Micro-organism processes. There are questions I have about how this system actually works.
If I were designing a protocol for harvesting a diverse suite of microbes/micro-organisms from the wild from scratch, I am not sure if this is the protocol I would design. My hesitation is that in a wild setting, different organisms are adapted to specific conditions, food substrates, and parameters. If an organism is native to a forest soil ecosystem or a grassland soil, how effective will it be at colonizing steamed rice? I understand that many organisms will quickly grow on such a rich carbohydrate source given the chance, but is this a substrate that will favor the organisms most useful in an agricultural soil vs other organisms that are more adapted to swiftly colonize a windfall of food such a batch of rice would represent? And in the second step, where this rice culture is mixed with sugar, it seems intuitive to me that adding a rich sugar solution will absolutely favor certain types of microbes over others. It is hard to see how adding sugar can make a culture shelf stable indefinitely. It seems clear that if you mix the rice culture with jaggery/sugar 1:1 you will lower the water activity below the ability of most microbes to grow, but if held at that state over time, the cells of most bacteria and fungi are going to slowly die off, and it seems likely that most protozoans etc will be killed?
When you change the conditions it seems obvious that you will quickly change the species composition from what you started with. So do these techniques truly culture wild biology or are they more like sauerkraut where there are all kinds of bacteria/microbes initially but you create conditions that favor very specific suites that do what you want? If it is the second one, then what organisms are they? If these steps are in fact a fantastic screening system for extracting the most useful species from wild ecosystems to be used in agricultural contexts that is also interesting, but I'd like to have some explanation as to what species and what they are doing etc.
I'm hoping that this information exists in some form. Thanks.
I haven't seen a truly scientific research on Korean Natural Farming practices. There are some PP slides on the net of a comparison between permaculture and KNF but doesn't go into details.
This is what I think:
Continues cultivation of the same piece of land reduces bio-diversity. Minerals deplete, soil structure changes, diseases may build up. When you continuously harvest food, things will deplete in that soil.
So we have to kick start this soil after sometime to replenish its resources and micro-organisms.
There are ways of doing this and Korean Natural Farming is one of them. Like you would inoculate your milk to make yogurt, you need to inoculate your soil from a wild source so that balance can be restored.
You may also opt for biodynamics and prepare a kick-ass compost on the side to spread on your cultivated soil from time to time.
You may do bio-intensive and double dig the trenches spreading some good compost in between.
You may do large scale worm composting and use this on your soil.
You may do back-to-eden gardening and use only woodchips.
You may follow a strict crop rotation scheme and grow green manure in between to replenish the organic matter.
You may grow your mulch and use this on your soil.
Possibilities are endless.
As Dr. Redhawk said before (on another thread), the gardening style is only a blue print. It gives you a periodic way of dealing with garden chores. They are not silver bullet to cure all gardening problems. Just implement some method and see the difference to make a decision on pursuing that method or not. It may suit you or not.
For example, I can find free coffee ground and ocean caught fish carcass here easily. I prepare enormous amounts of fish hydrolysate with kefir and my entire garden filled with coffee grounds. When I put these two together, temp reaches to 50 degrees Celsius. It would be silly not to use them.
I stopped looking for evidence if this work or that doesn't. I do things; if they work in my garden and suits to my busy life; I continue to do them. Otherwise I change the way.