Corey Berman

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since Oct 28, 2012
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Recent posts by Corey Berman

There is this really excellent video of Fukuoka on youtube, about 1 hour long.

I did a full transcription of the video because I believe Fukuoka's message is important. He makes a lot of his key points explicitly so this is a good concise introduction.

"Fortunately, after 60 years practice
There is no cultivation, no fertilizer, no chemicals, no weeding
I finally can grow any crop with natural farming

Natural farmer says no to science.
All sciences, no.
No thank you, no nothing!
Only scattering clay balls
These are the mixture of science, philosophy, and religion"

Read on at:

5 years ago
Just discovered this. Similar to Fukuoka Natural Farming, with some additions like sustainably incorporating a cow.

"Jeewamritha which has cow dung, cow urine, pulse powder, jaggery and a handful of soil. Jeewamritha is not talked as a fertiliser rather it contains lot of microbes and hence decomposition of the mulch becomes faster and earth worm activity becomes more and land becomes fertile. People who has used Jeewamritha tells that visible changes in the earth worms can be seen within a week itself. Also one good thing is that 1 local cow is enough for 30 acres of land."

More so than Fukuoka, Palekar speaks about the exploitation of farmers and agriculture, through the economic and judicial systems.

"However, they thought that the farmers should not only purchase the seeds but every commodity from the city. So they established such an exploiter system that the farmers have to purchase these hybrid seeds which will give more yield only after applying the chemical fertilizers. Therefore, the farmers have to purchase both hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers also. But these hybrid seeds are developed in such a manner that they have no resistance power against insects and diseases. The chemical fertilizers are developed such that they will destroy the soil biota and will make the land barren, loose the resistance power. And as the land becomes barren, the crops grown in it will affect from diseases. Then the farmers have to purchase the poisonous insecticides and fungicides to control the diseases. These chemical fertilizers will make the soil so compact that the farmer has to use tractor for cultivation, as the wooden plough will not work. Thus, more money will come to city from the villages.

Again, they thought that this farmer is so poor that he has no purchasing power. But they were well known that the farmer would purchase even an elephant on credit. Therefore, they thought why not to give them this seeds, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, and tractors on loan. Therefore, they started banks, credit societies. A well-planned exploiter system was developed to commit the farmers to purchase the seeds, fertilizers, insecticides, tractors etc known as Green Revolution."
6 years ago
I'm thinking about using vetiver as an outside border of my land, with a border of bamboo inside of that, on the west + north + east edges. I have 1 acre which I will farm naturally (Fukuoka style). I want the erosion control of vetiver, and the wind break and natural aesthetic of bamboo.
I'm in central Illinois, zone 5b, so I need a good cold hardy bamboo, which it seems are mostly the running type and not clumping. So, I'm wondering if the vetiver would be an effective blockade to stop the bamboo from spreading off my land and into my neighbor's plowed field. I don't mind it running sideways or inwards a bit.

It seems vetiver is effective in stopping other invasive species, so I hope it can work against bamboo. Any thoughts on this combination?
6 years ago
Very good presentation by Kristine Nichols. I think that her explanations help to demonstrate the value of Fukuoka's methods of no till, no fertilizer, no pesticide, and no herbicide.
Do not till "with iron". The natural life on the farm keeps the soil tilled and aerated. Weeds plow, moles plow, earthworms plow.
Do not give fertilizer. If plants are spoiled with too much fertilizer, they do not feed the mycorrhizal fungi, ruining the symbiotic relationship and thus the resiliance of the plant.

6 years ago
Fukuoka says quite a bit about how he prunes in Natural Way of Farming. I have the pdf version so I'm referencing those pages.
3. Fruit Trees (pg 159)
The Argument Against Pruning (pg 172)

The primary discussion is that pruning should only be done to encourage the natural form of the tree, the form in which branches do not cross haphazardly but are evenly spaced, and there is a main leader growing straight up. He goes into detail that exactly what the "natural form" is has been forgotten over time due to scientific pruning strategies, so we do not even know exactly what a natural fruit tree should look like. In general, a central leader (vigorous, upright leader) with an overall conical or triangular shape is the correct natural form. The tree should only be "trained" to the natural form for the first 5-6 years, after which the need diminishes. The tree is trained to the natural form by nipping off unnatural buds.
A tree will naturally create a form where each leaf receives sunlight, branches do not cross, and air can circulate. A tree would not naturally tangle itself up and create conditions for disease, or trees would not have survived for so long before humans came along. If the tree is pruned irresponsibly, the tree creates many buds at the cut point which then create an unnatural situation.

It is a similar argument as those against tilling, weeding, pesticides, and fertilizing. By performing these actions, man is only creating more work for himself later on, leading to endless toil. A tree improperly pruned, must always be pruned and tended to. Soil tilled, must continue to be tilled to break up compaction. Pesticides destroy the food web balance, inviting more vigorous pests. Ect...
6 years ago
Yes, leave crop residue.
Fungus and pests are not "problems" if you have a varied and balanced ecosystem.
6 years ago
"above the heat riser" - is yours a tight coil of copper pipe (forming almost a solid cylinder) stacked above the brick/insulated metal riser? Then does this rise up until the 1.5"-2" gap under the top of the drum? I think this would cool the gas too soon. It should not cool until is has hit the lid and spread so it can fall down the drum, instead of wanting to fall down the riser.

I'm not using the coil to take away heat from combusting wood gases, and the flame does not contact the coil. The coil is inside the drum wall, contributing to the cooling effect of the drum. It would take away from your radiant and bench heat. I believe that this setup can provide hot water and improve the operation of the rocket mass heater. I'll have to wait until next fall when I can build it and find out.

Found this nice diagram of a hot water pressure relief setup:
6 years ago
Hello, I was wondering if adding a hot water coil inside of the drum would actually increase the rocket effect?
It is my understanding that the cooling of gases as they exit the riser contributes to the movement of the gases. Hot buoyant gases rising in the riser, cool gases falling in the drum. So, adding a coil for heating water inside the drum should increase the cooling effect. The water should be actively pumped to the tank, and the tank needs a boiler grade pressure relief valve (thanks allen lumley).

I'm pretty sure rockets like this have been built, what was the experience?
6 years ago
There are also parasitic nematodes you can water onto areas infested with fungus gnats. They seem to have worked well in the container garden in my room.
6 years ago
My guess is that your flue pipe is providing too much resistance to air flow. The addition of resistance when you fill up the feed tube tips the balance and the heat riser can't power through it.
Your burn chamber is 35 in^2, heat riser is 36 in^2, and flue pipe is 28.3 in^2. This is about 21% reduction in area going into the flue pipe which may be too high. I don't have enough experience with rmh to know if 35 ft is too long of a flue pipe.
The lack of thermal mass around the flue pipe would also have a strong effect. Without mass, the gases are allowed to cool much more quickly within the flue, which I think is a lack of energy to overcome the friction in the pipe.

The wet clay might be hurting it too, taking energy to evaporate water and lowering the combustion efficiency in the heat riser. But I think the flue is the main issue.

If you need the long duct length, you could try a booster fan at the end of the flue to get air moving. The exhaust should be cooled enough by then to not hurt the fan. This would also make it easier to get started.

Any pictures?
6 years ago