“However loudly we might voice our respect for Nature’s intelligence, we’re reluctant to rely on it when it comes to growing food, whether on a commercial or an amateur basis. Instead we act as if the soil had little life of its own. But perhaps the time has come to allow Nature to show us the way. The worldwide and slowly expanding network of Shumei Natural Agriculture farmers believe that it has. While the simplicity of their methods may challenge our deeply entrenched ideas, their results are impressive. Perhaps trusting in the power of the soil could be of greater help to us than we imagine.”
– Liz Ware
In summary, these are the principles of natural farming:
– No fertilizer, no manure – fertilizer leads to nitrate-containing vegetables and is not necessary as in a healthy soil microorganisms supply plants with nutrients
– No chemical nor biological methods of pest control – rather compliance with the balance of the entire system
– No herbicides but weeding if necessary
– Collect and use own seeds or at least open pollinating varieties instead of hybrid seed
Furthermore, the following methods are recommended:
– No crop rotation, because soil and plants get used to one another (like all principles is this not cast in stone, but crop rotation should only be performed when it is found useful through experience with certain plants at a particular site)
– Cultivation of plant species which are suitable for the location, the climate and the country
– A grateful, respectful and loving attitude of the peasant towards his country, the crops, animals and insects
“The principle of Natural Agriculture is an over-riding respect and concern for Nature,” stated Okada in his book A Great Agricultural Revolution. This respect leads to minimum intervention in the growing processes. While many modern agricultural practices are based on a belief in the need to control and manipulate the growing process, Natural Agriculture sees greater benefit in supporting and working in partnership and conjunction with the natural forces.
Thus, the soil is cultivated in its natural state without the addition of foreign elements. If properly cared for, soil provides better nutrition for plants without the addition of chemical fertilizers, while prohibit the soil’s natural energy from being transferred to the plants. Similarly, seeds are respected for their natural purity and are not manipulated for specified ends. Extensive experience has shown that this approach leads to crops that are healthier, stay fresh longer and are better tasting than those produced by conventional agricultural methods.
The principle of respect for nature is based on the perception that consciousness guides all life processes. This consciousness extends to all that grows. Natural Agriculture recognizes that plants are conscious living entities. The root derives its nutrition and water from the soil. The leaves absorb the light of the sun and through photosynthesis change inorganic matter into organic matter. This spurs growth. Contrary to this, tens of millions of microorganisms in the soil help to transform organic into inorganic matter. In its natural state, soil is pure and contains all the elements needed for healthy plant growth. Eventually the plant blossoms and, with the help of insect pollination, bears the fruit that contains the next general of seeds.
Within this process, what is the role of the human hand? Too much human intervention can hamper and harm the forces of nature, causing all sorts of deviations. But by forming a spiritual collaboration, we can guide, aid and enhance natural food production.
An essential element for the success of Natural Agriculture is the relationship between the producer and the product. The farmer plays a pivotal role. In the Natural Agriculture method, the attitude and behavior of the grower toward the produce has a direct impact on its quality. The farmer who relates to and cares for the crops will see beneficial results. Mokichi Okada perceived agriculture to be an art, created by the human hand and heart. The farmer has a unique position in restoring and maintaining the balance within Nature, and this ability is essential for Natural Agriculture’s success.
Where do the nutrients come from if we don‘t use any fertiliser?
As we are often asked this question, we’d like to invite you for a scientific excursus.
Dr. Elaine Ingham took fascinating pictures of the life in the soil. She found that the roots of plants send out signal substances which communicate to microorganisms which nutrients they require. The microorganisms are attracted to the roots and carry the nutrients (N, P, K etc.) to the plants for them to grow and even transform them into forms which the roots can absorb. In exchange for the nutrients, they receive a type of sugar from the plants. When this symbiosis works, plants have unlimited access to the nutrients in the soil.