You are on page 1of 21

NATURAL FARMING

A low-input, high-yield, nature-healing way of growing food.


Chinmay Soman
SCALE AND COMPLEXITY

Energy is captured most efficiently on the smallest scale


Complex biological systems are stable and productive
Chinmay Soman
TOWARDS ‘NATURAL’

A natural farm

Is a complex, self-regulating, designed ecosystem.

Contains a large variety of interdependent plants, animals, insects, birds


and microorganisms

Requires no chemical inputs and minimal physical intervention

Utilizes and enriches local natural resources

Produces high yields with minimal inputs

Chinmay Soman
ORIGINS
Natural Farming
Masanobu Fukuoka
Japanese plant pathologist
“How about not doing this?
How about not doing that?”
Developed during 1945-1975

Permaculture
Bill Mollison
Australian naturalist
Design “food forests” with
interacting components
Developed during the ‘70s

Chinmay Soman
NATURAL FARMING
When you get right down to it, there are few
agricultural practices that are really necessary.

The reason that man's improved techniques seem to be


necessary is that the natural balance has been so badly
upset beforehand by those same techniques and the land
has become dependent on them.

-Masanobu Fukuoka, in ‘The One Straw Revolution’

No Tilling No Fertilizers No Sowing No Pesticides

Chinmay Soman
NO TILLING
Saves labor, energy, and time
Prevents nutrient leeching and
soil erosion
Reduced CO2 and NOx emissions
Weeds can’t take hold

Soil is loosened, aerated and


mixed by organisms
Permanent ground cover
improves soil quality
Heavy equipment is avoided -
the soil stays loose naturally

Chinmay Soman
NUTRIENT REPLENISHMENT

Conventional farming
continuously removes
nutrients from the soil

Permanent ground cover of


white clover fixes nitrogen
All organic matter is returned
to the field to decompose
naturally (no active
composting)
Animal and bird manure is
used as a supplement

Chinmay Soman
BROADCAST SEEDING
Sowing protects seeds from
birds etc.

Cover crop and straw


provide protection - seeds
can be simply broadcast by
hand on the field
For extra protection, seeds
can be enclosed in ‘Seed
Balls’. (Red clay, compost,
seeds, water)

Chinmay Soman
CONTROL LIFE WITH LIFE

Monoculture has many unoccupied niches


where weeds and insects thrive
Insecticides kill natural predators, opening
up more opportunities for insect
population explosion

The variety of plants (including a few


weeds) promote predator and food
diversity
The absence of toxins enables natural
predators to exist, and control insect
population
Ground cover and straw hold weeds in
check
Fungal infections are rare in the healthy
ecosystem

Chinmay Soman
OTHER TECHNIQUES

Summer rice/Winter wheat


system
Crop rotation to further
replenish soil nutrients

No pruning of fruit trees


Orchards also have
leguminous ground cover
Vegetables and shrubs
under trees

Chinmay Soman
PERFORMANCE

Fukuoka consistently got yields equal or better than those on


chemical farms.
Natural farming has been adapted and practiced successfully
in various regions, including the temperate zone and the
tropics.
Due to the extremely low labor and capital requirements,
profitability is much higher than conventional farming.

Chinmay Soman
PERMACULTURE

Permaculture design is a method of assembling conceptual,


material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions
to benefit life in all its forms.

Each component should function in many ways, and serve the


needs and accept the products of other components.

The mature system should require the least possible maintenance,


and should produce a net surplus of energy over its lifetime.

- Bill Mollison, paraphrased from ‘Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual’

Chinmay Soman
DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Goals Cycles

Observation Connections

Resources Diversity

Patterns Stability

Chinmay Soman
UTILIZING RESOURCES

Small earthworks to trap and


store water
Fertility is in the biomass, not
in the soil
‘Weed’ plants continuously
mulched to provide nutrients
A variety of plants to occupy
all niches and harvest
maximum sunlight
Small animals control pests,
provide fertilizers, and produce
extra food

Chinmay Soman
OCCUPYING ALL NICHES

Chinmay Soman
THE ZONE SYSTEM

0 The Home 1 Vegetables Garden


2 Orchard, Beehives 3 Commercial Crop
4 Semi Wild, Foraging 5 Wilderness

Chinmay Soman
PERFORMANCE

Has been demonstrated in all climates

Increasingly popular sustainable land use method

Permaculture Centers are being established all over the


world to train more people

Academic and quantitative reports are required

Chinmay Soman
WHY STILL UNPOPULAR?

Inertia

Commercial force behind input-heavy traditional methods

Eschews reductionism - not popular academically

Requires experimentation to optimize for local conditions

Non-control

Chinmay Soman
Perhaps we cannot raise the winds. But each
of us can put up the sail, so that when the
wind comes we can catch it.

E. F. Schumacher
Small Is Beautiful

Chinmay Soman
CREDITS
Chinmay Soman has created this The following people created the
presentation in iWork ’09, and released Creative Commons licensed photos/
it under a Creative Commons graphics used in this presentation:
Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Slide 1: Permaculture Research Institute,
DreamingKayaker
3.0 Unported License. This means that
Slide 2: Hideyuki Kamon, Andrea Bellamy, Youthkee
you are free to use and adapt
Slide 3: Gene Wilburn, IRRI, Björn Hermans, Autan
components of this presentation for
Slide 5: Permaculture Research Institute
noncommercial purposes, but are Slide 7: Ecoagriculture Partners
required to release resulting work with a Slide 8: Hideyuki Kamon, Kasper Manz
similar license, as well as attribute the Slide 9: Andrea Bellamy
components used to this author. The Slide 10: Parrhesiastes, Jeff DelViscio, Youthkee,
original work is available by request. Stavros Markopoulos
Slide 11: DreamingKayaker
For more resources and current Slide 14: Permaculture Research Institute
information, visit the blog at Slide 15: Graham Burnett (via Wikimedia Commons)
sustainable-farming.blogspot.com Slide 16: Cecilia Macaulay

Chinmay Soman