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
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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

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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

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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
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No Pesticides

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
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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
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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)
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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

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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
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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.

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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’

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DESIGN PRINCIPLES

Goals Observation Resources Patterns

Cycles Connections Diversity Stability

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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
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OCCUPYING ALL NICHES

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THE ZONE SYSTEM

0 2 4

The Home Orchard, Beehives Semi Wild, Foraging

1 3 5
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Vegetables Garden Commercial Crop Wilderness

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

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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

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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

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

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