07 février 2011

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution (note de lectură)

This method completely contradicts modern agricultural techniques. It throws scientific knowledge and traditional farming craft right out the window. With this kind of farming, which uses no machines, no prepared fertilizer, and no chemicals; it is possible to attain a harvest equal to or greater than that of the average Japanese farm. The proof is ripening right before your eyes.

"Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort."

"How about not doing this? How about not doing that?" That was my way of thinking. I ultimately reached the conclusion that there was no need to plough, no need to apply fertilizer, no need to make compost, no need to use insecticide. When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.

Human beings with their tampering do something wrong, leave the damage unrepaired, and when the adverse results accumulate, work with all their might to correct them. When the corrective actions appear to be successful, they come to view these measures as splendid accomplishments. People do this over and over again. It is as if a fool were to stomp on and break the tiles of his roof. Then when it starts to rain and the ceiling begins to rot away, he hastily climbs up to mend the damage, rejoicing in the end that he has accomplished a miraculous solution.

To grow crops in an unploughed field may seem at first a regression to primitive agriculture, but over the years, this method has been shown in university laboratories and agricultural testing centres across the country to be the most simple, efficient, and up -to -date method of all. Although this way of farming disavows modern science, it now has come to stand in the forefront of modern agricultural development.

Self-styled experts often comment, "The basic idea of the method is all right, but wouldn't it be more convenient to harvest by machine?” Or, "Wouldn't the yield be greater if you used fertilizer or pesticide in certain cases or at certain times?” There are always those who try to mix natural and scientific farming. However, this way of thinking completely misses the point. The farmer who moves toward compromise can no longer criticize science at the fundamental level.

Why is it impossible to know nature? That which is conceived to be nature is only the idea of nature arising in each person's mind. The ones who see true nature are infants. They see without thinking, straight and clear. If even the names of plants are known, a mandarin orange tree of the citrus family, a pine of the pine family, nature is not seen in its true form.

The irony is that science has served only to show how small human knowledge is.

Four principles
01. No cultivation.
02. No chemical fertilizer or prepared compost.
03. No weeding by tillage or herbicides.
04. No dependence on chemicals.

From the time that weak plants developed because of such unnatural practices as ploughing and fertilizing, disease and insect imbalance became a great problem in agriculture. Nature, left alone, is in perfect balance. Harmful insects and plant diseases are always present, but do not occur in nature to an extent, which requires the use of poisonous chemicals. The sensible approach to disease and insect control is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment.

If nature is left to itself, fertility increases. If you want to get an idea of the natural fertility of the earth, take a walk to the wild mountainside sometime and look at the giant trees that grow without fertilizer and without cultivation. The fertility of nature, as it is, is beyond reach of the imagination.

If seeds are sown while the preceding crop is still ripening in the field, those seeds will germinate ahead of the weeds. Winter weeds sprout only after the rice has been harvested, but by that time, the winter grain already has a head start. Summer weeds sprout right after the harvest of barley and rye, but the rice is already growing strongly. Timing the seeding in such a way that there is no interval between succeeding crops gives the grain a great advantage over the weeds.

There is another method for making the pellets. First, the unhulled rice seed is soaked for several hours in water. The seeds are removed and mixed with moist clay by kneading with hands or feet. Then the clay is pushed through a screen of chicken wire to separate it into small clods. The clods should be left to dry for a day or two or until they can be easily rolled between the palms into pellets. Ideally, there is one seed in each pellet. In one day it is possible to make enough pellets to seed several acres.

This way of farming has evolved according to the natural conditions of the Japanese islands, but I feel that natural farming could also be applied in other areas and to the raising of other indigenous crops. In areas where water is not so readily available, for example, upland rice or other grains such as buck- wheat, sorghum or millet might he grown. Instead of white clover, another variety of clover, alfalfa, vetch or lupine might prove a more suitable field cover. Natural farming takes a distinctive form in accordance with the unique conditions of the area in which it is applied.

Spreading straw might be considered rather unimportant, but it is fundamental to my method of growing rice and winter grain. It is connected with everything, with fertility, with germination, with weeds, with keeping away sparrows, with water management. In actual practice and in theory, the use of straw in farming is a crucial issue. This is something that I cannot seem to get people to understand.

My own experience has shown that by sowing the seed while the preceding crop is still in the field so that they are hidden among grasses and clover, and by spreading a mulch of rice, rye, or barley straw as soon as the mature crop has been harvested, the problem of sparrows can be dealt with most effectively.

Trees weaken and are attacked by insects to the extent that they deviate from the natural form.

There is no wiser course in farming than the path of wholesome soil improvement.

Where the weeds and clover are not so thick, you can simply toss out the seeds. The chickens will eat some of them, but many will germinate. If you plant in a row or furrow, there is a chance that beetles or other insects will devour many of the seeds. They walk in a straight line. Chickens also spot a patch that has been cleared and come to scratch around. It is my experience that it is best to scatter the seeds here and there.

The main aim of this semi-wild vegetable growing is to grow crops as naturally as possible on land that would otherwise be left unused. If you try to use improved techniques or to get bigger yields, the attempt will end in failure. In most cases, the failure will be caused by insects or diseases. If various kinds of herbs and vegetables are mixed together and grown among the natural vegetation, damage by insects and diseases will be minimal and there will be no need to use sprays or to pick bugs off by hand.

Most people think that if chemical fertilizer and insecticides were abandoned agricultural yields would fall to a fraction of the present level. Experts on insect damage estimate that losses in the first year after giving up insecticides would be about five percent. Loss of another five percent in abandoning chemical fertilizer would probably not be far mistaken.

Experimentele care demonstrează că natura lăsată să se lupte cu dăunătorii dă rezultate mai bune decât intervenţia omului cu soluţii chimice.

Before researchers become researchers, they should become philosophers. They should consider what the human goal is, what it is that humanity should create. Doctors should first determine at the fundamental level what it is that human beings depend on for life.

Modern research divides nature into tiny pieces and conducts tests that conform neither with natural law nor to practical experiences. The results are arranged for the convenience of research, not according to the needs of the farmer. To think that these conclusions can be put to use with invariable success in the farmer's field is a big mistake.

It appears that things go better when the farmer applies "scientific" techniques, but this does not mean that science must come to the rescue because the natural fertility is inherently insufficient. It means that rescue is necessary because the natural fertility has been destroyed.

It appears that things go better when the farmer applies "scientific" techniques, but this does not mean that science must come to the rescue because the natural fertility is inherently insufficient. It means that rescue is necessary because the natural fertility has been destroyed.

By spreading straw, growing clover, and returning to the soil all organic residues, the earth comes to possess all the nutrients needed to grow rice and winter grain in the same field year after year. By natural farming, fields that have already been damaged by cultivation or the use of agricultural chemicals can be effectively rehabilitated.

To the extent that the consciousness of everyone is not fundamentally transformed, pollution will not cease.

The most commonly used chemical fertilizers, ammonium sulphate, urea, super phosphate and the like, are used in large amounts, only fractions of which are absorbed by the plants in the field. The rest leaches into streams and rivers, eventually flowing into the Inland Sea. These nitrogen compounds become food for algae and plankton that multiply in great numbers, causing the red tide to appear. Of course, industrial discharge of mercury and other contaminating wastes also contribute to the pollution, but for the most part water pollution in Japan comes from agricultural chemicals.

The fact of the matter is that whatever we do, the situation gets worse. The more elaborate the counter measures, the more complicated the problems become.

When a decision is made to cope with the symptoms of a problem, it is generally assumed that the corrective measures will solve the problem itself. They seldom do. Engineers cannot seem to get this through their heads. These countermeasures are all based on too narrow a definition of what is wrong. Human measures and countermeasures proceed from limited scientific truth and judgment. A true solution can never come about in this way.

Consumers generally assume that they have nothing to do with causing agricultural pollution. Many of them ask for food that has not been chemically treated. But chemically treated food is marketed mainly in response to the preferences of the consumer. The consumer demands large, shiny, unblemished produce of regular shape. To satisfy these desires, agricultural chemicals that were not used five or six years ago have come rapidly into use.

The consumer's willingness to pay high prices for food produced out of season has also contributed to the increased use of artificial growing methods and chemicals.

As for the consumer, the common belief has been that natural food should be expensive. If it is not expensive, people suspect that it is not natural food. One retailer remarked to me that no one would buy natural produce unless it is priced high. I still feel that natural food should he sold more cheaply than any other. Several years ago I was asked to send the honey gathered in the citrus orchard and the eggs laid by the hens on the mountain to a natural food store in Tokyo. When I found out that the merchant was selling them at extravagant prices, I was furious. I knew that a merchant who would take advantage of his customers in that way would also mix my rice with other rice to increase the weight, and that it, too, would reach the consumer at an unfair price. I immediately stopped all shipments to that store. If a high price is charged for natural food, it means that the merchant is taking excessive profits. Furthermore, if natural foods are expensive, they become luxury foods and only rich people are able to afford them. If natural food is to become widely popular, it must be available locally at a reasonable price. If the consumer will only adjust to the idea that low prices do not mean that the food is not natural, then everyone will begin thinking in the right direction.

Edible herbs and wild vegetables, plants growing on the mountain and in the meadow, are very high in nutritional value and are also useful as medicine. Food and medicine are not two different things: they are the front and back of one body. Chemically grown vegetables may be eaten for food, but they cannot be used as medicine.

If we do have a food crisis, it will not be caused by the insufficiency of nature's productive power, but by the extravagance of human desire.

Until now the line of thought among modern economists has been that small scale, self-sufficient farming is wrong - that this is a primitive kind of agriculture - one that should be eliminated as quickly as possible. It is being said that the area of each field must be expanded to handle the changeover to large -scale, American-style agriculture. The goal is to have only a few people in farming. The agricultural authorities say that fewer people, using large, modern machinery can get greater yields from the same acreage. This is considered agricultural progress.

In my opinion, if 100% of the people were farming it would be ideal. There is just a quarter-acre of arable land for each person in Japan. If each single person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.

Extravagance of desire is the fundamental cause, which has led the world into its present predicament. Fast rather than slow, more rather than less-this flashy "development" is linked directly to society's impending collapse. It has only served to separate man from nature. Humanity must stop indulging the desire for material possessions and personal gain and move instead toward spiritual awareness. Agriculture must change from large mechanical operations to small farms attached only to life itself. Material life and diet should be given a simple place. If this is done, work becomes pleasant, and spiritual breathing space becomes plentiful.

There is no time in modern agriculture for a farmer to write a poem or compose a song.

So for the farmer in his work: serve nature and all is well. Farming used to be sacred work. When humanity fell away from this ideal, modern commercial agriculture rose. When the farmer began to grow crops to make money, he forgot the real principles of agriculture.

I do not belong to any religious group myself and will freely discuss my views with anyone at all. I do not care much for making distinctions among Christianity, Buddhism, Shinto, and the other religions, but it does intrigue me that people of deep religious conviction are attracted to my farm. I think this is because natural farming, unlike other types of farming, is based on a philosophy that penetrates beyond considerations of soil analysis, pH, and harvest yields.

I deny the empty image of nature as created by the human intellect, and clearly distinguish it from nature itself as experienced by non-discriminating understanding. If we eradicate the false conception of nature, I believe the root of the world's disorder will disappear.

Nature as grasped by scientific knowledge is a nature that has been destroyed; it is a ghost possessing a skeleton, but no soul. Nature as grasped by philosophical knowledge is a theory created out of human speculation, a ghost with a soul, but no structure.

A natural person can achieve right diet because his instinct is in proper working order. He is satisfied with simple food; it is nutritious, tastes good, and is useful daily medicine. Food and the human spirit are united. Modern people have lost their clear instinct and consequently have become unable to gather and enjoy the seven herbs of spring. They go out seeking a variety of flavours. Their diet becomes disordered, the gap between likes and dislikes widens, and their instinct becomes increasingly bewildered. At this point people begin to apply strong seasonings to their food and to use elaborate cooking techniques, further deepening the confusion. Food and the human spirit have become estranged.

"Within one thing lie all things, but if all things are brought together not one thing can arise.” Western science is unable to grasp this precept of eastern philosophy. A person can analyse and investigate a butterfly as far as he likes, but he can not make a butterfly.

It is said that there is no creature as wise as the human being. By applying this wisdom, people have become the only animals capable of nuclear war.

Why do you have to develop? If economic growth rises from 5% to I0%, is happiness going to double? What's wrong with a growth rate of 0%? Isn't this a rather stable kind of economics? Could there be anything better than living simply and taking it easy?

People find something out; learn how it works, and put nature to use, thinking this will be for the good of humankind. The result of all this, up to now, is that the planet has become polluted, people have become confused, and we have invited in the chaos of modern times.

The more people do, the more society develops, and the more problems arise. The increasing desolation of nature, the exhaustion of resources, the uneasiness and disintegration of the human spirit, all have been brought about by humanity's trying to accomplish something. Originally, there was no reason to progress, and nothing that had to be done. We have come to the point at which there is no other way than to bring about a "movement" not to bring anything about.

The human being was a happy creature, but he created a hard world and now struggles trying to break out of it. In nature, there is life and death, and nature is joyful. In human society, there is life and death, and people live in sorrow.

The world used to be simple. You merely noticed in passing that you got wet by brushing against the drops of dew while meandering through the meadow. But from the time people undertook to explain this one drop of dew scientifically, they trapped themselves in the endless hell of the intellect.

The fact is that people who think a drop of water is simple or that a rock is fixed and inert are happy, ignorant fools, and the scientists who know that the drop of water is a great universe and the rock is an active world of elementary particles streaming about like rockets, are clever fools. Looked at simply, this world is real and at hand. Seen as complex, the world becomes frighteningly abstract and distant.

It is said that Einstein was given the Nobel Prize in physics in deference to the incomprehensibility of his theory of relativity. If his theory had explained clearly the phenomenon of relativity in the world and thus released humanity from the confines of time and space, bringing about a more pleasant and peaceful world, it would have been commendable. His explanation is bewildering, however, and it caused people to think that the world is complex beyond all possible understanding. A citation for "disturbing the peace of the human spirit" should have been awarded instead. In nature, the world of relativity does not exist. The idea of relative phenomena is a structure given to experience by the human intellect. Other animals live in a world of undivided reality. To the extent that one lives in the relative world of the intellect, one loses sight of time that is beyond time and of space that is beyond space.

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