On Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farm, healthy rice grows in harmony with white clover and a diversity of other plants. Birds, insects, and other wildlife have free access to the lands. In the orchards, clover and herbs, and many kinds of vegetables are grown in a semi-wild manner between the citrus trees.
Natural farming as practiced by Masanobu Fukuoka emphasizes the principles of no cultivation, no chemical fertilizers, and no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. “When you get right down to it, there are few agricultural practices that are really necessary.”
A place for the discussion of developing natural farming techniques to suit the Pacific Northwest climate...and cultivating natural philosophy to suit Pacific Northwest people.
The One-Straw Revolution
His most well known book. Both a practical guide for growing rice, wheat, barley and vegetables in a natural way, and an introduction to his philosophy.
The Natural Way of Farming -
The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy
A more detailed how-to guide for natural farming and philosophizing.
Available for free in PDF format online at:
The Road Back to Nature –
Regaining the Paradise Lost
Details his insights into the troubles facing the lands he visited in his travels, as well as other global environmental, and philosophical concerns.
Currently out of print. It is rumored that it will be republished in Summer of 2010.
This is great. I wonder, ponder, worry?....why growing anything is such a complicated process. All the information out there can make your head spin just to grow a tomato or ear of corn. I like this philosophy and it seems to me that short of ruined soil or other man-made problems one should be able to easily grow what is natural to the habitat/climate, etc. I really wonder about growing STRAW. Not hay, straw. Lots of hay is grown in this region - where is all the straw? There is some coming from somewhere but where? Saw a few bales at the food coop around halloween. Straw is so useful for a zillion things from animal bedding, houses, mulch/weed cover, etc. Where do you get it in abundance around here and where is the closest place one can grow it? Also, desperately looking for chickens to fill my new chicken condo (coop)! Thanks! Erin email me at email@example.com if too long and uninteresting for general posting.
this is the most interesting and informative answer to something I've always wondered about (as a non-farmer). - and it also reminds me of the complex decisions and hard work that is involved in the farming life. many thanks!
Walter Haugen said:
Erin - It is not economical to just produce straw for sale. That is why it is so expensive. It is largely a byproduct of growing oats or wheat or barley. If you are a tractor farmer and you go through the field and harvest your barley, to get the straw you have to make another pass through the field to windrow the chaff, make yet another pass to bale it and stack it on a wagon, then get it up in the barn using your elevator and then stack it by hand. It is all very labor-intensive and so the price for all this goes up. It is cheaper for the farmer or horse owner to just use sawdust, which is a byproduct of the mechanized timber industry and competes at a discount against straw for bedding.
Hay, on the other hand, is a primary product and can be just cut, windrowed, baled and stacked in the barn for less than the cost of the harvester going through the field for the grain. It also has a nutrional value, unlike the straw, so it amplifies the cost differential from both sides of the equation. You might think that since the straw is just lying there after the grain is harvested, it would be cost effective to bale it, but you would then be taking the biomass out of the field and putting it in your barn. If you sell it to the horse owner down the road, you are effectively removing soil nutrients and exchanging them for a pittance. If, however, you leave it in the field you are returning some of the soil nutrients. If you are bedding down your own cattle with your own straw and then taking the manure out to the field, you have a very good mix of green/brown compost material that works in synchronicity. The bottom line is that a farmer really needs to leave the chaff out in the field OR bale it for the farm animals only. Otherwise you are depleting the farm's nutrients.
In your situation, you could easily grow barley or oats, leave it in the field for the chickens to eat, or thresh it and keep the straw yourself. However, be advised that once you start doing this by hand, you will quickly realize how labor-intensive farming without fossil fuels really is. You can order barley or oats from a lot of places. I like Peaceful Valley www.groworganic.com. I also get seed from Organic Growers, the cover crop/tool division of Fedco Seeds in Maine, but you will pay about $1.00 per pound for shipping.
Thank you Walter - I had no idea where straw comes from - it is not surprising it a secondary product of other things (barley/oats) as you don't see "straw fields" as you might hay or corn or soybean fields. I found a guy who sells straw - has around 2100 bales - I think he might be able to enlighten me (visually) as to how he does this. i get now how it is produced, but without a clue how to do it exactly.
If any kind of 'poop' were available in abundance - and you could take your pick, and it were all free - what is best to replenish/add nutrients to crop/plant/garden soil - horse manure? turkey? I wonder if horse is most commony used because it is most plentiful and easy to come by? In Iowa turkey poo was popular for lawns. My mother used to make manure 'tea' to water garden things with (early stage I think, not when food was on the vine, and very diluted) anyone do this or is there something better these days or for fertilizer garden crops for the sandy-type soils (not clay or less desireable soils from what I understand where we want to start growing in the spring). Thanks again for the crash course on straw. It wasnt hard or expensive to buy it baled in Iowa in the fall -- sounds like they were stripping some nutrients by selling a lot of it this way. not surprising - ever since the egg fiasco that came out of Iowa, our egg mega-manufactures have been referred to as 'chicken concentration camps' - not perhaps very sensitive to humans who endured such things, but, pretty good visual and helps people to grasp why diseases might find their way into eggs that wind up on U.S. tables for breakfast! i digress - just thinking straw was plentiful there vs. here as there was probably not consideration given to the long term impacts of harvesting all the straw and taking it from the ground.
Walter Haugen said:
The best way to get the healthiest organic matter is either to grow it yourself, or harvest/purchase it from sources you know are healthy...ie you know both the farmer, their land, and what is stored in their tool-shed/barn.....and now we know that some farmers hire others to do their spraying for them....as what happened with the aminopyralid overdose on our dairy lands...
Here are some more good info in our EarthGardens network:
Compost & Animal Poo & Organic Matter Locations
Hi Erin! Welcome to the bioregion! Yep we are blessed to have Walter share so much of his knowledge, and also grow food and care for the soil. This past year our county was hit hard by herbicides in the commercial cow manure compost, otherwise I would have told you cow's a great manure cause of all the juices in their many stomachs.
Farmer David Pike who started this Natural Farming discussion,, is traveling to warmer gardens for the next month, but I think he'll be back in time for our winter seed & tuber swap on Jan 30th and share his thinking later. Swap event at: http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/events/winter-community-seedswap
You might also want to click to follow both Walter & Celt S blogs as they are great writers.
You can find Walter's at this link and then scroll down and click 'Follow” to receive an email for new ones.
Also be sure to read & follow Celt's blog posts...scroll down & click 'follow'”
And David P at:
Heather K at:
And be sure to connect with Brian K out at Inspiration Farm who offers many bio-dynamic & permaculture workshops throughout the year, including one on using a sythe to harvest our grains & straw. He lives in the Laurel area within the Deer Creek/Ten Mile Creek watersheds. Brian's page is at:
There are many more great farmers , though not all able to take the time to respond.
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Erin Dixon said:
Thank you Walter - I had no idea where straw comes from - it is not surprising it a secondary product of other things (barley/oats) as you don't see "straw fields" as you might hay or corn or soybean fields. I found a guy who sells straw - has around 2100 bales - I think he might be able to enlighten me (visually) as to how he does this. i get now how it is produced, but without a clue how to do it exactly......
Aloha Natural Farmers,
Back on the mainland to start up the farm - excited this year to try many new ideas and grow many new plants. Glad to see discussion continuing on this topic, and hope we can share more ideas going into the grow season. See you all at the seed swap on Sunday.
“Soil Nourishment & Fertilizers' http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/group/organic/forum/topics/nouris...
Info for those who are still in transition towards the natural farm earth nourishment, as taught by Fukuoka-san in his book “One Straw Revolution”.
Two Natural Farming Weekends in August (2012)! One on San Juan Island with Larry Korn, editor of 'One Straw Revolution” , followed by a farm tour at Inspiration Farm with Brian K, with possibility of guest Larry Korn! San Juan event (2012) - http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/events/natural-farming-weekend-on...
Video of Masanobu Fukuoka of “One Straw Revolution” - http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/video/one-straw-revolution-natura...
Larry Korn is now selling the new English version of one of Fukuoka-san's books:
“Sowing Seeds in the Desert”. http://www.onestrawrevolution.net/One_Straw_Revolution/One-Straw_Re... We hope he will also speak at Village Books in August, and encourage Transition whatcom co-sponsorship.
All- also see David Pike's past blog summary on Natural Farming with Masanobu Fukuoka - http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blogs/masanobu-fukuoka-a...
and his 'Interview with Larry Korn”:
More info posted on our Earth Gardens network at later date- http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/group/organic?xg_source=activity