Masanobu Fukuoka

Natural Farming


"The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings"

Masanobu Fukuoka was born in 1913, of a family that has farmed the Southern Japan Islands for over 1,400 years. Educated as a microbiologist and soil scientist, he is now a Mahayana Buddhist who practices simple agriculture as a spiritual path. He is the father and master teacher, the Sensei of the art of Natural Farming.

"On this planet we do not have something we can call Nature any more. We have lost it. We do not have Nature we can go back to. What we must do is search for Nature. But human knowledge cannot do it. We can only ask Nature. So we, and especially seed companies in the world, should collect all kinds of seeds on the planet, and offer them to God, Nature and pray. This kind of attitude toward Nature is necessary. Of course, even if we pray, God will not say anything. We may not be inspired, either. But the plants which start growing are God's answer. Nature will teach you."


Masanobu Fukuoka with Natural Farm brown rice, Iyo, Japan.

* * * Natural Farming With Orchards And Vegetables * * *

"The power of Nature is great, because the natural structure is solid, three dimensional, not horizontal or two dimensional. Some of my mountain peach trees have kiwis climbing on them, and above the kiwi vines, there is a kind of melon. So three kinds of fruit exist together at different heights. I get one or two kilograms of fruit from one square meter of ground. This is a good sustainable yield. Natural production is greater than man-made production, because the structure is solid. Humans are destroying the power of Nature. We have only one fourth of the growing power of Nature left. We are not increasing fertility or production, but rather trying to prevent production from failing by using fertilizers. The world is digging itself into a bottomless pit with modern agriculture. The simple hearth of the small farm is the true center of our universe. Scientific thought is leading you away from a healthy life. Even the practice of conventional organic agriculture is a dangerous digression. It cannot be sustained if you have to rob part of the earth to feed another."

"Most farmers begin by asking, what if I do this or what if I do that, but only dissipate themselves that way. My approach just the opposite, seek the pleasant, natural way of farming. In order to make the work easier, not harder, I ask, how about not doing this or how about not doing that? By actual practice I finally reached conclusion there is no need to plow, no need to apply artificial fertilizer, no need to use pesticides at all. Most of the work of farming is created by tampering with nature, which causes negative side effects. Very few agricultural practices are even necessary, just scattering seed, spreading straw on the soil and harvesting."
* ** *
Ripe persimmons, fifty year old edible forest, and daikon skeleton and kiwi fruit, Iyo, Japan.

* * * Natural Farming With Grains And Legumes * * *

"The secret of growing grain is as simple as the symbiosis of rice, barley or wheat, and clover. In October I broadcast clover and barley over the ripening heads of rice. A few weeks later harvesters actually trample the seedlings, but they recover quickly. The gathered rice is dried for three days, thrashed, and the uncut straw scattered randomly back on the field. If ducks or chickens are not free to roam then occasionally I add a little manure as well. Before the New Year arrives I coat rice seeds with clay and broadcast them over green barley, then I wait for spring to come. By harvest in May the winter crop is ripe, white clover covers the field, and rice shoots are sprouting from clay pellets. Barley is harvested, dried and thrashed, and the uncut straw mulch is again returned to the field. I then flood for five or six days, just to weaken the clover while the young rice shoots break through. In June and July my field goes dry though my neighbors keep theirs under water. In August I irrigate every week or ten days. That's about all there is until harvest, and the cycles begin again."

* ** *

Vegetable ground cover, brown rice drying in the straw, and silver bamboo grove, Iyo, Japan.

* * * Natural Farming With Seed Balls * * *
"You know that daikon radish seeds are in hard shells, well, I noticed that when they drop on the ground, they decay as they start to sprout. So I realized if they need a shell like that, then clay can be the shell for a ball with many seeds inside. Seed balls need at least one hundred kinds of seeds. One seed eventually makes ten thousand seeds. If you sow seed balls, and wait three years, you will understand what Nature is. It works much better than reading books about Natural Farming. Seed balls are a small universe in themselves. I have written six books, but I was unable to express what Nature is in words. So I decided to manifest Nature in form. A seed ball is a one centimeter model of a Natural Farm, with trees, fruits, vegetables and grains. I do not say my one hundred kinds of seeds are the best. It is just an entrance to Natural Farming."

Daikon radish seeds sprouting from rain soaked clay seed balls, Iyo, Japan.

"I love best to give children boxes of seeds as gifts because they scatter them so innocently. Sow seed balls with a child-like mind whenever, wherever, without judging the first year. During the second year birds or bugs will carry the seeds from the plants and sow them naturally for you. So in the third year you will get a natural design. Children sometimes sow seeds in unexpected places, and that brings us to a big discovery that we never even considered. Even if ninety-nine percent fail, and only one percent succeed, that will take us to new possibilities. If you use human wisdom, you will only achieve the result you expect. Give yourself to whatever you do one hundred percent or not at all, and do not doubt. Everything will be all right. Just spread seed balls and Nature will do the rest."

Think of it! A Whole Habitat in a tiny clay ball.

For A Compete Version Of This Interview Go To:
On A Green Mountain With Masanobu Fukuoka
Jim Bones

For More Information See Masanobu Fukuoka's Books At Your Library. They are out of print.

-- The One-Straw Revolution (ISBN 0-87857-220-1) --

-- The Road Back To Nature (ISBN 0-87040-673-6) --

-- The Natural Way Of  Farming (ISBN 0-87040-613-2) --

Mr. Fukuoka at:  201-2 Ohira, Iyo-Shi Ehime, Japan  799-31   Fax: 011-81-08-9983-1892

-- The Close To Nature Garden: A Video Tape about Masanobu Fukuoka by Rodale Press --
** Aurthur Mokin Productions, P. O. Box 1866, Santa Rosa, California 95402 - Tel: (707) 542-4868 **

-- The Synergistic Garden: A Teaching Video by Emilia Hazelip --
Excellent video by a French Gardener who studied with Masanobu Fukuoka
and adapted his methods to temperate climates.

All Photographs And Text Copyright (C) 1996 Jim Bones (Unless Otherwise Indicated) Box 101, Tesuque, N.M. 87574 (505-955-0956)
"Light Writings"

See "The Seed Ball Story" Video Tape

* (Back) -- (Go  On) -- (Exit) *