Natural farming method VS. natural farming.
What is natural farming method? It is a farming method developed by Masanobu Fukuoka.
What is natural farming? It is a method of farming developed by Yoshikazu Kawaguchi.
Fukuoka method is more widely known abroad and usually when we say natural farming, most people think of natural farming method developed by Masanobu Fukuoka.
However, there are several different approaches of farming which are called natural farming in Japan. The one developed by Mokichi Okada which is also called Shizennouhou(natural farming method), the one developed by Yoshikazu Kawaguchi which is called Shizennou(natural farming), and the one developed by Akinori Kimura which is called Shizensaibai(Natural Cultivation).
Today I am talking about Fukuoka method and Kawaguchi method.
In Japan, natural farming which is developed by Yoshikazu Kawaguchi is more widely practiced.
The reason why Kawaguchi style natural farming is more widely practiced is that there are many schools teaching it. Fukuoka style, on the other hand, is not something one can learn easily and there aren’t many places teaching it.
There aren’t many people using Fukuoka method to grow rice or vegetables, and it is difficult to see examples. I have only seen two vegetable gardens which are done by Fukuoka Style.
Therefore, you can’t compare the two easily either.
As I described in the book Zen and a Way of Sustainable Prosperity, they are very similar.
1, they don’t dig the land.
2, they don’t use fertilizers.
3, they don’t weed.
4, they don’t use chemicals.
The difference between the two is in the third element. Kawaguchi style farming does a certain amount of weeding. When the weeds are blocking the sunlight or the wind from the plants, you cut them. And yet, you limit your weeding since you don’t regard weeds as your enemies. They can be good aids by attracting some insects toward them.
Therefore, he doesn’t say you don’t weed, he says you don’t fight against weeds and insects.
So, 4 principles become something like that.
1, you don’t dig the land.
2, you don’t use fertilizers.
3, you don’t fight against weeds and insects.
4, you don’t use chemicals.
Don’t Fukuoka style natural farmers weed at all?
My impression is that they don’t weed as much as Kawaguchi style natural farmers do. They first think of ways to create an environment where you don’t need to weed. This is possible by using certain types of crops such as clovers. If you plant clovers, they stop the spread of other weeds.
Nevertheless, some of them might do some weeding if they felt the needs. Again there isn’t a school to teach you the method properly; there doesn’t seem to be a fixed rule about it. Each person is experimenting with the method and it is different from the garden to garden.
As I described in the book, Kawaguchi style has more human intervention, and therefore it has both Yin and Yang elements. I don’t know if it has anything to do with it, but interestingly Mr. Kawaguchi practices Chinese medicine, as well.
Another impression I got after talking to people who practice natural farming method is that Fukuoka style is more like a way of life rather than a farming: You become in tune with nature and you become part of the natural process, and you prioritize that process over harvesting vegetables.
Kawaguchi style on the other hand is still a farming: Your goal is to harvest vegetables, and so you do minimum things required as a farmer, but within that framework, you grow vegetables as naturally as possible.
If you want to learn about natural farming method, there is tons of information available in English. You can start off by reading some of Mr.Fukuoka’s books.
Recently, Larry Korn who brought the manuscript of the legendary The One Straw Revolution to the United States and got it published wrote a book called One-Straw Revolutionary: The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka. You can find out about Fukuoka method here, too.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information on Kawaguchi style natural farming availble in English. If you want to know more about it, you can watch a film called Final Straw.
If you want to study the farming method, there are many schools teaching it in Japan and the most famous one is Akame Natural Farming School.
I also made a video on this topic.