The agricultural system that maintains all natural procedures and takes all natural inputs that make farming a sustainable practice is widely referred to as Natural farming system. This system has been prescribed by Fukuoka, and it follows all the laws of nature and respects the rights of livestock and supports their nutrient, habitat and mating needs. The soil that has been destroyed to an extent by industrial farming techniques involving machines, herbicides and chemicals can be healed through the practices prescribed under natural farming.
Wherever the practice of natural farming is followed, it has healed, cleaned and restored to a large extent, the soil, water, and environment. This has helped in the recovery of ecology. Such farming practices have aided in fighting the persisting threat of widespread desertification.
There are five basic principles followed by natural farming practitioners namely no tillage, no chemical fertilizer, no herbicides or pesticides and no pruning or weeding. In India, natural farming practice is frequently referred to as “Rishi Kheti”. It includes Vedic farming principles from ancient times including the use of waste, herbs, and animal for pest control and stimulating plant growth. Growth promoters, under this system, have been produced from natural products and wastes like cow milk and cow urine by our ancient sages. This farming system has been considered nonviolent without any use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer. The organic produce obtained is natural, have high medicinal values, and they possessed high quality.
Natural farming system reduces human labor and as carefully as practical, practices natural production of fibers and foods in agricultural ecosystems with biodiversity. Seeds germinate well on the surface without plowing if farm conditions fulfill the requirements of the seeds placed in the farms.
Weeds are rarely removed as they are expected to co- grow with plants, the farms are open for livestock to run on. Weeds and other ground layer plants are occasionally cut down and left on the surface, so as to restore their nutrients back to the soil along with suppression of weed growth. The practice facilitates sowing of seeds in the same zone.
The ground cover thus prepared enhances nitrogen fixation for summer and winter crops, Mulching of top soil are ensured by straw from the earlier crop. The new seeds for the next crop are sowed among the standing crop and thus each grain crop is sown before the preceding one is harvested. Thicker crop that are highly productive and stronger, although smaller in size are obtained as a consequence.
Fukuoka’s philosophy and practice stressed on small scale processes and challenged the necessity for industrial and mechanized farming techniques that are considered essential for high productivity, higher efficiency and ultimately economies of scale.
Soil is considered a fundamental and natural asset according to natural farming practices Ancient soils is believed to possess physical and chemical qualities that make them capable of producing life abundance and supporting it. In the natural farming system soil tilling is considered to destroy vital physical features of the soil like water suction, soil ability to send the moisture upwards through roots.
Fukuoka has advocated avoiding any alteration in the natural landscape. The creation of farm terraces was not supported by Fukuoka, even though this practice was common at his time in countries like China and Japan. He instead, simply planted trees and shrubs on slopes to prevent soil erosion.
All these practices that are today considered unusual and unrealistic by advocates of industrial farming techniques were once the crucial and effective farming system.
Mahendra Trivedi is a supporter of sustainable farming system and continuously engages in devising new sustainable farming methods. For more information on such farming practices, one can visit Mahendra Trivedi’s website of Trivedi Science at http://www.trivediscience.com/