Masanobu Fukuoka, the late Japanese farmer, developed a unique farming system he called “Natural Farming.” Trying to replicate what he saw in Nature, Fukuoka´s no till system allowed the soil to continually grow in fertility. Through the use of mulch and cover crops, this system effectively allows for continuous harvests of crop rotations, eliminates weeds and builds healthy top soil allowing for organic food production that is ecologically sustainable.
PROBLEMS WITH TILL AGRICULTURE
Farmers have been tilling the soil for 10,000 years. It is what exemplifies the occupation of those who make their living from the land. Tilling the soil allowed humanity to produce higher concentrations of food in one place giving rise to the denser populations of city centers and eventually the development of modern civilization as we know it. However, tilling the soil also brought with it a whole host of undesirable effects, including erosion and the loss of the microbial life of the soil. Some studies have linked the fall of major civilizations such as the Mayans of Mesoamerica to the over farming of the land which eventually led to a decreasing soil capacity.
By tilling the soil year after year, the microscopic life of billions of creatures in the top three inches of the soil is essentially killed off. What’s left over is a barren, lifeless medium incapable of offering the nutrients plants need to grow and offer us their fruit. Furthermore, the more we till the soil, the more we leave the precious humus that is the life-sustaining “skin” of our planet vulnerable to the elements of wind and rain. The erosion of top soil caused by tilling and the “baring” of the soil has led to soil compaction, loss of fertility, poor drainage, and problems with plant reproduction.
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