One Straw Revolution

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Terri, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Many years ago, I got a book that talks of a new way of growing grain. It was invented by a Japanese gentleman by the name of Masanobu Fukuoka. His books are "The One Straw Revolution", and "The Natural Way of Farming".

    Basically, his main theme was to get nature to work for us.

    He did not plow. He pelleted the grain and clover seeds with clay and scattered the pellets across the area where they were to grow. The clover was to provide natural fertilizer. Straw was then scattered roughly (NOT laid down neatly, the sun must get through!) across the field. When the rice was partially grown he would flood the paddy to weaken the weeds and get the rice off to a good start.

    He double cropped, and would get the second crop started before the first crop was harvested (You can do that if you scatter the seeds in pellets instead of making a seed bed). After the rice was cut, the second crop (usually barley) would come on strongly and be ready to cut that same summer.

    He says he gets 22 bushels per quarter acre of rice AND 22 bushels of barley per quarter-acre EVERY year, which would mean a yield of 176 bushels of grain per acre per year. He didn't plow and he rarely fertilized (every farm sometimes produces manure or whatever, and he did put his on the fields when he had it to get rid of).

    I tried this in my back yard, but results were somewhat poor. I decided that my area was too dry in the late summer to make this work unless I watered like heck, and that would get expensive with a quarter-acre.

    Also, I found that the germination of the pelleted seed was not quite as good as when the seed was buried, and that my summer was a little short to be double cropping. But, because of the water problem I did not try too hard. It just doesn't rain much here in August so I would have to water like mad to start seedlings.

    Has anyone here ever tried this? Or made it work? It is a lovely idea for low-input farming if it can be made to work under Americas drier conditions.
     
  2. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand, it took him years to develop his system of farming, and the techniques that he developed worked for him in his climate. I don't think he intended for his 'Narural Way of Farming' to be taken as gospel and followed precisely to the letter. In other words, YMMV. You could experiment with his techniques and apply what works, or develop your own (and write your own book :D ).
     

  3. HermitJohn

    HermitJohn Well-Known Member

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    Another alternative farming book worth reading is called "Plowmans Folly" written in WWII era. I applied some principles from it into my garden in Michigan. Worked well there. Not as well here in drier Ozarks area. Always worth experimenting. Some ideas work better in some locales than others.
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Do a google on 'seed balls'. Very interesting results from this gentleman's methods. I haven't tried it yet, but hope to sometime soon. One thing I read that was interesting was that seed that was made into the seedballs was not eaten right away by birds and insects, but had a chance to germinate and grow while broadcast seed was eaten.
     
  5. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A friend of mine tried to adapt his techniques/ideas to western Wisconsin some years ago, and didn't have a lot of luck. I suspect it would take many years of experimentation to come up with a workable program, finding crops appropriate to your climate, and then figuring out a workable, productive technique. Sounds like a project for the working years of an active young person, to me.

    I may go find the book on my shelves and read it again, it has been quite a few years.

    Jim
     
  6. george darby

    george darby Well-Known Member

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    yes i remember reading it years ago the main theam was to experement and not to work against yourself and nature rather than haul straw away and build compost heaps and then haul compost back let the straw rot there in the field being different and going against tradition and the way things are just done was a very hard thing in a society like japan in the 40s he was a microbiologist with a prommising carrer at the begining of WW11 and returned to the family farm after a mental breakdown. many of his early experements were by his description absolute disasters slowly he developed the methods which worked for him. faulkner presented some very good ideas in plowmans folly and you can get some arid/tropic- centric ideas from mollison and his permaculture books , Smith with his tree crops showed viable alternatives for annual crops but he presented those ideas on the eve of farm mechinization and cheep energy so it never realy had a chance to catch on , wess jackson is working with a more prairie type of low input system at the land institute ............ so go out and find what works for you in your area so many have put out ideas you can start with and learn by thier sucesses and failures
     
  7. Goose

    Goose Migratory Waterfowl

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    For anyone who would like to read this great book, and other works by Fukuoka, they are in the Files section of the 'Fukuoka Farming' group on Yahoo:

    Fukuoka Farming