natural farming

having read through:
_the One Straw Revolution_ _the Natural Way of Farming_ _the Road Back to Nature_ _Sowing Seeds in the Desert_
it would be difficult to give a long review of them. much is similar/identical between the four.
if you had to read them i would go with 2 and 4, with more time 1,2 and 4 (2 is the most practical).
if you are a hard core scientist then i'm not sure you would be able to understand his views.
if you have had some exposure to eastern philosophies and methods of thought then you may have more success.
overall his approach is to do as little as possible (yay!):
no tilling, no fertilizers, no pesticides and no weeding.
this is very misleading, but it does make the point he is after (doing as little as possible). he may not till his rice field, but he does dig holes to plant fruit trees and he does dig in his vegetable garden nearer to his house. he also does thin around selected plants to discourage weeds and to encourage the plants (but supposedly he doesn't pull them he just cuts them back). he has used chicken manure as fertilizer, and he does use machine oil concoctions at times on trees for controlling outbreaks of certain pests (rarely).
also there are comments about not getting too involved with composting (nature knows how to break stuff down).
the wikipedia is currently wrong too (it says that he is not in favor of terracing -- in several of the above writings he says terracing is good, but that it is best to use materials available at the site).
his specific rotation for the rice field was to plant the rice and barley at the same time (using clay pellets made out of certain materials including the rice, barley and white clover seeds). then after specific periods of time he would harvest the barley, let the clover grow for a bit, then flood the field to weaken the clover and to give the rice a chance to get going (for a few days). he also returns all the straw from the crops to the fields (not compacted or put down tightly, but just scattered loosely to discourage weeds).
his method does not leave the rice paddy flooded for large parts of the growing season (in stark contrast to his neighbors).
for his fruit tree methods, i would say that he and Sepp Holzer are somewhat similar. he talks about the natural form of a fruit tree and that once a tree is damaged or pruned then it can be much more work. growing from seed, planting a mixed community of understory plants/vegetables and green manure/legumes to keep the soil active and fertile.
i'm not really a rice/grain farmer so that means i'm not familiar with the plants/methods of harvesting and the work involved in getting the crop planted and taken back in. so much of what he does detail is theory to me, not anything i've attempted to practice.
in the middle of a rainy spell, when faced with little to do other than wait for sunshine, it's a good thing to ponder different methods and to see what others have to say. it would take quite a bit of time to summarize and do a scholarly review of his whole works, to winnow out redundencies and to trace the progression/changes of methods. i think even he would say it is not worth it. that his ideas are for his place/climate/crops/etc.
to do something else in another place he puts forth the idea to take seeds of all types and soil from a healthy forest and to mix them together and make seed balls. then to scatter all of that and see what happens. he comments about the California grasslands (taken over by non-native species) that they could be reforested and restored by such a method. would be interesting to see it attempted on a large enough scale...
overall, at least he is not damaging the land and is building topsoil and fertility. he is using his land as a refuge for other creatures and not poisoning them. i give him high marks for that and for paying attention enough to what nature is saying.
as he lived a good long life and practiced his methods for many years he's certainly gotten the practical mark needed for any one i would consider listening to when it comes to using such methods (many years longer than i).
he has passed away (at 95 yrs) and now his son and family are continuing, i hope they will do as well.
i will have these books for a few more weeks if you have specific questions (before i move on to other authors/topics). looks like more rain...
songbird
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On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 10:58:37 AM UTC-4, songbird wrote:

Makes me thing of a Farm in Virginia that was featured on the show Farm Kings. Has anyone seen this show? I find it very interesting. MJ
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

likely Polyface Farm aka Joel Salatin of Swoope Virginia.
songbird
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songbird wrote:

and they are not at all similar in philosophy or methods.
Joel raises beef on grass (probably a few hundred head), thousands of chickens, pigs, turkeys, rabbits. i.e. he's geared towards raising meat. also, Joel will bring in outside organic material if he can get it cheaply enough.
Masanobu never mentions raising beef as anything other than wasteful (because they import grain to Japan to do it) and is much more vegetarian/seafood/eggs type eater. never mentions eating a chicken anyplace in the four books mentioned, but perhaps they do once in a while. he determined that bringing in outside organic materials was too much work and easier to just grow in place.
songbird
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On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 2:20:03 PM UTC-4, songbird wrote:

THAT"S IT !! Do you watch Farm Kings? MJ
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote: ...

no, i'm not much of a tv watcher, but if something good comes out on DVD i'll request it via the library or the local video rental place. once in a while i'll watch Nature or Nova on PBS or some other things that come along (Downton Abbey, National Geographic, ...).
much rather read books or nose around online if a topic catches my interest. right now i'm working through the list of references generated as i'm reading other books/articles on:
http://www.anthive.com/notes/notes.html
songbird
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