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He looks like Pat Morita, but rather than train Peter Pan syndrome stricken teen-looking adults in karate, Masanobu Fukuoka is the protagonist of a humble revolution in the world of agriculture. He is the author of the book "The one-straw revolution" from which several of the techniques he describes have reached futher afield than the world of agriculture. The most well known of them: the "seed bomb".
Masanobu Fukuoka was born in 1913 in the Japanese town of Iyo
. This son of a family that had farmed for centuries studied earth science. As soon as he had finished his studies, he became critical of the benefits of modern agronomy. He gave up his work as a scientist and returned to the family farm to experiment with a different type of farming.
or the philosophy of "no-till grain" is the base for all his techniques. The basis of this farming technique rooted in the observation of nature are the following: don’t plough the land, don’t use artificial fertilizers, weeds and "bad grasses" are not removed simpply because "bad" plants don’t exist, don’t use insecticides, don’t prune and sow small balls of seeds (nendo dango). The small balls od seeds technique is as simple as it is effective. The seeds are put into small balls of clay – for protection and dampness – and are spread around the field. With this technique, the seeds will begin germination once nature has offered optimum conditions. The results on his farm were spectacular and many neighbouring farmers began to use the same system. Rice yields with this technique, for example, as twice those obtained using modern farming methods. The Japanese government has offered to buy the patent from him. Fukuoka hasn’t sold it to them though.
Fukuoka’s teachings have not just been used in agriculture only. The seed ball technique has been used against desertification and successfully so in different parts of Africa. Besides, elements of the Japaneseborn but now world-wide garden-guerrilla movements have started using Fukuoka’s seed-bomb technique. They throw the seed bombs around different parts of a city (at cement, steel or stone buildings for instance) and these small balls get to work a lot quicker than most people imagine. Protected in small cracks, hooks and crannies, these small balls will soon paint even the most out-of-reach places green.