Masanobu Fukuoka: The King of Do Nothing Farming

“The more people do, the more society develops, the more problems arise.”

– Masanobu Fukuoka

Shadowing over cannabis culture are triumphant American figures. Folks like DJ Short, the Brothers Grimm and many others, have helped add to cannabis’ status as the most diverse plant species on the planet. If you haven’t heard about their contributions, you’ve most likely smoked some of their work.

Breeding is merely one component in a massive transactional relationship between those who create the strains, and those who grow them. Good genetics won’t mean anything if the grower isn’t doing all they can to exploit them. That’s why a farm’s growing methodology is key.  

Many farms across Oregon are switching or have already integrated to Natural Farming, an ecologically cohesive hands off growing ideology. Many variations exist, Natural Farming is much less a technique, than a concept. The first who honed in the concept was a Japanese farming sophist named, Masanobu Fukuoka, nature’s first modern cultivating amanuensis.

By enhancing systems borrowed from natural biodiversity, Fukuoka not only discovered a more ecologically effective farming practice, but one that accentuated an entire idea of what farming should be. To Fukuoka, growing was “the cultivation and perfection of human beings” and believed “if nature is left to itself, fertility increases.”.

Natural farming is a closed system, requiring no serious intervention. Substituting quick and often poor solutions over liquid nutrients and monocropping, is an incentive away from the wasteful practices they produce. Fukuoka’s ethos accentuates the prevention of water pollution, biodiversity loss, and soil erosion.

Before Fukuoka’s death in 2008, he left behind five principles of Natural Farming:

  • No Tillage

Cultivation isn’t exactly necessary. Keeping soil stagnate simply allows any existing root systems to nurture beneficial bacteria and other life sustaining organisms.

  • No Fertilizers

The one fertilizer we do not tolerate here at Tetra are those in liquid form. Liquid nutrients contain chelated material i.e. salts. Plants don’t like salt, they die otherwise. Implementing such nutrients necessitates a flushing schedule, a practice where water is ran through the soil about once or twice a week. Not only does generate water waste. It also makes life hard for any soil stewards. You can learn more about liquid nutrients, here.  

  • No Pesticides/Herbicides

Do we really need to go into this one?

  • No Weeding

Some weeds can be a good thing believe it or not. Fukuoka thought weeds should be mediated, rather than eradicated.  Weeds play a key role in soil building and keeping biomass at an equilibrium.

  • No Pruning

Pruning is probably the most debatable tenant from Fukuoka’s principles. Many growers and general gardeners will stand by pruning as an essential protection from pests generated by heavy canopy overlap. Too much canopy can create an overbearing microclimate.

Again, Natural Farming is a worldview, an ideal. Not a specific method. So we decided to take Fukuoka’s principles as a metric for sustainability, and applying them to some of the farms we carry in our Belmont location.

Deschutes Growery 5/5

Deschutes was a dream forged into reality by a wonderful group of friends from Bend, OR. With infrastructure powered largely by solar energy, along with comprehensive measures against water waste. Makes sense considering they’re named after the best river in Oregon. The fine folks at DG now saves 50% more water after a comprehensive audit of their production output last year.

Way to go guys. You get a nice 5 out of 5 minimal pruning and being righteous Earth friends. Fukuoka is probably up there now pouring out some compost tea in your honor.

Phyre Farms 4/5

Phyre Farms has been seducing federal employees with their “sinfully delightful cannabis” since they entered the market. Their grow crews don’t have time for pesticides, only holistically sourced amendments from the freshest organic inputs. There’s really no stopping Phyre from making sweet sweet love to biomass everywhere, thanks to their tried and true vermicompost technique.

Maintaining this symbiotic relationship is crucial. Healthy roots express valuable carbohydrates from photosynthesizing the sun’s energy, called exudates. Think of exudates as sweat made from sugars and proteins, instead of stinky salty perspiration. A healthy biomass can be aggregated if these exudates are left alone. This is a huge part of what farms like Phyre do that makes living soil alive!

East Fork Farms 4/5

These amanuensis’ of CBD have taken outdoor growing from experimentation into an oasis in Takilma, OR. The combination of sungrown cannabis and inspiration from terroir makes their approach truly unique. This ethos commands a purist, isometric approach to agricultural science and microbiology. Growing outdoor alone is a huge commitment. East Fork prunes, as outdoor yields can become too massive and unmanageable. They also till the Earth, but only occasionally.

Exposing crops as East Fork does showcases Fukuoka’s belief that commercial farming such as monocropping only facilitates “hardships for the farmer and suffering for the consumer.”. Being CBD cultivators, both Nathan and Aaron Howard were motivated by cannabidiol medicinal potential. This, combined with their all outdoor approach, is enough to warrant a nice 4 out of 5.


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