Natural Farming was made popular by Masanobu Fukuoka who is the author of The One Straw Revolution, and it is known as his approach. However, in Japan, natural farming which is developed by Yoshikazu Kawaguchi is more widely practiced. It is called Shizennou as opposed to Fukuoka’s Shizennouhou. Shizennou means natural farming and Shizennouhou means natural farming method.
The reason why Kawaguchi style natural farming is more widely practiced is that there are many schools teaching it. Fukuoka style, on the other hand, is not something one can learn easily and there aren’t many places teaching it.
There aren’t many people using Fukuoka method to grow rice or vegetables, and it is difficult to see examples. I have only seen two vegetable gardens which are done by Fukuoka Style.
Therefore, you can’t compare the two easily either.
As I described in the book Zen and a Way of Sustainable Prosperity, they are very similar.
1, they don’t dig the land.
2, they don’t use fertilizers.
3, they don’t weed.
4, they don’t use chemicals.
The difference between the two is in the third element. Kawaguchi style farming does a certain amount of weeding. When the weeds are blocking the sunlight or the wind from the plants, you cut them. And yet, you limit your weeding since you don’t regard weeds as your enemies. They can be good aids by attracting some insects toward them.
Don’t Fukuoka style natural farmers weed at all?
My impression is that they don’t weed as much as Kawaguchi style natural farmers do. Nevertheless, some of them might do some weeding if they felt the needs. Again there isn’t a school to teach you the method properly; there doesn’t seem to be a fixed rule about it. Each person is experimenting with the method and it is different from the garden to garden.
As I described in the book, Kawaguchi style has more human intervention, and therefore it has both Yin and Yang elements. I don’t know if it has anything to do with it, but interestingly Mr. Kawaguchi practices Chinese medicine, as well.
The most famous school where you can learn Kawaguchi style natural farming is Akame Natural Farming School.
I studied Kawaguchi style natural farming at a school in Saitama and has been practicing it ever since, but I do apply Fukuoka method time to time, such as not harvesting certain plants and letting their seeds drop. Sometimes it begins sprouting, and I have some wild vegetables in my garden.
These are flowers of carrots. I let them grow without harvesting them.