21st Century Organic Farming

microbes organics image










Since I started gardening in 1973 when I was 7 years old, everything I have learned has changed. I discovered organic farming when I was travelling in my mid 20’s in New Zealand and working as a WWOOF volunteer. Funnily  enough one of the people I met all those years ago in New Zealand is a still a good friend and she runs an Organic yoga retreat out of New Zealand and has a natural health products website.

When I learned about organic farming and organic gardening the main focus was on composting. This was a lot of work and required moving heavy materials from one place to another. Making compost was the best way at the time to work organically – but that was 20th Century.

This century has seen a lot of scientifically based break-throughs in the way organic agriculture works. The Japanese have done some amazing work in this space and created powerful products and made important discoveries. Special people like Masanobu Fukuoka who rose to fame with his book “The One‑Straw Revolution”, that I read about 20 years ago, have also added their huge imprint on modern organics. The creation of the Permaculture movement which brought together many principles has also revolutionised the design and mechanics of organic system making organic agriculture more efficient and productive.

One of the key focus-point changes in the 21st century with organic farming has been the switch from looking at the building blocks of plants : NPK – nitrogen, phosphorus and Potassium – to bacteria. This is a fundamental and very significant change in focus. This focus has change the organic farming landscape in unimaginable ways.

The NPK focus came from conventional agriculture. Early organic farming thinking copied this ‘raw materials’ thinking and tried to create plant nutrients naturally – hence the composting era. The composting era has now been superseded by the microbe era. It is understood now that microbes are the foundation of organic agriculture and it’s imperative that anyone doing organics understands this momentous shift in focus.

Today we have new ‘composting’ methods such as Bokashi and other related technologies like EM : Effective Microorganisms.

Bokashi (ぼかし) is Japanese for “shading off” or “gradation.” It may refer to:Bokashi (printing), a printing technique. Fogging (censorship), blurring an image as a form of censorship. Bokashi composting, an organic waste fermentation process like silage. [Wikipedia]

So the times have changed and fermentation and liquid feeds have become the new norm in organics reducing the need to relay on animal manures.

We use a few methods on our organic farm such as :

  • Cow poo tea – fermenting fresh cow poo with urine and seaweed – aerobic fermenting
  • Bokashi of kitchen wastes, grass and tree wastes – anaerobic
  • Fish pond water fermenting – aerobic fermenting

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