natural farming

Natural Farming 101: How To Get Started (KNF & TNF)

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Natural Farming teaches how to manage any size farm without the use of chemicals. Three natural farmers have made the longest lasting impression on today’s natural farming systems with their developed techniques. Of the three farmers, Han Kyu Cho and his Korean Natural Farming (KNF) was the only one to use ferments and local microorganisms to produce effective bio fertilizers that deliver all the essential nutrients the soil needs to provide plants with. Cho is the one whose had the largest impact on farming throughout all of Thailand. KNF methods are still growing in use all over Thailand and the world right now in 2019.

The three “fathers of Natural Farming:”

  1. Masanobu Fukuoka (The One-Straw Revolution)
  2. Mokichi Okada (Kyusei Natural Farming System)
  3. Han Kyu Cho Korean Natural Farming Principles (KNF)

What Is Natural Farming?

The main goal behind natural farming is to create a sustainable farming system that is in complete balance with nature and the local environment. Natural farming techniques produce soil that’s full of life (living soil) that enables successful farming without herbicides or pesticides. Natural farming’s bio fertilizers and liquid hormones help protect the plants against insects, disease and more. It enriches the soil with indigenous microorganisms instead of synthetic or commercial inputs.

Natural farming teaches how to raise goats, too!

goat fail GIF

Natural farming promotes a healthy local ecosystem that is balanced and in tune with nature. It helps farms lessen the use of pesticides and herbicides with the end goal being to stop using them altogether. NF is a sustainable agriculture farming practice that eliminates the need to use outside factors on your farm. It’s economical, and that’s just a bonus benefit. The food is as natural as can be and you don’t need to use commercial products or manufactured seeds (GMO’s) in order to successfully produce food on your farm. This is the main benefit of farming based on KNF.


What about “Organic Farming”?

“Organic farming” or organic agriculture, while similar to natural farming, has no strict “no till” rule or prime focus on sustainability. It does focus on sustainability, but not in the way that natural farming relies on it. Organic farming is mainly the use of purely organic materials, commercially bought, produced, or not) and making food grow this way.

Organic farming is not based on traditions. It uses scientific breakthroughs, tilling is fine and there is no special teachings on how to handle animals in the farm. Organic farming is similar to natural farming, but doesn’t teach methods to run the entire farm. It simply refers to the lack of chemicals in soil, fertilizers or water, and the use of organic or Heirloom seeds.


Who Is Natural Farming For?

earthing benefits

Natural farming is for both backyard gardeners and high-production commercial agriculture farms. There are many wonderful benefits and new skills picked up along the way. Here are some interesting skills NF teaches you:

  • Different ways to make natural plant insecticides
  • How to make and aerate compost piles
  • Seed handling, storage and germination.
  • NF teaches you how beneficial microorganisms work in agriculture.
  • Learn how to prepare organic garden beds.
  • Teaches how to use mulch to create perfect soil.
  • Learn how to make and use organic liquid fertilizers.
  • Avoid the wrong use of mulch.
  • Learn how to use local materials to fertilize your whole farm or garden for free.
  • Teaches permaculture design that grows complimentary plants together to promote soil health and high yields at the same time.
  • Learn how to raise chickens, goats, pigs and even fish within your natural farm.
  • Discover the benefits of wood vinegar and how to make it.
  • And natural farming includes much more!

How we use natural farming

I call it Thai Natural Farming (TNF) because I learn farming from my Thai mother-in-law and the farmers on her farm. Their lifetime of Thai farming knowledge helps them get a lot done, and they do it without chemicals. They use Korean Natural Farming methods much like many other towns throughout Thailand. Here on my wife’s mom’s farm, I like to make organic fertilizers taught in KNF and TNF, such as the textbook translated from Thai to English called “Natural Farming Principles” by Arnat Tancho. We have an article on the blog on how to use organic liquid fertilizers. These help inject more local sources of microbes into your farm or garden… the basis of KNF.


How To Get Started With Natural Farming

To start natural farming, you just have to choose what natural inputs to start making. Starting with the soil is a good place I think. Once you have your inputs, you can start using them to fix your soil and begin the long journey of natural farming learnings. A good place to start is with soil and the elimination of chemicals. Some farms need to ween off the pesticides and do so successfully when properly substituting the natural fertilizers for them.

If you’re just getting started with Korean Natural Farming practices, we’re just ahead of you here. Luckily we’ve been taken under the wing of an experienced natural farmer, so as we learn I like to share and document things here on Sprouting Fam. So in my opinion, to get started with natural farming, you should first choose which fertilizers you want to get started with. You’ll need to gather some initial prep stuff, like a funnel (you can make from a gallon jug, some clay or glass jars, some rubber bands and cloths to top them off, and some regular alcohol, and a lot of brown sugar or molasses. These are the main ingredients you will base many of the natural inputs needed off of.

Natural Input Making Materials

– Clay Jars or Glass jars (hard plastic can be used but not preferred)
– Cloth (can use any cloth like an old t shirt)
– Rubber bands (or a string)
– Alcohol (beer, liquor or wine all work)
– Brown sugar or molasses
– Time & patience: ferments take time, but no more than a couple weeks for the longest ones.


Learn How To Make Liquid Bio-Fertilizer

Some of the most used inputs in KNF and TNF are the fermented plant juice, the liquid herb hormone, fermented brown rice water, LAB and FAA, depending on local factors and soil status. Liquid ferments reintroduce local compounds from plants and substances in the garden that are fermented and then put back into the soil it came from. This is what KNF is known for. By feeding soil its own local compounds in a bioavailable form, the soil’s pH levels adjust themselves to where they should be, and it also helps unlock and promote the uptake of nutrients in the soil by the plants.


Some Of The Liquid Biofertilizers:

  • LAB: Liquid lactic acid bacteria is a germicide that promotes growth in all plants and is a wonderful substance for neutralizing smell in your livestock areas, from chicken coops to pig pens.
  • LHH: Liquid herb hormone strengthens your plants immune system and fights off insects and helps repair from disease.
  • BRW: Fermented brown rice water helps protect your plants against insects and disease.
  • FFJ: Fermented fruit juice helps promote growth in producing plants.
  • FAA: Fish amino acid is an ideal source of fish nitrogen that natural repels insects and serves as a powerfully effective natural fertilizer.
  • OHN: Oriental herb nutrient helps your plants fight off bacteria, disease and insect attacks.
  • WCAP: Water soluble calcium phosphate promotes fruit production when the plants need a little nudging and help with metabolism regulation.
  • IMO: Indigenous Microorganisms are the holy grail of natural farming. These are what make living soil possible and there are various types of IMOs.
  • EM: Effective microorganisms are a commercial form of IMO.
  • FPJ: Helps sustain plant growth.
  • WCA: Water soluble calcium helps plants absorb vital nutrients from the soil.

Learn how to make these liquid fertilizers..

Please visit our article on the subject, here. The benefit of using liquid fertilizers to reintroduce local microbes to your land is that they’re extremely cheap, if not, free. You use local substances like plants from the farm or snail shells or herbs like garlic or turmeric. You can even use your pet’s feces to make a bio-fertilizer!


Composts, Mulches & Other Fertilizations

natural farming living soil

To learn more about composting, bookmark our site or sign up to the newsletter and I’ll let you know when I publish that post on how our compost pile is set up. This is just as important if not more, than the liquid fertilizers, so in time it will show up prominently as such on this site. Currently we’re focusing on the liquids, but composting will be next on the blog.


Summary: Natural Farming 101

Once you discover the importance of microbes, and how it makes natural farming possible, you’ll next need to learn how to start making all the bio fertilizers. Overall, natural farming is cheap. After the first few times of making the ferments, it becomes easy. Anyone can do it. In Thailand, they are heavily promoting this form of agriculture as a means to an end for heavy petrochemical use. Natural farming is the future of commercial farming… I hope. It’s a way to avoid having to rely and produce more GMO’s too. The day we can stop fearing over glyphosate riddled foods, or freaking out over eating an apple that wasn’t washed properly, will be a good day. Natural farming based on Thai and Korean Natural Farming principles can take us there if we all start to learn it, including the big corporate farms.


THANKS for stopping by our Sprouting Fam blog.

We’re just getting started in our natural farming journey, so thanks for your interest. In time I hope to share a lot more actionable natural farming practices. As we learn and implement, we’ll let you know how it goes!

As far as social media, we’re most active on InstagramHandle: @sproutingfam. You can connect with us on Facebook & Youtube too.

For Pinterest!


Quick Video Overview Of KNF


UP NEXT: Learn how to make one of the most heavily used natural farming fertilizers, fermented plant juice (FPJ).

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