Natural Farming teaches you how to manage any size farm without the use of common chemicals and pesticides used on most farms. It promotes a healthy local ecosystem that is balanced and in tune with nature. Natural Farming, or NF, helps farms lessen the use of pesticides and herbicides with the end goal being to stop using them altogether.
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What Is Natural Farming?
There are 3 well-known people who all laid the groundwork to what is commonly referred to as natural farming today. Each developed their own unique techniques.
The 3 Fathers of Natural Farming:
- Masanobu Fukuoka (The One-Straw Revolution)
- Mokichi Okada (Kyusei Natural Farming System)
- Han Kyu Cho Korean Natural Farming Principles (KNF)
Today, sustainable organic farming advocates learn and practice methods from all three fathers of natural farming.
Of the 3 fathers of natural farming, Han Kyu Cho and his Korean Natural Farming (KNF) was the only one to use ferments and local microorganisms to make bio fertilizers that deliver all the essential nutrients soil and plants need.
Cho is the one whose had the largest impact on farming in Thailand. He traveled there and taught this farming nation how to make these ferments. This is where I discovered KNF. My mother-in-law’s farm uses these methods to grow organic produce, herbs, various plants and more.
“Natural Farming” mimics nature.
It’s a “closed loop system” that can happen naturally out in the wild without any help from humans or without any human supplied inputs.
The main goal is to create a sustainable farming system that is in complete balance with nature and the local environment.
Korean Natural Farming techniques are on the rise throughout the world. Thanks to the spread of information, and many generous teachers online as well as documents from Cho himself, more and more farmers are learning how to replace conventional chemical inputs and pesticides with these natural, more effective, and far healthier, methods.
Natural farming often refers to Masanobu Fukuoka’s farming practices taught in his 1975 book, One Straw Revolution.
However, it is Han Kyu Cho who developed the liquid fermented biofertilizers with his Korean Natural Farming (KNF) approach.
Therefore, he also has had an extremely good impact and can equally be touted as one of the fathers of it.
KNF fertilizers enrich dirt to make a soil that is full of indigenous microorganisms. They create a perfect living soil that helps plants flourish. You don’t need to worry about herbicides or pesticides either.
Organic liquid fertilizers serve as chemical free herbicide and pesticides that help protect plants against insects, disease and more.
NF is a sustainable agriculture farming practice that eliminates the need to use outside factors on your farm. It promotes a healthy, balanced local ecosystem that is free of chemical inputs.
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.
Is “Organic Farming” The Same Thing As Natural Farming?
What is the difference between natural farming and organic farming?
Organic farming simply refers to the lack of chemicals in soil, fertilizers or water, and the use of organic or Heirloom seeds.
“Organic farming” or organic agriculture, while similar, has no strict “no till” rule or prime focus on sustainability. Organic farming also doesn’t teach methods to run the entire no-chemical farm effectively.
It’s focused on organic materials, whether commercially bought or not. In comparison, natural farming prefers to use substances from your local farm or garden area. Composts and liquid fertilizers made from local plants near your farm are more effective than any product made elsewhere.
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. In comparison, Korean Natural Farming teaches how to keep a chicken coop clean without ever having to go in there and replace all the floor droppings.
Natural Farming Is For Anyone & Everyone
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.
Good Skills Natural Farming Teaches:
- 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 to farm from my Thai mother-in-law and our farmer friends nearby. 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. We like to make organic fertilizers taught in KNF and also TNF. A man from Thailand named Arnat Tancho uses KNF to then create his own form of KNF in Thailand. It’s basically the same from everything I’ve seen.
Related Read: We have a blog post 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 Korean 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. We’ve been taken under the wing of an experienced natural farmer. 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 first need to gather some initial prep items.
Natural Input Fertilizer Making Materials
- A funnel (you can make one from a gallon jug)
- 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 and patience: ferments take time, but no more than a couple weeks for the longest ones.
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 Korean Natural Farming 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.
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.
List Of KNF Organic Liquid Fertilizers
- 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 KNF. 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 More About Composting
This is just as important if not more than the liquid fertilizers.
We have an article on how to start a compost pile here.
You Can Get Started With Natural Farming Today!
Whether growing herbs and vegetables on your balcony in pots, or running a full scale farm that supports your family, anyone can practice KNF techniques.
And other than the sugar needed to produce the biofertilizers, it is cheap. After the first few times of making the ferments, it becomes easy. Anyone can do it.
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.
We can always hope that natural farming becomes the future of commercial farming. But with an eye on profit over anything else, the industry has become an impersonal force run by nameless corporations and or governments. NF done commercially would be glorious. Instead, we increase our production of GMO crops and heavy pesticide spraying (especially for all those vegan products).
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.
It would be ideal if the whole world started to learn natural farming methods.
The little guys like us.
And the mass food producing farms as well.
Thanks for stopping by our Sprouting Fam blog.
We’ve got much to learn and put into practice when it comes to Korean Natural Farming. We’re excited about it and love to make the KNF liquids like the next organic fertilizer recipe post linked below.
We appreciate your interest. In time we hope to share a lot more actionable KNF practices.
Next Post: Learn how to make one of the most used biofertilizers with this Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) Recipe
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Has anyone used honey instead of sugar for there BRW and of any success ?
Hey Peter, you need brown sugar or molasses only from what I know. Not honey and not white sugar. Thanks for coming by the blog!
I’m presuming in the case of Honey that it’s not advisable because it’s antibaterial. But wonder why not white sugar.
Hi Kitty, white sugar is processed in a way that takes out all the molasses. Brown sugar keeps the molasses by not removing it all or putting it back in after, but the molasses is the key. There’s something called muscavato that is good too. Thanks for coming by the blog!!!
Can we use molasses!?
Hi Ajmal, yes absolutely can. The main complaint with molasses is that it’s more expensive. That’s why most go for the brown sugar. Cheers thanks for subscribing! We’re working a lot over here with our garden and chickens, so I hope to start publishing more KNF related articles soon!
Honey has been used in India for preparing Indian imos in traditional Indian way of natural farming. As honey is costly it is not preferred. But If you want to do it you can. Try methods to prepare pancha gavyam and jeevamrutham in internet.you can use honey to replace brown sugar.it should work in other products also.
Thank you Rangaswamy! This is good to learn, thanks.
Hello only brown sugar or coconut sugar as these have a high osmotic pressure which extracts the chlorophyll and nutrient contents
I am interested in KNF
Hi John and Ling
My name is Kim and im from South Wales in the. ive recently had more time on my hands and getting back to gardening and my chickens. Im following your blog from today with great interest as I love growing and hate waste! Your methods make perfect sense!
heres to a good crop this season…..
Hi Kim! I never replied and just now I wanted to and say thanks for the comment and that I hope you’ve had a chance at getting more into your gardening and chickens. It’s funny because this just came to my attention at the exact 1-year mark since your comment. Here’s to another good crop this 2022 season!
I’m enjoying your site. I’m super new to knf, but have been doing no till, no spray gardening for a few years. I am wanting to make an IMO, but I am having a really hard time finding any mycelium. I live with woods all around me, and have hunted, and just can’t find any! Any ideas? Thanks!
Dr Jayapala Paladugu
It is very impressive documentation work. I want to adopt Natural Farming Techniques in Paddy Field. Please suggest to produce Lactic Acid bacteria to spray on Paddy Plants. Please also suggest methods to accelerate immunisation in Paddy Plants.
Dr P. Jayapala
Thank you Dr. P. Jayapala. Lactic Acid Bacteria to spray on paddy plants. I’ve made lactic acid bioliquids, but have not ever dealt with paddy plants. I will now have to research all about paddy plants. Thank you for telling me about this.
Greetings from Poland … and thank you for being able to read and gain knowledge. I am in the process of starting a gardening farm …
A farm in Poland! Sounds wonderful! We are now moving from Thailand to Mexico at a tropical area but elevation around 1,500m. It will be interesting to start a garden in this new land. So us too, are starting a new garden soon like you 🙂
My question is whether instead of cane sugar – which is an expensive and exotic product in Poland, you can use waste molasses in the production of beet sugar?
Hi, not sure about beet sugar, but for fermented liquid fertilizers, molasses is great.