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What is Natural Farming?

Anywhere at any Scale

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Natural Farming

Anywhere at any Scale


In South Korea, where Master Cho developed Korean Natural Farming KNF, a husband and wife typically care for 3 cows, 10 pigs, and 500 chickens by themselves with no outside help. They probably have an orchard and some row crops as well. These farmers said their incomes doubled or tripled when they switched to KNF.


Farming can be hard work and making money is often difficult. Natural Farming is the idea of letting Nature do as much of the work as possible. The South Korean KNF farmers are able to complete their chores, make a good income, and enjoy life. KNF lowers costs, lowers labor, prevents most pest and disease problems, while increasing yields and health, health of the soil, the plants, the animals and people. A healthy system is synergistically stronger, more economically viable. For the homestead, family farm, backyard garden, or commercial operation this means more time and more money in your pocket, better food on your table, and a healthier life.


KNF is the perfect technology for a small homestead and does not require the need for outside labor or big machinery. It does, however, require learning new skills, and takes time for the biology to become established. The established biology is the core of the system. If you are patient enough to reach this core your efforts will be rewarded many times over. It takes about three years to reach this core, similar to reaching organic standards.


People worldwide have adopted KNF technology. It is used on homesteads and family farms, to grow small backyard gardens, on patios and even indoor operations.  It has been expanded to large commercial operations, such as tea plantations, orchards, vineyards, herb and vegetable operations, specialty crops, market gardens, root crops and livestock operations.


My Tea Garden was on 20 acres. My cost of inputs went from $200 per month just for crops using an organic system, to only $20 for both crops and livestock using Korean Natural Farming. Once the animal systems were integrated and the soil was flush with life, the labor needed to maintain the system decreased, and my soil fertility increased, further lowering my production costs. I have seen other tea gardens use Natural Farming. Tea from Natural Farmers is repeatedly better than organically grown tea from the same area. Flavor profiles can be improved using Nutritive Cycle inputs.


Natural Farmers talk about being able to grow superior products and being able to market them to high end restaurants and other avenues and get top dollar. This mean greater economic viability. Producing superior quality opens new and better markets for operations of any size.


When I offered a presentation on Natural Farming at an agricultural symposium the owner of a small chain of health food stores was begging for a source of local eggs. I decided to provide. When I sold eggs commercially they sold for $7 USD per dozen retail. Organic eggs sold at that time for $4 retail. We got more not because of marketing tools (my farm was not certified organic), but because my Korean Naturally Farmed eggs were so much better. It took less than 10 hours of labor per month to maintain 50+ egg layers, and market their eggs. Selling eggs was a helpful boost to keep the farm running.




Master Cho taught his system for 50 years and KNF is practiced in well over 40 countries, in all regions of the world. America and other English speaking countries were among the last to adopt. The first English speaking location was Hawaii, which was where I met Master Cho. The technology of KNF is now global, being practiced from temperate & cold climates, to steamy tropical jungles, to dry desolate deserts. Korean Natural Farming can be modified to grow food in any climate. 


The most extreme example Master Cho shares is how he used his technology to grow trees in of desert where essentially no rain falls with an almost 100% success rate. He inoculated the soil where the trees were planted with Indigenous Microorganisms IMO, and 3 small pieces of biochar with each tree which insured the microbes had habitat in the root zone and helped retain nutrients and minerals. The soil microbes, whose bodies are 80% water, are themselves a water reserve. The microbes were able to pull the morning dew and condensation out of the atmosphere and into the soil, providing enough water to support the trees despite the lack of rain.


As the soil microbes reproduced and increased the soil biomass, the soil held more water in the biology. As the soil biology grew the trees grew. As the trees grew they started to shed leaves and small branches, which fed the soil. Furthermore, the soil biology changed the soil structure so that the soil itself could once more retain water, oxygen, minerals and nutrients. Once you have enough trees and they grow tall enough, trees produce their own rain effect. One way to get rain back into the desert is to plant trees. We can do that with IMO technology. 


When Master Cho flew into Kailua Kona, on the Island of Hawaii, he could see from the airplane expansive lava flows from recent eruptions. This inspired him to do an experiment. The place he found was solid lava with a thin scattering of topsoil. Cho first installed IMO then thickly broadcast corn. Just before the corn flowered, he cut the corn, leaving the corn stalks on the ground. He then added IMO to the cut stalks and then broadcasted more corn seed, repeating the process as necessary.  By using a concentrated culture of soil microbes, IMO, and by adding organic matter, by using fast-growing corn, he turned solid lava turned into friable soil. Soil Biology and Organic Matter will melt stone into soil. Normally this process takes decades, centuries, millennia. Using concentrated cultures of soil biology we can speed this process up to take only a few years. This is the power of IMO, the power of Nature, directed by our design, using Natural forces. It feels like magic.




Gardens can be grown directly on top of grass without removing the turf using this corn method, typically using three rounds. Master Cho likes to use corn because it grows faster than weeds. Don’t pull weeds, he says, prevent them. Let the weeds fight it out. He uses corn because corn wins.  Sun hemp can be substituted for the corn, and rye is a good choice in temperate zones.


While it normally takes 200 years to build one centimeter of top soil

Master Han-Kyu Cho explains his system can build that much in 6 months.

That is using the power of Nature!


If KNF can grow trees in the desert and turn solid rock into soil, it can work for you, no matter what your problems may be. It works in deserts, rainforests, grasslands, mountains and river valleys. It works at high latitudes, high elevations, in the tropics and by the sea. It works on rocky and poor soil. It is adaptable because it uses local soil microbes as the foundation, microbes that are already adapted to working in your specific location. You are using the power of Nature unique to your area. You simply need to adapt management techniques that work specifically in your location. 


It’s easy to figure out how to adapt KNF to your farm. Look at KNF as a complete system. If something doesn’t work or if a specific material is not available, then make changes that work in a similar way, but is adapted to your needs and your location. The system is not being changed, just the details that make the system work for you.







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