In the wild, plants use sunlight for energy and have structures on their leaves to convert sunlight into chemical energy. In the presence of air and water, plants work with soil organisms to obtain the chemical nutrients they need, on demand, directly from the soil. In other words, plants in the wild feed themselves.
When putting nutrients in water, using water soluble fertilizers, compost teas, swamp water, or Jadam Liquid Fertilizer (JLF), the nutrients chosen by the grower are being forced into the body of the plant. The plants uptake the water because plants have no valves to shut off the flow of water or body fluids like animals do. They also lack the ability to filter out nutrients they don’t need, or control the concentration of the ones that they do. They uptake whatever is in the water.
During water soluble fertilizing, the water may contain too much of some nutrients and be lacking other nutrients. Plants are completely dependent on what you are providing, or not providing. This is essentially force-feeding plants. This is not Natural. Growers can learn to do a good job with this, but never as well as Nature.
Natural Farming, and KNF very specifically, gives the power of obtaining nutrients back over to plants. The soil is developed so that the plants, in symbiotic relationships with soil biology, uptake only what they need, when needed, and in the specific amounts needed, with the ability to change what they uptake on a continual basis. Natural Farming means not fertilizing plants.
If you establish your Soil Foundation with IMO or leaf litter, but then feed plants water soluble nutrients or a liquid solution of nutrients, you are overstepping the Natural nutritive process and force-feeding plants anyway. This wastes the time, effort, and cost of developing Soil Foundation, not an efficient use of resources and labor. This is not Natural Farming.
Many people do this and see good results. To be sure, force-feeding plants is effective in the short term. This is the philosophy of modern conventional agriculture. It is used because it offers immediate results. It is highly effective in the short term.
However, forcing nutrition into plants will inevitably lead to mineral and nutrient imbalances, which in turn will lead to pests and disease. Short term success has been traded for a healthy, Natural system. The force-fed system becomes increasingly more difficult to manage over time, while the Natural system becomes healthier, and more robust.
Every grower needs to balance needs and risks, in order to decide what works best for each operation. Manage your food system in the way that works best for you, please.
I make this argument is because I want the Hallmark of Natural Farming understood.
In Nature plants feed themselves
Nature is quantumly complex. You will never be better than Nature. Natural Farming works because plants manage their own nutrition.
Complexity means uncertainty and that is why modern conventional agriculture is based on testing and lab results and microscopes and statistical analysis. They are getting the best educated guess they can.
Conventional farmers are reluctant to change because they don’t want to risk failure. The economic factors are too big to risk.
Any operation attempting to change to NF or KNF should experiment first in a small area, and learn how the methods work before changing the entire structure of the operation. Starting small is critical to success. But Nature is abundant. Become the coach, rather than the master.