Growing food requires a skill set. Natural Farming and Korean Natural Farming, KNF, requires specific sets of skills. They both also entail specifics that do not work in all situations. Natural Farming is growing food in ways that mimic how food grows wild in Nature.
Growing in pots especially indoors, hydroponics, and aquaponics, are all systems that are not natural. They can be made to be more natural, but they are situations that do not occur naturally and therefore are not, by definition, Natural Farming.
If you are, for example, growing cannabis indoors in a tent you will probably find KNF difficult to impossible to practice.
To summarize, Natural Farming is growing food in ways that mimic Nature and work with natural processes, such as letting plants obtain their own nutrition. Korean Natural Farming, KNF, is a specific type of Natural Farming with a specific set of practices, mainly creating a Soil Foundation using Indigenous Micro Organisms, IMO, and using hormones and enzymes to direct food growth following the Nutritive Cycle or life cycle of plants and animals.
So, is being a Natural Farmer or practicing KNF right for you and your situation?
To be a Natural Farmer:
Grow food in a natural setting
Be willing to get out of the way and let Nature feed the plants, not you
Incorporate animals into your food system, even if only small animals such as black soldier flies
Use the model of wild Nature to guide your management decisions
Constantly observe and be willing to adopt changes according to your results
Cycle materials so that no waste is produced
Follow planting and transplanting methods that minimally disturb the earth
To specifically practice KNF:
Utilize Indigenous Micro Organisms IMO soil biology into your growing areas
Use mulches and organic matter to feed the soil biology, suppress weeds, and eliminate waste (Ideally from your animal bedding of Inoculated Deep Litter System, IDLS)
Offer IMO to your animals
Mist plants weekly according to their needs, most specifically their stage of life, in order to direct growth
Natural farming and KNF may not right for you if:
You want to follow set instructions for fertilization, nutrients, amounts and timing.
Getting soil tests and specific nutrient recommendations is not Nature making decisions, it is humans deciding what plants need and when and in what amounts, but it makes management decisions and cost analysis easy.
You want to grow in pots, indoors, in hydroponic or aquaponic systems.
These type of grow systems do not allow plants to regulate their own nutrition.
KNF follows a specific philosophy and set of practices. It is not a piecemeal system, with bits and bobs from here and there and everywhere. If you do choose to use only parts of the KNF system and add in other methods, you will not be practicing KNF, as it is a specific set of methods to mimic how food grows in the wild.
Will it work that way, however? Maybe, but you cannot get the full benefits from the full practice of KNF. Just because plants are not dying and you see what looks like good results, does not mean you are seeing the fullness of abundance that comes from the full practice of KNF.
You should understand what each practice does, specifically, how plants obtain nutrition and how to direct growth. Methods can clash and you should understand exactly what you are doing for best results. This is most important when we consider how plants obtain nutrition.
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 they work with soil organisms to obtain the chemical nutrients they need, on demand, from the soil. In other words, plants in the wild feed themselves.
If you are putting nutrients in water, using compost teas, or Jadam for example, you are forcing those nutrients into plants. They uptake the water and lack the ability to filter out nutrients they don’t need. Nor can they control the amounts they uptake. Furthermore, the water may be lacking some nutrients they need but you are not providing. You are essentially force-feeding plants. This is not Natural.
Natural Farming, and KNF specifically, give the power of obtaining nutrients 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.
If you fertilize your plants with soil amendments you cannot change nutrient availability on demand. But Nature can.
If you establish your Soil Foundation and then feed plants a liquid solution of nutrients, you are overstepping the Natural nutritive process and force-feeding your plants anyway. You have also wasted the time, effort, and cost of developing your Soil Foundation.
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. Conventional farmers are reluctant to change because they don’t want to risk failure. The economic factors are too big to risk.
WHY NATURAL FARMING & KNF?
So why would you want to risk using Natural Farming or KNF? The benefits are vast. However, they require time and some skill to develop results.
Therefore, it is advisable, should you decide to turn over control to Nature, to start learning the methodologies of Natural Farming and KNF with a small area or section, rather than your entire operation. While KNF is a specific set of methods, they are infinitely variable and adaptable to each crop, each animal, each year.
You need some time and skills to adapt the methods to your land. Best to learn the skills and learn how to adapt the practices to your specific situations on a small scale first.
After the work of the initial set-up, the labor required on my farm decreased every year. The pests and diseases almost disappeared, and the quality and quantity of the crops were significantly better. Additionally, the costs of production greatly decreased, and I no longer produced any waste.
On my tea farm in Hawaii, I was spending $200 per month to organically fertilize my tea field. Once I was using KNF I was spending $20 per month. However, this $20 did not just cover the tea, it covered the entire 20 acre farm, including the orchards and the animals.
I no longer bought any fertilizers or pesticides, even organic
I no longer needed to buy any animal feed
Once my animals were established, I no longer had to collect IMO
I no longer had to treat chickens for mites continually, and I never again had a respiratory (or any) animal disease
I could grow tomatoes and melons in Hawaii openly for the first time without fruit fly damage
I got top dollar for my eggs, more than local free-range organic eggs were selling for
I got top dollar for my tea, with fans all over the world. The problem was not producing enough tea
BENEFITS of Natural Farming & KNF
All wastes recycled
Respect and care for the Environment and all Living Things
Better living conditions for crops, livestock and people
Inputs made from Natural materials on or near farm
Animal feed from Natural materials on or near farm
No chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides
Costs of Inputs are very low
Localization of food system
Builds Topsoil continually
Turns rocks and rocky soil into rich aerated loamy soil
Remediates damaged, degraded soil, chemical imbalances, & toxins such as heavy metals
Reduces pest and disease pressure