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KNF Putting the System Together

NATURAL FARMING is growing food in ways that most closely resemble how food grows in the wild. This approach improves the health of the ecosystem, the quality and yields of plants and animals produced, while lowering the energy inputs by people (labor and machinery) as many organic processes are turned back over to Natural Systems.

KOREAN NATURAL FARMING is a holistic approach to Natural Farming, developed by Master Han-Kyu Cho, utilizing the following elements:

· Soil Foundation utilizing local soil microbial ecology (IMO)

· Directing Growth with Biochemistry using the Nutritive Cycle

· Historical Nutrient of the Seed, empowering genetic potential

· Using Seawater, everything is homesick

· Wild aerobic fermentation, edible inputs made from locally available materials

· Integration of plant & animal systems, Material Cycling

· Balancing the Vital Forces (air, water/moisture, heat), the ART of KNF

· Observe Nature and respond, Learn from Nature

· Love and care of life and all living beings (not extracting resources for profit)

Soil Foundation

IMO technology (Indigenous Micro Organisms) is the collection of an intact, complete, and balanced soil ecosystem taken from rich, healthy soil on or near the farm or garden. This enables plants to fully cooperate and collaborate with microbes and soil biology to obtain nutrients naturally from the soil, as occurs in Nature.

KNF does not focus on feeding nutrients to the plants, but rather enables plants to get exactly what they need, when they need it, and in the proper amount, of their own accord.

Nutritive Cycle

The Nutritive Cycle utilizes inputs made from materials on or near the farm using wild aerobic fermentation. Simply put these inputs provide chemical signals, hormones, enzymes, co-factors and supporting biochemistry to signal plants where to focus their growth energy.

For example, the fast growing tips of mugwort (or similar) signal plants to grow lush, green, vegetative growth. Green fruit fermented inputs signal plants to set and develop fruits, while ripe fruit inputs provide the biochemistry to ripen fruits, nuts and seeds. These targeted inputs are also used to enhance animal growth.

Historic Nutrient of the Seed

Historical Nutrient of the Seed is a design concept to direct all plants and animals to build a solid structure while young for resiliency, health, & nutrition.

This means giving animals hardy food at a young age. Chicks given a proper KNF diet on hatching develop a gut that is twice the length of chicks given commercial feed, giving them the ability to fully digest food, obtaining full nutrition from everything they eat. This also has the benefit of enhancing the immune system and the animals’ resistance to pests and disease.

Plants are likewise toughened up in their youth. Transplants, for example, are treated in a way that makes them “think they are going to die,” which forces hardy root development, making plants resilient to droughts, winds, floods, and other adverse conditions, including pests and disease.


Offering seawater ensures every plant and animal has access to all earthly elements. The ocean is the womb of life, where every element on the planet can be found in balanced ratios. Life on Earth is based on the chemistry of the sea.

All living beings need most of the elements found in seawater, even if only in very tiny amounts. When given small amounts of sea water regularly, plants and animals have access to all elements found on earth and can uptake whatever they need, when needed. As Master Cho teaches, “everything is homesick” for the ocean. All elements needed for life are found in


Wild Aerobic Fermentation

All inputs are made from locally available materials and are all edible, making farming inputs free or almost free, and perfectly safe. This returns the farmer to the position of producer, rather than the position of the modern farmer who has, above all else, become a consumer. By returning to the role of producer the farmer takes back economic power and sovereignty.

Furthermore, all inputs are completely safe and edible, in fact many inputs are used in the kitchen in preparing food or as medicine. Some batches are simply too yummy to share with the plants.

Plant and Animal Integration

Plants, animals, and microbes all work together in Nature, and only by working together is life on Earth possible.

The most important function of plants is the capture of solar energy and converting that energy to chemical energy, namely sugars, which all organisms can use.

The most important function of animals is the cycling of organic materials, and the exchange of gases.

In between plants and animals are the microbes, the magical beings that keep the system of Life running.

Integration of plant, animal, and microbial systems, especially material cycling, is integral to KNF.

Vital Forces

The art of the KNF practice is to balance the Vital Forces, the elements of life: water and moisture, air, and heat. Living organisms struggle in extremes of temperature, moisture, and the gases in air such as oxygen and carbon dioxide. And while we are finding life in every extreme environment we look, life is most prolific with an ideal balance of these elements.

Best results are obtained when these Vital Forces are dynamically balanced in a “goldilocks zone.” While KNF is based on science, the practice of KNF depends on finding the sweet spots where moisture heat and air are perfectly balanced. Finding these balances is an art, and is the heart of practicing KNF.

Observe Nature

While modern science is good at dissecting living things to figure out the functions of the parts, life itself happens somewhere in the synergistic spaces in between the parts. Master Cho talks a lot about learning directly from Nature.

When growing food, the answers to your questions will not be in a book or an online forum. The answer will come directly from Nature if you pay attentions.

Follow the patterns you observe in Nature. Pay attention to the results of your experiments and write them down. Follow the patterns until you find what works for you in your place, and over time.

What works for someone else may not work for you. It may not even work the same everywhere on your property. What worked for you last year may not work this year. Pay attention, the respond according to the patterns you observe. Change what you do according to the results. Effectiveness is the measure of truth.


Underlying all the principles and foundations of Korean Natural Farming is the concept of Love. Master Cho always teaches about caring for those under your care, plants and animals, and even the system as a whole. ‘Love them like your own children’ is his advice.

When Love is your highest goal then you will make the best decisions. When profit is the motive, decisions will be make for the sake of profit at the cost of the lives of not just animals, but all other living beings.

Using Love as the guiding principle does not diminish the potential for profit, but it does insure that the actions chosen will care for the needs, comfort, and happiness of all living creatures. And it is not okay to torture plants and soils at the expense of treating animals well. All living creatures must be loved, treated with respect, and allowed to express their true nature.

While we may kill a weed by pulling it out of an unwanted location, the life force and value can be transposed back into living soil which benefits the entire garden, the entire ecosystem. So killing plants, even weeds, needs to be done with a loving purpose. The weed dies but the soil thrives.

The underlying principle of Love is the core of the entire Korean Natural Farming system.

Practice of Korean Natural Farming

The day to day practice of KNF, after the establishment of the soil foundation (single installation of IMO) and the Inoculated Deep Litter System (IDLS) for animals is rather simple. The daily chores are feeding animals about two hours before sunset, and a weekly foliar mist for crops with a formula that addresses the stage of life of the plants.

While there are other projects and chores for developing and maintaining the system, this is the heart of practicing KNF, feed the animals each afternoon, and mist the plants once a week. Let Nature do as much of the work as possible. Nature knows what it needs better than any human, regardless of education or experience. Work with Nature. Be like Nature.

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