Masanobu Fukuoka, who died in 2008 aged 95, is the author of 'The One Straw Revolution', 'The Road back to Nature', and 'The Natural Way of Farming'. He was a pioneer of no-till cultivation, and his Natural Farming system is often referred to as The Fukuoka Method. From the age of 25 he devoted his life to this organic method, which does not require weeding, pesticide or fertiliser. The essence of Fukuoka's method is to reproduce natural conditions as closely as possible, maintaining great emphasis on diversity.
The next paragraphs are quotes from his books.
The origin of his change:
In any event, I was a very busy, very fortunate young man, spending my days in amazement at the world of nature revealed through the eyepiece of the microscope, struck by how similar this minute world was to the great world of the infinite universe. In the evening, either in or out of love, I played around and enjoyed myself. I believe it was this aimless life, coupled with fatigue from overwork that finally led to fainting spells in the research room. The consequence of all this was that I contracted acute pneumonia and was placed in the pneumothorax treatment room on the top floor of the Police Hospital.
It was winter and through a broken window, the wind blew swirls of snow around the room. It was warm beneath the covers, but my face was like ice. The nurse would cheek my temperature and be gone in an instant. As it was a private room, people hardly ever looked in. I felt I had been put out in the bitter cold, and suddenly plunged into a world of solitude and loneliness. I found myself face to face with the fear of death. As I think about it now, it seems a useless fear, but at the time, I took it seriously. I was finally released from the hospital, but I could not pull myself out of my depression. In what had I placed my confidence until then? I had been unconcerned and content, but what was the nature of that complacency? I was in an agony of doubt about the nature of life and death. I could not sleep, could not apply myself to my work. In nightly wanderings above the bluff and beside the harbour, I could find no relief.
One night as I wandered, I collapsed in exhaustion on a hill overlooking the harbour, finally dozing against the trunk of a large tree. I lay there, neither asleep nor awake, until dawn. I can still remember that it was the morning of the 15th of May. In a daze, I watched the harbour grow light, seeing the sunrise and yet somehow not seeing it. As the breeze blew up from below the bluff, the morning mist suddenly disappeared. Just at that moment, a night heron appeared, gave a sharp cry, and flew away into the distance. I could hear the flapping of its wings. In an instant, all my doubts and the gloomy mist of my confusion vanished. Everything I had held in firm conviction, everything upon which I had ordinarily relied was swept away with the wind. I felt that I understood just one thing. Without my thinking about them, words came from my mouth: "In this world there is nothing at all…” I felt that I understood nothing (To “understand nothing,” in this sense, is to recognize the insufficiency of intellectual knowledge.).
I could see that all the concepts to which I had been clinging, the very notion of existence itself, were empty fabrications. My spirit became light and clear. I was dancing wildly for joy. I could hear the small birds chirping in the trees, and see the distant waves glistening in the rising sun. The leaves danced green and sparkling. I felt that this was truly heaven on earth. Everything that had possessed me, all the agonies, disappeared like dreams and illusions, and something one might call "true nature" stood revealed.
I think it would safely be said that from the experience of that morning my life changed completely.
Basis of Shizen nouhou (自然農法 - Natural agriculture):
Recently people have been asking me why I started farming this way so many years ago. Until now, I have never discussed this with anyone. You could say there was no way to talk about it. It was simply - how would you say it - a shock, a flash, one small experience that was the starting point.
That realization completely changed my life. It is nothing you can really talk about, but it might be put something like this: "Humanity knows nothing at all. There is no intrinsic value in anything, and every action is a futile, meaningless effort." This may seem preposterous, but if you put it into words, that is the only way to describe it.
This "thought" developed suddenly in my head when I was still quite young. I did not know if this insight, that all human understanding and effort are of no account, was valid or not, but if I examined these thoughts and tried to banish them, I could come up with nothing within myself to contradict them. Only the certain beleif that this was so, burned within me.
It is generally thought that there is nothing more splendid than human intelligence, that human beings are creatures of special value, and that their creations and accomplishments, as mirrored in culture and history are wondrous to behold. That is the common belief, anyway.
Since what I was thinking was a denial of this, I was unable to communicate my view to anyone. Eventually I decided to give my thoughts a form, to put them into practice, and so to determine whether my understanding was right or wrong. To spend
my life farming, growing rice and winter grain-this was the course upon which I settled.
Misunderstandings about Shizen nouhou (自然農法 - Natural agriculture):
When I explain things this way, people say, "All right. I understand that the natural farming technique of no-till direct-seeding is the shortest path to true enrichment of the soil." Yet even with my explanation they fail to see that science serves no useful purpose. They believe that I've developed an advanced form of natural farming by applying scientific knowledge to the primitive agricultural methods practiced by farmers of the past.
No, natural farming is neither a method that returns to the ignorant past, nor a method developed on the basis of scientific knowledge. As I have said countless times, natural farming was born suddenly one moment almost fifty years ago. I began with the conclusion that tilling, fertilizers, and weeding are not necessary.
Views on human knowledge and science:
For example, it is not necessary to tell a child, "This here is wood sorrel. It looks like clover, but it's not." A child does not understand and has no need for such botanical knowledge. Teach a child that clover is a green manure plant and that pearlwort is a medicinal herb useful for treating diabetes and the child will lose sight of the true reason for that plant's existence. All plants grow and exist for a reason. When we tie a child down with petty, microcosmic scientific knowledge, he looses the freedom to acquire with his own hands macro-cosmic wisdom. If children are allowed to play freely in a world that trascends science, they will develop natural methods of farming by themselves. it would have been better not to have known enough to distinguish between pearlwort and clover.
Summary of Fukuoka's famous techniques and some ideas from his book 'The One Straw Revolution'.
Follow Japanese legend Masanobu Fukuoka on his 1998 visit to Arnissa in Greece, where he inspires locals young and old in an effort to sow seedballs across 10,000 hectares of rocky Grecian countryside.
If you cannot see this video, try this search on YouTube
Emilia Hazlip, whose gardening techniques were inspired by Fukuoka's style.
Fukuoka talks about the basics of his philosophy, farming style and way of life.
The Natural Way Of Farming - The Theory and Practice of Green Philosophy
The Road Back to Nature - Regaining the Paradise Lost
Story of the agriculture around the world as seen by Fukuoka, and also deeper thoughts and revelations.
Page about Fukuoka, his life and his books, made by Larry Korn, a student of Fukuoka. Has lots of information, and even some photo albums.
Wikipedia on Masanobu Fukuoka
If you read Spanish, this link gifts you a Reforestation with Nendo Dango (Seedballs) Manual with a biography and some photos of Fukuoka towards the end.