If modern agriculture continues to follow the path it’s on now, it’s fi nished. The food-growing situation may seem to be in good shape today, but that’s just an illusion based on the current availability of petroleum fuels. All the wheat, corn, and other crops that are produced on big American farms may be alive and growing, but they’re not products of real nature or real agriculture. They’re manufactured rather than grown. The earth isn’t producing those things... petroleum is!”
Mother Earth News
Masanobu Fukuoka, the well-known soil scientist and green philosopher was one of the pioneers of modern natural farming. The essence of Fukuoka’s method is to reproduce natural conditions as closely as possible. There is no plowing as the seed germinates on the surface if the right conditions are provided. There is also emphasis on maintaining biodiversity.
Masanobu Fukuoka would have been highly appreciative of the efforts of a group of students from Thiruthangal Lions Matriculation School. It all began as a school project that sought to explore the state of agricultural land in Sivakasi. The students compared the microbial composition of forest and agricultural lands and even travelled as far as the Western Ghats to collect samples. Their fi ndings? Decreased soil fertility and a greater percentage of harmful bacteria in agricultural land thanks to indiscriminate use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides.
Latha Prabha 14, team leader, remarks, “As organic farming methods minimise some of these factors, it imposes fewer costs on society.” On behalf of the team, Latha presented the fi ndings at the 16th Children’s Science Congress in Nagaland in December 2008. Not content with just talking theory, Latha and her team have also begun to implement their green philosophy in the community. In this month’s cover story, James Mathieson tells you how this band of dedicated young scientists is doing it.