Even the pigs seem to enjoy the
odorless KNF Inoculated Deep Litter System.
Everyone’s heard of organic, but what about Natural? Natural
Farming is a constellation of simple, sustainable techniques that’s sweeping
the Islands, thanks in large part to Mike DuPonte, an Extension agent based at
the Big Island’s Komohana Station. Using methods that are less chemically
intensive and more biologically based than conventional agricultural production,
it aims to build soil health and avoid many common negative environmental
Though the principles of Natural Farming are just taking off here,
they’re based on practices going back centuries. Naturally occurring soil
microorganisms were collected and cultured for agricultural purposes throughout Asia, but the system was first codified in the 1960s in Japan by Masanobu Fukuoka. His methods were further developed and
popularized by Master Cho in South
Korea, whose involvement led
to the common name of Korean Natural Farming (KNF).
Plant shoots and brown sugar are all you need to create beneficial Fermented Plant Juice.
DuPonte, an enthusiastic supporter and practitioner, recently partnered
with Cho Global Natural Farming-Hawai‘i to offer a series of workshops on the Big
Island and O‘ahu. He’s also published Extension bulletins on KNF inputs such as
Lactic Acid Bacteria and Fish Amino Acids. Used as soil drenches, foliar
sprays, and soaks, these simple yet powerful concoctions, the cornerstone of
KNF, boost plant growth and fruit quality, increase seed germination, and
suppress plant disease as well as or better than imported and often
non-sustainably produced fertilizers and pesticides.
They’re also readily available. Many of their ingredients,
including plant shoots, seawater, and fish scraps, can be found in your
backyard, or at least right down the road. That’s important in the system’s
philosophy, which holds that Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs), those living
around one’s growing plants, help those plants the most.
A dramatic KNF showpiece is the odorless piggery.
Pigpens may be a by-word for foul smells, but not the ingenious Inoculated Deep
Litter System, which employs IMOs to “inoculate” the system, turning it into a
micro-ecosystem of beneficial microorganisms that suppress odor, deter flies,
and create a healthy and comfortable environment.
“KNF for livestock production pretty much
eliminates waste management problems. And animals, including humans, also need
plants to eat, so incorporating IMOs into plant production is part of the ‘big
picture’ for a more sustainable Hawai‘i,” says Duponte.