|KNF Chicken Coop. Photo by Kat Thomas.|
In Hawi I was introduced to the world of Korean Natural Farming (KNF), which involves collecting and culturing indigenous microorganisms (IMO) and reintroducing them into an agro ecosystem, which has been managed by people (aka farms). In the same way we drink Kombucha to rebuild our
|Pighouse at Ho'ea Farms. Photo by Kat Thomas.|
Korean Natural Farming is cheap, easy, and effective, a trifecta of awesomeness to a farmer’s ears! It has helped many Big Island farmers overcome the challenge of dead soil (soil blasted by chemicals for so many decades of sugarcane farming that there wasn’t an earthworm in it). I myself saw impressive results while replanting some tomato plants in the greenhouse as those feed IMOs perked up after a day, while those feed just water were noticeably more wilted.
Korean Professor, Han Kyu Cho, is considered the father of Korean Natural Farming (which is also sometimes known as Thai Natural Farming and Asian Natural Farming). The basic principle behind KNF is to create a farming environment compatible with naturally occurring organisms in the farmland. Korean Natural Farming recycles nutrients from various herbs or farm waste, and combines them into a foliar spray for fertilization based on different stages of growth of the crop. Crop enhancement of indigenous microorganisms are more likely to be accepted by the soil than alien beneficial organisms (such as the trademarked Effective Microorganisms).
Indigenous Microorganisms (IMOs) refer to various homemade solid and liquid cultures of beneficial microbes. To culture beneficial IMOs, these are materials are concocted from various local materials such as forest/field plant materials as well as fruit, vegetables and even fish scraps and snails. Therefore, few, outside or purchased inputs are required.
|Chicken Raised with KNF. Photo by Kat Thomas.|
The Korean Natural Farming is unique in that it is not meant to be commercialized, but rather practiced by farmers, with cheap, easily available ingredients, and microbes or mycorrhizae indigenous to each locale or farm. Mycorrhizae are “fungus roots” and act as an interface between plants and soil. They grow into the roots of crops and out into the soil, increasing the root system many thousands of times over. They act symbiotically, converting with enzymes the nutrients of the soil into food the plants can use and taking carbohydrates from the plants and turning it into nutrients the soil can use: “sequestering” carbon in the soil for later use.
|Ho'ea Farms KNF Piglets. Photo by Kat Thomas.|
A healthy fertile soil is a soil alive with a multitude of microorganisms. Research found about 700 kilograms of microorganisms to live in 0.1 hectare of land. Natural Farming recreate the conditions found in Natural environments such as old growth forests. Chemical application of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer kill all that precious life in the soil eventually turning it into a compacted lifeless dust bowl.
|Greenhouse watered with IMOs. Photo by Kat Thomas.|
The biggest bonus to KNF animal hutches being that there is no pollution, no smell, no flies, no wastewater, disease, or cleaning needed. In other words, the IMOs on the floor will break down the chicken feces and there is virtually no smell and no need to muck the coop.
When the Chinese were preparing for the Olympics to be held in Beijing in 2008, China, the Chinese army came in, bringing with them their pigs, which they raise to feed themselves. The population of Beijing was suddenly assaulted by the smell of pig waste and protested violently. The head of the Chinese army sent two men to South Korea to study Natural Farming, which he had heard about. The men came back and the army immediately started practicing the Natural Farming methods and the smell went away.
With chickens the egg quality will be superior with super sturdy yokes. With pork, the pigs are more content to laze and root around in such natural bedding. Also, reportedly, there is no risk of skin diseases compared to pigs raised on other surfaces.