Masanobu Fukuoka

Masanobu Fukuoka was born on February 2, 1913 in Minamiyamasaki-son, Iyo-gun, Ehime Prefecture (now, the city of Iyo). He graduated from the Applied Biology Department at present-day Gifu University and went on to work and conduct research at the Plant Inspection Division of the Yokohama Customs Bureau.

However, he was too devoted to his research and found himself on the brink of death from acute pneumonia. It was then he realized that “in this world there is nothing at all.”

Returning to his hometown in Ehime, Masanobu began to perfect his unique, natural farming method of “no cultivation, no chemical fertilizer, and no weeding,” confronting nature through farming.

He received accolades from abroad for his initiatives to reduce desertification by disseminating pellets of clay that contained seeds during his travels around the globe. Masanobu was a farming philosopher who propagated a “philosophy of nothing,” through his many publications, verses, and drawings.

Natural farming based in thought and philosophy

It is not doing nothing; it is farming by subtraction.

Plants and animals exist within and are nourished by nature’s rejuvenating cycle, and from a modern viewpoint communing with nature can be extremely difficult at times.

In other words, humans add to and augment nature and in the process distance themselves from the intrinsic state of nature. They would be able to more simply and deeply connect on a more fundamental level by subtracting: striving to reduce actions that serve no purpose or are unnecessary, where possible, without using knowledge to add and supplement. This means minimizing unnatural tasks and working in harmony with nature.

It is by no means wasteful, but we must think carefully about what we truly need and what we do not in our everyday lives.

“Maybe we don’t need to prune.”
“Maybe we don’t need to thin the fruit.”
Think creatively about how best to subtract tasks and get intimate with nature through fewer actions.

At Masanobu Fukuoka Natural Farm, we farm by subtraction.

Since humans can never truly understand nature completely do not do anything unnecessary.

But this is different from giving free hand.

Nature is hard on lazy farmers.

from The One-Straw Revolution

A spokesperson for nature who crossed borders,
dedicating his soul and aged body to the world

The substantiation, verification, and establishment of Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming method was an expansive, worldwide undertaking. It was a path to unraveling the providence of the universe in hand with nature—at times gentle and at others harsh.

  • Ravaged land in Somalia
  • Rice farming on the plains of Sacramento, USA
  • Encroaching desertification in Africa
  • Rice and barley growing with clover in Italy

Despite his advanced years, Masanobu traveled around the world and struck a chord with many people through his “dialogue with nature.” His approach was more than just farming concepts; it was a philosophy of farming with a significant impact on the way people would continue living their lives.

Worthy of mention are his seed pellets for greening deserts. The ecosystem imbalances caused by the deterioration of the natural environment are a major threat to humanity and are causing starvation and poverty. This is no doubt a consequence of human action. Masanobu thought it imperative to tackle these issues, so he made seed pellets for a diverse variety of plants and disseminated them across desertified or devastated land. His efforts to bring nature back to life are lauded as one of his major achievements.

He did not use any single type of plant, because he was concerned about the modern and ego-centric propensity of humans to ignore the balance of nature.

The fact is that ecosystems comprise organic relationships between diverse plants and animals, so an overemphasis on balance conflicts with the natural order.

As a result of his accomplishments, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, then-Chancellor of Visva-Bharati University, awarded Masanobu the university’s highest honorary degree, stating that natural farming is the method for cultivating truth. In the same year, Masanobu was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in the Philippines, which is often referred to as “Asia’s Nobel Prize.” Later, he became the first recipient of the Earth Council Award, which is presented to people who contribute to the conservation of the global environment.

Masanobu’s cross-border activities, which he vigorously pursued even into his 90s, are regarded as a mission for life that transcended the boundaries of human race.

Knowing is not the same as understanding.

Masanobu Fukuoka

Biography (current place names used)

Born in Ohira, Iyo, Ehime Prefecture
Graduated from the Department of Agriculture at Gifu Prefectural
Began his career at the Plant Inspection Division of the Yokohama Customs Bureau
Returned home and began natural farming
Took a post at the Kochi Prefecture Agricultural Experimentation Station
Returned home and dedicated himself to natural farming
Published Shizen Noho: Wara Ippon no Kakumei (Shinjusha)
Published The One-Straw Revolution (Rodale Press)
Began greening deserts around the world using seed pellets after visiting the USA
Trademarked the Fukuoka Mochi 3 Gou, Fukuoka 2 Gou, and Fukuoka 1 Gou rice varieties
Received the highest honorary degree from India’s former-Prime Minister and chancellor of Visva-Bharati University, Rajiv Gandhi.
Awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, which is referred to as “Asia’s Nobel Prize,” in the Philippines
Self-published Hyakusho Yawa
Became the first recipient of the Earth Council Award, which is presented to people who contribute to the conservation of the global environment
Held final lecture at the “Nature’s Wisdom” Expo 2005 (Aichi Prefecture)
Passed away in Iyo City, Ehime Prefecture