Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tanso Jyunkan Nouhou: Carbon Circulation Farming

On May 5th, I participated in a workshop by Shiro Yuuji in Komono, Japan. The topic was tanso jyunkan nouhou , or carbon circulation farming (My translation. From here on CCF). This is a summation of that workshop.

I had heard of CCF, but had never had the opportunity to hear about it from someone who uses it. I would characterize the principles as follows.

CCF Principles
  • no fertilizers
  • use of wood chips or other woody medium as,
  • a culture for fungus growth
  • little watering
  • emphasis on fermentation rather than rot
  • plant and animal (human) morphology similar
  • reinterpretation of popular explanations
The workshop started in a vegetable garden, where we looked at a CCF crop in action. The rows and the area between them were covered in wood chips. Mr. Shiro showed us the fungal growth happening in the wood chips, and told us that the basic premise of CCF was the forest.

Forests grow without supplements and without more than normal rainfall. They are continuously planted in the same crops, and never becomes deficient in nutrients. The forest floor is fecund and does not require human attention.

Currently science offers an explanation of this interchage as being one of quantifiable and qualifiable nutrients that are available to the plants from the ground to the the roots and from there to the rest of the plant. But why is this interchange not available in agricultural settings? Why does the ground lose its fecundity over time and require suppliments?

Shiro's explanation is that the explanation itself is flawed. The "kasetsu" or popular wisdom is just one possible explanation of how something works. Similar to the firefighter observation, where it is assumed that firefighters start fires, because they appear at the time of a fire.

In the end, says Shiro, nature is the final teacher. Forest floors, covered in leaves and decaying plant matter, is the home to growth and health is the lowest common denominator.

We have to look to the future, not the past, and deal with the root of the problem. Our fields will change quickly. Changing our minds is the hard part, he says.

He says our bodies are very similar to plants, only inside out. Our roots are our digestive organs, and the soil is the matter that surrounds our roots, or fills our intestines in our cases.

Shiro asked what the explanation is for how we receive nutrition. We explained that the popular theory is that we grind up and mix the food we take in through our mouths in our digestive tracts and absorb the nutrients and calories through the linings of our guts.

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