Farming Like Masanobu Fukuoka: Wheat Crop
By Manisha Lath Gupta
Now that we had a proper field to pursue farming, we decided to try planting like Masanobu Fukuoka suggests in his book, The One Straw Revolution. We couldn’t do it with the Bajra crop which we planted in the conventional manner. But now that we had harvested the Bajra cob and had the plant still standing in the field, we decided to pursue his technique. Please be cautioned that its very difficult to convince the farm help that this is a valid way of farming. So out of the 6 plots of land, we were allowed to do this only in one plot as an ‘experiment’.
We started with simply taking the wheat seeds and scattering them over the existing bajra plants. They obviously found their way to the bottom and settled down between the existing plants.
We then took the talwar and slashed the standing bajra (pearl millet) on to the ground. Very quickly we chopped down the entire field.
Then we took a water pipe and watered the entire field.
We could see the seeds from between this slashed crop, and knew that very soon it would germinate and find its way out of this mulch. Also the mulch would keep the birds from eating the seeds, and also keep the ground moist for longer periods.
With this we let it be. And waited to see how this experiment fares versus conventional farming!
In the winter of 2014, we planted wheat in one of our plots by slashing the bajra crop on top of the seeds, and not tilling the land as an experiment. We wanted to see if Masanobu’s technique would work for us. Here is what we found.
In a couple of weeks, as the wheat seeds germinated, the plants started growing thick and lush through the mulch of the bajra. This plot had the added advantage of fewer weeds, and required lesser watering.
Look, you can see the remains of the bajra mulching the soil here!
The crop grew strong and robust.
A tad better compared to the standard tilled plots, which had a higher incidence of weeds.
Finally, it was time to harvest this crop, and compare how it had done versus its ’tilled’ cousins.
As you can see in the photo below, the right hand side is from the ‘no till’ plot. And the one on the left is from the tilled plots. The no-till technique not only worked, but produced better quality grain as well. The only problem was that we cut the wheat from the base while harvesting it. This prevented us from planting the next crop by slashing the crop, and not tilling the soil. We could not repeat this experiment with any other crop other than bajra.
This post was originally published here, on the Aanandaa Permaculture Farm Blog.