138 139 This is a Japanese story, where observation takes over to go beyond the limits that every form of knowledge sooner or later will express. There is a great deal of spirituality in that life we are going to tell with the direct testimony of the person who has observed this experience with his own eyes, but this is not an excuse to be estranged from it: few cultures are able to fully align themselves with the surrounding Zen Buddhism. What we must focus on is time, its importance and its meaning both for man and for nature. Respect for time and for the results it guarantees if, from counting the minutes, we switch to understand its acting, its relationship with things. The life of Masanobu Fukuoka (1913-2008) is told in many languages and his do-nothing farming technique is debated at a scientific level and cited in various publications. At the beginning of his experience he temporarily wrecked his family fields; it is equally true that, by meeting time and needs of the plantations, these were able to provide him with impressive harvests, in terms of quality and quantity. When speaking of Fukuoka, the scientific consensus fully agrees with one thing: the biodiversity needs of ecosystems must be put back at the center of the agricultural debate and Fukuoka’s techniques are a sustainable example of harmonious farming integration for the protection of the soil. Published in 1978, The One-Straw Revolution is the essay through which Fukuoka introduces his farming non-technique. Giannozzo Pucci is one of the publishers who contributed to the spread of the essay coming from the Far East; Florentine, he belongs to that community of people who actively works ahead of the times, who tackles issues half a century earlier than the general alarm. Pucci is one of the inspirers of the ecological movement, and he has lived first-hand both farming and friendship with Fukuoka. The core of Fukuoka's vision stands in that straw that gives its name to the book, left from the previous crop or spread by hand, whichmust cover the growing soil. Fertility, germination, protection fromanimals and water management are factors entirely managed by it, the straw, or the mulching, native citizen of the ecosystem. The organic remains of both newly grown plants and animals, fungi and bacteria intertwine in this litter. When the water comes, the whole lot is ready to nourish the soil. Another key factor is the coexistence of multiple crops overlapping and passing the baton one to the other, to prevent that there might be room for winter and invasive weeds. By crossing our arms and leaving this layer above the soil to take its course, it does not degrade and the ecosystem can reach its equilibrium. Fukuoka's technique stems from its own territory of origin, where he developed the need for a shift in strategy and where he began experimenting with the one-straw revolution. Universal has become the effect of applying his approach to the soil: in fact, the results on soil fertility are scientifically proven, unthinkable when compared to the industrial routes of agriculture, whose intensiveness of production can in any case be reached if one simply observes the environment and leaves it time to put to good use that same ecosystem that, in that place, would naturally grow. Federico Tosi Farming and soil: the unexpected results of the do-nothing «Fukuoka was a scientist, he worked for customs and carried out daily checks and tests. He came from a farming family and, at a certain moment, he had a conversion that turned his observation upside down. We have to start from there, from a profound personal issue occurred at a difficult time in terms of health, which made him completely change his perspective. Instead of embracing a scientific, and therefore objective, vision of nature, he overturned the approach, moving to a subjective perspective with a direct experience of plants, of the ensemble not classifiable as a whole. The act of classifying everything does not capture the completeness, the wholeness of things». «In this digitized world we have a loss of culture, of knowledge, and in his case it happened that his five senses, if not more, got active with a strong subjective appeal, through which he began to experience nature in another way. When you saw him in nature, you had the feeling that he was able to view more. That's why he asked and advised his students to live in a clay hut, eating, sleeping, drinking in full contact with nature. This relationship with the essentiality of life has been his mission since he had this intuition and his knowledge turned upside down, placing himself on a contrary approach to the scientific one, without experimenting how reality reacts, but rather observing what happens if we don't do this and if we don't do that». «On this backward journey, Fukuoka came into contact with true nature. It was then that he began a new path, discovering things that, by following the scientific route, could not have been discovered. For example, there are substances coming from herbs that cannot be discovered through the sole principle of causality. A sixth sense is needed, that is the phenotype: what appears regarding the plant, and not only its genotype». In The One-Straw Revolution, Fukuoka identifies four principles, four guidelines on how to conceive the work of man, the importance of the soil and the necessary shift in strategy. No till: the soil tills itself. Ploughing the soil means upsetting the balance of the most fertile layer, capable of enriching itself thanks to the life cycles of plants and the activity of microorganisms, earthworms and animals. No fertilizer: the soil maintains its fertility. The change of pace lies in not wounding it, because the system of chemical-industrial remedies does not restore what has already been compromised, and even less they can improve its initial conditions. No weeding: guaranteeing biodiversity means giving space only to plants able to contribute to mutual well-being. Weeds must be controlled, rather than removed. No dependence on chemicals: vigorous crops in a healthy environment ensure control over pests and pathogens. These have become a problem in agriculture due to the weak plants, generated by agricultural techniques that impoverish the soil, and by the actions of the man who cultivates it. «It is about reducing human work – explains Pucci about Fukuoka's vision – and maintaining the manual ability, the physicality of the contact with nature that makes it sovereign». «Machines are never perfectly right, and one must be as autonomous as possible, independent from industry, autarchic. In this way, you can reduce all costs and externalities, and in that sense you can go back to the roots of agriculture. Fukuoka was proud of succeeding in making much better products with very little human effort and in being able to resell them at lower prices than the industrial ones. He took up the challenge with industrial products, and he won it». «It takes deep conviction to put his principles into practice. Fukuoka followed the religious tradition of Zen Buddhism, which in someway he transferred to agriculture. This perspective cannot immediately be translated into a technique, because local conditions are extremely important in determining the outcome. The only thing that can be translated are the criteria he has developed: that is reducing human labor as much as possible, going on with manual labor, respecting the nature of plants, selling as directly as possible, offering one’s own products in such a way as to bring together those who eat with those who work the land». Soil depletion represents a proved drift, and if in the early 2000s FAOquestioned Fukuoka’s practices, now that industrial agriculture has revealed the weight of its footprint on soil, the do-nothing assumptions are widely scale approved in modern agriculture, making biodiversity the right formula for yields similar to those dependent on chemistry and machinery, but healthier for the environment and living beings. Cyclic and cover crops and plant biodiversity have demonstrated the ability to do without pesticides and fertilizers, in a naturally balanced ecosystem.