The Old Hakka Method of Natural Farming in New China


Original Chinese Language Article By:

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

The guiding principles associated with the old natural Hakka farming methods, are entirely premised upon being in accordance with nature.  This means that the old Hakka farming methods developed in harmony with nature, and adapted to local agricultural conditions.  The land was prepared for farming, and a system of crop rotation implemented.  This meant that diverse crops were planted at different times throughout the year, and that for specific periods of time, the soil was allowed to lay fallow (to regain its nourishment).  In fact building and retaining the strength and fertility of the existing soil of any area, is the very basis of the old Hakka method of natural farming. This process is so important for Hakka farmers, that the hard work required to nourish the soil is given full priority, with no short-cuts allowed.  If a community is to survive by farming throughout the year, then the top-soil must be made optimally fertile through natural methods. Hakka people applying the ‘old’ method of agricultural cultivation in contemporary China, are assisted by modern technology, but still set a good and natural example of sustainable soil management and crop production, that modern (industrialised) farmers could well learn from.  Specifically, the old Hakka farming method can be defined in the following manner:

1) A thin layer of green manure is added to the top-soil, without any use of chemical fertilisers.  Green manure is comprised of straw, leaves, weeds and other and various ‘green’ material.  This is augmented by a small amount of animal derived organic compost.  Again, even when applying animal waste to the top-soil – no chemical fertiliser is used.

2) The roots of weeds and grass are beneficial for the soil as through the process of photosynthesis, these roots bring nourishment into the ground.  However, when it is time to clear the ground to plant crops, selective weeding must be carried-out without the use of chemical weed-killers – as such use only serves to poison the soil.  It must be remembered that some weeds left in the soil serve to protect it (through the presence of essential micro-organisms) – even at planting time.

3) Never use pesticides.  Through the proliferation in the soil of micro-organism, healthy plants are produced that are naturally resilient to attack, illness or disease, and which do not require chemical pesticides to protect themselves from insects and other vermin.

4) Constantly monitor the nutrients in the soil.  If any deficiencies are discovered, resolve these issues by using natural methods and products.  The soil should be kept healthy only through natural means.  In the old Hakka farming method, the fields are irrigated and ploughed by oxen during the frosty months.  Vermin and pests are then removed and discouraged from entering the ploughed field area by the use of kilns placed across the fields that serve as the centre for gathering dry and burnable material (often the by-products of the previous year’s harvest, such a stems and leaves, etc), and then the kilns are lit.  The use of fire naturally clears the fields of all pests and vermin, and reduces the burnable material to a carbonated dust, the presence of which nourishes the soil and ensures its ongoing fertility. This process ensures that the soil is ‘loosened’ for the planting of the next crop.

The benefits of the old Hakka farming method in modern times are:

a) The soil is keep in an optimum nutritional state all year round, and does not require any chemical intervention. This process turns formerly barren land into fertile agricultural land, and yields more healthy and successful crops. Crops grown in this manner become stronger overtime, and more robust.

b) The high content of micro-organism in the soil means that the plants are hardy and rarely get sick or suffer from other deficiencies. As a result, these plants are vigorous in growth and taste both sweet and delicious.

c) As the chemical content of the soil is zero, people will not become sick after eating these crops. This is important for people who suffer from allergies, who can eat these naturally produced crops without any concerns.

Modern agricultural production, with its extensive use of fertilisers and pesticides, is aptly referred to as ‘petroleum agriculture’. This type of agriculture is entirely dependent upon the massive use of petroleum and oil, and is a farming method premised entirely upon the use of mechanical and chemical processes.  Due to the high input of resources, yield output is high, but levels of waste are huge, as is the usage of hazardous materials.  This process greatly weakens the stability and sustained productivity of agricultural eco-systems, and causes agricultural and environmental pollution.

It is hoped that the old and natural Hakka method of farming can become a blue-print for a ‘new’ type of agricultural process in New China, whereby the excesses and foolishness of modern  ‘petroleum agriculture’ can be transitioned into the use of more natural farming methods that are assisted and optimised by the benefit of modern technology.  This is a clever blending of the old and the new in the present time.  The old Hakka method of farming might well serve as the natural basis of the future agricultural policy of New China.

©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Source Article:














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