A good farmer is one who:

  1. Realizes that his farm is an organic unit in which all the organs must function in cooperation and reciprocation.
  2. Realizes that the fertility of the soil is the life-blood of his farm and that this fertility is not static, but is a dynamic and perishable balance.
  3. Realizes that humus is the mainspring of fertility.
  4. Realizes that for each part of the farm there is a best natural use of the land, and conforms to it as far as possible.
  5. Realizes that climate is the most powerful single factor affecting crop production; that it cannot be controlled, and should not be fought against, but cooperated with.
  6. Fights insects and diseases firstly by prevention and uses poison sprays, dusts, etc., with caution and reluctance.
  7. Realizes that grass is the earth’s most important crop, takes care of his permanent pastures, and uses temporary pastures to protect and replenish his soil.
  8. Realizes the importance of the genetic constitution of his plants and animals, and makes use of breeding to improve quality.
  9. Has the energy, tenacity, and organizing ability to keep the farm clean and tidy, and to keep clear records.
  10. Realizes that he knows next to nothing of all that there is to know, that he is dealing with eternal laws that he did not make and cannot alter, and that the most brilliant achievements of human knowledge are simply the closest obedience to these laws.

Asuka Hishiki, Turnips
Image reproduced by permission of the artist

Excerpted from Water at the Roots: Poems and Insights of a Visionary Farmer.