Sowing Seeds in the Desert

Sowing Seeds in the Desert is written by the Japanese philosopher, writer, artist, farmer, and advocate for nature, Masanobu Fukuoka. In Sowing Seeds in the Desert, Masanobu Fukuoka discusses many interesting philosophies, ideas, and farming techniques. Two of the primary themes he describes are aerial seeding and natural farming.

Masanobu Fukuoka tells the reader how we must “mix the species of the world together to give nature a fresh start,” which he calls the “second genesis”. He believes we should go about this by aerial seeding deserts and other devastated lands. Fukuoka explains that in places with devastated soil/earth, all that people need to do is “to gather the seeds and microorganisms nature needs and sow them there”(pg 87).  The purpose of aerial seeding is to revegetate and replenish large amounts of land at once.  Fukuoka gives instructions on how to create clay pellets at the end of Sowing Seeds in the Desert. These pellets are used to cover the seeds and  prevent animals from eating them. It also allows the seeds to not blow away in the wind, but instead to provide nutrients and retain water for the seed until it is ready to take root and grow. After the seeds are covered in clay, the seeds of over a hundred species of fruits, vegetables, grains, and clovers are dropped right on the surface of the earth, and await nature to take its course.  Fukuoka has had success with this technique in Africa, India, Greece, and the Philippines.

Fukuoka encourages other farms to switch to natural farming, or as he calls it, the “do nothing” method. He simply broadcasts seeds and allows natural selection to take place, that way only the best fit species will survive. It is the simplest way to farm, for the only thing required by humans is to broadcast seeds and harvest the bounty.

Fukuoka goes in depth on how the natural farming method is sustainable, but he really emphasizes the importance of how it doesn’t create pollution, it doesn’t involve plowing the soil, and the most important thing is to build up the soil. Natural farming doesn’t create pollution because it doesn’t use pollution-causing machines. It’s simply animals (humans included) and nature working as a whole to take care of each other and the planet we live on.

One way that Sowing Seeds in the Desert inspires sustainability beyond agriculture is by advocating the usage of natural spring water. Water from natural springs that is already on the farmers land is a great way to get mineral rich water to the farmer and their animals without producing pollution from transportation. Another “sustainable beyond agriculture” aspect of this book, is that Fukuoka’s design for natural farming doesn’t use oil. In the 1970 oil crisis in Japan, the Japanese people needed alternatives to oil based production, and Fukuoka was able to write a book, The One Straw Revolution, to educate the Japanese people on how to grow food and have success in business without running on oil.

Some other key points that are described in Sowing Seeds in the Desert, are educating the next generation of farmers and spreading natural farming. One example of Masanobu Fukuoka educating the next generation of farmers, is when he went to UC Davis and saw the insufficiency in their use of green manures and nitrogen fixers. “They were giving priority to growing high-yield crops and putting off efforts to improve the soil.” He worked with the agriculture department and taught them that “if they continued in this manner/ they would not have a strong impact on the world.” So he explained and demonstrated what the students needed to do to have success in all aspects on the campus farm. An example of Fukuoka spreading natural farming is when he went to the Lundberg Family Farms in California. He helped turn the commercial farm into a natural farm, and the farmers there later updated him that they had great success after their transformation.

Fukuoka backs up his experiments with data and facts that he has collected by performing experiments on smaller scales. This proves to the reader that we can restore nature and give it a second chance, and humans a second chance to not destroy it again. I give this book five compost piles (out of five), for it explains the natural farming technique thoroughly and also touches on many other farming methods and philosophical aspects of life.


1. Themes in society

  • Society-Creates community, when older natural farmers such as Fukuoka pass on the technique to the next generation of farmers.
  • Economics-grows comparable yields to other commercial farms in Japan.
  • Environment-Natural farming creates no pollution, doesn’t use commercial machines


  • Aerial seeding has been experimented on small scales by Fukuoka, and he has had much success with plant growth in deserts. Aerial seeding revegetates and restores damaged land, such as deserts. It offers an opportunity to grow more food, and for humans to help revive the environment that we helped destroy. Fukuoka went to poorer parts of the world to help them start aerial so that they could grow more food. In his book, he described his travels to Ethiopia, where he says plant growth seems to be sped up there, so aerial seeding(broadcasting) had a huge success rate in the villages he went to.
  • Natural farming is an easy, high yielding, farming technique that is good for the environment and it can help provide food for many people. It combines the species of the world, and doesn’t turn the soil, or cause pollution because it doesn’t use machines. It was created to provide the Japanese people with a environment friendly way to make food during the oil crisis in 1970. -Both of these can provide coverage for the land and food in a fairly short amount of time.

3) Aerial seeding

  • Aerial seeding is a quick process, that in a short amount of time will provide coverage for the land and lots of food for people close to the revegetated earth. With human population growing, we need more food. But because humans have/ are depleting the land, now it is necessary to reverse our previous actions. Nutritious food will be produced, while simultaneously restoring the environment.
  • Natural farming is an easy, high yielding, farming technique that is good for the environment and it can help provide food for many people. Nutritious food will be produced, while simultaneously restoring the environment.

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