Tada Katsuhiko: Theme

  From collapse to revival, from corruption to fermentation

10 years of my life spent as a government employee were full of doubt and questions about agriculture. With the rice-paddy acreage reduction policies started under the guidance of the administration (without even doing rice planting work in paddy fields, and guiding the production of other crops), people started planting spinach in greenhouses in Tono, a small town in the northern province of Iwate, Japan. Although 1000 greenhouses were built, the soil collapsed after only 3 years, the soil inside the greenhouse useless. The government had insisted on "sheeting composting" and "spreading compound fertilizer". But the inside of a vinyl plastic greenhouse is a special environment where natural processes are shut out. Rain is also prevented from entering. Water keeps the soil in good condition without disturbance by continuous cropping, but the natural process was disrupted by the “planting spinach in greenhouses” work.

Inside the greenhouses, salt accumulated and the soil turned white. It had become hard as rock because of the compound fertilizer which was prescribed every year. Finally, the soil lost balanced bacteria content due to spreading non-decomposed composting.

I began my individual research after seeing these results.

  Making good soil

For compost, I use humus composed of plants and the excretions of cows, pigs and horses. In the greenhouse, dry straw, grass, and deciduous leaves are used. When the excretions of animals achieve just the right condition, it can host beetle eggs. My compost has this perfect environment. I use natural fertilizers such as wool, bone powder, dried blood, sea magnesium, fish lees, colza lees, rice bran, charcoal, fossilized seashell and life green (those which turn stone to powder), mixed together by myself. The balance of the bacteria is very important in order to create an environment that makes the soil zymogenous, keeps disease away, makes tasty vegetables.


As for the source to make the vegetable, the rice, and the milk tasty and dairy cows being healthy, "water" is very important. The water which the dairy cows in the barn drink 24 hours is from the mountain through the fallen leaves. It contains a lot of iron.

The water to the rice field is through the place where the oyster shells are put. It contains a lot of minerals and being purified. The water which is used in the vegetable is very important. The key is it has to be "anti- oxidation water". Those of this world face to the direction of all oxidation and the direction of falling into ruin. The water that can fight against the direction, that’s what I’ve researched in making the anti- oxidation water by myself, which I presently use to spread on the leaves of the vegetables. I occasionally mix some natural nutrition with the water throughout the year according to the status of growth of the vegetable. They are the vinegar ,the low-class distilled spirits, the garlic, the bamboo vinegar liquid, the coffee, sodium bicarbonate, the black sugar and the red pepper etc.

  Thoughts from the Farm

My farm is located 450 meters above sea level, surrounded in the deep mountain. Early in the morning at 5 o'clock, my work starts with the milk contraction of the dairy cow, finishing a day when the spinach field goes to sleep at the sunset. Receiving change of four seasons to senses, I do agriculture.

The spring comes with butterbur sprouting when the snow starts to melt around March 20. Already in February, the seedlings of lettuce, cabbage, tomato and eggplants shine in green inside the greenhouse, while rice seeds have been soaked in the cold water for a month. All goes out to the field at once in April.

The cherry starts to bloom on May 1st. My farm gets busier with sowing corn and fresh soybeans, and planting green pepper. In June, lettuce and cabbage can already be harvested, while it is time to mow the hay for dairy cows.

In July and August, the heat of the summer makes the color of the tomato deep red, the color of eggplant deep purple, when I work sweating everyday.

After the Obon festival, the wind of the fall starts to blow in Tono. One rice stubble which was planted in the field of non-tilling farming, wakes up to the natural wildness and become arborescent into 40 branches, holds golden ears of rice. Harvesting rice in September, it’s also the time to harvest the Chinese cabbage, which is used to make pickles, the Japanese radish, Japanese leek and chrysanthemum; that are put in a typical Japanese stew.

September is also a season of delivering babies of the dairy cows. Calves are born. In November, it gets noticeably cold in the morning and evening, we have snow. Winter is the time of investment to soil. I make compost by cutting the grass, which is mowed during the summer, and gathering the fallen leaves that I focus on doing in the mountain. In December, in the mountains, it’s full of calmness and mysterious feeling of a new life to come. I appreciate God of the mountain, for the year at the farm, where my spirit acts in concert with. All the happenings throughout the year including happy , hard, even sad incidents can be "stirring impression".

The heart of farming is "the heart which does science while always listening to the natural rhythm".I’m hoping my farm can be a place where people feel "that the agriculture can pull out possibility" in the people who work here.It is a place whereyou feel the enormous activity of life that gives you a message to live respectfully and where people work positively with happy feeling.

The Cattle Barn

  The environment cows grow- Farming must be in an open system

My history started with cows. Freshly squeezed milk has a light taste and echoes with sweetness when it goes down the throat. Making full use of this taste is the starting point of production. "The answer is found on site." I make use of my thoughts for making products through my work on site with my own unique ideas and techniques. Eat, drink, be moved; I aim to make products that pulse with the rhythm of life.

I started making products by risking my life on dealing with nature.

In my daily pursuit of the energy in farming, I have noticed a relationship between active, dynamic life and production, and that these can be organically combined. For this, man and living creatures must be in an open system.

  Sleeping on a furmented grass bed in the loose barn

Presently, 80 dairy cows are living a vigorous life in the cow barn. In the Free Barn, the dairy cow has a 24 hour pasture. One cow barn is to rest where cows lay on the cow bed, anytime and anyway they want.

Their bed is a 1.5m thick pad of fermented soil, including their own excretions. Another cow barn is for eating fodder and grass, and drinking water freely. In the morning and in the evening at 5:30, cows enter the milking room where they are milked with the milkers. The resulting milk is stored in the big milk refrigerator (1.5 ton capacity) and cooled to 4 degrees. At their leisure, the cows eat a zymogenous fodder, which is mixed with lactobacillus, beer lees, corn, fermented wheat, and dried grass. Stress free, this barn system gives no excessive strain to the cows: it is a peaceful environment. The cowpat is fermented by the bacteria, but it has no foul odour whatsoever.

Each milk cow excretes 40kg of feces and urine daily. The waste is deposited every day, fermented by microbes, then turned into high-quality compost. Cow excreta are usually considered as onerous, but when processed by microbial fermentation, it can be valuable and used as compost for making vegetables.

New born calves drink as much mother’s milk as they desire for three days to acquire immunity. They stay in their own room for two months. After three months, they are gradually kept in a bigger space.

6 months after birth, the calves are let out into the field. For one year, they stay in the field all day, whether on hot summer days, rainy days, or when strong winds blow. Even on icy and freezing days, they eat and drink enough dry grass and mountain runoff for the healthy growth of their bones. This kind of environment and healthy conditions for the cows are fundamental in making good milk.

  Milking the cows at 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening

Time to milk the cows. Each cow produces about 25-30kg of milk everyday. Cows wait for their turn to be milked. It starts with gently washing the udders with warm water. Squeeze the 4 udders by hand first and let a small amount of milk out to avoid contamination and then turn the milking machines on. The fresh-squeezed milk is sent through a pipeline and stored in a huge, 2 ton refrigerating vat. Freshness is the key to milk so it’s chilled and kept at about 4 degrees. The milking process is finished by dipping the udders in disinfectant.