I am interested at this point to hear what you all are taking away from this reading. I would also like to take this time to thank Larry Korn for participating in our discussion, offering us the occasional peek behind Fukuoka-san's thinking and a perspective born of the book. How lucky we are to have had that opportunity! Thanks again Larry...
I still value this book as among my top three books on gardening; an invaluable treatise on treading the finest line between nature and man. Even where I begin to dissemble from Sensei's teachings I do so with his thoughts in mind, and the overarching ideals of natural farming at the forefront.
Really the singular point that I find fault with out of the whole tome is the complete eschewing of scientific thinking; it is simply a tool and tools are neither good nor evil. A hammer is a wonderful thing when it is being used to build Habitat For Humanity homes, it is evil when it is being used on somebody's noggin. The scientific community of Sensei's day was heavily invested in technologies of man, but increasingly the science community of today is invested not just in the technologies of nature (although that is indeed burgeoning), but the preservation of Nature itself, as the endless bounty from which we may select the tools of the future.
Perhaps the middle road is the road less traveled here, but it need not be. Both paradigms bring such excellent concepts to the fore that for one to ignore the other is to deny the best possible outcomes. New work on nutrient density in food, rebuilding of depleted soils with natural biologies, and the suppression of pathogens through natural organisms are tools springing from the scientific world ready formed for use by gardeners and farmers.
Is it natural farming if I utilize these tools? I do not care to conject how many angels are dancing on that particular pin head, but do not find any instance of increasing biodiversities in the long term that is detrimental to Nature. As long as one remains cognizant of the natural biota and goes at it with a Hipocratic bent ("Above all else, do no harm"), then in my mind, you are building a better garden, country, and planet...
But that's just me... how about you?