Exploring intuitive farming

Radically innovative approaches are needed to address challenges in the agriculture sector, says Dr Saskia von Diest of Stellenbosch University.

Exploring intuitive farming
- Advertisement -

The modern focus on cognitive (scientific and intellectual) approaches to farming has advanced food production significantly. However, the capacity for resilience that the natural balances in nature offer has been largely neglected, resulting in a breakdown in cohesion between farming activities, society and the natural environment.

This seems to have caused a downward spiral in soil health. The use of pesticides and herbicides has reduced beneficial soil microbes and organic matter, so that plants cannot take up and use as many naturally available nutrients in the soil. In turn, farmers use more synthetic fertiliser, which leads to degraded, acidified and compacted soil. This causes unhealthy plants to become diseased, and so more pesticides and herbicides are applied.

This pollutes the air with greenhouse gases and contaminants, uses more water than necessary and once again kills beneficial microbes. And so the cycle continues.

- Advertisement -

The cognitive approach overlooks the fact that modern farmers sometimes make important management decisions on how to handle soil, plants and animals based more on intuition than using pure rationality. Farmers say they ‘feel’ what is required.
How do we draw from the scientific methodology, the cognitive approach and the intuitive approach to feed a growing world population, without making further negative impacts on the natural world?

A new approach
In March 2013, I started a postdoctoral research project at Stellenbosch University within the original research section of the Future-Proofing Food research project: Linking sustainable food production with national conservation targets, funded initially by the governmental Department of Science and Technology’s “Global Change, Society and Sustainability Research Programme” and now by the National Research Foundation.

The main aim is to “re-invigorate current agricultural practices”. To meet this objective, radically innovative approaches are needed to address challenges in the agricultural sector.

Peter Nuthall published a study in 2012, The intuitive world of farmers – The case of grazing management systems, that describes how the most successful stock cattle farmers in New Zealand relied less on the formal technological tools designed to aid their practical decision-making. Instead, they developed a personalised expert system, with intuition being the primary driver. Nuthall pointed out that developing this ability would be a more practical approach in helping farmers make customised decisions for increasing efficiency.

Henk Kieft from the Netherlands presented international surveys at the Moving Worldviews conference in 2006 and at the International Plant-People Symposium in 2012, which showed that farmers who farmed ‘intuitively’ reported earlier disease detection, lower chemical inputs, increased nutritional value, longer shelf-life and higher input efficiency in plant production.

In animal-based farming, benefits such as quieter animals, lower use of antibiotics, lower veterinary costs, improved immune response and more efficient feed conversion rates were reported. Farmers also said they had minimised their impact on the surrounding environments, and spoke of working “together with nature”.

Intuitive-decision making
The role of intuition in decision-making has long been studied and debated in research fields such as neurobiology, psychology and psychiatry. But until now, the use of intuition in an agricultural context has received little attention in scientific research.
Intuitive decision-making is described as a fast, highly accurate and sensitive process that seems to bypass the brain’s functional cognitive processes. However, knowledge and experience help in increasing the accuracy of a decision made intuitively.

Telepathic interspecies communication
According to Kieft, intuitive farming also makes use of telepathic interspecies communication. The concept of communicating with nature is not new and appears to be a common thread in indigenous cultures worldwide. It is documented in books and documentaries such as The Animal Communicator and Aluna, and practised in subsistence and small-scale farming, as well as in food production in ecovillages around the world.

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and father of anthroposophy, mentioned intuitive communication with nature in his Biodynamic agriculture lectures, although it is often over-looked by biodynamic farming practitioners.

Although almost a century of scientific evidence supporting the concept of human-to-human telepathy exists, many scientists continue to dismiss it as pseudoscience. However, quantum physics has provided more widely accepted evidence on how the universe operates at a sub-atomic or energetic level, so the concept is receiving renewed attention. But apart from a few published studies that indicate that uni-directional telepathy from humans to animals is possible, little is known in science about telepathic interspecies communication, let alone its use in agriculture.

Investigating intuitive decision-making and telepathic interspecies communication could have significant implications for modern management decisions in South African agriculture, and has great potential for improving farm efficiency and sustainability.

Objective of research
One of the objectives of this project is to interview farmers who already practise telepathic interspecies communication, in order to better understand its effect on their systems and the products that come from them. Some interviews have been conducted, both abroad and locally. These farmers spoke of similar advantages, disadvantages and methods of practice as those in the international surveys by Kieft. But more interviews are required before this information can be analysed and presented.

Any farmer who uses intuitive decision-making and/or telepathic communication with nature, or anyone who is using it while raising animals or producing food for more than his or her own needs, is invited to participate in the study. The identity of participants remains confidential unless they give me written permission to use their names.

Henk Kieft is a collaborator on this research project and will present a condensed version of his workshop on intuitive and electromagnetic agriculture in Stellenbosch on 31 October to 1 November and again on 14 to 15 November.

Email Dr Saskia von Diest at
[email protected].

*The original article in FW, 9 October 2015 contained certain errors. This is the correct version.