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The Regenerative Farm vs 5S Methodology


Farming Forward

The Regenerative Farm vs 5S Methodology

Grant Schultz

Machinery retired to the "back fencerow" is a common sight on American farms.  It's perhaps an anachronism from the Depression era where scrap wasn't worth the time and effort to haul to a recycler and there was a chance that some part or material could be reused for an unknown future repair.  Having clutter became a frugal and advisable strategy when economic forces took things to extremes.

The question now is, at what point is a packrat mentality more detrimental than beneficial?  In the worlds of easy capital availability and plentiful resources, a 5S or Lean Production methodologies make sense.  When a critical eye looks at agricultural practices and the economy on a perilous precipice, is adopting a lean methodology advisable?  Isn't that akin to emptying the entire pantry because you're so confident the grocery store will always be well-stocked? Ecological farming obeys Natural Law, and there is no waste in nature.  Is 5S/Lean Farming really just a recipe for disaster?  How far should you take it?


Let's take a look at 5S... 

from Wikipedia

5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Transliterated into Roman Script, they all start with the letter "S".[1] The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order.[2] The decision-making process usually comes from a dialogue about standardization, which builds understanding among employees of how they should do the work.

In some quarters, 5S has become 6S, the sixth element being safety.[3]

Other than a specific stand-alone methodology, 5S is frequently viewed as an element of a broader construct known as visual control,[4] visual workplace,[5] or visual factory.[6][7] Under those (and similar) terminologies, Western companies were applying underlying concepts of 5S before publication, in English, of the formal 5S methodology. For example, a workplace-organization photo from Tennant Company (a Minneapolis-based manufacturer) quite similar to the one accompanying this article appeared in a manufacturing-management book in 1986.[8]

The origins of 5S

The scheme "Correct Arrangement of the Tool" from a CIT instruction sheet, 1920-1924.

5S was developed in Japan and was identified as one of the techniques that enabled Just in Time manufacturing.[9]

Two major frameworks for understanding and applying 5S to business environments have arisen, one proposed by Osada, the other by Hirano.[10][11] Hirano provided a structure to improve programs with a series of identifiable steps, each building on its predecessor. As noted by John Bicheno,[12] Toyota's adoption of the Hirano approach was '4S', with Seiton and Seiso combined.

Some claim that the principles of 5S came from Henry Ford, who was using the CANDO (Cleaning up, Arranging, Neatness, Discipline and Ongoing improvement) method prior to the development of 5S.[13]

A precursor development to the Japanese system of management was outlined by Alexey Gastev's development and the Central Institute of Labour (CIT) in Moscow.[clarification needed][14]

The 5S

There are five 5S phases: They can be translated from the Japanese as "sort", "set in order", "shine", "standardize", and "sustain". Other translations are possible.


  • First step towards our PES 5S journey.
  • Make work easier by eliminating obstacles.
  • Reduce chances of being disturbed with unnecessary items.
  • Evaluate necessary items with regard to cost or other factors.
  • Remove all parts or tools that are not in use.
  • Segregate unwanted material from the workplace.
  • Define Red-Tag area to place unnecessary items that cannot immediately be disposed of. Dispose of these items when possible.
  • Need fully skilled supervisor for checking on a regular basis.
  • Waste removal.
  • Make clear all working floor except using material.
  • Daily fillings

Set in order[edit]

  • Arrange all necessary items so that they can be easily selected for use.
  • Prevent loss and waste of time by arranging work station in such a way that all tooling / equipment is in close proximity.
  • Make it easy to find and pick up necessary items.
  • Ensure first-in-first-out FIFO basis.
  • Make workflow smooth and easy.
  • All of the above work should be done on a regular basis.
  • Place components according to their uses, with the frequently used components being nearest to the work place.


  • Clean your workplace on daily basis completely or set cleaning frequency time to time
  • Use cleaning as inspection.
  • Prevent machinery and equipment deterioration.
  • Keep workplace safe and easy to work.
  • Keep workplace clean and pleasing to work in.
  • When in place, anyone not familiar to the environment must be able to detect any problems within 50 feet in 5 sec.


  • Standardize the best practices in the work area.
  • Maintain high standards in workplace organization at all times.
  • Everything in its right place.
  • Every process has a standard.
  • Standardize color coding of usable items
  • People know the process of that specific job


  • Not harmful to anyone.
  • Also translates as "do without being told".
  • Perform regular audits.
  • Training and discipline.
  • Training is goal-oriented process. Its resulting feedback is necessary monthly.
  • Self-discipline
  • To maintain proper order, ensure all defined standards are being implemented and heard.
  • Follow the process, but also be open to improvement

What say you?  What is your strategy for optimal production and resiliency?  How are you practicing antifragility?