A Friend of the Earth

Culture and Agriculture

“A healthy farm culture can be based only upon familiarity and can grow only among a people soundly established upon the land; it nourishes and safeguards human intelligence of the earth that no amount of technology can satisfactorily replace.  The growth of such a culture was once a strong possibility in the farm communities of this country:  We now have only the sad remnants of those communities.  If we allow another generation to pass without doing what is necessary to enhance and embolden the possibility now perishing with them, we will lose it altogether.  And then we will not only invoke calamity – we will deserve it.”
– Wendell Berry

"We are currently in the midst of a crisis of culture and agriculture.  We cannot rest until we have regained a culture and agriculture that is local, family-scale, and fully integrated with the richness and diversity of creation."
Douglas Tompkins

"Preventing famine and disease are noble goals.  Ending injustice and poverty are noble goals.  But none of these will induce an elusive “demographic transition” to lowered birthrates in time to prevent widespread biological collapse, a collapse that would not only intensify human miseries but would further intensify the destruction of nature.  We simply cannot allow the natural environment (which, after all, is the only environment humanity is adapted to) to deteriorate any further.  In addition, none of these noble goals will be accomplished by furthering the immaculate misconception that raising more food by
cutting down more tropical forests, draining more tropical wetlands, or breeding more bountiful crops will solve the demographic dilemma.  We are running out of wild nature, space, and water, as we are running out of non-renewable resources.  Meanwhile, the population bomb keeps on ticking, faster and faster.  It needs to be defused now!

    The answer to the demographic dilemma is clear enough:  we must abandon the fallacies of agricultural hope, for it is not a question of raising more food, but of raising fewer people.  If population growth is not curtailed voluntarily, the dictatorial powers of the state (as by sheer necessity in China) or the brutal catastrophes of nature (as in Africa’s Sahel and Sudan) will surely do it for us.

    Only an ecologically responsible human society, living within limits and sternly self-restrained in both resource use and human reproduction, can give this spaceship world of ours any realistic hope of bequeathing to our children a beautiful, livable, and nature-rich earth."
Hugh Iltis, Professor Emeritus of Botany and Director Emeritus of the Herbarium at the University of Wisconsin, The Impossible Race, Population Growth and the Fallacies of Agricultural Hope, p. 35 and following pages.

Quoting Job “Ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee:  Or speak to the earth and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee."
Quoting Virgil: "Before we plow an unfamiliar Patch
             It is well to be informed about the winds,
            About the variation in the sky,
            The native traits and habits of the place,
            What each locale permits and what denies.
… to be successful in agriculture we need to know what nature will require of us… Perhaps eventually we can mold all such economies to nature’s image, letting her be our ultimate teacher."
Wendell Berry, Looking to Nature as the Standard to Solve the Problem of Agriculture, pages 45-47.

“That everything is connected to everything else” must be regarded as the First Law of Ecology.  The Second law of Ecology might be termed the “limitation of all life by carrying capacity.”  Each species, through evolutionary processes, is adapted to a specific habitat.  This habitat is a finite resource with limits on the maximum number of a species that it can maintain over an “infinite span of time.”  This limitation is termed the carrying capacity. The Third Law of ecology is “the need for diversity.”  I suggest we define the conventional meaning of progress to be “those acts of man that enhance the human experience without impairing the earth’s life support systems.”
George Cornwell, Ph.D., “Man Looks at his Environment” in the Journal of the Florida Medical Association, October, 1970

Unwanted Chemicals in Man and Environment
(1) How will our population grow? 
(2) Where will our technology go?
        “Our discussions will be idle without answers to these questions.”  
Maurice W Provost, Ph.D.

Bob's comments : What is the most shocking in what follows in Dr. Provost’s paper is the extent of the documented knowledge known then and the extent of USA responsibility which continues with so much difficulty in agreement on a course of action of a remedial nature.  Most interesting is the documented prediction of the beginning of the melting of the Antarctic ice cap by the year 2000 provided we took no (beginning) remedial action.  Public notice did not result and the ice cap did begin to melt on time.
    Here, I perceive a need for extraordinary action intended to propel this nation and the world into immediate recognition of the peril which threatens all life on the planet and remedial action by us all.


September 1, 2009
        I have been looking for days for a quotation of John Muir’s that I thought I had read in his book, The National Parks, but I did not find it when I finished the entire book this morning. I decided to go ahead and read the second book, The Mountains of California.  Scanning that book, I found clippings, the last one of which was a January 10, 1982 Sunday Times-Union and Jacksonville Journal article by Stetson Kennedy reviewing a book on Muir.  It was while stumbling about in a bog on the Canadian shore of Lake Huron that Muir had an encounter with a plant.  It proved to be the most profound spiritual experience of his life.  It was the rare orchid, Calypso borealis, two white flowers in a background of yellow moss – and “utterly useless it seemed pure enough for the throne of its Creator,” Muir later wrote.  “I felt as if I were in the presence of superior beings who loved me and beckoned me to come.  I sat down beside them and wept for joy.”
        The plant I myself was so concerned about was Kalmia hirsuta, an entire colony of which was wiped out in the area where the present Church of Christ and its rear parking area now stands.  When I was at camp in Carolina at age 11 or 12, I thought that the Passion flower was so very beautiful but it was very common, whereas, the small Kalmia was quite rare in my experience as was the Lady lupine and the milkweed, Asclepias humistrata which now I cannot find and want to recover.  I would likely cry were I to recover any one of the three.

        The Beloved Community …we see how the phrase “to suffer and to work” refuse sentimentalization, we see how common work, common suffering, and a common willingness to join and belong are understood as the conditions that make speech possible in “the dumb abyss” in which we are divided,…This leads us to as good a definition of the beloved community as we can hope for:  common experiences and common effort on a common ground to which one willingly belongs.
        The Beloved Community fits an agricultural community best it might seem, but why can’t this be a workable goal for a city, especially in the case of a small city?  Small towns may well be a goal where people can more easily relate in a way that would be admirable.
Wendell BerryWhat Are People For?, page 85. (See A Prosperous Way Down by Odum & Odum.)

Bob's comments: Our assumptions are that we have multiple problems with no common cause antecedent to them.  Sure, we have economic problems and others.  We are in a severe recession and it will get worse as time goes on simply because we are not addressing the common cause.  For example, there is much push to drill for more oil.  But do we not understand that oil brought to the surface then becomes poisonous as it is used.  And to bring more to the surface, more will certainly be used.  We know that from previous experience.

We are accustomed to the idea that every problem can and will be resolved by some new technology.  We are hopeful that new methods of technology and invention will enable us to have the same amount of energy available to us today and in the future as in the past, even more as we grow in numbers as forecast.  We are not accustomed to limits and plan none. 

The facts are otherwise in my estimation and in that of many others; we will never get back to the affluence of the past.  The past affluence of the American way of life is not exportable.  We’re going to have to curb our appetites for more and more and set limits or reap the wild wind as predicted by the Union of Concerned Scientist in April 1993 (UCS).

Our current malaise is due to one thing, i.e., the fact that the demands of ours put on the Earth, our Mother Nature, have greatly exceeded her ability to meet those demands.  The result is that our Mother is ill and therefore unable to meet those demands.

Our current predicament is due to one common cause, our mistreatment of each other in the sub-prime mortgage scandal by a few of us on the one hand and on the other hand,  the mistreatment of the natural world by most of us as we have demanded too much of it to suit our whimsies.  Mother Nature’s abilities to satisfy those demands have been overwhelmed so that the Earth is now gravely ill.

It is common knowledge among many scientists that our human economy is entirely dependent upon the Earth’s economy which now suffers from the abuse over six (6) billion people have heaped on it with the help of our ingenuity in inventing means to harness the energy of carbon in the Earth; first in the soil itself, then wood, and now that in coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear power.  We are too many living beyond the Earth’s means.  We must figure a way to cut back our numbers substantially as well as to find a life-style that is compatible with a healthy Earth without producing violence and war, pestilence, starvation and pain.  It is a very tall order and it may no longer be possible.  But we must hope that it is not too late and get to work finding how we can coexist with each other and with the plants and animals who are our fellow travelers and sustainers.  It involves an entirely new way of thinking for must of us, an entirely new way of life.  It takes time to make such a monumental change, and much more to implement the necessary changes.  I think that the American people can do this if challenged by a man or woman with vision and knowledge.  First we must talk about it and ask the correct questions.

       “Modern day prophet’s task – to give us the understanding needed in order to live in ways that make sense.

To pursue the puzzle further, we must make a conscious choice to do so.

To choose…will require a metanoia—a total change in mind and heart.

Re: Big Bang - Had the universe expanded slightly faster, matter could not have formed; if slower, the universe would have collapsed on itself.  Diversity is as necessary in the spirituality of humanity’s many belief systems as it is in the biological species.  Community and conformity are diametrically opposed.
McGregor Smith, Jr., Earth Ethics Report, 1991
 Pages 329-339

The following are notes from An Agricultural Testament by Sir Albert Howard, Oxford Univ. Press, 1943 (First published in England in 1940):

Page 1:  The maintenance of the fertility of the soil is the first condition of any permanent system of agriculture.  Its continuous restoration by means of manuring and soil management is therefore imperative.  Mixed farming is the rule: plants always found with animals…never any attempt at monoculture:  mixed crops and mixed farming are the rule.  Soil protected from direct sun, rain and wind.
P. 2:  The forest manures itself, makes its own humus and supplies itself with minerals.
P. 3:  Minerals obtained from the subsoil by deeper roots.
P. 4:  Mother earth never farms without livestock, mixed crops: takes pains to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion: mixed vegetables and animal wastes converted into humus.
P. 5:  In Peru irrigated staircase farming reached its highest known development.  Terraced fields irrigated by aqueducts from immense distances.  The same is found in terraces of the Hunza in the NW frontier of India.
P. 7- 9:  Initially Rome was built on the most extensive and immediate mastery of her citizens over the soil.  That did not persist: small holdings ceased to yield well and were merged with larger estates.  Slaves were numerous.  A capitalist system was fundamentally opposed to a sound agriculture.   Roman agricultural history ended in failure due to failure to maintain soil fertility:  the agricultural population came in conflict with the operations of the capitalist.
P. 10:  Holdings in India, China, and Japan were minute.  Food and forage crops were predominant.
P. 11:  The primary function of Eastern agriculture is to supply the cultivators and their cattle with food.
P. 17 -20:  Agriculture in the West: to satisfy the hunger of the rural population, including live stock, the hunger of the growing urban areas, the hunger of the machine for raw materials.
Introducing slaves, animals – internal combustion engine, electric motor, no urine or dung to maintain soil fertility.  Artificial manures make farming easier and “a satisfactory profit and loss account has been obtained.”  But machines do nothing to keep the soil in good heart.  Diseases of crops and the animals that feed on them are on the increase.  The agriculture of ancient Rome failed because it was unable to maintain the soil in a fertile condition.   Western farmers are repeating the mistakes of Imperial Rome.  Now we have a much larger population to feed and the added hunger of the machine.  Can mankind maintain the fertility of its soil?  On this hangs the future of civilization.
P. 22-24:  The role of chlorophyll enabling the green leaf to intercept energy and then manufacture food to synthesize carbohydrates and protein.  There is no alternative.  The root hairs and the myccorrhizal association.  Soil bacteria, fungi, and protozoa and energy from oxidation of humus.  Oxygen and ventilation.
P. 25:  The wheel of life: growth and decay.
P. 26:  humus defined

Chapter 3   The Restoration of Fertility
P. 33:  sources of soil organic matter – Roots and turned under crop residues, algae in the surface soil, temporary leys, the turf of worn-out grass land, catch crops, and green-manures:  4) urine of animals: 5) farmyard manure. 6) dustbins 7) processing wastes from agriculture produce; 8) wastes of urban population: 9) water wells.
P. 37:  Chemical manures. Unsound.  Takes no account of the life of the soil, including the mycorrhizal association, “an essential link in plant nutrition.”
P. 39:  The Indore Process (named for the city in India): The manufacture of humus from vegetable and animal wastes with a base for neutralizing acidity, and the management of the mass so that the microorganisms which do the work can function in the most effective manner.
P. 42:  A continuous supply of mixed dry vegetable wastes all year, in as proper state of division. (bark first destroyed)  Animal residues: urine and dung, kitchen wastes.
P. 43:  Chemical activators are frowned on.
P.44:  The fermenting mix soon becomes acid and must be neutralized.  Chalk, limestone, wood ashes as calcium or potassium.  Water and air needed, the former throughout, abundant aeration is essential during the early stages.  Half saturation early; the condition of a pressed-out sponge. Most effective way to provide water and oxygen together is to use the rainfall, which is saturated with oxygen, keeping the fermenting mass open at the beginning so that atmospheric air can enter and the CO2 can escape.
P. 45:  Pits vs. Heaps.
Pl 46:  Charging the heaps of pits;
P. 48:  Turning the compost.
P. 50:  Storage; Output
P. 87:  Green manuring: enriching the soil with leguminous crops.  “In a few cases, particularly in open, well aerated soils where the rainfall, after plowing in of the green-manuring experiments, was well distributed and ample time was given for decay, the results have been satisfactory.  In the majority of cases, however, they have been disappointing.
P. 88:  The chief factors in green-manuring are: the knowledge of nitrogen cycle plied with freshly made humus and air.  Grasses and legumes which respond to improved soil conditions must then be provided.
P. 95:  “The uncertainties of humus manufacture in the soil can be overcome by growing the green crop to provide material for composting.  It adds to the labour and expense but, in many countries it is proving a commercial proposition, e.g., in Rhodesia, crops of hemp are now regularly grown to provide litter, rich in nitrogen, for mixing with maize stalks so as to improve the carbon/nitrogen ratio of the bedding used in the cattle kraals.  In this way the burden on the soil is greatly reduced; it is only called upon to decay what is left of the root system of the green crop at harvest time.  Humus manufacture is shared between the soil and compost heap.”
P. 98:  In the case of a remarkable crop of a green-manure plant, Crotalaria angyroides, growing in soil rich in humus; its active roots were heavily infected with mycorrhizal as were other tropical leguminous plants growing in similar soils.  This suggested why hemp, Lucerne (alfalfa), and other tropical legumes respond so strikingly to cattle manure, all mycorrhizal formers.
P. 99:  Clearly the grass family, like the clover group, is all mycorrhizal-formers, explaining why both these classes of plants respond so markedly to humus.
P. 102:  There is only one grass-land problem in the world, a simple one.  The soil must be brought back to active life. 
Chapter 8:  The Utilization of Town Wastes
Chapter 9:  Health, Indisposition, and Disease in Agriculture; soil aeration.   Rain is a saturated solution of oxygen. 
Page 117:  Three main problems:  1) why grass can be so injurious to fruit trees, 2) the nature of the weapons by which trees vanquish grass, and, 3) the reaction of the root system of trees to the aeration of the soil.  Deep vs. superficial tree roots.
P. 127:  some varieties of trees were slowly dying of starvation.
P. 146:  Forests are an effective agent preventing soil erosion and in feeding the springs and rivers.  The trees and undergrowth break up the rainfall into a fine spray and the litter on the ground protects the soil from erosion.  The residues of trees and animal life met within the woodlands are converted into humus which is then absorbed by the soil underneath, increasing its porosity and water-holding power.
P. 149:  The view that the origin of alkali land is bound up with defective aeration of soils is supported by recent work in Siberia.
P. 153:  Reclamation of alkali land: treat the soil with sufficient gypsum which transforms sodium clays into calcium clays, wash out the soluble salts, add organic matter, and then farm the land properly.
Chapter 11:  The Retreat of the crop and the animal before the parasite
P. 156:  When soil is infertile, where an unsuitable variety is being grown, or where some mistake has been made in its management, nature at once registers her disapproval through her censors’ department.  One or more groups of parasitic insects and fungi – the organisms that thrive on unhealthy living matter – are told to point out that farming has failed:  the crop is attacked by disease.  A case has arisen for the control of a pest:  a crop must be protected.  In recent years another form of disease—virus disease has made its appearance – proteins exhibit definite abnormalities, the work of the green leaf is not effective, the synthesis of albuminoids seems to be incomplete.  Another apparent cause, neither a fungus, an insect, nor a virus- physiological diseases: troubles arising from the collapse of the normal metabolic processes. 

Sir Howard goes on in following pages to tell his important discoveries:
P. 159:  “In 1905, I was appointed Imperial Economic Botanist to the government of India at Pusa where “through the support of the Director, the late Bernard Coventry, had for the first time all the essentials for work – interesting problems, money, freedom, and last but not least, 75 acres of land on which I could grow crops in my own way and study their relation to insect and fungous pests and other things.  My real training in agricultural research then began – six years after leaving the University with paper qualifications and academic experience then needed by an investigator … I resolved to break new ground and try out an idea… to observe what happened when insect and fungous diseases were left alone and (page 160) allowed to develop unchecked, and where indirect methods only, such as improved cultivation and more efficient varieties were employed to prevent attack… I decided that I could not do better than watch the operations of these peasants (whose farms were “free from pests of all kinds) and acquire their traditional knowledge as rapidly as possible.  I regarded them as my professors of agriculture.  Another group of instructors were obviously the insects and fungi themselves (p. 161).  By  1910, I had learnt how to grow healthy crops practically free of disease, without  the slightest help from mycologists, entomologists, bacteriologists, agricultural chemists, clearing-houses of information, artificial manures, spraying machines, insecticides, fungicides, germicides, and all the other expensive paraphernalia of the modern Experiment Station.  I then posed to myself the principles which appeared to underlie the diseases of plants:
        1.  Insects and fungi are not the real cause of plant diseases but only attack unsuitable varieties or crops imperfectly grown.  Their true role is that of censors for pointing out the crops that are improperly nourished…In other words, the pests must be looked at as Natures Professors of Agriculture” as an integral portion of any rational system of farming.”
        2.  The policy of protecting crops from pests by means of sprays, powders, etc, is unscientific and unsound as, even when successful, such procedure merely preserves the unfit and obscures the real problem – how to grow healthy crops.
        3.  The burning of diseased plants seems to be unnecessary destruction of organic matter as no such provision as this exists in nature, in which insects and fungi all live and work…This suggested that the birthright of every crop is health and that the correct method of dealing with disease at an Experiment Station is not to destroy the parasite, but to make use of it for tuning up agricultural practice.  Applied to oxen.
P. 161:  It was necessary to have the work cattle under my own charge; to design their accommodation, and to arrange for their feeding, hygiene, and management.  At first this was refused but backed by the late Sir Robert Carlyle, I was allowed six pairs of oxen.
P. 162:  Animals were carefully selected, provided with suitable housing, and with fresh green fodder, silage, and grain, all produced from fertile land.  None of my animals were segregated; none inoculated, they frequently came in contact with diseased stock, rubbed noses with diseased stock in which foot and mouth cases occurred.  Nothing  happened, no infection took place… work with Lathyrus sativus; showed that surface rooted plants were always immune; deep rooted types always heavily infected; intermediate types always moderately infected…The insect, therefore, was not the cause, but the consequence of something else.
P. 163:  Tobacco plants infected with a virus…malformed plants.  “When care was devoted to the details of growing tobacco seed, the raising of seedlings in the nurseries, to transplanting and general soil management, the virus disease disappeared altogether …” Under favorable conditions other crops likewise did well.
P. 165:  It was soon discovered…that the thing that matters most in crop production is regular supply of well-made farm-yard manure and that the maintenance of soil fertility is the basis of health.
Humus and disease resistance:
Even at the Experiment Station the supply of farm-yard manure was insufficient.  Hard to increase the supply where cattle-dung had to be burnt for fuel.  After a delay of six years he left and moved to Indore in 1918 where he worked out the mycorrhizal association and his manner of producing compost.  The apple trees had been destroyed by caterpillars like condlin mothe. The quality of fruit was poor.  Nothing was done to control these pests beyond the gradual building up of the humus content of the soil.  In three years the parasites disappeared; the trees were transformed; the foliage and the new wood now leave nothing to be desired; the quality of fruit is first class.
Nature has provided a marvelous piece of machinery for conferring disease-resistance on the crop. The machinery is only active in soil rich in humus.  It is inactive or absent in infertile land and in similar soils manured with chemicals.  The fuel needed to keep this machinery in motion is a regular supply of freshly prepared humus, properly made.
P. 167:  The reaction of the tree to the various pests of the apple will answer this question.  No soil analysis can tell me as much as the trees can.
Chapter 12   Soil Fertility and National Heath – P. 171
Chapter 13   A protocol of present day agricultural research   Page 180
P. 207:  Sheet Composting:  By this is meant the automatic manufacture of humus in the upper layers of the soil.  Material to be provided: 1) vegetable residues- of stubble and roots of crops like cereals: 2) temporary leys for plowing up, which must always include deep-rooting plants and herbs:  and 3) green manures; catch crops and weeds.  Also provide reformed farmyard manure.  In addition, we need oxygen, moisture and warmth.  If properly farmed, the soil will neutralize acidity.  Oxygen from the atmosphere, moisture by soil, rain and dew.  Warmth by beginning before the land begins to cool in the late summer or early autumn.  Cover with only a light layer of earth.  A deep covering cuts off the oxygen.  If the soil is good, a second composting is possible by sowing a catch crop on the sheet composted land.  These make the fullest use of solar energy by some kind of crop (or weeds) in late summer or autumn.  Now a useful supply of humus will be created and ready for the nitrification for the next year’s crop.  Nitrogen fixers require organic matter, oxygen, moisture and a base such as calcium carbonate to prevent an acid condition of the soil, chalk or powdered limestone in relation to the local agriculture; (2) the conditions necessary for rapid growth and also for the formation of abundant nodules on the roots of the leguminous crop used for green manuring; (3) the chemical composition of the green crop at the moment it is plowed in; and, (4) the soil conditions during the period when decay takes place.  These four factors must first be explored and studied.”  See further explanations.

The following are from Notes on Soil and Health, 1947, Sir Albert Howard Published 1947, paperback 1972:
 P. 19:  Agriculture is an interference with Nature, harvesting, sowing, cultivation.  The farmer must obey Nature’s rules.
P. 23 - 26:  The soil is pulsating with life, living fungi, bacteria, and protozoa.  These fine fungous threads actually invade the cells of the plant micro-root and later are absorbed by the root and are absorbed (mycorrhizal).   Undecayed residue of vegetable and animal wastes plus dead bodies of bacteria and fungi are fermented by molds and microbes aerobically in the upper layers of soil, in the lower levels aerobically.  Ants, termites, and earthworms move this up and down or follow the channel of a root.
P. 26 - 29:  The presence of humus indicates that undecayed residue of vegetable and animal waste lying on the surface, combined with the dead bodies of these bacteria and fungi themselves, when they have done their work.  Forest wastes lie undisturbed, the top layer very loose, with ample air circulation for several inches downward aerobically.  The lower levels are packed more closely and the final manufacture of humus is now anaerobic.  Sunlight is tempered and rain broken up by the leaves above.  Air circulates freely protected from the cooling and drying effect of wind.  A cutoff to air and water will restrict 02 and cause an anaerobic condition.  Ants, termites, and earthworms move the humus deeper and upwards too, or follow the channel of a root. The subsoil of rock contains minerals, potash, phosphorus and many rarer elements.
P. 21: …the green leaf with its chlorophyll battery:  its efficiency of supreme importance…our sole final source of nutriment…no alternative supply.  The function of the green leaf armed with its chlorophyll is to manufacture the food the plant needs…two distinct ways in which the roots…collect materials (they) supply to the leaf. 
P. 22:   No food is supplied to the leaf, only raw stuff: the root hairs pass into the transpiration current of the plants, dissolved substance in the thin films of water around each particle of earth, the soil solution, CO2, O2, and chemical substances - nitrates, compounds of potassium, and phosphorus, etc.  Organic matter is continually reverting to the inorganic state, in the process of decay.
P. 10: Myccorrhizal association:  the mechanism by which living fungous threads (mycelium) invade the cells of young roots and are gradually digested (conifers and tea shrubs)  The earth’s green carpet is used by Nature to establish for itself a direct connection, a kind of living bridge, between its own life and the living portion of the soil.
P. 193:  The problem:  how best to maintain in health and efficiency the huge human population which has resulted from the Industrial Revolution.  The removal of food from the farms to cities with no attempt to return wastes to the land, thus depleting the soil’s capital; increase the efficiency of the earth’s green carpet.  This involves the solution of the problem of fertilizing.
P. 194: Agriculture as an interference with Nature:  the most elementary act of harvesting is an interruption:  the acts of cultivation, sowing, etc. are even more deliberate intrusions into the natural cycle; definite duties to the land are best summed up in the law of return:  (one) must also realize the significance of the stupendous reserves on which the natural machine works and which must be faithfully maintained… the agriculturalist must understand that he is a part of Nature; and cannot escape from his environment.  He must therefore obey Nature’s rules…Raising earth-borne crops on an exclusive diet of water and mineral dope – the so-called science of hydroponics—is science gone mad.
P. 195:  …the art of agriculture depends on the character of the intervention being comprehended and measures initiated to restore the natural cycle in a proper way; we must give back what we take out…increased crop and animal production over the last few generations of human life ignores the fact that these results depend on the PLUNDER OF THE CAPITAL OF THE SOIL.  How Nature maintains the earth’s surface in fertility by a slow creating and interchange of soils by means of weathering the location through the agency of water or wind.  Soils constantly shifted and redistributed thus preventing soils from becoming static, stale and worn out.   There is a vertical movement whereby the roots of trees draw up the minerals of the subsoil which then become distributed by the leaf fall. The constituents of the subsoil are there and, by means of the earthworm, are continually being added to the topsoil. Other interferences:  settlement of areas for cultivation and allocation of chosen crops, rotation of crops.  Dangers: general neglect of vegetable wastes, animal wastes, human wastes.
Dispersal of animal wastes.
P. 197:  Roots of trees break up the subsoil and search for minerals such as phosphate, potash, and trace elements.
P. 197:   subsoiler to break up the subsoil (Hardpan)
P. 206:  Decomposition without putrefaction is the principle of composting.  Adequate oxygen is needed.
P. 207:  Substituting the compost heap for the manure heap is best; Chinese composted animal and vegetable wastes together.  A third method - sheet composting encouragement of the non-symbiotic soil organisms like Azobacter, to fix nitrogen.  Raw materials; vegetable residues, stubble roots of crops, 2) Temporary leys for plowing up including deep-rooting plants and herbs (Alfalfa) and 3) green-manures, catch crops and weeds.  The Fullest use of solar energy is attained by always having the soil in the catch crops and weeds and by always having the soil in the late summer or autumn under a crop of some kind or even under weeds.  Vegetable matter must always be made and then converted to humus for the following year.
 P. 209:  The towns are parasitic on the country.  This will have to stop.  Cities need to compost crude sewage plus vegetable wastes.
The Indore process, pp. 211 and following pages.
P. 209:  The city dustbin refuse, rather than being buried or incinerated, should be turned into compost by the help of the crude sewage from the mains…The latter can be used as an activator, either directly or filtered, and then converted (the sludge) into powder, at the same time rendering the filtrate innocuous by chlorination.  Both this dried sludge and crude sewage are excellent substitutes for animal activators.  A small amount of dried sludge – about 1% of the dry weight of the vegetable matter used – is sufficient to active the vegetable wastes.  The use of crude sewage is also practicable; long shallow pits may be filled with several layers of baled straw and dustbin refuse, which can then be readily moistened and activated by the sewage without the least nuisance and converted into compost (excellent in some three months.)
. 210:  Summary:
    1) The manurial problem can be best solved by copying the methods of Nature.
    2) The circulation of minerals between subsoil and soil must be restored by means of aforestation and the subsoiler followed by the use of deep-rooting plants in the temporary ley.
    3)  The nitrogen problem can be solved by:  (a) the reform of the manure heap: (b) by the sheet composting of stubbles, green manures, catch-crops, and weeds: (c) by assisting the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen.
    4) An ample supply of compost in the neighborhoods of towns and cities can be provided by introducing municipal composting on the lines now successful in S. Africa.
Sheet composting: pp. 207, 208, 210.

© Robert B. Ragland Foundation, Inc.