What's Wrong With Agriculture?
Why is topsoil eroding by the ton around the world? Why do we use powerful pesticides and herbicides that pollute the land? Why do we plant hybrid crops that destroy our health and vitality? Why do we plant modern, high-yield crop varieties when they are more susceptible to weather and diseases than older, less productive varieties? What's wrong with agriculture? Men have been deceived (2 Cor. 4:4; Rev. 12:9) into altering genetic structure, manipulating natural forms, and rebelling against natural law -- which is Satan's way -- rather than working in harmony with proper agricultural principles. We must get in step with the laws in nature regulating growth and reproduction, to dress the garden and the farm as an effective husbandman. Otherwise "Cursed shalt thou be in the field" and our crops will be smitten "with blasting and with mildew [a disease of plants consumed by fungi] until [we] perish" (Deuteronomy 28:16,22).
Notice what the Bible says. "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit AFTER HIS KIND, whose SEED IS IN ITSELF" (Gen. 1:11). Did you catch it? Seed that reseeds itself, reproduces its own kind -- NOT A HYBRID, but OPEN POLLINATED by another of the same genetic background. Seed saved from hybrid plants will not properly reproduce its own kind. To stress its importance, this instruction was reiterated ten different times. It is all in the first chapter of the Bible. If seeds are properly selected and reproduced they will maintain quality and productivity. Hybrid plants do not yield seed that reproduces AFTER ITS KIND. Instead, they produce deceptive freaks that look good but can be devastated by one season's disease.
LAW ONE: Hybrid Crops and Hybrid Livestock Are Forbidden (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:9).
"Ye shall keep my statutes . .. thou shalt not sow thy field with MINGLED seed" (Leviticus 19:19). This will improve food quality and decrease genetic vulnerability by providing a wider selection of varieties. "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with DIVERS SEEDS: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be DEFILED" (Deut. 22:9). Vegetables such as squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and watermelon should not be planted near eachother because the wind will cross-pollinate them and produce inferior quality and flavor (Lev. 19:19). However, cantaloupes will not mix and may be planted next to most any vegetable.
Farmers today rely heavily on hybrid crops grown in chemically fertilized soil and sprayed with powerful herbicides, fungicides and pesticides. Cotton and corn, in particular, cannot survive without the protection of these chemicals. This pollutes the environment and lowers food quality. Purebred seed stocks don't need this "help." Animals are crossbred or inbred, reared on concentrated feed, injected with powerful drugs and kept tightly confined. What is the result? Reduced meat and milk quality and lowered natural resistance to disease. Organically grown crops will eliminate pollution and increase produce quality. This will also help in pest control. As British agriculturist Sir Albert Howard said, "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 and so keeping our agriculture up to the mark" (An Agricultural Testament, page 161).
Agricultural pests can also be controlled through natural predators (ladybugs, praying mantises, lace-wing flies and orange and black spotted beetles), crop diversification and rotation and use of nontoxic substances. But what about weeds? Like pests, they tend to thrive where conditions are imperfect. As Dr. Harold Willis says in his book The Coming Revolution in Agriculture: "In general, weeds grow best on poor, out-of-balance soil. This is their function in nature, to cover bare spots and waste places and prevent erosion. When they die they help build humus." As soil conditions improve, weeds tend to disappear. Those that don't can be eliminated by cultivation and mulching. Livestock will be raised far differently in the future. Selective breeding, but not cross-breeding or inbreeding, will enhance the quality of animals raised for food (Leviticus 19:19, Genesis 30:41-43). Foraging in large, lush pastures so they can move about as intended will improve the health of animals. Their diet will be of grass (Ps. 104:14) or top-quality grain feed (Isaiah 30:23-24). Many animals will be put to use doing farm work (Deuteronomy 22:10). This will end our dependence on farm machinery, which produces pollution rather than manure, and requires a mechanic and fuel rather than providing meat and milk while mowing the grass.
Open-Pollinated Diversity Not Hybrid Monoculture
"Hybrids...are more UNIFORM from plant to plant than non-hybrids" making the harvest come all at once, which is a disadvantage. More diversity spreads out the work load over a greater time. Any so-called benefits such as "higher yields" or " improved disease resistance" come at a price of higher maintenance and reduced quality of the crop itself. Hybrids grow "larger and stronger than non-hybrids", but at the expense of the whole organism. "The primary disadvantage of hybrids is the seeds cannot be saved from year to year. Seeds saved from hybrid plants usually will not produce the same plant the following year because most varieties are NOT SELF-SUSTAINING. Offspring of hybrids usually show an UNPREDICTABLE MIXTURE of characteristics from the grandparent plants instead of being similar to the parent.... the TASTE of hybrid vegetables does not equal that of heirloom varieties.... Open-pollinated, also known as heirloom or standard, plants are varieties that have STABLE TRAITS from one generation to the next. Open pollinated plants are fairly similar to each other but not as uniform as hybrids. Because most were originally chosen for only one or two specific characteristics, individual plants of older heirloom varieties may DIFFER GREATLY in size, shape, or other traits. Open pollinated varieties are usually grown in fields where they self and cross-pollinate. Wind and insects carry the pollen from one plant to another. Plants that cross-pollinate MUST BE ISOLATED from other plants of different varieties so they will produce seed that is "true to type." Beans, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes are self-pollinating so they are easier to continue year to year without having to isolate them from other varieties of plants. Genetic "drift" can occur over a period of time. Plants that deviate too far from the accepted standard are removed from commercial nursery fields of open pollinated varieties. Likewise, home gardeners should DESTROY HIGHLY UNUSUAL PLANTS if you are trying to preserve an open pollinated variety. Removal of these rogue plants prevents them from pollinating other plants and producing too much variation. The advantage of open pollinated seeds is that the home gardener from year to year and generation to generation may continue heirloom plants by careful seed saving. Open pollinated plants provide a LARGER GENE POOL for future breeding." (Hybrids & Heirlooms by Barbara Larson; emphasis and comments added)
The serious Southern Corn Leaf Blight of 1970 affected only certain HYBRID strains of corn in the U.S. But because of the NARROW GENETIC BASE over a wide spread area, 20% of the total U.S. corn crop was destroyed. All plants had IDENTICAL parentage and therefore were all subject to the same strain of disease. It was reported that it didn't affect OPEN-POLLINATED varieties grown on soil properly fertilized with ORGANIC FERTILIZERS. Some hybrid lines were tolerant to the blight. But an alarming 90% of HYBRID seed corn used in the United States was apparently susceptible. Heavy applications of expensive chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are essential for the HYBRIDS to perform. Insect pests and plant diseases INCREASE where HYBRIDS are grown. Diseases such as corn and rice blight are one of the hazards of HYBRID varieties. HYBRIDS are nutritionally INFERIOR and unable to utilize some of the minerals that are available to a pure variety. "DIVERSITY provides stability in biological systems, a resistance to biological and environmental catastrophes or upsets," writes Dr. Richard J. Vogl, Professor of Botany at California State College, Los Angeles. By contrast, "MONOCULTURES lead to ecological complications" (Ecology Today, May 1971). Monocultures are single crops planted over large acreages, the opposite of diversity. Monoculture is the basis of modern agriculture. Corn, wheat, cotton, soybeans and just about every commercial crop is grown in this manner. (Can We Learn To Feed the World in Time by Jerry Gentry, June 1972, Plain Truth).
The Armour Institute of Research in Chicago conducted tests on 16 farms and found that HYBRID corn failed to absorb adequate amounts of the necessary trace minerals through its roots. No cobalt was absorbed by the HYBRID corn tested. The open-pollinated corn did absorb the necessary amount of trace minerals, including cobalt. The lack of cobalt is instrumental in the cause of Brucellosis and Undulant Fever. The experiment also proved that just as the HYBRID corn was lacking in minerals, so it was lacking in adequate protein. No HYBRID showed more than than seven or eight percent protein, whereas the open-pollinated corn tested 13 percent protein. The real basis of health and resistance to disease is proper maintenance of soil fertility. But when plants are bred to disallow the intake of balanced plant food from fertile soil, the result is an inferior product. The crop becomes DISEASED and is effectively labeled so by such DISEASES as rust, smut, mildew, root-rot or insects which attack it. It is worth repeating, that British agriculturist Sir Albert Howard said, "Insects and fungi are not the real cause of plant diseases but only attack unsuitable varieties (hybrids), or crops imperfectly grown. Their true role is that of censors for pointing out the crops that are improperly nourished and so keeping our agriculture up to the mark" (An Agricultural Testament, page 161). Otherwise those crops would pass on MALNUTRITION to animals and humans. Both fertile soil and pure seed are necessary for a plant to resist disease and to produce truly quality seed for the next generation. HYBRIDIZATION is an attempt to pass off the ABNORMAL -- the sterile, the "odd-ball," the reject of nature - as normal and acceptable even desirable. The corn blight pestilence was caused -- it did not just happen. It is the warning of nature that we are PERVERTING our food crops and undermining our health. (see "A Curse on our Land" by Dale L. Shurter, March 1971, Plain Truth). Livestock fed hybrid corn must be given diet supplements of protein-rich fish meal and soybean meal.
If you go back to 1880, the protein content of Kansas wheat was 24%. By 1950, it had dropped to an average of 18% ... Right now, its running between 7% and 13%. This is caused by 1.) the overuse of the land without resting it and 2.) the use of hybrid seed. "Some of the successes that have attended corn production may have been the result of distorted accounting procedures. In terms of nutrients, open pollinated still has an enviable record. Adolph Steinbronn of Fairbanks Iowa put the matter in perspective by having two samples of corn tested for ingredients usually added to commercial feeds ... Compared to some 4,000 samples of [hybrid] corn tested in ten Midwest states in a single year, Steinbronn's OP corn contained 75% more crude protein, 875% more copper, 345% more iron and 205% more manganese. The same trrend has also been seen in the content of calcium, sodium, magnesium and zinc ...No hybrid picked up cobalt ... The core of vitamin B-12 is cobalt ... a lack of cobalt is ... a cause of brucellosis and undulant fever ... In the opinion of many eco-farmers, hybrid corn merely masks poor farming by producing bins and bushels without the nutrient goodies that are really corn's reason for being." (An Acres USA Primer by Charles Walters, Jr. and C.J. Fenzau, p.38). Every commercial food crop in this country has a similar nutritional deficiency.
LAW TWO: Since Soil "Wears Out", Let It Rest On the Seventh Year Land Sabbath So Nutrients Can Be Restored (Ex. 23:10-11: Lev. 25:4)
Oklahoma State University ran a series of tests on the rate and speed of plant decay. The tests demonstrated that a variety of plants (weeds included) decompose in Oklahoma, whose climate is about average, at varying rates, but finally and completely in SIX YEARS. The sabbatical (land rest) year falls one in seven (Lev. 25:1-7). Therefore, the raw material that helps feed soil life, and rejuvenate the soil, NEED ONLY be given back ONE YEAR in seven for another six years of nourishment. But for best results, organic matter should be returned to the soil each year, not just in the sabbatical year.
We read that "six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard" (Ex. 23:10-11). The commencement of the SABBATH YEAR is in the fall, perhaps on the Feast of Ingathering or harvest of the year. But what is the penalty for failure to obey this law? "I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you ... Then shall the LAND enjoy her SABBATHS, as long as it lieth DESOLATE ... even then shall the LAND rest, and enjoy her SABBATHS" (Lev. 26:33-34).
Today the land is BEING DESTROYED rapidly. Through EROSION, a third of the topsoil in the United States alone has been lost. It has been made DESOLATE. What remains is LOSING FERTILITY and soil life. This tragic example is being repeated around the world, with many areas in even worse shape already. With biblical farming methods, these problems will end. Needed microorganisms and worms -- nature's plows -- will abound. No longer will they be destroyed by harmful chemicals. The emphasis will be on organic farming that builds soil fertility. Proper crop selection, diversification and rotation will be practiced. Minimum tillage will replace today's destructive cultivation practices. Contour cultivation will be the rule. Hedgerows, windbreaks and wildlife areas will eliminate farming one field right next to another (Isaiah 5:8).
Every seventh year, the LAND SABBATH will give the land a chance to rest and restore its nutrients: " But in the seventh year there shall be a SABBATH of solemn rest for the LAND, a SABBATH to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard" (Leviticus 25:4). As God said, "The SABBATH of the LAND shall be meat (food) for ... thy CATTLE and for the BEAST that are in thy land" (Lev. 25:6-7). The SABBATICAL YEAR works against the monoculture of grain since it is compulsory "free-range" GRAZING which provides manure fertilization. "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that he may bring forth food out of the earth" (Ps. 104:14).
Furthermore, if legumes such as American Sweet Clover, are planted just BEFORE the Sabbath Year begins, they can be mown regularly DURING the Sabbath Year and left on the field as green manure. This is not harvesting. "That which groweth of its own accord of your harvest, thou shalt not reap" (Lev. 25:5). Massive top-cover left on the field keeps the soil warm all winter and promotes continuous soil building by earthworms and micro-organisms. "Topping" with a mower should be done perhaps as many as three or four times during the Sabbatical Year. The more often it is cut, the more often it needs cutting. This is a first class source of food for earthworms and micro-organisms. Increased growth above ground is accompanied by an increase in root growth below ground and together they add many tons of of additional "green manure" to the soil during the year of rest. That tonnage is over and above what the grazing animals return in wastes from their own bodies. What effect does the return of all this plant and animal manure have? It improves the texture and moisture-holding ability of the soil. These qualities provide a favorable environment in which earthworms and micro-organisms multiply as they decompose the dead plant matter. This in turn provides the nutrition for healthy plant growth. The more a farmer gives to the soil, the more it will return to him in abundant crops and health and strength (Gal. 6:7). It is the CONTINUOUS HARVESTING of crops-- especially grains -- that destroys soil. "God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it" (Gen. 2:15). The Hebrew means to serve, protect, and preserve the garden. Poor can come and take whatever they need. Following a grain harvest, many fields may be almost devoid of volunteer new growth. The farmer will then often need to sow the legumes to help along the process of soil fertility. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, American Sweet Clover does much to raise soil fertility. Dead plant matter is vital because it is the food for the soil and if the soil is to stay alive -- it must be fed. Tests have shown that seven years are the precise time it takes for complete organic decomposition in the average climate. Furthermore, farmers are plagued today with insects. Yet God gave a sure-fire remedy to control pests centuries ago. Moses commanded Israel to set aside one year in seven when no crops were raised. Insects winter in the stalks of last year’s harvest, hatch in the spring, and are perpetuated by laying eggs in the new crop. If the crop is denied one year in seven, the pests have nothing to subsist upon, and are thereby controlled. And this promoted soil conservation. (see "A Sabbath Rest For the Land" by Colin D. Sutcliffe, Good News, April, 1969)
"Nothing is more obvious than the vigorous way in which nature takes over when land has been abandoned by farmers. All through the South, farmers have for generations "rested" their land for a number of years between periods of cropping. This practice used to be criticized severely as an evidence of laziness, but agriculturalists have discovered that it really has merit, and that soil so treated is considerably rejuvenated and will again produce satisfactory crops. The benefits to be derived from allowing land to lie idle are directly proportionate to the abundance of wild plants that spring up. Southern farmers of the old school never kept their crops so free from weeds that there would not be plenty of seed to germinate on any land that was left to itself for a season or two. The second and third seasons' growth of weeds registered, by their increased height and vigor, the benefit the new plants received from the decaying material produced the previous year. The longer the fields lay idle, the more completely they were restored to normal productiveness. If many years intervened between plantings, however, a young forest might have to be cleared off the land again, so farmers usually renewed cropping after three or four fallow seasons. Such processes of soil renewal really should not be construed as idleness for the soil. In reality the so-called idle soil is working vigorously to re-establish a non-erosive surface. If there are enough weed seeds in the soil when it is abandoned, only a few years will be required for the surface to be properly 'nailed down' again, so that runoff water will not be so plentiful or so effective in moving the soil minerals." (pp. 34-35, Plowman's Folly, Faulkner).
God promises the obedient that He will "satisfy your soul in drought ... and you shall be like an irrigated garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isa. 58:11). God says, "You shall serve the Eternal your God and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you. None shall cast her young or be barren in your land" (Lev. 23:35-36).
Again, in 2 Chronicles 6:13-14 God promised us, “When I shut up the heavens that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people [Christians today] who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAYS, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and HEAL THEIR LAND.” There it is! God’s people must obey God -- and that includes the keeping of the SABBATH YEAR which HEALS THE LAND. He even promises, "I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year; and it shall bring forth produce for three years" (Lev. 25:20-22) -- three years of harvested crops.
In the past when Israel refused to obey the SEVENTH YEAR SABBATH, notice what happened: We have a record of this in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21: “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants of him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the Word of the Eternal by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the LAND had enjoyed her SABBATHS: for as long as she [the LAND] lay desolate she kept SABBATH, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” Every SABBATICAL YEAR unkept meant a year in captivity for Judah! God's corrective measures are sure -- Israel, too, will be desolate and the LAND will soon enjoy her SABBATHS because the people refuse to turn to God and keep His SABBATICAL YEARS. God warned Israel in Leviticus 26:14-25 what would happen if they disobeyed this law. Israel was to receive severe punishments in four progressively worsening stages unless the nation repented.
Some have thought this prophecy applies only to Israel’s first punishment, and isn’t for us today. They quote verse 22: “I will also send WILD BEASTS among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you FEW in number; and your ways (roads) shall be desolate.” Those who are scoffers will say, “That is no concern of ours: there are not enough WILD BEASTS in this nation to do any serious damage.” Don’t you believe it! We are already getting a foretaste of this condition. Peoria, Illinois was recently invaded by MUSKRATS (rabbit-sized marsh dwellers) which were driven by hunger to leave the Illinois River. They came into the city and attacked several people (from Pasadena Independent, news item). Another similar incident, of greater danger and longer duration, is happening on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, at the southwestern corner of Canada. The island’s large COUGAR population is suffering from a shortage of deer and other natural prey. As a result of their hunger, many COUGARS, especially the half-starved females, have gone into the towns, even entering houses, to attack people, watchdogs, and housecats
(Field and Stream magazine, December, 1955, page 46, article, “Crazy Cougars” by Frank Dufresne). Also there are more than 20 million DOGS in the United States. When our national food supply diminished to famine proportions, many of these DOGS may shift for themselves and run in packs, attacking sheep, poultry and cattle.
If a man or his family were poor managers of the land, or failed in operating their inheritance, they were given a fresh start every fifty years (Lev. 25:10-16) in the Jubilee Year. This was a measure to cut down land-grabbing absentee landlords from building real estate empires. "Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth" (Isa. 5:8)
You Are What You Eat
The soil is the foundation of health. The soil is the basis for either good health or poor health. No matter who you are or where you live, your food comes directly or indirectly from the ground. The soil makes available to plants the essential elements needed for their growth. In turn, man and the animals man eats depend on these plants for their nutrients. In other words, you are, in a sense, physically, emotionally and mentally what you eat. If you eat foods which lack nutritional value, your body and emotions pay the penalty. Plants and animals raised on weak, unbalanced soil are inferior food products. Such foods result in weak, degenerate and disease-prone human beings. Deficient soils produce deficient men. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye" (1 Cor. 3:17). Peter set us an example here since he was able to boast that he had never eaten corrupt food (Acts 10:14). But just what IS this miracle we call soil? How does it work? What is its function in the cycle of life? ("Sick Soil" by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, June-July 1970, Plain Truth).
What is Soil?
Fertile topsoil is a valuable and indispensable natural resource. It has an average depth of seven or eight inches over the face of the land. In a few areas, this life-sustaining layer of earth may be several feet deep; in many other areas it is considerably less than even seven or eight inches. "If that layer of topsoil could be represented on a 24-inch globe it would be as a film three-millionths of one inch thick. That thin film is all that stands between man and extinction" (Mickey, Man and the Soil, pages 17-18). This thin layer of earth sustains ALL PLANT, ANIMAL and HUMAN LIFE! The soil is not, as many suppose, a dead, inert substance which merely supplies mineral elements to plants and gives them a place to anchor their roots. A healthy soil is vibrantly alive and dynamic. It teems with bacteria, fungi, molds, yeasts, protozoa, algae, worms, insects and other minute organisms which live mostly in its top few inches. This hive of living creatures in the soil, the eaters and the eaten, adds up to incredible numbers. The bacteria alone may range from a comparative few up to three or four billion in a single gram of soil. In good soil the bacterial matter, living and dead, may weigh as much as 5,600 pounds per acre (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
The fungi in a gram of soil may weigh over 1,000 pounds to the acre. It is estimated that about 95 percent of the roughly one million insect species spend part of their lives in the soil. And then there is the humble earth-worm. He is nature's plow, chemist, cultivator, maker and distributor of plant food. Rich soil easily supports a worm population of 26,000 per acre. All this teeming soil life plays a vital role in keeping the soil healthy and building it up. The soil is not solid. It is actually composed of billions of grains or soil particles. These range in size from smaller than 1/2000 of an inch up to 1/12 of an inch in diameter. Each of these tiny soil particles is covered with a tight-fitting film of oxides, water and bits of organic matter, which provides a habitation for the teeming soil life. The surface area of these particles is staggering. One ounce of soil can easily have surfaces adding up to 250,000 square feet - about six acres! Soil is composed of 1) minerals, dirt or disintegrated rock particles; 2) organic matter -- dead remains of plants and animal wastes; and 3) a vast community of living organisms. When organic matter is decaying by the action of soil life upon it, it is a most important substance, known as humus (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Why Humus Vital to Soil
Organic matter is obtained from living and dead plants and animals, plant roots, "green manure" crops, animal manures, crop residues, fungi, bacteria, worms, insects, etc. This organic matter is the raw material that is spoken of as humus while it is being broken down and decaying through the action of the complex mass of soil microorganisms and earthworms upon it. This digestive action produces humic acids which make minerals soluble. The end result of this blended mixture is true plant food. The importance of humus cannot be stressed too strongly. The more humus a soil contains, the healthier it is. Here are a few reasons why: When it rains, soils with humus soak up the water. Humus is so porous it can hold at least its own volume in water. A four-inch rain on humus-rich soil causes little or no runoff; one-half inch on humus-poor land will cause erosion and some flooding in lower areas. Humus improves the physical condition of the soil, supports the soil's organisms, increases improves aeration and stabilizes the soil's temperature. Yet to do all this, humus need not be more than five percent of the topsoil in most instances (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Why Soil "Wears Out"
When minerals, organic matter and soil microorganisms are present in balance for a particular type of soil, that soil is fertile and healthy. But all too often this balance is upset. How? By the serious depletion of humus, due to improper cultivation practices, unchecked erosion, continued monoculture and failure to restore to the soil what the preceding harvests have taken from it. Modern agriculture practices the substitution of synthetic fertilizers for humus that is not being replenished in the soil. The "replacing" of humus by artificial means does stimulate plant growth, but it also continues to upset the vitally needed balance and blended mixture of minerals, organic matter and soil life found only in humus. Chemical fertilizers add only a part of the mineral portion of the critically important soil mixture essential to good health. But an unbalanced soil is not normally caused by a lack of minerals, as many believe. Even in relatively poor soils there is normally a large reserve of minerals. Noted soil scientist Eric Eweson states that the supply of major minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium is normally a hundred to a thousand times more than the seasonal requirements of most crops. The supply of the vital trace minerals -- boron, iron, copper, nickel, fluorine, manganese, iodine, etc. -- is also generally more than adequate. What is most often missing is sufficient organic matter and the soil life which is necessary to break down the permeability, dirt materials into food forms the plants can assimilate and use. Even mineral-rich soil usually lacks enough nutrients in available form for vigorous plant growth. Humus, then, is a key to soil balance and fertility (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Cain sought to gain his livlihood by farming methods which DEPLETED THE SOIL. He "was wholly intent upon GETTING and he first contrived to PLOUGH the ground ... God was more delighted with the latter oblation (of Abel), when he was honored with what grew naturally of its own accord, than he was with what was the invention of a covetous man, and gotten by FORCING the ground" (Ant. 1:2:1). "And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive (wanderer) and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth" (Gen. 4:11-12). If Cain and his descendants had been allowed to continue their agricultural EXPLOITATION of the land, the soil would have been DEPLETED long ago. But God put a stop to it.
Types of Fertilizers
True fertilization is the addition to the soil of that which is conducive to increasing soil life. Fertilizers are generally recognized in two groups -- organic and inorganic. The organic are made up of organic matter and microbes. Inorganic fertilizers are basically comprised of minerals and are available in two major types. One type is made up simply of ground-up minerals such as rock phosphate, rock potash, lime-stone and rock salt as they are found in their natural state. This type of fertilizer is not generally dissolved by water, but is gradually changed into plant food by the action of microbes, earthworms and organic acids that are formed by the decomposition of organic matter. The other type of inorganic fertilizers consists of chemical fertilizers. These are easily soluble in water and cause corrosive action. Chemical fertilizers are manufactured products and are commonly advertised and sold on the market for quick results. Most farmers and gardeners use them, and feel they could not get along without them (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
When Nature Is Unspoiled
In nature there is no need for special fertilizers. Plants and animals live together and their litter accumulates on the surface to compost and decay, thus making a health-sustaining, humus-rich soil. The whole life cycle in the soil becomes a self-regulating system as long as it is undisturbed by outside forces. When man enters the picture, however, it becomes a different story. He plows up virgin land to grow crops. The increased oxygen made available by plowing stimulates the bacteria into breaking down the organic matter more rapidly. Then man removes his crops from the soil, thus further taking from its reserves. When he has thus "mined" the soil until it can no longer produce profitably, he moves on -- or at least he did until this century. But now there are no new lands to exploit. Since 1880, it is estimated that about half of the humus in the Midwest has been lost -- the loss greatly intensifying in recent years. The situation is probably equally bad or worse in many other heavily farmed regions of the world (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
It doesn't have to be this way. With a little more effort and a lot less greed, man could return organic matter to the soil and build humus. But he seems to be hopelessly greedy and short-sighted. He would rather borrow from the soil's capital and ignore repaying this debt until necessity demands it. Necessity is now banging on the door! Desperately, man is looking to chemical fertilizers to bail him out and to repay his debt to the soil. But can chemical fertilizers truly restore soil fertility? No they cannot (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
LAW THREE: Add Organic Compost to Soil: Wood Ash, Silt, Inedible Parts of Vegetables, Pulverized Animal Bones, Dead Leaves, Rotten Wood and Manure (Lev. 23:22; 17:13-14; Deut. 23:12-15)
Not only was the land to lay fallow every seventh year, but God also instructed farmers to leave the GLEANINGS when reaping their fields, and not to reap the CORNERS (sides) of their fields. This served several purposes: 1) Vital soil minerals would be maintained. 2) The hedge row would limit wind erosion. 3) The poor could eat the gleanings. Today, approximately four billion metric tons of soil are lost from U.S. crop lands each year. Much of this soil depletion could be avoided if God’s commands were followed. Latrines must be outside the camp -- preferably moved daily around a farmer's fields (Deut. 23:12-15) and away from food and water, wells and streams (Ez. 4:12). The excrement was covered with earth using a shovel (Deut. 23:12-15) to prevent flies from spreading germs from feces to food. The blood of slaughtered animals was also covered with dust (Lev. 17:13-14).
"For thousands of years, people burned wood for fuel and scattered the ASHES on their garden. The ASHES are 95% MINERALS and 5% carbon. Plants suck up the minerals. Corn, beans, tomatoes squash, fruits ... We got our minerals that way. On September 4th, 1882 in New York City on Pearl Street, we got electricity. In ten years every city and town in the industrialized world had converted from WOOD as heat to electricity, so there were no more WOOD ASHES. People liked electricity so politicians could get elected by guaranteeing hydro-electric powerplants. For thousands of years spring floods would bring SILT and when the waters receded it would leave the SILT behind and so there was an accummulation of MINERALS. But when dams were built, no more spring flooding and no more SILT deposits occurred to replenish the MINERALS in soil. This is why you must supplement to fend off disease and reach your genetic potential and intelligence. 90 essential nutrients." -- Dr. Joel Wallach
In addition, OUTHOUSES were replaced with septic tanks and sewer lines and sewage treatment plants so that a farmer could no longer use his own DUNG or FECES as COMPOST or FERTILIZER or MANURE. Cows spread 35 pounds of MANURE on pasture land per day per cow. But agribusiness instituted the animal feedlot where thousands of animals are confined to cages or pens for intensive feeding before butchering. Livestock used to graze in open fields or farmyards, replenishing the soil which nourished them with their MANURE. Today, animal feedlots produce over 750 million tons of wastes every year -- wastes which cannot easily be returned to the soil and instead become a major contributor to water pollution. One 10,000 animal lot produces sewage equivalent to a city of 164,000 people.
"...the Hunza soil is almost a manufactured soil. Every solitary thing that can serve as food for vegetables, field crops and fruit trees is diligently collected, sytored and distributed in rationed equality over every square foot of the hundreds of terraces. Sunken compost pits are conveniently located, and into them go ashes from cooking and heating fires, inedible parts of vegetables, pulverized animal bones, dead leaves, rotten wood and the collected manure of animals." -- Dr. Allen E. Banik, Hunza Land
"We owned ... the poorest land in the bottoms; and my father was pitied by the neighbors when he bought it.... it no longer had the benefit of the decomposable material which the river water at one time brought. The neighbors meantime viewed with critical eyes the strange things my father was doing on that land. He hauled in MANURE from a near-by town, also ASHES from a tannery when he could get them, and he bought a carload of FERTILIZERS each spring, part of which he resold to any neighbors who were willing to take a chance on such stuff. And, while he was doing this, the neighbors continued to depend upon the decreasing increment of FLOOD DEBRIS from up-river." (p.73, Plowman's Folly) "I have since seen one-hundred-bushel crops of corn on this same land ... For many years the strip of land we owned stood out as the greenest part of all the bottoms" (p. 73, ibid.).
Plants and animals raised on eroded and depleted soil are inferior producers of foods. And such foods result in sick, degenerate and disease-prone human beings. "The most serious loss resulting from . . . soil exhaustion," warns Mickey, " is not quantitative, but qualitative. It has to do with the quality of life the soil supports" (Man and the Soil, p. 33). For example, both the birthrate and the virility of the population declined because of soil depletion in all parts of the Roman Empire except Egypt. It is recorded that the Romans marveled at the birthrate in Egypt, whose soil was fertilized each year by the Nile (Simkhovitch, Rome's Fall Reconsidered, p. 112). Soil lacking in calcium and phosphorus lacks the elements of proper bone growth of both animals and humans. Soils lacking in organically produced nitrates and other minerals produce vegetation lacking in the proteins essential to the building and repair of body tissues. It has long been known that animals raised on the world's choice limestone soils like those around Lexington, Kentucky and Florida's uplands, for example, have stronger bones, sounder flesh, greater endurance, and longer lives than animals raised on soils less rich in bone and muscle-building minerals. That is why breeders of race horses in the U.S. have practically taken over the Kentucky bluegrass region and much of FIorida's limestone land. The same applies to humans. The baby won't have good bones if fed a formula made of milk from a cow whose feed came from a soil deficient in calcium and phosphorus. And the adult won't build muscle and good red blood by eating a steak from a steer fed on grasses and grain from leached and eroded soils devoid of protein-building minerals and iron. "Much remains to be done in the study of the relationship of the soil to the mineral and vitamin requirements of human diet, but much has been done. And what is known points unequivocally to the fact that deficient soils produce deficient men" (Man and the Soil, pp. 3-4) ("World Crisis in Agriculture", by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, April 1969, Plain Truth).
We need to GIVE BACK to the soil by replacing and building up the supply of humus. Basically this can be done through heavy "green manure" cropping and the returning of other organic material such as crop residues, animal manures, etc. to the soil. Instead of bare fallow between grain cash crops, plant legumes to reduce the impact of wind and water erosion of the soil. Legumes add free symbiotically-fixed nitrogen. Rotate crops between grains and legumes each season. Details on building the humus supply are commonly available. Animal waste in the U. S. alone is equal to the sewage of two billion people. It amounts to a billion tons per year! "Waste" is not really the right word, for manure is not to be wasted but carefully used to maintain soil fertility. Manure used to be carefully collected, composted and used on the land. Today its disposal is one of the livestock industry's biggest headaches. Instead of being a pollutant, as it is now assumed to be, it should be looked upon and handled as an asset and returned to the soil. We need to make efficient use of all organic refuse. Why pollute our rivers and lakes with organic wastes when such material could be used to enrich the land? It doesn't make sense! (ibid., Walter and Shurter)
Careful attention also needs to be given to soil ecology. For example, the earth renews itself from top to bottom. The biological activity of the soil takes place somewhat in layers. If this layer-type activity is inverted the renewal process is interrupted. Therefore, any practice which inverts the soil should not be continued. Thus manures and other matter should be added to the soil's surface.
LAW FOUR: Avoid Pesticides and Herbicides -- They Commit Murder All The Way Up the Food Chain (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17)
Factory farms have perverted the food supply. "Avoid ... oppositions of science falsely so called" (1 Tim. 6:20). They are diabolically oriented toward the ultimate destruction of mankind. Chemical pesticides and herbicides affect not only insects and plants, but man himself. They don't know when to stop killing. You consume, in your food, pesticides originally meant for insects. And you carry these chemicals around in your body. More than a billion pounds of pesticides have already accumulated in the earth's air, water, soil, living plants and animals; and the amount grows daily. What these POISONS are doing to the entire web of life -- and to personal health -- is only beginning to be known. Pesticides such as DDT were passed up the food chain -- from phytoplankton to zoo-plankton, shrimp, small fish, larger fish and then fish-eating birds. By the time we get to the birds, the concentration may have accumulated an astounding 10 million times over the original amount present in the ocean water. Likewise on land, these poisons are extremely destructive to microorganisms and other minute forms of life and life-processes in the soil. Interference with these little-understood -- but vitally important -- links in the ecological cycle have profound effects. Land birds, for example, accumulate DDT by eating DDT-affected earthworms, caterpillars, etc. Since man eats some animals high up on the food chain, the potential danger to man is obvious. Those pesticides that do break down, don't just "disappear." As each pesticide breaks down "It becomes another chemical that may be less or more toxic than its parent," warns Dr. Alice Ottoboni of the California State Public Health Dept. "You have polluted my inheritance" (Num. 35:33; Jer. 16:18). "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet. 5:8) by POISON.
Many animals living in rural areas cannot survive with pesticides. The pesticide-linked reproductive failures of predaceous birds, the suppressed growth of female white-tailed deer, and the altered behavior patterns of trout and and mosquito fish have all been widely documented, as have the increased resistance of target pests to their chemical killers and the danger these chemicals present to humans.
A major problem with using pesticides is that natural enemies of the pest are often killed along with the pest. Since these natural enemies were partially successful in controlling the pest population, wiping them out temporarily leaves the pest free of important natural restraints. Under these circumstances, the pest will develop a resistance through mutation and again multiply before the natural enemies can multiply to control them. This resistance of insects to pesticides is a mounting worldwide problem. Between 1908 and 1945 only 13 species of insects had developed resistance. Now the figure stands at almost 150! The current practice employed to control these new hardy pests is to develop a new, more potent pesticide. Instead of controlling or killing the insect pests, a vicious cycle is created -- stronger insects, more toxic pesticides -- and an increasing threat to all life forms.
Do insects have a purpose? Natural checks and controls limit the population of insects. Man should encourage this natural balance rather than devastate it. Less than one percent of the whole insect species are considered "pests" to man. But the positive benefits of insects are often overlooked. Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and other insects pollinate plants that provide us with fruits and vegetables. Some insects are vital links in the food chains of fish, birds and land animals. Others act as scavengers of animal and vegetable debris and others as aerators of soil. Still others are parasites or predators of damaging insects.
What is the Purpose of "Pests"?
In Plowman's Folly, Edward Faulkner stated, "The BETTER the growing conditions for plants, the LESS the risks from disease and INSECTS" (p.170). "It is true that the era of soil DEPLETION has been contemporaneous with the period in which diseases and INSECTS have become MOST troublesome.... Many farmers can remember when there were no Colorado potato beetles, San Jose scale, and other insects and blights now common. These same men can remember also that at that time their plows separated a zone of almost black upper soil from the yellowish subsoil. This black topsoil has now DISAPPEARED; at the same time many new INSECTS have made their APPEARANCE" (p. 171). "The VITAMINS must be supplied to each animal (hen or cow) through food.... In other words, the blame for any DEFICIENCY goes back, in the last analysis, to the SOIL.... by properly modifying the environment in which our plants live, we can again build into our food plants all the VITAMIN RICHNESS they once had." (pp. 172-173) "I am sure that the existence or nonexistence of plant diseases in certain fields is related to the condition of the SOIL, and that the incidence of INSECT damage is likewise related. No other conclusion seems possible from the amazing behavior of INSECTS and the absence of diseases in the crops I grew on land which had been prepared by disking in (or down) great quantities of GREEN MANURE crops.... Whenever his crops become infested by INSECTS or are attacked by disease, he may know immediately that further GREEN MANURE treatment will be helpful." (p.175). "A GREATER proportion of MINERALS in the sap may result in its carrying LESS SUGAR, and a decrease in sugar content may easily make the plant sap DISTASTEFUL. Possibly cucumber beetles, for example, could be starved for LACK of PALATABLE juices, even when their host plant is enjoying the richest possible food from the decay in progress in the soil." (p.177) "We can only guess, from the fact that they PREFER the SCANTILY FED plants to those that are BETTER FED, that the richer sap is LESS PALATABLE to the insect.... to IMPROVE the human food supply ... will STARVE the insects.... it appears that the environment that is BEST for the disease and the INSECT is POOREST for the host PLANT; and the conditions that FAVOR the host PLANT'S development are are INTOLERABLE for INSECTS and diseases" (pp.178-179).
What causes insects to attack plants and become "pests"? Research shows that unhealthy soil produces unhealthy plants, and weak or unhealthy plants are usually attacked by pests. In his landmark book An Agricultural Testament, the famous British agriculturist Sir Albert Howard relates how in five years' time at a research station in India he "had learnt how to grow healthy crops, practically free from disease, without the slightest help from mycologists, entomologists, bacteriologists, agricultural chemists, statisticians, clearing-houses of information, artificial manures, spraying machines, insecticides, fungicides, germicides, and all the other expensive paraphernalia of the modern Experiment Station." In other words, Sir Albert worked with the principles any small farmer could use economically. From his experience, he observed that: "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 and so keeping our agriculture up to the mark. In other words, the pests must be looked upon as Nature's professors of agriculture: as an integral portion of any rational system of farming. The policy of protecting crops from pests by means of sprays, powders, and so forth, is unscientific and unsound as, even when successful, such procedure merely preserves the unfit and obscures the real problem -- how to grow healthy crops" (p. 161) ("The Growing Crisis of Pesticides in Agriculture", by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, April-May, 1970).
These conclusions are not dreams of a man who failed. Sir Albert was knighted for these very agricultural researches -- for effectively proving the usefulness of the system. Many who have worked with the soil have noticed the tendency of insect pests to prefer plants that are weak, sickly, unhealthy, unbalanced or just a little "under the weather." This deficiency or imbalance may be so subtle or so slight that it cannot be measured or analyzed by present scientific methods. Because science cannot ascertain this imperfection -- and, judging by the paltry amount of research being done in this area, is not interested in finding out -- it usually pretends that no imperfection exists. But it does exist. And the bugs know it! Now take the cause-effect relationship a step further. What is it that causes plants to be weak and inferior -- prone to insect attack? (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Why Inferior Plants?
A number of factors may cause weak and inferior plants. But one of the most important factors is a depleted or unbalanced soil. A professional soils consultant for Brookside Laboratories of New Knoxville, Ohio has stated: "We are proving today that sick soils produce sick plants and sick plants produce sick animals and humans. There are about one hundred of us who work with about 10,000 farmers at the present time. The overwhelming majority of them have already discovered that in a truly healthy soil our crops are not attacked by insects because God created these pests to destroy sick plants so that they cannot reproduce themselves." In times past, this interrelationship of soil, plants and insects was recognized (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
In 1870 the American journalist Horace Greeley reported: "Multiplication of insects and their devastations are largely incited by the degeneracy of our plants caused by the badness of our culture. I presume that wheat and other crops could not be devastated by insects if there were no slovenly, niggard, exhausting tillage methods used. But when the fields of western New York were first tilled there were few insects; but after crops of wheat had been taken from those fields until they had been well-nigh exhausted of crop-forming elements, we began to hear of the desolation wrought by insects." ("The Growing Crisis of Pesticides in Agriculture by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, Plain Truth, April-May 1970). Horace Greeley had understanding that is rare today. In this day and age ever so few see any relationship between our depleted soils, the use of incomplete synthetic fertilizers and the alarming increase in insect pests. Most agricultural institutions have been distracted and pre-occupied with research involving pesticides. They have neglected research into how to correct the CAUSE of insect pests (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Dr. William Albrecht of the University of Missouri showed that spinach grown in fertile soil resisted the attack of thrips, while that grown on poor soil was destroyed by these insects. Dr. Leonard Haseman, also of the University of Missouri, found that the greenhouse white fly attacked tomatoes only where there was a phosphorus or magnesium deficiency in the soil. Chinch bugs thrive and multiply where corn is grown under conditions of nitrogen deficiency such as on eroded and poor hillsides (Journal of Economic Entomology, Feb. 1946). Work done at the University of Florida shows that both the rate and the source of nitrogen has a pronounced effect on the susceptibility of grass to chinch bug damage. Grass receiving high rates of inorganic nitrogen was severely damaged by the bugs, in contrast with the grass receiving nitrogen from an organic source (Wallace, Nemato-ligica 6, 1961). The Haughley Research Farms in England, operated over four decades, now under the world-renowned Soil Association, has found in actual practice that crops grown on soil built up by natural manures were much more resistant to pest-inviting weaknesses than crops grown with the aid of chemicals (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Even under the best conditions, insects may destroy a small percentage of the crop. But is this in itself bad? The loss of the weakest part of the crop assures the food value of the remaining part. You would think that the prospect of growing quality products which resist insects and render pesticides unnecessary would cause great excitement. But not so. This solution -- the only REAL solution -- runs counter to the greed of human nature and the vested interests of our social and economic system. And it appears that man would rather perish than change that! Now note another pest-producing practice which is so near and dear to modern agriculture (ibid., Walter and Shurter).
Sick Soil Produces Sick Plants; Sick Plants Produce Sick Animals; Sick Plants & Animals Produce Sick Humans
Deficient soils induce sickness in plants, animals and humans. Unlike cows, we humans do not have the built-in instinct to select QUALITY in our diet. Cows do have this natural ability. It's just that men deny them the chance to exercise it. Far too many people have the idea that cows survive because men take care of them. On the contrary. They have managed to survive (so far) in spite of men taking care of them. Man will one day be forced to wake up and realize that the further animals are removed from their natural environment, the more husbandry problems increase. Because men are trying to suspend the laws established by the Creator and replace them with greedy practices, they pay a penalty. It is the plunging level of SOIL FERTILITY! Poor soil produces poor plants. Poor plants produce poor animals. Poor animals and plants produce poor humans. Truly healthy animals don't contract disease. Disease only attacks animals and plants fed on poor soil. Sir Albert Howard cites his example in India of grazing organically managed pastures (no drugs and chemical fertilizers). "As my small farmyard at Pusa was only separated by a low hedge from one of the large cattle sheds on the Pusa estate) in which outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease often occurred, I have several times seen my oxen rubbing noses with foot-and-mouth cases. Nothing happened ... no infection took place" (An Agricultural Testament, by Sir Albert Howard, p. 162). Bad management and dietary deficiencies are contributing causes of sickness and disease. ("Why Foot-and-Mouth Disease Plagues Britain by David Bedford and Colin Sutcliffe, January 1968, Plain Truth).
Newman Turner in Fertility Farming, pp. 194-195 says, "All orthodox treatment is based on the assumption that disease is caused by bacteria ... In my experience these assumptions have been shown to be wildly wide of the mark. Bacteria which are found to be active in diseased animals are secondary to the unhealthy condition in the animal body, and not themselves the cause....The fact is that a cow in sound health does not succumb to disease.... I came to the conclusion that abortion, mastitis, sterility and tuberculosis, as well as most other diseases of cattle, had their real foundation in the toxic condition of the animal body, brought about by unnatural methods of management." What unnatural methods of management? Intensified exploitation of the dairy cow, artificial feeding, the mad race for higher yields with all the attendant artificial practices which have multiplied as disease has become more widespread. No fresh whole foods. No organic farming. The cow is expected to produce a heavy milk yield and also build the fetus of the calf in her womb. This is more than nature requires. Also taking away the calf at birth.
God says, "I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet (right) to me" (Jer. 27:5). Because men have chosen to deplete the soil of its life-giving nutrients, and have not rested the land every seventh year, "cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine (cattle), and the flocks of thy sheep" (Deut. 28:15,18). Because men have forced the land to produce with artificial fertilizers instead of organic fertilizers, Isaiah 17:10-11 says: "though you plant gardens ... forcing the growth, the very day you plant them, till they bloom for you the next morning, all that you get from them shall vanish on your day of dole and desperate pain." (Moffatt) Forcing growth only produces inferior quality, though in some cases it may temporarily produce more quantity. Poor quality food leads to poor quality animals -- more susceptible to disease! We are seeing the result of this today! As the quality of the food decreases, the quality of the animals decreases; resistance is lowered. and diseases increase. "How long is the land to lie woebegone, and the green growth all to wither? Birds and beasts are perishing by the wickedness of the natives, who say, 'God never sees what we do!'" (Jeremiah 12:4 - Moffatt translation.) But God does see! And what He sees - man's sins - He doesn't like! That's why God declares: "The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until He have consumed thee from off the land ... all these curses shall ... overtake thee till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord thy God to keep His Commandments and His statutes" (Deut. 28 :21,45). God says: "But whoso hearkeneth unto Me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil" (Prov. 1:33). Proverbs 12:10 says, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
Monoculture Upsets Natural Balance
In the natural state, the earth always raises varied crops. But in some areas of our modern world, it is a rare sight to see mixed-crop cultures. Yet it is well known that growing plants in large tracts of uniform crops is not natural and will attract abnormal amounts of insects. The greater the area under one crop and the extent to which that crop is grown exclusively year after year, reducing soil quality, the greater the potential problem. The Colorado beetle is an example of what happens when man begins to simplify agriculture and farm one crop exclusively. This beetle used to be harmless, feeding principally on smart weed which it hunted out from among many other plants. When huge fields of potatoes were newly introduced to Colorado, however, the beetle suddenly found itself in the midst of mile after mile of green potato fields - a beetle's "paradise." As a result, this beetle multiplied so rapidly that within a few short decades it literally ate its way 2,000 miles to the Atlantic coast! Similar examples could be repeated many times from all parts of the earth. Yet unfortunately, our entire modern farming method IS geared toward extensive crop monoculture. To many it would be unthinkable to even suggest that this practice be changed! Yet many have successfully changed of their own free will. Huge tracts of monoculture should be broken up and planted into smaller fields on a crop rotation basis. Rotating the crop to minimize insect reproduction is another sound principle. Also to observe the correct time for planting; and to grow trees and hedges which encourage insect-eating birds to visit the farm ("The Growing Crisis of Pesticides in Agriculture", by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, April-May, 1970).
Crop rotation is the practice of growing different types of crops in the same area in sequenced seasons. It is done so that the soil of farms is not used for only one set of nutrients. It helps in reducing soil erosion and increases soil fertility and crop yield. Growing the same crop in the same place for many years in a row disproportionately depletes the soil of certain nutrients. With rotation, a crop that leaches the soil of one kind of nutrient is followed during the next growing season by a dissimilar crop that returns that nutrient to the soil or draws a different ratio of nutrients. In addition, crop rotation mitigates the buildup of pathogens and pests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped, and can also improve soil structure and fertility by increasing biomass from varied root structures. Crop rotation practices exist to strike a balance between short-term profitability and long-term productivity. In the days before hybrids and chemicals, farmers grew corn in three-year rotation cycles of corn-oats-clover in order to regenerate soil nutrients. Farmers used little or no chemical fertilizers. Between nutrient-depleting grains that are nitrigen-demanding and legumes (like alfalfa, clover, peanuts, peas, etc.), that are nitrogen-fixing crops that collect available nitrogen from the soil in nodules on their root structure. When the plant is harvested, the biomass of uncollected roots breaks down, making the stored nitrogen available to future crops. Legumes are also a valued green manure: a crop that collects nutrients and fixes them at soil depths accessible to future crops. In addition, legumes have heavy tap roots that burrow deep into the ground, lifting soil for better tilth and absorption of water. Cereal and grasses are frequent cover crops because of the many advantages they supply to soil quality and structure. The dense and far-reaching root systems give ample structure to surrounding soil and provide significant biomass for soil organic matter. Grasses and cereals are key in weed management as they compete with undesired plants for soil space and nutrients. A cow pasture or free-range chickens can alternate between crops to fertilize the soil with compost. A chicken coop without a floor can be rolled on wheels to a new spot every week allowing the farmer to spread the poop around the entire field in incremental moves.
Weeds and Herbicides
Herbicides to kill weeds are another major segment of the poison-spray pollution problem in agriculture. In the U. S., crop losses from weeds equal the combined losses from insects and diseases and run second only to those caused by soil erosion. American farmers lose about $2.5 billion annually to weeds and spend another $2.5 billion fighting weeds. For example, corn acreage treated with herbicides rose from 10 percent in 1950 to almost 60 percent in 1966. Many other crops showed similar increases (1966 USDA Survey). Discovery and exploitation of herbicides -- weeds killers -- has been both rapid and recent. About half of the present commercial herbicides were unknown ten years ago! Some experts predict the number of herbicides will
double in the next ten years and perhaps double again in the following decade. So we see here the same vicious cycle as with the pesticides. ("The Growing Crisis of Pesticides in Agriculture", by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, April-May, 1970).
The Purpose of Weeds
As with insect pests, few seem to realize that weeds have a purpose. In the preface to his book Weeds, Guardians of the Soil, Joseph Cocannouer lists some of the purposes of weeds:
1. They bring minerals, especially those which have been depleted, up from the subsoil to the topsoil and make them available to crops. This is particularly important with regard to trace elements.
2. When used in crop rotation they break up hardpans and allow subsequent crop roots to feed deeply.
3. They fiberize and condition the soil and provide a good environment for the minute but important animal and plant life that make any soil productive.
4. They are good indicators of soil condition, both as to variety of weed present and to condition of the individual plant. Certain weeds appear when certain deficiencies occur.
5. Weeds are deep divers and feeders and through soil capillarity they enable the less hardy, surface feeding crops to withstand drought better than the crop alone could.
6. As companion crops they enable our domesticated plants to get their roots to otherwise unavailable food.
7. Weeds store up minerals and nutrients that would be washed, blown or leached away from bare ground and keep them readily available.
Obviously, these purposes and benefits are listed only as general guidelines and do not apply to all weeds under all conditions.
F. C. King in his book The Weed Problem: A New Approach also reveals that weeds build up and protect the soil and, co-existing with domestic crops, can help make soil nutrients available to these crops. This author states that we are "hopelessly wrong in believing weeds to be useless plants and in devoting our energy to their suppression, instead of studying to employ them" (p. 17). In England it has been reported that when lawns become deficient in lime, daisies appear. The daisies are found to be rich in lime which they manufacture in their tissues. Lime is inserted into the soil when the daisies die and decay. When the soil becomes sufficiently enriched with lime, the daisy "problem" disappears. When weeds become so abundant that they interfere with crop production, it ought to be recognized that the cause of the problem is not the weeds, but the depleted soil which the weeds are trying to protect and build up. Instead of destroying such weeds wholesale with herbicides while our soil continues to be degraded, we need to get busy and build up the soil so the weeds will naturally reduce themselves ("The Growing Crisis of Pesticides in Agriculture", by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, April-May, 1970).
The solution to the problem is to restore natural fertility to the soil.
LAW FIVE: Avoid Chemical Fertilizers Like NPK
In the 1840's, von Liebig in Germany noticed the regular presence of certain mineral elements - especially nitrogen, phosphorus and potash - in the ashes of burnt plants. Since these had to be drawn from the soil, he concluded that soil fertility depended primarily on the
presence of these elements in the soil. He further suggested that fertility could be maintained or improved by adding these elements in suitable forms to the soil. About the same time an Englishman, Lawes, was experimenting along similar lines. It was found that when nitrogen, phosphorus and potash were added to depleted soil, in the form of water-soluble chemicals, production was increased like magic! Soon farmers the world over were adopting this method as a shortcut to soil fertility -- or at least so they thought. ("Sick Soil" by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, June-July 1970, Plain Truth).
It should be noted that the early advocates of chemical fertilizers only intended that these fertilizers supplement the use of organic matter. For a time this continued to be the case. For example, Lord Hankey, in a speech in the House of Lords when soil fertility was debated said: "There is more common ground to begin with in this matter than is generally realized ... There is common ground as to the great importance of humus in the soil. There is common ground also that, whether you have artificials or not, you must have an adequate supply of organic fertilizers. Again, compost is admitted by the supporters of chemicals to be a very valuable form of organic fertilizer." In Lord Hankey's thinking -- and the thinking of many others -- chemicals were not intended to replace the function of organic matter, but to complement it -- to help it feed crops (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
But were these chemicals really necessary? Were they really needed to complement the organic matter? There is no question whatsoever about the fact that humus-rich soil can provide everything needed to maintain and build soil fertility -- including nitrogen, phosphorus and potash (abbreviated NPK). But because of changing social and economic conditions, men found it much more expedient to provide plant nutrients by organic matter and chemical fertilizers instead of just by organic matter alone. Intensive specialized farming became more and more popular. This method of farming, for the most part, does not allow for crop rotation and periodical planting of soil-building legumes. By this time, also, the internal combustion engine was gradually replacing the horse. There were labor problems with mass migration to the cities. Farm size was increasing along with economic pressures on the farmer. And then there was industry. Astutely sensing big business, industry did not wait to be asked to provide artificial fertilizers to the farmer. Through intensive advertising it urged and "educated" the farmer into believing that artificial fertilizers was his panacea. Under these conditions, the use of chemical fertilizers skyrocketed! Soon many farmers forgot all about organic matter! As a result, our husbandry has been invaded by pests, parasites and diseases; but industry, unashamed, has provided an arsenal of more than 50,000 chemical formulations to fight them (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
What Chemical Fertilizers Do
Chemical fertilizers are like shots in the arm to the soil. They stimulate a much greater plant growth. This growth means a speeded-up consumption of organic matter. But chemical fertilizers can neither add to the humus content nor replace it. They do much more than just speed up the consumption of humus, however. They also destroy the physical properties of the soil and its life. When they are put into the soil, they dissolve and seek natural combinations with other minerals already in the soil. Some of these new combinations glut the plants, causing them to become UNBALANCED. Others remain in the soil, many in the form of POISONS. For example, when sulphate of ammonia is used as a fertilizer, the ammonia is taken into the plant, while the sulphate, left free, joins itself to hydrogen in the soil and becomes SULFURIC ACID, a combination that is deadly to the natural organisms in the soil. Use of nitrate of soda brings similar results. Plants use the nitrogen and reject the sodium, which then joins with carbon dioxide to form sodium carbonate, which is WASHING SODA. This compound is likewise POISONOUS to the soil. Other chemicals used as fertilizers follow the same pattern in adding various pollutants to the soil. When bacteria and other soil life is killed, plant nutrients become "locked up." (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
Further, manufactured fertilizers alone cannot supply what the soil needs to produce abundant, healthy crops. Plants need much more than NPK! They need many other secondary and trace elements -- all in the proper balance. And they need the teeming microbial life that helps them absorb the minerals. The margin between too much and too little is often very slight. Mineral excesses in plants -- now common -- are often more dangerous than deficiencies. Too much nitrogen weakens the plant. It grows lush and watery tissue, becomes more susceptible to disease, and the protein quality suffers (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
There is no artificial fertilizer on earth that can supply a completely balanced diet for plants in the way that humus-rich soil can. Chemical fertilizer companies blend and formulate mixtures, but they simply cannot mechanically formulate humus. Plants were not designed to get their nutrients by being force-fed. Quoting soil scientist Eric Eweson: "Even if we possessed sufficient knowledge and it were practical to provide chemical fertilizers containing some 20 or 30 elements in the infinitely varying proportions required by plants -- instead of just NPK -- this would not solve our soil problem. Forcing upon the plants immediately available food in the form of water-soluble chemicals, which they cannot reject but must absorb, constitutes a by-passing of the soil's extremely important functions in relation to plant life and all other life, in the same manner as intravenous injections of sugar or protein by-pass the digestive system of the human body. Neither can contribute to normal, vigorous life." ("Sick Soil" by Eugene M. Walter and Dale L. Shurter, Plain Truth, June-July 1970)
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria in humus-rich soil supply nitrogen to the plants as needed; they don't force-feed the plant like chemicals do. To force a plant to grow more bulk will cause the plant to change its inner biochemistry. As Professor Albrecht of the Missouri Experimental Station has shown, more carbohydrates and less proteins will develop in such plants. Insects are out for unbalanced plants and find these a well-prepared table and a suitable diet. The purpose of insects is to remove weak and sickly plants so that quality can be maintained. The alarming increase in pests shows that something is wrong with an increasing number of our crops. Laboratory tests have shown that seeds from plants grown on water-soluble nutrients are often incapable of germination. Even now many farmers cannot continuously use their own crops for seed because of poor germination. After a few years their seed stock "runs out" -- as farmers express it -- and they are forced to obtain fresh seed produced on better soil. Seed that cannot reproduce is certainly lacking something vital! (ibid, Walter and Shurter)
Decline in Food Value
As crops are grown in humus-deficient soil with the aid of increasing quantities of chemical fertilizers, the crops become increasingly deficient in proteins, vitamins and minerals. This has been proved repeatedly by comparative analysis of grains, vegetables, eggs, miIk and other products produced on humus-rich soil and on chemically fertilized soil (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
According to Kansas surveys by the USDA between 1940 and 1951, while total annual state wheat yields increased during this period, protein content dropped from a high of nearly 19 per-cent in 1940 to a high of 14 percent by 1951 (Albrecht, Soil Science Looks to the Cow). By 1969 the protein content of wheat had dropped to an average of 10.5% in the U. S. Midwest. Protein content in corn and other feed crops have often dropped even more remarkably than wheat. This is one reason farmers today have to feed larger quantities of feed to livestock than they did in times past. While this protein drop may not appear too serious, we don't fully understand what it entails. Protein quantity is easily measured, but protein quality is more difficult to measure. Proteins are as complex as life itself. They often carry the trace minerals and the vitamins. But many of these building blocks of all living substances are still a deep secret in respect to their detailed molecular structure. This is why there is great danger in carelessly raising our food - of which proteins are a most important component -- on depleted soil and with the aid of chemical fertilizers (ibid, Walter and Shurter).
In recent years another major problem has been developing as a direct result of chemical fertilizer use. That problem is pollution of water, air and food by excesses of a form of nitrogen called nitrate. Nitrogen, together with carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, are the four chemical elements that make up the bulk of living matter. But the nitrogen cycle, which vitally affects protein quality, is very vulnerable to human intervention. Today the nitrogen cycle in the U. S. is being thrown out of balance by two main factors: nitrogen fertilizers and nitrogen oxides from cars and other combustion processes. (ibid, Walter and Shurter)
Dr. Barry Commoner is an eminent scientist who early brought us forcefully to an awareness of this danger. Actually, we should have been aware of it long before now. More than 75 years ago research stations such as the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station undertook long-term experiments to study the effects of different agricultural practices on crop yield and on the nature of the soil. When the 50-year Sanborn Field Study from Missouri was published in 1942, it showed that nitrogen was an effective means of maintaining good crop yields. But the report also showed that the soil suffered important changes. The organic matter content and the physical conditions of the soil on the chemically treated plots declined rapidly. These altered conditions prevented sufficient water from percolating into the soil, where it could be stored for drought periods. A condition had also apparently developed in which the nutrients applied were not delivered to the plant when needed for optimum growth. Most of the nitrogen not used by the immediate crop was removed from the soil by leaching or denitrification.(ibid, Walter and Shurter)
This Sanborn Field Study, and others elsewhere, were a warning that in humus-depleted soil, fertilizer nitrate tends to break out of the natural self-containment of the soil system. But this warning was ignored. Today it can be ignored no longer. Some seven million tons of nitrogen fertilizer are used annually in the U. S. alone -- a 14-fold increase in about 25 years. Roughly half of this fertilizer leaves the soil in some way. Much is leached out and drains into water supplies. (ibid, Walter and Shurter)
In heavily farmed areas, the nitrate level of surface waters and wells often exceeds the public health standards for acceptable potable water, resulting in a risk to human health from nitrate poisoning. Also, when large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous drain into surface water, they create an algal build-up that can and does destroy entire bodies of water. The oxygen in the water is depleted; fish and other animal life forms begin to die. Excessive nitrates in plants cause similar problems. Some vegetable products in the U.S. often exceed the recommended nitrate levels for infant feeding. Research indicates this is usually the result of intensive use of nitrogen fertilizer. Some of the nitrate pollutants found in the nation's atmosphere also come from agriculture sources. The nitrate problem is so serious that it cannot continue -- if we are to survive. This leads to the question of what can be done to solve the problems caused by chemical fertilizers. And more important than that, what can be done to solve the entire problem of decreasing soil fertility and its resultant effect on human health? (ibid, Walter and Shurter)
LAW SIX: Don't Use A MOLDBOARD PLOW Which Lifts and Inverts the Soil -- Try Right-Side-Up Farming With Only A Disk Harrow
We have made an easy job into a difficult one. The uncultivated fields and woodlands do not show any signs of mal-nourishment or thirst. We have been creating our own soil problems merely for the "pleasure" of solving them. We have sabotaged nature. But trouble stops where the PLOW stops. We could cure erosion and restore productiveness in a single stroke. There are five reasons we should not use a PLOW:
1.) PLOWING causes EROSION. Due to remains of "the dead plant or animal tissue, ORGANIC NATURE continues to fight EROSION by the trick of ABSORPTION. By eternally coaxing water to enter, ORGANIC TISSUES keep it under control. Hence the importance of having the ORGANIC TISSUES where the water can reach them the instant it hits the earth as rain." (p.43, Plowman's Folly) "EROSION begins only after the soil surface has become virtually non-absorbent (plowed) resulting from the loss of highly absorbent, cellular ORGANIC MATTER present in nearly all undisturbed soils." (p.37, ibid.) "Decayed ORGANIC MATTER ... absorbs moisture much more rapidly than soil containing little or no ORGANIC MATTER; hence, the greater the amount of leaf mold and other LITTER, the more rapidly will the rain be absorbed. Rapidity of absorption is also influenced by the degree of looseness of the mineral soil. In the forest the MULCH of leaves and LITTER keeps the mineral soil loose and in the best condition for rapid absorption" (p. 65, Plowman's Folly; Yearbook USDA 1903, p.284). "Forest LITTER -- the carpet of dead leaves, twigs, limbs and logs on the forest floor -- serves in several ways. Water falling as rain on bare soil dislodges silt and clay particles by its impact. These are taken into suspension and carried into the tiny pores and channels between the soil particles as the water makes its way downward. Very shortly the filtering action of the soil causes the openings to be clogged by the particles; water can no longer move downward through the soil, so it flows over the surface carrying with it the dislodged silt and clay; and EROSION is actively under way. A protective LAYER of LITTER prevents this chain of events by ABSORBING the impact of the falling drops of water. After the LITTER becomes soaked, excess water trickles gently into the soil surface, no soil particles are dislodged, the water remains clear, pores and channels remain open, and surface flow is eliminated except in periods of of protracted heavy rains." (p.65 Plowman's Folly; USDA Yearbook, 1938, pp.609-610) "It has been found (in North Carolina) that several inches of PINE NEEDLES spread over the soil surface reduced the loss of soil by EROSION to a point almost beyond measurement. There was also a considerable increase in the ORGANIC MATTER content of the soil and indications point to a worthwhile increase in crop yields. In Nebraska subsurface tillage, which leaves straw and other LITTER undisturbed on the soil surface, has proved remarkably effective in reducing soil and water losses and in preliminary experiments has led to a material increase in the yield of several crops tested." (pp.66-67, Plowman's Folly). "In native meadow or forest, even the most torrential rainfall strikes the spongy mass of humus and is held, with little or no RUNOFF. Wherever there is RUNOFF, the movement is retarded and ultimately halted by the successive areas of absorbent ORGANIC MATTER over which the water moves. In a tight soil, free from ORGANIC MATTER, EROSION is almost inescapable because the very tightness of the soil defeats the gravitational movement of water. Equally, a soil surface with abundant ORGANIC MATTER-- decayed vegetable growth, trash and dead and still living roots of all kinds -- is a poor candidate for the forces of wind EROSION which have been so destructive in certain western states. But a soil which has been stripped of ORGANIC MATTER by PLOWING is all too often gone with the wind." (p.37, ibid). When PLOWING is stopped, EROSION will stop with it. "The CLEAN SOIL on most of our farms cannot truly be called soil. It has no trashy, rotting wood and debris on its surface. Instead, it is easy to work, tidy and has no obstructions." (p.36, ibid) This is IMPROPER and UNNATURAL."Highly productive land did not ERODE. It could not. There was no clean, smooth surface such as we now know. The entire depth of soil, perhaps ten to fifteen inches of it, was filled with visible organic fragments ... This material was highly absorbent, to the last black stain. Such substance would scarcely permit a single drop of an ordinary rain to escape over the surface. There was too much empty space to be filled within the the organic matter itself" (pp. 38-39, ibid) "The renovating effect of decaying ORGANIC MATTER, which induces granulation of the soil, is well known and accepted" (p.119,).
PLOWING separates the PLANT FOOD from the PLANT. Farmers "have not left the bodies of last year's plants where the roots of this season's crops could invade them. Instead we have BURIED those decaying remains so DEEP that few roots could reach them. We have, by plowing, made it impossible for our farm crops to do their best" (p.15, Plowman's Folly). "The feeding roots of plants and trees are deployed in the SURFACE soil zone." (p.24, ibid) "The results of this official experiment proved that, by working organic matter into the SURFACE instead of plowing it in, the resulting grain yield could be as much as 50 per cent greater. The very first year of this trial showed such a result" (p.81, Plowman's Folly; cp. Nov. 1939 Country Gentleman, "Right Side Up Farming" by George Pound). "The crying need is for a soil SURFACE similar to that which we find in nature -- with all of the organic matter near enough to the SURFACE that plant roots can appropriate the products of its decay ... the way to attain it is to use an implement that is incapable of BURYING the trash it encounters; in other words, any implement except the PLOW" (p.92, Plowman's Folly). The DEEP roots of the plants and trees provide anchorage against the wind. A Moldboard Plow BURIES organic matter (plant food). This organic matter should be kept on the SURFACE of the soil instead where it can feed the roots of growing plants. Rotting leaves, straw, wood, debris, stalks, stubble, weeds and briars should be on the SURFACE of the ground, not BURIED underneath. The uncultivated woodlands and fields surrounding the farmland don't show any sign of trouble or drought. Where are the rotting leaves located naturally? On the SURFACE of the ground. The farmer should imitate that perfect example set by the forest floor and natural landscape. "Green manure" should be on the SURFACE of the ground. Few roots ever reach down 6 to 8 inches to benefit from BURIED mulch. We must instead copy the SURFACE situations we find in forest and field where the plow has not disturbed anything. Recharge the soil SURFACE with materials that will rot. Wherever man does not interfere, or sabotage, crops grow spontaneously. (p.15, ibid) "A good DISK HARROW can mix into the soil, in a matter of hours, sufficient organic material to accomplish results equal to what is accomplished by nature in decades." (p. 105) "The DISK HARROW is the one tool that can be substituted for the plow in the successful preparation of land ... for cropping" (p. 109).
3.) PLOWING destroys CAPILLARY ACTION of WATER. "The water deep in the soil is brought up by CAPILLARY action, just as a lampwick brings fuel to the flame." (p.25, ibid) "The naturally settled, tight condition of the soil is desirable. Tramping over the field and thereby firming the soil together, reconnects the CAPILLARY contacts which disk harrowing or transplanting has broken. To visualize the effect of pressing the soil together again (with 150 pounds of weight -- p.86, Plowman's Folly), just recall what would be the effect of SNIPPING the lamp wick above the oil level; then later sewing the pieces together again. The natural WICKING action of the soil -- destroyed temporarily by the disking or transplanting -- was restored in the vertical column of soil just under the point where a plant was to be set." (pp.29-30, Plowman's Folly) CAPILLARY water already in the soil was brought up from below through the compressed column of soil beneath the site where the plant stood -- and provided a dependable, continuous supply of moisture. But a PLOW creates an INTERRUPTION some 6 to 8 inches under the surface of the soil, consisting of a BLOTTER-LIKE LAYER of organic matter which the Moldboard Plow SANDWICHES in between the subsoil and the upper layer that PREVENTS the CAPILLARY action from taking place.(p.33, ibid) When PLOWED UNDER the surface, this ABSORBENT organic matter STEALS the water from the top layer. (p.12, Plowman's Folly, Edward Faulkner)
4.) PLOWING destroys the SURFACE RESERVOIR. "Man can conserve the moisture laid down by the heavens, or he can waste it.... Irregular moisture (rain) has been regarded as the most important weather condition controlling crop growing. With respect to moisture (rain), the ABSORBENT mat we find everywhere in nature serves a purpose which has not been recognized ... its 'RESERVOIR' purpose." (p.121) "If enough ORGANIC MATTER is disked into the soil SURFACE ... a large proportion of the rainfall will be RETAINED. If enough ABSORBENT material has been provided to hold an inch or two of rainfall, then, when rain is falling, an inch or two of it will be RETAINED in the SURFACE. Naturally, this SPONGY ("open, cellular structure" -- p.135) mass will supply water -- richly endowed with the minerals it takes from the DECAYING MATERIAL in which it is held -- to crops which otherwise would suffer seriously in the intervals between rains." (p.122). "By mixing into the SURFACE the decayable material which the PLOW would inter, the farmer sets the stage for biologically economical practices hitherto unknown to modern farming.... Every ton of organic matter mixed into the SURFACE of the soil will be able to contain much more ABSORBED water than it could if buried at PLOW depth. Why? Because, being weighted down by so much less overlying soil, its volume will be greater. And ORGANIC MATTER, it must be remembered, retains water volumetrically, while the minerals of the soil must hold it only upon the outer surfaces of the particles. Water runs into organic fragments, while it squeezes in between particles of sand, silt and clay. We can rightly expect, then, that any ABSORBENT material we work into the SURFACE of the soil will RETAIN rain water much more effectively than would the same material if PLOWED in. Indeed, if PLOWED in, ORGANIC MATTER gets no opportunity to catch and hold rainfall until that water has first forced its way several inches down between the mineral crystals." (pp. 126-127) "It is much easier for some of the water to run off the surface ... when all the ORGANIC MATTER is in the SURFACE of the soil, it is able to take in water from above and below -- and in greater volume because of the greater volume of the ORGANIC MATTER itself." (p.127) "Disking heavy green manure crops into the SURFACE of the soil, then, is an excellent way to create, precisely in the SURFACE of the soil, a RESERVE of water upon which crop roots can draw continuously until it is used up.... This RESERVE supply of water serves to tide crops over extended periods of drought which otherwise would damage them seriously." (p.128) "With all of the ORGANIC MATTER ... in the SURFACE, there is provided an abundance of water in the vicinity in which the carbon dioxide can be dissolved. And since carbonic acid is one of the most efficient of known natural solvents of minerals, its work in the surrounding crystalline rock particles serves to release for plant use quantities of phosphorus, potash, and other needed plant nutrients which would not otherwise be available." (pp.129-130) "All things work together for good" (Rom. 8:28).
5.) PLOWING prevents CARBONIC ACID from dissolving MINERALS to make PLANT FOOD. "All decaying matter produces CARBON DIOXIDE, a gas which is heavier than air. The air in a well is displaced by it if something is decaying in the WATER. CARBON DIOXIDE accumulates in the empty part of a half-filled silo. Many men have died in wells and silos because they did not know that this lethal gas lay below the air at the top.... Plowed-in organic matter, if in sufficient quantity creates a zone of decay which is rather continuous and at approximately uniform depth. This decaying mass constantly releases CARBON DIOXIDE while decay is in progress. The CARBON DIOXIDE must fill the soil, gradually and completely forcing out the air." (pp. 162-163) "Crops ... must have ... many MINERALS which can be obtained only from the soil.... In the process of decay CARBON DIOXIDE gas is released: and when it dissolves in WATER, CARBONIC ACID results. Thus WATER and CARBON DIOXIDE together are CARBONIC ACID the best known natural solvent for plant-food MINERALS." (p.166) "When organic materials decay at plow depth, the WATER below the plow-sole is prevented from moving into the upper layers of the soil. (This is especially true if the quantity of organic material is so great that it separates completely the subsoil from from the topsoil.) As a result, the land quickly becomes DRY and remains DRY throughout the period of decomposition. Because the soil into which the CARBON DIOXIDE is discharged is DRY, no CARBONIC ACID is formed, and the gas eventually escapes from the mass of MINERALS without having contributed to the release of MINERAL plant foods. In disked soil the situation is quite different. WATER from deep in the earth can rise to the soil surface, or until it is caught and absorbed into organic matter. Because the movement of WATER in the whole mass of soil is unrestricted, there is always WATER present. (at any time when decay is possible) to dissolve the CARBON DIOXIDE gas given off by the decay. No CARBON DIOXIDE escapes from the soil, and most of it becomes CARBONIC ACID. This acid releases for the use of adjacent plants the the otherwise adamant MINERALS which are so badly needed by farm crops. By this simple and well-known chemical action in the soil, the organic matter itself goes a long way toward providing the MINERALS which otherwise the farmer must buy in a bag." (pp.166-167) "Therefore, we should hereafter stop carrying coals to Newcastle, by fertilizing soils that already have an abundance of plant food." (p.170).
"Many different types of plows and other tillage implements are available, but not all are equally efficient in putting the crops refuse and organic matter where it will do the most good. Disc plows, roto tillers, chisel plows and that type are very useful and effective. They chop and mix crop residues into the topsoil which aids greatly in the process of decomposition. But the moldboard plow turns under and buries all protective mulch material in a layer several inches below the surface of the earth. It packs the surface trash into a narrow layer subject to great pressure from both the weight of the soil above and the weight of the tractor and machinery passing over it. This pressure produces heat which "burns up" this material rather than allowing it to decay or ferment (which is the natural and beneficial process). The "burning" creates harmful acids and and reduces the production and availability of beneficial nitrogen. Also, the compacted layer of trash creates a barrier preventing moisture from "wicking" from the subsoil below to the roots of the plants growing above. It hinders the roots of the plants from finding the moisture that lies below. At the same time, the earth above the compacted layer is left bare to all the drying processes of wind and water. This creates a condition of drought between the surface of the soil and the compacted layer of organic material below. In some few cases the use of a moldboard plowmay be effective to break up a very hard soil to permit the mixing of organic material to improve the hardened condition. Proper tillage practices leave a mulch on or chopped into the soil's surface. This prevents the evaporation of rainfall, vastly increasing the soil's ability to absorb and hold water. It aids greatly in controlling the blowing or washing away of the soil, and produces best conditions for a steady rate of decay -- a moist seed bed and plant food supply." (How God Looks At Agriculture, Dale L. Shurter, Good News, Nov. 1967, pp. 23-24)
LAW SEVEN: The More Trees You Plant, the More Rain You Will Receive
Tree roots strike deep in the soil and access the water table. The tree canopy loses water by transpiration as the sun's heat evaporates the water. A cloud of vapors forms at the top of the tree canopy. This cloud of moisture condenses and falls back as rain. At least 30% of the ground area in the plains should be under forest cover for an ideal environment. If we clear a forest totally, it causes desertification and droughts. But rain follows after a forest is planted. Every time you cut down a tree, you lose 1800 gallons of rain per year. This planting is necessary since hot coastal roads in most countries stop moist air from travelling inland. The solar-heated road surface causes thermals to rise high into the atmosphere and form an invisible barrier for a bank of fog that hugs the coastline. But trees provide a corridor for the ocean-borne moisture to reach inland if there is no paved tarmac road.
The Bible prophesies that farming will become a highly successful and respected way of life. For a thousand years, during Jesus Christ's millennial rule on earth (Revelation 20:6), agriculture will flourish with bumper crops and great prosperity. "'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it' '' (Amos 9:13). "Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, streaming to the goodness of the Lord -- for wheat and new wine and oil, for the young of the flock and the herd; their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more at all" (Jeremiah 31:12).
But how will these prophecies be fulfilled? What changes will transform today's failing agriculture into tomorrow's flourishing farming? Just after the return of Jesus Christ, the world will be in shambles, demolished by the horrors of warfare. Events during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will have destroyed much of agriculture. Land will be barren, charred, unable to support plant life. To prepare for millennial agriculture, Jesus Christ will institute many changes. In addition to the laws given above, valleys will be raised and mountains lowered (Isaiah 40:4). Lands long submerged under vast oceans will be raised to be put into production. Vast deserts will be transformed by abundant water resources (Isaiah 41:18-19). This land will then be given to the nations for an inheritance. But how will it be allocated to individuals? By looking to the example of how Israel will be divided, we see the answer. Boundary lines will be established and the land given to families (Ezekiel 48:1). Amounts will vary depending on the area and its productivity. Holdings of around 20 acres could easily supply basic needs without being too burdensome for individual families, working together, to cultivate. With so many farmers, there won't be a need for each to produce huge quantities of food. To protect their land for future generations, the Jubilee will be declared every 50 years. This will restore to its original owners whatever land might have been sold, but not redeemed: "And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family" (Leviticus 25:10). Think what this will mean! No longer will people be forced off the land. Each 50 years they will have a chance to start over, thereby preventing control of most of the land from falling into the hands of just a few people.
Record Yields and Profits
What will result from these changed conditions? What will happen to yields and profits? Consider this: Since farmers will be obeying God, they will reap the blessings of good weather and financial prosperity: "And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you. The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand" (Deuteronomy 28:11-12). No longer will farm families struggle and slave and sweat from dawn to dusk without time for relaxation, enjoyment or personal development. No more will fear of farm failures threaten farmers' peace of mind. The pace of life will be slower and more balanced. Time for family togetherness will abound. Raising bounteous crops and healthy animals will produce great pleasure (Jeremiah 31: 12- 13). Farmers, whose profession will then be highly respected, will have abundant crops to share with travelers and needy people (Leviticus 19:9-10, Matthew 12:1). Natural areas surrounding farms will provide restful, peaceful settings. Just imagine: colorful woodlands, walking trails, pleasant meadows and tame animals, including snakes and lions (Isaiah 11:6-9, 35:1-2).
Nearby cities will offer a rich variety of cultural, recreational, educational and social activities. Here, farm families will be deeply respected, understood and appreciated (Ezekiel 36:10-11, 25-26, 34-35). One reason for this: City dwellers will be growing some of their own produce (Zechariah 3:10). Every seventh year, during the land Sabbath, farm families will have an entire year off that can be used for farm improvements, travel, education and other creative opportunities (Leviticus 25:1-7). "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations" (Revelation 2:26). This includes power over agricultural policy!