I seem to remember a photograph in a National Geographic not so many months
ago that showed soil levels dropping a good many meters after a few decennia
of agricultural practice. And that is certainly what I experience on a
somewhat smaller scale on our own farm. Only we never had that deep a soil
to start with. In fact there is a saying here in Ireland that stones and
rocks come growing out of the soil. They do indeed come to the surface when
the soil is disappearing and that happens quite fast when you take organic
matter away without replacing it.
Conversely a farmer can increase the depth of soil when he gives more than
he takes. When we attempted to make our first garden in our present location
we tried first to remove the existing grass cover. That was not so
difficult. The grass was in places overgrowing the mother rock and could be
rolled up like a carpet. In places where there was a bit of soil one still
needed a pickax to make a bit of an impression. In no place was it possible
to drive a spade in the ground more than about a centimeter.
It took six years of mulching before we had enough soil depth to grow a
carrot and now after about 14 years we have at least at least 60 centimeters
of nice dark fertile soil.
Further I am not too sure that biological transmutation actually takes
place. I know that if I don't give the hens and ducks access to mussel
shells their egg shells go very brittle and thin very fast. Even when there
is enough silica around.
One of our neighbors is a great believer in liming the pastures and he
looses a few cattle every year to grass tetany. Obviously his cows are not
transmutating calcium into magnesium.
And there are a good few mineral deficiencies here in plants as well. Reason
why Irish farmers traditionally used sea weed as fertilizer. The problem
with this is that you must work very hard indeed just to stay in place soil
and mineral wise if you export crops and livestock.
When a farmer in America starts farming on virginal land there may be a
soil depth of 30 meters or more and it is not so noticeable then when you
loose a few meters.
Finally about one of the great taboo subjects of our day : human waste.
There is no reason whatsoever to call human manure poor, except perhaps when
people are on a starvation diet. In certain affluent parts of the world
human manure is no doubt richer in N P K and all kinds of other minerals
than any other manure. The only valid biological reason not to use it on the
land is ( at least until we made ourselves as sterile as possible) that
humans can pass eggs from intestinal worm infections in their stool. And out
of these eggs develop larvae that will traditionally speed up the nearest
green thing in the hope to get eaten as soon as possible so as to close
their life cycle.
If you put human manure straight on the vegetable plot there is no doubt
that the consumers would develop a bit of a worm burden after a while. But
there are plenty of ways to prevent this. Composting being one.
I know for a fact that human excrement was used by farmers in Western Europe
until about 50 years ago. I also know from experience that it did not smell
half as bad as modern pig or cow slurry.
In those days people could not afford to get rid of this stuff in the
rivers. There was valuable fish in there. One could actually swim in that
river and have a drink of it too.
But when I was talking about human manure being used for thousands of years
I was thinking about China and Japan in the first place. Chinese farmers
even build public toilets on their land in the hope that passers by would
make use of them and so increase their prosperity.
And it could have been no different. There wouldn't be a million ( let alone
more than a billion) Chinese left by now and probably not much of China
either if people had not farmed that way.
Thanks to big business it is now possible to pick up the phone and order
tons upon tons of N P K fertilizer in clean plastic bags. Until very
recently that was unthinkable. And there must still be a lot of farmers in
the world for which this is still impossible.
Slan go foil
----- Original Message -----
From: wytze <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: John D'hondt <email@example.com>
Cc: sanet <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 09, 2000 9:15 PM
Subject: Re: Fw:higher nutrient levels in organic food
> Imo, the higher content of minerals in organic foods does not necessarily
> that more minerals were taken from the soil. I could imagine that in
> farming the circumstances are more plant-friendly and giving more
> the seeds to realise more of their potential. The minerals in the seed
> come from soil I guess but there is a continuous truely alchemical process
> change happening in seeds and plants.
> From what I heard human manure is very poor and should not be used on the
> and to my knowledge was also not used in ancient well performing
> systems (but I am no expert on this last point).
> John D'hondt wrote:
> > I can well believe this but one question springs immediately to mind.
> > can one maintain mineral content in organic soils if the first objective
> > (organic ) agriculture is to make a profit. The farmer exports his
> > and his minerals and he brings only money back, which has a notoriously
> > mineral content.
> > Farmers may have to do better than that or sustainability may be no more
> > than a short lived fashion word.
> > There are/were some countries were farming has proven itself to be
> > sustainable for at least a few thousand years. But there the farmers
> > the bodily wastes of their customers back to the farm together with a
> > money.
> > Rather impossible to realize in this urbanized, efficient world?
> > John
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: wytze <email@example.com>
> > To: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > Sent: Saturday, April 08, 2000 3:56 PM
> > Subject: Fw:higher nutrient levels in organic food
> > >
> > >
> > > Laurel Hopwood wrote:
> > >
> > > > Journal of Applied Nutrition
> > > > 1993; 45:35-39.
> > > > Organic foods vs. supermarket foods: Element levels
> > > >
> > > > Synopsis:
> > > > Over a 2 yr period, organically and conventionally grown apples,
> > potatoes,
> > > > pears, wheat, and sweet corn were purchased in the western suburbs
> > > > Chicago and analyzed for mineral content. Four to 15 samples were
> > > > for each food group. On a per-weight basis, average levels of
> > > > minerals were much higher in the organically grown than in the
> > > > conventionally grown food. The organically grown food averaged 63%
> > higher
> > > > in calcium, 78% higher in chromium, 73% higher in iron, 118% higher
> > > > magnesium, 178% higher in molybdenum, 91% higher in phosphorus, 125%
> > higher
> > > > in potassium and 60% higher in zinc. The organically raised food
> > averaged
> > > > 29% lower in mercury than the conventionally raised food.
> > > >
> > > > Laurel Hopwood
> > > >
> > > > ----
> > > > For instructions on joining, leaving, or otherwise using the Ban-GEF
> > list, send email to Ban-GEF@lists.txinfinet.com with HELP in the SUBJECT
> > line.
> > > >
> > > > Search the archives (since '97) at
> > go to a recent day's digest at http://www.txinfinet.com/ban-gef/00/.
> > Updated weekly.
> > > > ----
> > >
> > >
> > > To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
> > > "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the
> > > "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> > > To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
> > > "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> > >
> > > All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
> > > http://www.sare.org/san/htdocs/hypermail
> > >
> > To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
> > "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the
> > "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> > To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
> > "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> > All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
> > http://www.sare.org/san/htdocs/hypermail
> To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
> "unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
> "unsubscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
> "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".
> All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at:
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu May 11 2000 - 22:02:07 EDT