Good Farming Was More Advanced a Hundred Years Ago


By Gene Logsdon

Working from the premise that we will eventually run out of plentiful supplies of manufactured fertilizers, I have been reading old farming books written before artificial fertilizers became easily available. I am amazed at the sophistication with which science approached the subject of soil fertility once it become evident in the mid-1800s that farmers were rapidly depleting the native richness of their soils and had to find ways to restore it using livestock manure and green manure crops. In some ways, what science advocated then was more advanced than farming practices are today.

If we have to produce food for growing populations without large supplies of manufactured fertilizers, the science of a hundred years ago is going to be back in vogue. Even if we don’t run out of fertilizers, advanced manure science will be very useful for anyone wanting to avoid the high costs of commercial fertilizer. (Don’t laugh at the term, “manure science”— agricultural colleges are now conducting what they called Manure Science Review days.)

“Backward” farmers like myself may not look so backward after all in the future. Ralph Rice, who farms in northeastern Ohio, just emailed me a photo of his unbelievably lush corn, unbelievable because it is an open-pollinated variety and has no chemical fertilizers on it at all. The reason I believe Ralph’s photo is because I have similar corn and it is just beautiful. I hate to tempt fate by bragging— we could get a wind storm tomorrow and blow it all over. But the case just must be made. Granted that this is, so far, a very good year for corn, no one with an open mind can look at Ralph’s or mine and not wonder if maybe we backward guys are really going forward.

Read full post at Organic Recipes

2 responses to “Good Farming Was More Advanced a Hundred Years Ago

  1. I’m leaving this comment on your blog because we share some of the same values of organic, sustainable farming and the support of local family farms. I am trying to get the word out to the public regarding the plight of my friends, Jim and Linette Crosby. Their mint farm, which has been in their family since 1912 and is one of the oldest continually operating mint farms in the country, is scheduled to be foreclosed upon on August 15, 2009…ironically, during the annual St. Johns Mint Festival. To read about the “Battle of Mint Valley,” please visit I am asking for any help you can provide…notifying your readers of their plight, publicizing their website ( and the National Dram Sale, advertising the Mint Jam ’09 benefit concert…anything at all is much, much, much appreciated! To see the latest news broadcast about the Crosby Mint Farm and it’s current situation, please visit

  2. i remember reading that ONE man! had total control of mint flavours. I bet theres something very fishy going on.
    as to the above manure article.
    Pics please gene:-)
    and Albrecht, Charles walters, arden Anderson, dame enid Balfour all have been telling people for 100+ years about what you have also found out.
    The military industrial complex have to ditch their waste somewhere, the farm is their hi priced DUMPING ground.
    rip off the country, ripoff the farmer, and rip off the consumer too, they have it down to a fine art
    POOP is worth its weight in gold,
    all the toxic poop from CAFO is a crime and I would cheerfully drown the Mon-dow-syn, etc entire staff management and shareholders deep in it. NO MERCY.

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